THE ANGLO-SAXON BRETWALDAS
A. THE ANGLO-SAXONS
England is that part of Britain which was settled by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, after the departure of the Roman Army from Britain in the fifth-century AD. The Angles, who came from Schleswig and the adjacent islands, occupied the Cymbric Peninsula of Denmark between the Jutes to their north, who gave Jutland its name, and the Saxons to their south, who came from Holstein. These tribes were among the barbarians who overran the Roman Empire which began the Early Middle Ages in Europe. The Angles were a tribe of the Vanir race of Scandinavia, who were one of seven tribes occupying the Danish archipelago which were confederated in the worship of the earth-goddess, Nertha, that is, "Mother-Earth," whose temple was located on one of the Danish isles. The other tribes of the confederation were: the Jutes (Eutii; Eotas); the Reudigni; the Aviones (or Eowan, a Norse sea-folk); the Varini (Wernas); the Svardones (Suarines); and the Nuithones (a Swedish tribe). The Jutes, first mentioned by Tacitus in his "Germania" as the Eudoses (Euthiones), appear to have originally been a Sarmatian tribe from Southern Russia who migrated to Denmark and settled in the Cymbric Peninsula between the Zuyder Zee and the northern tip of the peninsula, giving it their name. The Saxons were the Teutonic Secgas, who descended from the Aryan Sakyas, who migrated to Europe from Central Asia over a thousand years after their mother-tribe, the AEsir, of which they were an off-shoot, had come to Europe in a large-scale migratory invasion, who were the Bronze Age Battle-Axe People. The Saxons belonged to a confederacy which comprised several Teutonic tribes, including the Chauci, the Toxandri, the Chamavi, and others, who were all eventually absorbed by the Saxons. The Saxons expanded from Holstein to occupy Saxony and much of the interior of Germany. The Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, all migrated to Britain in the fifth-century and by the tenth-century had merged to become the English People. The record of their migrations to Britain and their warfare with the native Britons is preserved in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" ["ASC"].
The Anglo-Conquest of Britain was a long, complex process that took many twists and turns. The warfare between the Britons and the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth-century was one between the Roman Empire and the barbarians who conquered it, but by the sixth-century the nature of the warfare had developed into one between separate British kingdoms and separate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which came about as post-Roman Britain broke-up into numerous local independent kingdoms as the Anglo-Saxon conquerors founded their own kingdoms in Britain. There were at least three stages to the Anglo-Saxon Conquest over the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries. The first phase, following the departure of the Roman Army from Britain, was characterized by the employment of war-bands of barbarians who were hired as mercenaries by the British kings as auxiliaries to their troops. The veterans were given land on which to settle, and they invited to Britain their fellow tribesmen from their respective native homelands to come and join them. The second phase, which took place during the period that the Roman Empire was overrun by barbarians, was characterized by mass invasions of whole tribes on the move who came to Britain in force and subjugated large portions of the country. In cultural terms the shock was traumatic, destroying the native Celto-Roman culture and replacing it with the foreign Anglo-Saxon culture. For, not only did the Anglo-Saxons ransack, pillage, and despoil the cities of Britain, but they also burnt monasteries and destroyed libraries. Their conquests in the years following the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion," called the "Adventus Saxonum," destroyed the Roman economy of Britain and introduced a barbaric culture. The Roman way-of-life clung on in the areas under British control but was entirely wiped out wherever the Anglo-Saxons settled in Britain. The Anglo-Saxons suffered a reversal of fortune by the British victory in the "1st" Battle of Badon Hill [or Mount Badon], Year 493, by Theodoric and Marcellus, when the Britons temporarily retook their island and confined the Anglo-Saxons to their settlements. The Anglo-Saxons rebelled against their British masters in 514 and undertook a counter-offensive, however, the advance of the Anglo-Saxons was again rolled back in the "2nd" Battle of Badon Hill, Year 517, by King Arthur. It was during the Arthurian Age that the Anglo-Saxons were somewhat civilized by the influence of the superior native British culture. The third phase, following Arthur's passing, was characterized by a new Anglo-Saxon drive in which the frontier was pushed back on a wide front as the Anglo-Saxons in a great thrust forward in an all-out offensive drove the Britons westwards and northwards to the borders of (a) the Welsh marches, (b) the Cornwall-Devonshire peninsula, and (c) the northern counties as far as Lothian. There were attempts made by the Britons to recover lands lost to the Anglo-Saxons during the sixth and seventh centuries, however, their efforts proved fruitless. The decisive victory of the Anglo-Saxons in the "3rd" Battle of Badon Hill, Year 664, over Cadwaladr, established them securely in Britain. From that time onwards the Anglo-Saxons were in Britain to stay! The Britons by the mid-seventh century had more or less accepted the reality of the situation and were by then intermingling and intermarrying with the Anglo-Saxons. The process of integration and assimilation of the Britons and the Anglo-Saxons appears to have been a thorough one, for the native Britons who lived within Anglo-Saxon territory were completely "anglicized" by their adopting of the Anglo-Saxon culture. This means that while the Welsh are the descendants of the Roman Britons, so also the English (Anglo-Saxons) carry a very substantial proportion of that blood today in their veins.
England in the late fifth century was occupied by three great barbarian kingdoms, Anglia, Saxony, and Kent [the Jute kingdom], each of which was founded by the chief who originally headed the pioneer settlers or tribe and established himself as a king, that is, the English "founding-fathers." Later, Anglia and Saxony broke-up into sub-kingdoms and other political configurations developed so that England from the sixth to the ninth century was divided into seven major kingdom, which were those of the South Saxons of Sussex, the West Saxons of Wessex, the East Saxons of Essex, the Jutes of Kent, the East Angles of East Anglia, the West Angles of Mercia, and the North Angles of Northumbria [Bernicia and Deira]. There were also several minor "barbarian" kingdoms, such as Lindsey, Surrey, and the Hwicce, however, they did not play any significant role. The seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were separate independent states under their own dynasties, which often warred among themselves, however, they were also united in a confederation called "The Heptarchy" ["seven states"] under the overlordship of a high-king called as "Bretwalda" ["King of Britain"], who was usually the most powerful one among the seven Anglo-Saxon kings, thus making a nation.
B. THE HEPTARCHY
SUSSEX, the kingdom of the South Saxons, according to the "ASC," was founded by AELLA (ELLI), the leader of a party of Saxon invaders. The "ASC" records that Aella came with his (?) three sons[-in-law], Cymen, Wlanc, and Cissa, in three ships in Year 477 and to have landed at Keynor [called Cymenesora in the "ASC"], near Selsey Bill, Sussex, and "there slew many Welsh [i.e., Britons] and drove them in flight into the woods," however, there are some problems with this account written by ninth-century Wessex annalists. This entry in the "ASC" for Year 477 does not give the whole story; and the names of the three sons of Aella are found elsewhere in other genealogies and may be identified with other contemporary historical figures. It may be that who the "ASC" says were the three sons of Aella were in fact the names of the three consecutive husbands of his daughter, Adela, an only child, whom she successively married in turn. The founding of Sussex to some degree is interrelated with the founding of Wessex and Essex in the events of the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion."
The Saxons under their chief Elli (Aella) overran Southern England sacking cities and seizing land, while the Angles under their chief Icel (Ickel; Hikle) overran Northern England in the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion," Year 477, while the Jutes in Kent under their chief Aesc (Oeric), joined the Angles and Saxons against the Britons. The Jutes had settled in Kent a generation earlier, Year 449, under different circumstances. Elli, the commander of a great confederacy of many barbarian groups, including Huns, put out from Germany for Britain and landed on the island's southern shores. Upon landing, the first thing Elli did was to fortify and hold the neck of the Selsea Peninsula, from where the barbarians moved inland against the native local forces, and fought the Britons in battle at Aldredes (Andredlea), which ended with the capture of the town and the flight of its British inhabitants into the great forest which covered much of "The Weald" of Sussex. Elli made sure of his foothold in Britain and sent home for reinforcements. Several groups of reinforcements arrived over the following months. The leader of one group was the brother of Elli, namely, Else. Else (Alesa), the leader of a war-band of Teutonic Berserkers, whom the "ASC" makes the ancestor of the Wessex dynasty, appears in a legend at the court of the Burgundian king Gunther at Worms, where he fought three captains of Theodoric "The Great," the "barbarian" [Ostro-Goth] King of Italy, namely, Wolfrat, Biterolf, and Wiccher. Else and (?) his cousin, [G]Elpfrat, attacked the Burgundians at night. [G]Elpfrat and a thousand of his men were killed, and Else withdrew and joined his brother, Elli, in England. Elli (Aella) of Sussex and his brother Else (Alesa) of Wessex were the sons of either the late Hunnish king, Ellak [son of Attila "The Scourge"], or the sons of the late Saxon prince, Esle, the brother of Eaha, the King of Holstein, the sons of Eafa, a Saxon chieftain. Elli went on and defeated the Britons in a series of battles, years 477, 478, and 479, which allowed him to carve out a powerful kingdom for himself, since he is recorded in the "ASC" as the first Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda. It appears that Elli (Aella) established his seat in an old Roman fort at Alfriston in the heart of Sussex, for which he is reckoned as Sussex's first king. Further fighting is recorded in the "ASC" in 485 at Mercred's-Burnsted [Mercredesburne], today Lye. This victory allowed Elli to consolidate his hold in Southern England. His captains established themselves in Essex following the battle. And, his brother, Else, pressed northwards and established a Saxon settlement, called "Wessex," in the upper Thames valley, in Oxfordshire. The invaders by this time had become settlers. The South Saxons under Elli virtually wiped-out the native Briton population of Sussex. Sussex, unlike Essex and Wessex, which were also heavily colonized by Saxons, was completely taken over by the Saxons. The traditional image of the bloody Anglo-Saxon conquest by wholesale slaughter and destruction is true in Sussex, whereas in Essex and especially in Wessex there remained a sizeable native British population. Then, in 491, following an unsuccessful rebellion, the Britons, in retreat, swelled into the old Roman fort of Anderida, near Pevensey, which was besieged and stormed by Elli. The story reads like a tale of the fall of Troy at the hands of the Greeks. The fort fell to the South Saxons under Elli and all of its defenders were massacred in an horrific blood-bath. Its ferocious ending made a deep impression upon the Britons. The Britons in desperation thereupon appealed to The Empire for help. Elli was killed in the "1st" Battle of Badon Hill [or Mount Badon], Year 493, when the Britons, under the Roman/Byzantine generals Theodoric and Marcellus, retook their country from its foreign occupiers. The British victory at Badon Hill caused the collapse of the Saxon kingdom in Britain and the breakup of the union of the Anglo-Saxon invaders. The fact that there is only fragmentary references to the South Saxons of Sussex and its rulers over the next hundred years suggests they were soundly defeated and were never able to fully recover. The supremacy of Sussex in England was over, and later the Celto-Saxon kingdom of Wessex arose to take its place as the dominant power in the Anglo-Saxon nation.
Actually, Sussex owes its origin not to Elli (Aella), usually reckoned the first King of Sussex, but to Cissa, who, during a period of civil wars in Britain among the Britons themselves, landed in Sussex in 514 with a war-band of Lombards, fought the Britons as allies of the Angles, Franks, and Saxons, slew Riculf (Rikvlfr), the tribal chief/king of the Regni [the native British tribe of Sussex], took his capital city at Chichester, which he made his seat, and founded a "barbarian" kingdom in Britain or revived the old Saxon kingdom in Sussex as a local state, for which Cissa is sometimes also called the first King of Sussex. Cissa submitted to King Arthur following the "2nd" Battle of Badon Hill, Year 517, and afterwards reigned in Sussex under Arthur's overlordship as one of his vassals. The Saxons joined the Angles in another rebellion against their British masters in 540, however, it was suppressed the next year, in 541, by the British triumvirs Malgo, Riwal, and Budic, who expelled Cissa from Sussex. Cissa fled back to the European continent along with his son, Audoin [formerly a knight in King Arthur's Court who later obtained to the kingship of the Lombards], but left behind his daughter, Alhilda, who was married to a native Briton prince, Rhywarch, King of the Regni, who succeeded his father-in-law as King of Sussex. Alhilda, after her half-sister Goldborough left to live in Denmark, was considered by the South Saxons as their heiress and accepted her descendants as their rulers. The native Briton king Rhywarch of Sussex was killed in a regional-war in Britain in 544 after which his widow Alhilda, the eventual Saxon heiress, married secondly the Jutish king Ermenric of Kent, and, then, after his death, married thirdly the Anglian prince [later king] Aedilric of Bernicia. She had issue of all three husbands. Her son, Ricolf, succeeded his father, Rhywarch, as King of Sussex. His descendants after three generations were succeeded by a Saxon line of kings who claimed descent from an early Saxon chieftain, Wegdam, which dynasty in turn was succeeded by branches of the royal houses of Kent, the Isle of Wight, and finally Wessex, which eventually annexed Sussex ending its existence. Sussex was conquered by King Offa of Mercia in 772, the Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda, who annexed Sussex and divided the country into halves, east and west, over which he appointed the co-heirs of its royal house as co-earls, however, removed them in 791 and replaced them with a Mercian governor, name unsure, who ruled Sussex directly for the Mercian king. In 825 the last Mercian governor of Sussex was expelled by King Egbert of Wessex, who thereupon annexed Sussex to Wessex, with Essex also, to make up a greater Saxon kingdom.
ESSEX was the only Anglo-Saxon kingdom of The Heptarchy which did not produce a "Bretwalda." Essex was created on the breakup of the great confederacy of "Saxon" (so-called) invaders after the "1st" Battle of Badon Hill in 493. The East Saxons of Essex made up some of the groups of the general swarm of "barbarians" who came to Britain in the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion," in 477, under the "Saxon" chieftain SEAXA; among whom were: (a) Wappa of the Wappingas; (b) Gilla of the Gillingas; (c) Brahha of the Brahhingas; (d) Gedda of the Geddings; (e) Winca of the Hwincingas; (f) Gumen of the Gumeningas; (g) Benina of the Beningas; (h) Sunna of the Sunningas; (i) Mimma of the Mimmingas; (j) Lulla of the Lullingas; (k) Staena of the Staeningas; (l) Reada of the Readings; (m) Haesta of the Hastings; (n) Wicca of the Hwicce; and others. The Hwicce later migrated and settled in Worcestershire. Seaxa, traditionally, was killed in 508 fighting Arthur, who made the East Saxons his tributaries. His son Sigwald (Sigivald[us]) fled to France in 508 where he entered the service of the French king Clovis "The Great," and later appears in the service of King Thierry I of France. His brother Sichelm was Duke of Essex under King Arthur. The "ASC" says that the Kingdom of Essex was founded by AESCWINE. The date "527" refers to the foundation of the kingdom under King Arthur's overlordship. There is an Aescwine mentioned in "Beowulf" who is called the most beloved of Beowulf's Danish thanes. He very likely is Essex's Aescwine, however, the current theory among academics is to identify Aescwine with the Jute prince Erkenwen, the brother of King Ermenric of Kent, who possibly was imposed on the East Saxons by the King of Kent as part of his policy of expansion, but there are some problems with this theory, unless they are two people. The British king Keredic [Cerdic of Wessex] deployed a private war-band of hired mercenaries in his employ under their leader Wecta, who was Essex's king, 539-541. He was driven out of Essex by the British triumvirs Malgo, Riwal, and Budic. The Angle duke Offa appears in Essex about 542. Erkenwen [? Aescwine [II] of Essex], the brother of King Ermenric of Kent, with Kentish support, drove the Angle duke Offa and his war-band of Angles out of Essex in 547 and established himself in Essex as its ruler. Offa (Uffo) of Essex withdrew into East Anglia and there became Uffi of Ipswich . Erkenwen was killed in battle in 568 fighting Caewlin of Wessex, and his two sons, Aki and Egard, were both murdered by Bedca, one of their late father's captains, who thereupon seized the throne and reigned in Essex as its new king. Bedca (Bikki) may possibly be identified with the rebel Livonian chieftain Bicco, who was formerly in the service of King Thibert I of France. He came to England and first joined the service of Ermenric of Kent, whom he betrays, and later is found in the service of King Erkenwen of Essex. Bedca warred with Kent, East Anglia, and Wessex. Bedca was killed in 571 fighting the Wessex prince Cutha, after which the Saxon chief Sledda rallied the various tribes of Essex and was acclaimed by the East Saxons as their king. Sledda, whose ancestry is traced from the ancient chiefs of the Teutonic Herminones, was the son of the Saxon prince Sig[ivald][Jr.?], the son of Sigivald[us] [Sr.?], the brother of Sichelm [who appears in the "HRB" in King Arthur's service as the governor of "Saxonia", i.e., the British Saxon settlement], who arrives in England as the leader of a war-band of East Franks, in 531 [the date of the execution of his father, Sigivald[us], the counselor of King Thierry I of France, by the French king], and joined King Arthur's service. He later begot Sledda. Sledda found himself at war with Wessex upon his elevation to the East Saxon kingship in 571. He attacked Wessex in a counter-offensive in 571, defeated and slew the Wessex prince Cutha in battle, overran the Thames Valley, and drove the West Saxons westwards as refugees. SLEDDA is sometimes also called Essex's first king. He was at least the founder of the dynasty of Essex if not actually Essex's first king. The 587 date the "ASC" gives must be wrong?; or else it refers to the re-founding date of the East Saxon kingdom by Sledda. The descendants of Sledda reigned in Essex over the next 250 years until its annexation by Wessex ending its existence. The last king of Essex, Sigered, was demoted from "king" to "duke" in 811 by the Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda King Cenwulf of Mercia, who annexed the country to Mercia. In 825 Essex was severed from Mercia and annexed to Wessex by the Wessex king, Egbert, to create a greater Saxon kingdom. Sigered was expelled from Essex, however, his son, Sigeric [II], with Mercian assistance, in 830, was able to temporarily regain Essex's independence and establish himself in Essex as an anti-king, but was expelled by King Egbert of Wessex, in 832, who re-conquered Essex, and again annexed it to Wessex.
WESSEX was the only one of the seven kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon "Heptarchy" ["seven states"], whose dynasty was not of Anglo-Saxon origin. It was the Wessex dynasty, founded by the native British prince, CERDIC, which flourished during the Early Middle Ages, which produced the Old English Royal House [List "I"], founded by Cerdic's male-line descendant, Alfred "The Great," which dynasty flourished during the High Middle Ages, that is, until the Norman Conquest of 1066, which ushered in the Late Middle Ages, and, from hence the throne has been allowed to pass through an heiress in the absence of a male-heir. The male-line of the Old English Royal House came to an end with only daughters, and the English throne passed by "adoption" to William "The Conqueror," the Viking French-speaking Duke of Normandy [who descended from the youngest daughter of Alfred "The Great" and her Viking husband], and, in 1066, by force of arms, successively contested the English throne with rivaling claimants. The heiress of the Old English Royal House, St. Margaret, sister of its last king, Edgar II, short-time successor after Hastings, was the mother of Princess Edith, who changed her name to Matilda on her marriage to King Henry I "Beauclerc", the son of William "The Conqueror," and, through their daughter, Queen Matilda, the modern British Royal House derives its title to England and its throne. Their titles to Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, even France also, also reside in the [New] British Royal House, but those titles are derived from other branches on its royal family-tree.
The Wessex kingdom was actually a union of three different peoples, or tribes, united into a single state, who were: (1) the native Britons of Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire, called the "Gewissae," whose rulers established themselves over (2) the "Saxons," i.e., the "West Saxons," who were one of the groups of barbarians which came to Britain in the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion" in the late fifth-century and settled in the upper Thames in Oxfordshire; and over (3) the Jutes of the Isle of Wight, who originally had been recruited as mercenaries in the early sixth-century by the Britons, i.e., the Gewissae," to serve as auxiliary troops, who also had established a settlement in Southern Hampshire. The archaeological evidence supports this scenario, which clearly conflicts with the traditional story of the origin of Wessex in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" ["ASC"], which represented Wessex's "origin story," as the nucleus of the later Kingdom of England.
The Wessex kingdom owes its origin to Cerdic, the British "ealdorman" of Hampshire, whose seat was at Winchester, called the first King of Wessex in the "ASC," called "dux gewissorum" by Bede, which means that he was probably the "Count of the Saxon Shore" under Britain's King Natlod "Wledic," who, expelled by Natlod "Wledic," identified with "Natanleod" of the "ASC," in 495, marshaled forces in Brittany, France, and Germany, where British settlers had already established outposts, and returned to Britain, the "ASC" says with "five keels of Saxons" [as mercenaries], to reclaim his estate. They were not Saxons, but actually Thuringians under their own leaders, GM's Colgrin and Baldulf. It was not a foreign invasion, though the "ASC" reads as if it were. The story is twisted in the "ASC" and given a Saxon spin by the clerks of Alfred The Great's Court, who commissioned them to write it, to hide the fact that the new English inhabitants of Britain were actually ruled by the sub-Roman pre-English native British royal house disguised in an "anglicized" form. It was a re-invention of the British Royal House to suit the political conditions of the time.
The story of the so-called West Saxon invasion and settlement is found only in the "ASC." It is not mentioned by Bede in any of his writings, which is peculiar. And, there are other accounts of the origin of the Wessex kingdom given by various medieval writers, who claim a "Celtic" origin of the "Saxon" dynasty of Wessex, which, if true, and it is, explains numerous confusing aspects of early Wessex history. There are at least five different accounts of the establishment of the Wessex kingdom, which are: (A) the "ASC" version, written by ninth-century Wessex annalists, which was the country's "official history" until modern times. It implies that Wessex was carved out of the territory of the Britons by Saxon invaders, the West Saxons (so-called), who settled in Hamphire, under Cerdic, called "ealdorman." The truth was known by those who could read and had access to the country's archives, which came out in the writings of later medieval authors. The "ASC" says that Cerdic came to Britain with five ships of Saxons in 495 and landed at Cerdicesora, Cerdicesford, on Southampton Water, Wessex, the day same fought the Britons, and, six years later, Year 501, defeated and slew the British king Natanleod [the Welsh Natlod "Wledic"] and "obtained" to the Wessex kingdom. Later versions, however, assign the founding of Wessex to Year 519, which contradicts the early version of the story unless Wessex was founded twice, that is, the Wessex kingdom was originally founded on the first date, in 501, then subsequently the kingdom was overthrown by events not recorded in the "ASC" and was later re-founded on the second date, in 519? (b) The "Cronia," by John of Glastonbury, says outright that Wessex was given by treaty to Cerdic. He records that Cerdic and Arthur fought continuously with defeats and victories on both sides, until the two rivals finally negotiate a treaty that grants Cerdic the territory of Wessex as his kingdom. (c) The "Polychronicon," by Ralph Higden, says that Arthur gave Wessex to Cerdic in Year 519 as his estate, which was raised in rank from an earldom to a kingdom, and Cerdic reigned as a regional-king under Arthur's overlordship. This version of the origin of the Wessex kingdom sharply contrasts with the version the "ASC" gives, as well as with other versions of Wessex's origin, though most agree with the Year 519 for the founding date of the Wessex kingdom. (d) The "History of Cambria," by Humphrey Lhoyd, who, using Welsh records, gives still another account of the origin of Wessex, which portrays Cerdic as a Briton, not a Saxon, who led the "Gewissae" from the shire of Gwent, to Gloucestershire, then, onto Hampshire, where he founded the Wessex kingdom. (e) The "Discovery of Arthur," by Geoffrey Ashe, advances the theory that Arthur gave Wessex to his son, Cerdic, as his estate, which theory is based on medieval romance, where among Arthur's children there is a Cerdic listed as one of his sons. The name of the pre-Roman British patriot-king Cerdic was very popular among post-Roman British royalty, and, they were confused with each other by medieval authors in their writings.
The identity of the "Gewissae" is debated among scholars. Bede says that the original name of the "West Saxons" was the "Gewissae." It is sure that the "Gewissae" were not a Saxon tribe, which medieval writers called them, but Briton by race, which has been verified by the researches of modern scholars, archaeology, etc. The "Gewissae," however, eventually accepted the description of "West Saxon" as they were culturally "anglicized" during the Anglo-Saxon Era. There are three major theories as to the identity of the "Gewissae," each of which may have a grain of truth in them, which are: (a) the word/term "Gewissae" means "compatriots" and originally referred to the combined British militias, i.e., the country's "home" or "national-guard" (so to speak), which, ironically means that the so-called "tribe" of Cerdic were not Saxons but actually Britons, under Cerdic, fighting the Saxons. This is proved by the records of the encampments of the Gewissae in Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Monmouthshire. (b) the word/term "Gewissae" is a corruption of "Gleuissae," derived from the Latin "Gleuenses," which means "inhabitants of Gloucester"; and (c) the word/term "Gewissae" means "Men of Gwent" or "Gwent-Men," referring to their tribal territory, who migrated from Gwent, the Welsh shire, to Wessex, the English counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire. It was Cerdic, the "dux gewissorum," many scholars agree, who led the "Gewissae" from Gwent to Gloucestershire and then to Hampshire, where they founded the Wessex kingdom.
Now, since modern scholarship regards the account of the origin of Wessex in the "ASC" as highly suspect, and questions the ethnology of the West Saxon people, the identity of Cerdic is likewise debated by scholars. For a long time CERDIC has been portrayed as a Saxon chieftain who led the West Saxon migration and settlement in England in the late fifth-century, which description is based solely on the "ASC"; but the story of the West Saxon invasion and settlement in the "ASC" is at odds with the archaeological evidence, which shows that Wessex was still inhabited by Britons in the first-half of the sixth-century, and the absence of early Saxon place-names has its counterpart in the presence of British ones in Wessex during this period of time.
note: CERDIC is called in early sources "dux gewissorum," that is, "duke of the Gewissae." Bede says that the West Saxons, who gave Wessex its name, were originally called "Gewissae." The British client-king, Octavius, who appears in ancient Welsh annals as Eudaf "Hen," who reigned in Britain during the Roman Era, was called "dux gewissorum" as an officer in Roman service before his usurpation of the British throne. And, the Dark Age "proud tyrant" Vortigern is referred to in the "HRB" as "dux gewissorum" before he became King of Britain. This links Cerdic to British tradition rather than to Anglo-Saxon (English) tradition. It is a piece of evidence that points to the fact that Cerdic was a Briton, and not a Saxon as history has made him. Too, another clue to his nationality is given by St. Gildas, who was a contemporary of Cerdic. He wrote in his "De Excidio" that the British victory at the Battle of Badon Hill [or Mount Badon], was so decisive that it gave the Britons a generation free from "barbarian" [Saxon] attacks, though the peace was often broken by the Britons fighting in civil wars among themselves. The glaring contradiction between St. Gildas' assertion in his "De Excidio" that Britain was free of "barbarian" attacks for a generation, and the record in the "ASC" of a string of barbarian (Saxon) victories during that period in which Gildas wrote has longed puzzled historians. That is, since Cerdic fought many of his battles during the period which according to the contemporary testimony of St. Gildas was free of "barbarian" attacks, then, the only answer must be that St. Gildas did not consider Cerdic to have been a Saxon, but a Briton; nor the Wessex kingdom to have been a barbarian ["Saxon"] kingdom, but just another British regional-kingdom, which employed barbarians as mercenaries, which were the private armies of the British regional-kings, of which Cerdic was doubtless one. No other conclusion is possible. The activities of Cerdic therefore should be put in a British context instead of the English context that history books usually place them, due to the influence of the "ASC." The wars of Cerdic were civil wars among the Britons themselves, not an English foreign invasion! And, there is other evidence that points to the fact that Cerdic was a Briton, and not a Saxon.
Scholars agree that the name "Cerdic" is not Saxon but Briton; and, if philological evidence is to be trusted the name Cerdic was not even known to Saxon writers before the seventh-century, for the various forms in which the name occurs in seventh-century Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, for example: Cerdic, Ceardic, Caerdic, Cardoc, tend to show that the name had not by the seventh-century been thoroughly naturalized from the Welsh tongue into the English language. Indeed, the name Cerdic has long been recognized by academics as a variant form of the name of the first-century pre-Roman British hero-king, Caratacus, who heroically fought the Roman invasion, conquest, and occupation of Britain, who was said by the Roman historian Suetonius to have been descended from a long-line of British kings. His name has numerous variant spellings, e.g., Caradoc, Ceredig, Keredic, Caratauc, Karadawc, Coroticus, Careticus, Cauritus, Cridous, etc. The name was very popular among British royalty during post-Roman times, especially in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, which we know from early Welsh annals, and appears in various Welsh genealogies in its many variant forms. It is highly unlikely that a Saxon chieftain would have a Briton name, especially THIS name, the memory of whose namesake could still arouse patriotism among the Britons, the people with whom the Saxons were warring, therefore, the only reasonable conclusion is that Cerdic was a Briton, not a Saxon.
Scholars also concur that the genealogy of Cerdic's ancestry in the "ASC" is an invention. The genealogy of the Wessex dynasty above Cerdic, its founder, given in the "ASC," has been shown by modern scholarship to be a fabrication constructed from the traditions of other dynasties, those of Sussex, Bernicia, and Mercia, nevertheless, the pedigree does have some historical value. There is even a genealogical-tract of Viking-Denmark's royal house borrowed from the Vikings in Britain attached to the list of Cerdic's ancestors the "ASC" gives, perhaps to integrate the Vikings into the English Nation by adding the ancestors of their royalty to the pedigree of the new English royal house. The only credible deduction is that the Saxon writers who compiled the "ASC," which was commissioned by Alfred "The Great" to be written as his dynasty's epic, turned Alfred's ancestor Cerdic into a Saxon chieftain when he was really a native British ealdorman. For the claim of Alfred "The Great," the "first" King of England (886), to the suzerainty over the English Nation could not be based on his non-English ancestry from the country's original British royalty. The clerics of King Alfred's Court therefore altered the records when they compiled the "ASC" in the spirit of "political correctness," to suit the political conditions of the time. How else could one explain the curious phenomenon that a native British king was the ancestor of a "Saxon" dynasty, i.e., the Wessex dynasty, which dynasty united England under its sway to become the Old English Royal House. This blatant manipulation of the facts and the royal pedigree as a means of expressing a political situation is not new, and this is an example of how the Old British Royal House was to exploit literacy to shape its new image as an Anglo-Saxon royal house. Hence, the true origin of the Wessex kingdom, whose dynasty went on to unify England and give the country its royal house, contrary to many history books, does not lie in the rise of an Anglo-Saxon (English) kingdom, but in the re-emergence of an earlier sub-Roman British kingdom, whose royalty represented the ancient pre-Roman British Iron Age kings, which means that the British royal-line today is traceable at least 2000 years, and, the classical writers who wrote of Britain's royal house 2000 years ago even then date it back at least another thousand years or more!
Now, if the pedigree of Cerdic given in the "ASC" was the invention of its writers, then, who were Cerdic's ancestors? Many historians believe if an earlier pedigree for Cerdic was ever known that it is now lost, however, that may not be the case!
There are several theories on the identity of Cerdic, among which the major ones are:
(A) Cerdic of Wessex is sometimes identified with the contemporary prince of Gwent whose name was "Cerdic, son of Eliseg," the cousin of Gwrawd "Gwent," King of Gwent. John Rhys noted the name of Cerdic's father, Elesa, in the "ASC," was remarkably similar to the Welsh name Elise, whose variants include Eliseg; Eliset; etc. Cerdic of Gwent appears as Cauritus, Caradock, Cheldric, Caradoc, etc., in various medieval manuscripts. If the identification is correct then we have an alternative genealogy for Cerdic of Wessex, for the genealogy of the royal house of Gwent has been preserved in a collection of early Welsh genealogical-tracts, and is traceable in direct male-line descent from the first-century AD British patriot-king, Caratacus, who so persistently fought the Roman invaders, conquerors, and occupiers, of Britain, whose ancestry is traceable to the first-century BC British patriot-king, Cassivellaunus (Caswallawn), who fought the initial Roman invasion of Britain under Julius Caesar a century earlier, who descended from a long-line of pre-Roman British kings, who represented the Old British Royal House, which was very likely over a thousand years old by the time the Romans came. It is well known that the family of Caratacus was given refuge by the Silures, the British tribe which inhabited Gwent, and it is also known from ancient records that one branch of Caratacus' descendants held sway in Gwent, where they established themselves as regional-rulers during the Roman Era, which shire came to be their estate, with their seat at Caerwent, occupying senior administrative posts in Gwent in Roman service. The descendants of pre-Roman British royalty, after the Roman occupation was over, re-emerged in post-Roman times as the earls/dukes/kings of their estates; and Cerdic in all probability was one of these. It is virtually sure that as a prince of the royal house of Gwent the late fifth/early sixth century Cerdic was directly descended from his famous first century namesake.
The misidentification of Eliseg, the father of Cerdic of Gwent, with Elesa, whom the "ASC" makes the father of Cerdic of Wessex, whom legend says was the brother of Aella of Sussex, the first Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda, wrongly connects the genealogy of the native British Wessex dynasty to the foreign Saxon conquerors of the Sussex royal house. The "ASC" calls Elesa (Else) of Wessex the son of Esla (Esle), who traditionally was the father of Sussex's first king, Aella (Elli), in the attempt by the Saxon writers of the "ASC" to connect the native Wessex dynasty to the Saxon traditions of the foreign Sussex dynasty. The father of Esle in the "ASC" is called Gewis. Gewis, however, is not a personal name but an eponym invented by the Saxon writers of the "ASC," who did not understand Cerdic's Celto-Roman title "dux gewissorum," and, thus, inserted the eponym into the pedigree of the Wessex kings to represent the ancestor of the "Gewissae," who originally were Britons but were turned into a Saxon tribe [the "West Saxons"] by the Saxon writers of the "ASC." Asser, in his "Life of Alfred ["The Great"], drops Esle (Esla) from the pedigree, thus, unraveling the royal Wessex genealogy from the royal Sussex genealogy, which leaves the record as "Cerdic, son of Elesa," which tends to identify him with the contemporary British prince "Cerdic, son of Elise[g]" of Gwent.
(B) Cerdic of Wessex has also been identified with "Cerdic [Caradoc] ap Bran Fendigaid," that is, Cerdic, son of St. Bran "Bendigaid," The Blessed," who represented another branch of the Old British Royal House. If the identification is the correct one, we would still have an alternative genealogy for Cerdic of Wessex, since the ancestry of "Cerdic [m]ap Bran" has been preserved in early Welsh genealogical tracts, which is traceable to, and beyond, the British prince Beli [son of the British ex-king, Dubnovellus, in exile in Rome] and his wife, Anne, one of Jesus' so-called "sisters" (Mt. 13:56), through whom later British royalty claimed The Virgin Mary as their ancestress, which is why The "Triads" name the descendants of St. Bran "The Blessed," i.e., Cerdic's father, one of the "three holy families" of Britain. The castle of St. Bran is identified as Castell Dinas Bran, at Llangollen, in Clwyd, which was his estate. Cerdic "ap" ["son of"] Bran "Bendigaid" is called in The "Triads" one of the "three chief officers" of Britain, referring in his case to the office of "dux gewissorum," which was a national-office. Cerdic of Wessex, who appears as Kadeir "Wledic" in "The Book of Taliesin," is called one of the chief officers who guarded the country," which tends to identify him with Cerdic, son of St. Bran "The Blessed." It was his office as "dux gewissorum" which took Cerdic from his father's estate of Clywd in Wales to Hampshire in England to challenge the Saxon invaders; and later Hampshire was granted to him by the King of Britain as his estate. [note: the Cerdic who appears in The "Triads" as one of the "three conventional monarchs" may be identified with Cerdic II [Caradoc of Cornwall] and not with either the first-century hero-king Cerdic I or the sixth-century Wessex founder Cerdic III.] Cerdic, the son of St. Bran "The Blessed" ("Bendigaid"), floats about in British chronology and appears in medieval literature in different historical settings, which means that he has been confused with some of the others who bore the name Cerdic, or its variants. He appears in "Breuddwyd Macsen" as the father of Eudaf Hen, which is chronologically impossible. The confusion probably derives from the misidentification of Cerdic, son of St. Bran, with Cerdic (Karadawc), the half-brother of Eudaf Hen, by a medieval writer, then, perhaps a copyist made Eudaf Hen's half-brother, Cerdic, into his father? Next, Cerdic, son of St. Bran, was misidentified with his famous first-century namesake, Caratacus, son of Cunobelinus, by Hugh Thomas (1700), since the true parentage of Caratacus, recorded by the classical writer, Dio Cassius, was generally unknown at the time. This misidentification was accepted by many historians of later generations, including Iolo Morganwg, who, too, apparently was unfamiliar with classical literature. Rice Rees was one of the first modern historians to point out the impossibility of the identification, however, the misidentification is still made today by modern historians. The stories of the ancestors of "Cerdic [m]ap Bran," as well as his story and pedigree tends to place him in the late fifth and early sixth centuries. Thus, he and Cerdic of Wessex would have been contemporaries if not the same person.
(C) Cerdic of Wessex has recently been identified by Geoffrey Ashe with one of King Arthur's sons who bore that name. It is no surprise that Arthur would have given the name "Cerdic" to one of his sons, which was a very popular name among British royalty at that time, and would have given him an estate, which in this case was Wessex. In medieval romance we find that King Arthur, who had numerous mistresses, begot Cerdic of his mistress Ysave, wife of Taredd "Wledic" [mother of his son, Trwyth "Wledic"], daughter of Cauritus (Cerdic), Duke/King of Gwent. This identification is based on the "ASC" 534 date of Cerdic's death; for the Cerdic who died in 534 was King Arthur's son, who was killed in his father's [Arthur's] 534 French campaign. If this identification is the correct one we would still have an alternative genealogy for Cerdic, however, it would not be through pre-Roman British kings but through the Roman emperors, who were Arthur's male-line ancestors.
The true ancestry of Cerdic is to be found in early Welsh genealogical tracts rather than in the "ASC," that is certain! Surely, none could deny that Cerdic was a Briton and not a Saxon from (a) the evidence of his name, that of his father, as well as those of his son and grandson, which are Celtic names, (b) the designation of his people as the "Gewissae," who were Britons, and (c) the classification of Cerdic's military activities as civil wars among the Britons by his contemporary St. Gildas. Indeed, one can only conclude that Cerdic was a Briton, not a Saxon. Then, why do modern history books still refer to Cerdic as a Saxon? To ignore this issue would be to continue to perpetuate this medieval "cover-up," which would be an injustice to history to say the least!
note: outline of the life of Cerdic of Wessex [who maybe was more than one person]
Year 473: Cerdic, son of St. Bran "The Blessed," was captured as a young child by a war-band of Saxons under the leadership of the future Aella of Sussex, during one of his pre-conquest raids, and that his father, St. Bran, gave himself as a hostage in exchange for his wife and son. This is the first time that Alesa, Aella's brother, meets the British princess, Cywed, the mother of Cerdic. Bran is called "King of Britain" in medieval literature, but actually he was one of many regional-kings throughout the British Isles, whose castle is identified as Castell Dinas Bran, at Llangollen, in Clywd, his estate, reigning under the overlordship of whoever was the high-king of Britain, who was called "King of Britain." Aella's raid on Britain in 473 appears to have been undertaken as part of imperial policy against the break-away province of Britain and its so-called "rebel king" [Uthyr "Pendragon"]; for the Saxons took their hostages to Rome, where they paraded them through the streets of Rome and before the Roman Emperor Julius Nepos, in a "triumph." St. Bran was a hostage in Rome for seven months [not "years"], for he was released that same year and returned to Britain carrying with him some holy relics he purchased from the Church of Rome, which had sunk to selling its relics, among which was the "True Cross," which is mentioned in Welsh legends of the late fifth and sixth centuries.
Year 475: St. Bran's death in battle in Ireland, 3rd reign of Caswallawn II, 475-476.
Year 476: Caswallawn II expelled by Uthyr Pendragon.
Year 477: the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion"; Uthyr "Pendragon fights a desperate defense.
Year 478: the advance of the Anglo-Saxons is temporarily reversed by the tireless efforts of Uther Pendragon, King of Britain, and a truce is observed by both sides; meanwhile, civil war breaks out among Britons, with "the enemy at the gates."
Year 479: Arthur conceived at Eastertide; King Uther Pendragon, his father, killed by Duke Gorlois' men; interregnum; Amlawd "Wledic," id. with ANBLAUD "THE GREAT," elected king by British nobles; he falls in battle; St. Votemachus suddenly drops dead on the news of the British defeat; the Saxon leader, Aella of Sussex, crowned FIRST "barbarian" King of Britain [reckoned 1st A-S Bretwalda]; Arthur is born posthumously, 25 Dec., in a monastery where his mother had taken refuge, and almost immediately rumors began to spread among the Britons that an heir of their old royal house had survived the massacre.
the 480s: there is a Cerdic apparently a teenager who was either an hostage or a ward-of-the-state in Aella's Castle. Aella held the children of the native British nobles hostage in his castle to insure the good behavior of their parents, among whom was a Cerdic.
Year 493: the "1st" Battle of Badon Hill, in which the Saxons were defeated, Aella was killed in the battle fighting the Britons and their Gothio-Roman allies under Theodoric and Marcellus, who as military-governors made appointments, among which was appoint Cerdic of Wessex the "dux gewissorum."
Year 495: Cerdic, who may have served in the provisional government as "Count of the Saxon Shore"  set up by St. Dubriticus, was expelled by Natlod "Wledic" [Nathanus "Laudatus'], called "Natanleod" in the "ASC," the King of Britain, went abroad and hired foreign mercenaries and returned with them to Britain to recover his estate.
Year 501: Natlod "Wledic" killed in battle of Netley Marsh, by Cerdic who claims British throne; is challenged by Arthur.
Year 504: either Cerdic expelled after a battle and lived abroad in exile, or the first person we identify as Cerdic of Wessex was killed in the battle [called Cheldric in the "HRB"]. Cerdic is masked by GM as three different characters in the "HRB"; as (1) Cheldric, who was Arthur's foe at the Battle of Bath in 504; (2) Chelric, who appears as Mordred's ally against Arthur in his rebellion in 537, while Arthur was overseas; and (3) Keredic, who appears as King of Britain, 538/9-540, as the sixth in quick succession from Arthur.
Year 508: Cerdic returns to Britain; wins a battle and slays 5000 men, according to the "ASC," and, also their commander, Ystadder; but is again expelled by Arthur.
Year 514: Cerdic returns to Britain, while Arthur was overseas, with a private army of foreign mercenaries, under their own leaders, Stuf and Uhtgar, defeated and slew Theodoric "The Elder," who was Arthur's army-commander, in the Battle of Charford, and reclaimed the British throne, and reigned a second-time as King of Britain.
Year 517: After numerous delays Arthur finally returned to Britain and began campaigning to recover his kingdom. He defeated all his enemies, disaffected Britons who supported the rival heir, Cerdic, and the barbarians under their leaders, who had all joined forces against him, at the "2nd" Battle of Badon Hill [or Mount Badon].
Year 518: reference to Cerdic (Caradoc) "Vreichfas" of Ergyng, Gwent, was known as the territory of the "Gewissae," appears to have led an army of Britons to fight the Saxon invaders, and, establishes himself in (?) Devonshire.
Year 519: Arthur gives Cerdic the estate of Wessex, which he raised in rank from an earldom to a kingdom, recorded in the "Polychronicon" which is an entirely different origin-story for Wessex. The question here is the identity of THIS Cerdic.
Year 521: the tale that Cerdic, called one of Arthur's "three most favorite" knights, was defeated and wounded in a joust by Brannor, but recovers. There were at least three contemporary persons who bore the name Cerdic.
Year 526: the "ASC" says that Cerdic won a battle against the Britons, but this statement is misleading; for it does not tell us that Cerdic's men were also Britons. This is actually a reference to the battle against Lancelot, who had rescued Guinevere from the stake. It appears that THIS Cerdic is fighting "for" Arthur. However, Lancelot escapes with Guinevere to his castle in France.
Year 531: Cerdic expelled Hadugat and his war-band of Thuringians [formerly in his hire] from the Isle of Wight which he gave to another group of mercenaries in his hire, these, however, were Jutes, whose chief Uhtgar, founded a barbarian-kingdom in the Isle of Wight and was its first king.
Year 534: Cerdic, the son of King Arthur, and, also, one of his father's generals, during his father's French campaign, was killed in the battle his father won fighting Thierry I of Metz, who also fell in the battle. However, was he Cerdic of Wessex?
Year 538: Cerdic renewed his old claim to the British throne after Arthur's passing, that is, identifying Cerdic of Wessex with "Keredic" in the "HRB," and, after much difficulty obtained the British throne, overthrowing Maelgwn "Hir," and reigned a third time, though numbered sixth in succession from King Arthur. He disbands the remnant of what had been Arthur's "Grand Army," so that the only standing army in Britain would be his own private army of foreign "Saxon" mercenaries, which proved to be a mistake.
Year 539: Cerdic is rebuked by St. Gildas for bring hordes of "Saxons" into the country, and for permitting them to practice their pagan religion, for which Cerdic banished the saint; and, while in exile, St. Gildas wrote his "De Excidio."
Year 540: Cerdic, GM's Keredic, was the British king who lost Britain to the Saxons, for his private army of Saxon mercenaries revolted against him and drove him from his kingdom. Cerdic rallied the Britons and fought the mutinous Saxon mercenaries. This squares with a reference in medieval literature which says of Cerdic that he "was present and took part in the fighting of the Saxons." This was happening in Britain at the time of the great invasion of Britain by a huge horde of other barbarians, the Vandals [called "Africans" in the "HRB"], who came from the Roman/Byzantine province of North Africa in the employ of the empire. The Roman/Byzantine Emperor Justinian "The Great" waged a great campaign to recover the western provinces for the empire, which would have included Britain. Cerdic was defeated in every major battle by the barbarians. He made a last stand at Circencester and was decisively defeated by Gormund, the Vandal leader, 20 June 540, and was chased across the Severn into the mountains of Wales, where the remnants of his forces gathered around him, as well as numerous civilian refugees. Cerdic planned a counter-offensive, which took place the spring of 541, but it appears that he was murdered, winter 540/541, by his predecessor whom he had earlier usurped namely the ex-king Malgo of Venedotia [Maelgwn Gwynedd], who doubtless sought vengeance against Cerdic during his waning political fortune, and took the opportunity to regain power. The "HRB" says that an interregnum followed Cerdic's death. Tradition says that Cerdic was buried in "Cerdic's Barrow" at Stoke, near Hurstbourne, Hampshire, however, that may be referring to his ancestor and namesake the first-century AD British patriot-king Caratacus [Cerdic I]?
note: the Wessex kings
[There are some opposing theories concerning some affiliations but this genealogical data derives from resent researches rather than following the traditional medieval descent-pedigree.]
519-XXX 1. CERDIC, a Celtic name, founder of the dynasty, may be identified with either of about five contemporary historical figures who bore that name.
XXX-544 2. CREODA (CREUDDYN), a Celtic name, called "son of Cerdic"; recovered his father's kingdom from the mutinous Saxon mercenaries; killed in a civil-war among Britons fighting Maelgwn "Gwynedd" [illegitimate son of King Arthur by Meddyf, wife of Cadwal "Lauhir," King of Gwynedd].
544-560 3. CYNRIC (CUNORIX), a Celtic name, asserted claim to the British throne, in 552, opposing Cadrod "Calchvynydd," the Arthurian heir, whom he defeats and slays in battle in 556 at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire. He fell in battle in France against the French King Lothaire as an ally of King Cunomorus of Armorica (Brittany; Bretagne) [identified with King Cynvawr II of Cornwall]. Cynric was survived by three sons; the eldest of whom, Ceawlin (Coelin), has a Celtic name; while his younger brothers, Cwichelm and Cutha (Cuthwulf), have Celto-Saxon names, which may indicate that their mother was a Saxon princess.
560-591 4. CEAWLIN (COELIN), a Celtic name, obtained to the British throne and reigned over both Briton and Saxon alike. He is recorded in the "ASC" as the second Anglo-Saxon "Bretwalda," of whom later. He married Rixane of Sussex, the Saxon co-heiress, and begot a son, Cutha (Cuthwine), and a daughter, name unknown, wife of Pybba of Mercia. His son, Cutha, predeceased his father in 584 and was survived by his widow, the daughter of Creoda of Mercia, and their two sons [Ceawlin's grandsons], Cedda (Chad) and Cutha (Cuthwulf), who were reared in the household of King CEOLRIC, who married their mother after his cousin's death. CEAWLIN was deposed by King Creoda of Mercia, who accepted his nephew [his brother's, Cutha's, son], CEOLRIC, as King of Wessex in his uncle's [Ceawlin's] place, very likely because his daughter had married him. Ceawlin was killed in 593 attempting to recover his throne.
591-597 5. CEOLRIC (CEOLA), the son of Ceawlin's brother, Cutha (Cuthwulf) [d571], married the widow of Ceawlin's son, Cutha (Cuthwine) [d584], the daughter of King Creoda of Mercia, and raised his cousin's sons, Cedda and Cutha [Ceawlin‘s grandsons], along with his own sons, Cynegils and Cwichelm, begotten by his cousin's widow, the Mercian princess. His sons, Cynegils and Cwichelm, of course, took precedence over their mother's sons from her previous marriage. Note that Cwichelm [d636] was the brother, not the son, of King Cynegils [# 7].
597-611 6. CEOLWULF, brother of King Ceolric [# 5], took the Wessex throne upon his brother's death because his nephews were still minors. He was the father of Cuthgils, the father of the future king Cenfert [# 10].
611-643 7. CYNEGILS, son of King Ceolric [# 5], became a Christian in 635; married Ethelgifu of Kent and begot three sons, CENWALH, [St.] Ethelwine [the father of Oshere, d718, and Eadburh, d727, wife of ...], and CENTWINE, and, two daughters, Cyneburh [wife of Oswald of Northumbria] and Cynegyth [wife of Egbert I of Kent]. His brother, Cwichelm, was the ancestor of a major branch of the royal house.
643-672 8. CENWALH, son of King Cynegils [# 7], was dispossessed for three years, 645-648, by King Penda of Mercia; of his first wife, Penda's sister, whom he divorced, begot a daughter, Kendrida (Coenthryth), the wife of King CEDWALLA [# 13], and, of his second wife, SEXBURH, begot a son, BALDRED.
672-674 9A. BALDRED, son of King Cenwalh [# 8], deposed, his fate unknown.
672-674 9B. SEXBURH, queen, mother of Baldred [# 9A], and, widow of Cenwalh [# 8], she reigned in association with her son, deposed, became an abbess.
672-674 10. CENFERT (CENFUS), son of Cuthgils, son of King Ceolwulf [# 6], was rival-king opposing Sexburh and/or her son Baldred, abdicated in favor of his son. Note that "Cenfus, son of Cenferth" is a doublet made by a medieval copyist.
674-676 11. AESCWINE, son of King Cenfert (Cenfus) [# 10].
676-685 12. CENTWINE, son of King Cynegils [# 7], who, of his wife, Eormengyth of Kent, was the father of two sons, Ealdbert "The Exile" and St. [E]Aldhelm, and, a daughter, Bugge, a nun.
685-688 13. CEDWALLA, son of the Wessex prince Cenbert [d661], the son of the Wessex prince Cedda (Chad) (630), the son of Cutha (Cuthwine) [d584], the son of King Ceawlin [# 4]. He married Kendrida (Coenthryth), daughter of King Cenwalh [# 8], but had none issue. He abdicated upon his wife's demise, in 688, was baptized as "Peter" and died in Rome the next year.
688-726 14. INE, son of the Wessex prince Cenred [d692], the son of the Wessex prince Ceolwald [the brother of Cynebald, not his nephew], the son[s] of the Wessex prince Cutha (Cuthwulf) [d641][the brother of Cedda (Chad) (630)], the son[s] of the Wessex prince Cutha (Cuthwine)[d584], the son of King Ceawlin [# 4]. He had at least one brother, Ingild [d718], and, at least four sisters, namely, Cuthburh [wife of Aldfrit of Northumbria], Tette [wife of Prince Penwald of Mercia], Cwengyth (735), and Cwenburh, a nun. INE married Ethelburh [d722], the sister of his successor, ETHELHARD. INE, childless, abdicated 726, and, died in Rome on a pilgrimage a couple of years later . He was succeeded in Wessex by his wife's brother, ETHELHARD, who was INE's second-cousin, and male-line descendant of Cerdic, by-passing his nephew Prince Eoppa (730), son of Ingild [d718], the brother of King Ine [# 14], perhaps because INE had earlier banished his brother Ingild to Kent.
726-740 15. ETHELHARD, son of Athelstan of Sussex, the son of the Wessex prince Cynebald [the brother of Ceolwald], the son[s] of the Wessex prince Cutha [d641] [the brother of Cedda (Chad) (630)], the son[s] of Cutha [d584], the son of King Ceawlin [# 4].
note: The crown prince, Cutha (Cuthwine) [d584], the son of King CEAWLIN [# 4], reckoned by Bede as the second Anglo-Saxon "Bretwalda," begot two sons: Cedda (Chad) (630) and Cutha (Cuthwulf)[d641]. Prince Cutha [d641] was the father of two sons, Ceolwald and Cynebald. The confusion is due I suppose that both Ceolwald and Cynebald were called the sons of the Wessex prince Cutha, and some medieval copyist made the mistake when he drew-up the royal Wessex genealogy and made their fathers the two generations of father and son each with the name Cutha, when one Cutha was the father of both. Prince Cynebald married the Sussex heiress and begot three sons, Ethelbald [father of the claimant, Oswald, 729/730], Ethelwalh [d680/5][father of Ethelbert (725)], and Athelstan, who is found reigning in Sussex as its king in 714. The Wessex prince Athelstan "of Sussex," of his wife Ethelthryth of Mercia, begot one son, ETHELHARD [# 15], and, two daughters, Ethelburh [wife of King INE # 14] and Ethelrede [wife of CUTHRED # 16]. Ethelhard married Frithogyth [d737], daughter of Earl Frithuwald of Surrey, but had none issue. The brother of Prince Cynebald, Prince Ceolwald [the sons of the Wessex prince Cutha, d641], was the father of Cenred [d692] the father of King INE [# 14].
740-756 16. CUTHRED, the son of Cynewulf [d721], the son of Cuthred [d661], the son of Cwichelm [d636], the brother of King Cynegils [# 7], the sons of King Ceolric [# 5], etc. His marriage to 5th-cousin, Ethelrede, the sister of King Ethelhard [# 15], brought him in line of succession, though also a male-line descendant of Cerdic. Cuthred, of Ethelrede, begot a son, Cynric "Aetheling" or "Clito" [d748], the crown-prince, who predeceased his father, and, a daughter, Cynethryth (Quendrida), wife of King Offa of Mercia.
756-757 17. SIGEBERT, usurper, the nephew of King Cuthred [# 16], that is, the son of King Cuthred's sister, Cynegyth, and her husband the Essex prince Sigeric (730) [son of Swefhard of Kent, the brother of the Essex co-kings Sighard and Swefred, the three sons of St. Sebbi], hence, he was not a male-line descendant of Cerdic, and, this is an early attempt to open the succession to females. The usurpation was no doubt in response to the marriage of the Wessex heiress, Cynethryth, the daughter of the Wessex King Cuthred, to Prince, now King Offa of Mercia, which scrambled the Wessex royal house to protect its absorption by the Mercian royal house. His brothers were Sigered of Kent  and Cynehard [d786]; and his sisters were Sigythe [wife of Eardulf of Kent] and Cynethryth [wife of Cynewulf of Wessex, # 18]. He was deposed by a council of Wessex nobles, who chose the Wessex prince Cynewulf as king, and was murdered soon afterwards.
757-786 18. CYNEWULF, son of Ealdbert "The Exile" [d725], the son of King Centwine [# 12], was considered by many as the rightful heir. His marriage to Cynethryth, the sister of his predecessor, King Sigebert [# 17], was doubtless an arranged marriage. He was the father of two sons, Ealdbert [who predeceased him in 785], BERHTRIC, and, a daughter, Selethryth [wife of Edbald of Mercia]. His murder causes chaos in Wessex; and King Offa of Mercia intervenes and places the Wessex prince Berhtric [# 19] on the Wessex throne.
786-802 19. BERHTRIC, son of King Cynewulf [# 18]. He married Eadburh, daughter of King Offa of Mercia. She later poisoned him to free herself of the marriage, for which crime she was banished from England. Her offer of marriage was repudiated by Charlemagne to whose court in Germany she had come. He expelled her from his court; and she died in exile in Italy at Pavia as a beggar.
802-839 20. EGBERT, also reckoned the 8th [or 18th] "Bretwalda" [= "King of Britain"](829), the son of King Ealhmund of Kent [d786][of his wife, Edgythe of Kent], the son of Prince Heabert (Eaba)[of his wife, Alchilda of Northumbria][the brother of King Eanmund of Kent], the son of Prince Eoppa of Wessex (730)[of his wife, Edwyna of Kent], the son of the Wessex Prince Ingild [d718][of his wife, Nothgyth, sister of King Nunna of Sussex], the brother of King INE [# 14], descendant of CEAWLIN, the 2nd "Bretwalda." His half-sister, Alburga, married Wulfstan, Earl of Wiltshire. He married Redburh, daughter of Charlemagne by his Lombardic wife, and begot two sons, Ethelwulf [father of five sons] and Athelstan [d850][the father of Ethelwerd, d850], and, a daughter, Edythe, an abbess.
839-856 21. ETHELWULF, son of King Egbert [# 20], of his first wife, Osburh "the heiress of the Isle of Wight," begot five sons, Athelstan [d854], ETHELBALD, ETHELBERT, ETHELRED, and Alfred, a.k.a. ALFRED "THE GREAT," "FIRST" King of England (886), and, a daughter, Ethelswith [d888], wife of King Burgred of Mercia; and, of his second wife, Judith of France, begot a daughter, Judith, the wife of Ethico, a German count. He abdicated, retired onto an estate, and died two years later, in 858.
856-860 22. ETHELBALD, son of King Ethelwulf [# 21], murdered his older brother, Athelstan, in 854, while his father, Ethelwulf, was abroad visiting European capitals, and took over as prince-regent, and, upon his father's return, in 856, forced his father's abdication in his favor, and assumed the title "king." He married his father's widow, Judith of France, but had none issue.
860-866 23. ETHELBERT, brother of Ethelbald [# 22], begot, of his wife [identity unsure, probably St. Ida, daughter of the Jewish Prince Makhir, a.k.a. Thierri of Septimannie], a daughter, Alice, the first wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis III of Provence.
866-871 24. ETHELRED, brother of predecessor [# 23], last king, Wessex conquered in 871 by the Vikings under HALFDAN, who proclaimed himself "King of Britain," and minted coins. Ethelred was mortally wounded in battle at Martin, in Hampshire, and died a few weeks later at Witchampton. The day of his funeral at Wimborne, in the town's abbey, the Vikings caught the West Saxons by surprise and scattered their army and overran the country, "Greater Wessex." Ethelred was survived by his widow, Ulfrida of York, a Viking princess, and their two sons, Ethelwald and Ethelhelm, who were dispossessed by the Vikings, however, in 886 Ethelwald was restored to his estate, Wessex, as its first "earl" or "ealdorman," by ALFRED "THE GREAT", England's first king.
KENT, the first "barbarian" ["English"] kingdom to be founded in Britain, was already a state before the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion." Named for its native British tribe, the Canti, Kent had earlier been a post-Roman British earldom, and before then was a Roman "civitates," and before then was an Iron Age tribal kingdom. Its transformation into an "English" kingdom took place when the King of Britain, Vortigern, removed its last native British ruler, Gwyangon, and gave Kent to the barbarian leader HENGIST "THE JUTE" [or "THE DANE"], who established a barbarian settlement in Kent, and is called the first King of Kent.
The Jutes came to Britain in Year 449 under Hengist, called "The Jute" or "The Dane" or "The Half-Dane," along with his brother, Hors[a], the co-leaders of a war-band of Teutonic Berserkers, and landed at Ebbsfleet in Kent. "Hengist's Men," whence the word "henchmen" derives, were called "Saxons" by the Britons but they were actually Jutes originally from Denmark. Hengist had been in the service of his uncle the Jute king Hnaef and was with him while he was visiting the Frisian king Finn, who had married a relative, during which visit a fight broke-out in Finn's Hall and many fell including Hnaef. The hall was taken over by Hengist and his men, however, they were persuaded to evacuate the hall and enter Finn's service. Hengist passed the winter with Finn and in the spring his brother Hors[a] arrived with reinforcements and surprised and killed Finn and his soldiers. Hengist and Hors[a] then joined forces and took ships to Britain directly from The Netherlands (Frisia). Hengist was welcomed to Britain by its king, Vortigern, who hired Hengist and his men as mercenaries in his service, and deployed them on the Isle of Thanet as a base to guard against the threatened invasion by the Romans from the European continent, and also to make raids on Roman ports and stores across the English Channel where the Romans were assembling an invasion force. The threat from the Picts of Scotland moved Vortigern to ask Hengist to send to his homeland for more of his countrymen to come to Britain and join his service. Another contingent of Jutes then came under the leadership of Hengist's nephew, sister's son, Ebissa (Ebusi), who and his men were deployed in Northern England to protect the northern frontier from the Picts. Here, unlike the Angles and Saxons who came in mass invasion, the Jutes initially came in a small party and were later reinforced by after-comers. In 453 Vortigern gave the shire of Kent to Vortigern as his estate, which he raised from an earldom to a kingdom. Hengist is therefore reckoned the first King of Kent, Year 453. Hengist, however, turned against his employer, mutinied, asserted his independence, and, reinforced the Jute settlement in Kent by his fellow tribesmen back home. The mutiny of the foreign mercenaries was at length put down by Ambrosius, the King of Britain, following a series of battles. Hengist was captured and executed and buried at Knaresborough, Year 457 [not 488]. Hengist was survived by a son, Hartwaker, who was a Jute chieftain in the Jutes' native homeland on the European continent, and, by two daughters, Sardoine and Ro[n]wen (Rhonwynn), the fifth wife and widow of the British King Vortigern, by whom she begot a son, Gotto, to whom Vortigern willed the British kingdom, and, a daughter, Alis (Alice), called the "Mother of The English," wife of Aella of Sussex, the first Anglo-Saxon "Bretwalda," mother of his only child, a daughter, Adela, the Sussex dynasty's heiress. The death of Hengist in 457 caused the collapse of the Kentish kingdom, and the Jutes in Kent were leaderless in the years following Hengist's death [except for the native Kentish ruler who had been restored] until the coming of Aesc. AESC (OISC) of Kent may be identified with Oeric (Oeschere), who and his brothers Irlaf (Irminlaf) and Uxfre (Uiscfrea) were the sons of the Jute princess, Rowen [or her sister, Sardoine], Hengist's daughter, and the Angle prince, Octa (Ochta). Aesc was the leader of a northern Anglo-Jutish war-band who was summoned to Kent by the leaders of the Jutish settlement there. The first mention of Aesc is in 465 at the Battle of Wippedesfleot. Hengist is also mentioned in this entry in the "ASC" but it is an anachronism, for he was already dead by that time. Aesc came to Kent from Bernicia in 473 and took over the leadership of the Jutish colony there. The "ASC" says that in 473 Aesc fought the Britons and "captured innumerable spoils." The Jutes under Aesc joined the Angles and Saxons in attacking the Britoins during the period of the great Anglo-Saxon invasion, in the late 470s. Then, again, Aesc is mentioned in the "ASC" under Year 488 as having succeeded to the Kentish kingdom, or having re-established the Kentish kingdom. Hengist is also mentioned in this entry in the "ASC" to have been his death date, but this is not the case and was an attempt by the Saxon annalists who compiled the "ASC" to explain Aesc's succession on that date and to cover the fact of the lack of continuity in the line of succession of the Kentish kings. The Jutes under Aesc, drove Gwyangon, the Kentish king, and his tribe, the Canti, out of Kent. Aesc made the shire's old capital city, Canterbury, as his seat too. Aesc, not his grandfather, Hengist, was the founder of the dynasty of Kent, the Oiscingas, to which he gave his name; though his grandfather, Hengist, had founded the kingdom. Aesc submitted to Theodoric and Marcellus following the "1st" Battle of Mount Batten [or Baden Hill] in 493 and reigned as a regional-king under the overlordship of the British King Natlod "Wledic." Kent was divided in halves in 493, east and west, along the Medway River. Aesc held sway over East Kent, while another barbarian king, Witta, the Saxon chieftain, held sway over West Kent. Aesc rebelled in 511 and was expelled by King Arthur, but later returned while Arthur was overseas in 514 and recovered his kingdom yet lost it again following the "2nd" Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill] in 517 and fled back into exile. Wihtgils, the son of Witta, then reigned over an undivided Kent, under the overlordship of King Arthur. Aesc was killed in Denmark in 521 helping Beowulf against Grendel's Dame. He was survived by his son, Octa [II], who Nennius says was an opponent of Arthur, however, for a while was one of King Arthur's knights. Octa [II] was killed fighting in the civil wars in Britain following Arthur's passing, Year 538, and was survived by two sons, Ermenric and Erkenwen, who were expelled by Wecta, the son of Wihtgils, the son of Witta, who took over an undivided Kent. Wecta was driven out of Kent by combined British forces under Malgo of Venedotia, Riwal of Dumnonia, and Budic of Armorica, and withdrew into Deira, where he became Wegde[g] of Deira. The Angle duke Offa afterwards established himself in Kent. He was the cousin of the late Kentish king Octa [II]. Offa held sway in Kent for about a year and was expelled by the Kentish co-heirs, Ermenric and Erkenwen, after which Ermenric became King of Kent thus restoring the Oiscingas in 542, and Offa withdrew into Essex where he held sway for a short time. Ermenric of his first wife [identity unsure] had a son, Rondhere, and, a daughter, Erminberg [wife of a Merovingian prince], and, of his second wife, Alhilda of Sussex, the Saxon heiress, had a son, ETHELBERT [see Lists "F" & "G"]. In 558 Ermenric made an alliance with King [C]Lothaire I of France, and betrothed his son Ethelbert [who was a young boy at the time] to a Frankish princess, Bertha [who herself was a small child at the time], daughter of the Frankish Prince (later King) Caribert [I], the eldest son of King [C]Lothaire I of France. Ermenric was defeated in battle at Wimbleton in 560/563 fighting Ceawlin of Wessex, and was killed in the rout of his army as Ceawlin pursued him into Kent. Ermenric's son, Rondhere, was murdered by his father's treacherous retainer, Bikki, while Ermenric's widow, Alhilda, and her son, Ethelbert, escaped and fled to Bernicia, where she married the Bernician prince (later king), Aedilric, as her third husband and had further issue of a son, Ethelfrit. The Franks appear in Kent a few years later until Ceawlin of Wessex drove them out. The Kentish heir Ethelbert returned to Kent after his coming of age sometime around 571 [while Ceawlin was busy fighting the Anglo-Saxon offensive] and was received by the Jutes as their king. And, when Ceawlin finally did go after Ethelbert it was Ceawlin who was killed in battle; and Ethelbert succeeded Ceawlin on the English throne as Bretwalda, in 593. Kent was a minor state the first century of its existence, and suddenly became a major power under Ethelbert, however, after Ethelbert's death, declined back into a minor state. Its dynasty ended in heiresses, and Kent was inherited by Essex, Mercia, and Wessex, and in 825 became an appanage of the Wessex kingdom, with the status of a sub-kingdom or client-state, with its own ruler, who was usually a Wessex prince, and, reduced in status to an earldom in the "new" Kingdom of England, in 886.
MERCIA owes its origin as a "march" state of the barbarian kingdom of Anglia in Britain. That is, Mercia began as an outgrowth of Lindsey, an Anglican kingdom, created by the Angles of Norfolk. Lindsey was the original Angle kingdom, like Sussex was the original Saxon kingdom; and, Lindsey, like Sussex, was at first a major kingdom, but, like Sussex, following the Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill], was thereafter a minor kingdom throughout its later existence.
The Angles migrated to Britain under their chieftain Icel the sametime as the Saxons come in the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion," Year 477, and came ashore on England's eastern coasts moving inland by way of The Wash, the Humber River, and the Trent, while the Saxons came ashore on England's southern coasts. Icel came to Britain initially to avenge the deaths of his sons Octa and Eosa (Oesa) but that soon changed into conquest and settlement. Icel founded an Angle settlement in Britain around The Wash which became the "barbarian" kingdom of Anglia. These were the ancestors of the so-called West, Middle, and South Angles. Icel(Ickel; Hikle) made the town of Ickleton [or Icklingham] in Norfolk his seat. He gave his name to the Angle dynasty in Britain, the Iclingas. Icel is identified with Isung of Teutonic Mythology who traditionally conquered Britain. He was the 2nd-cousin of Angantyr IV, the reigning Angle king of Schleswig. Icel was the son of Emeric (Eomer), the brother of Fritlo [the legendary "Harlung Twins"], the twin sons of the Angle king Angantyr II, the son of Olauus (Alavivaz) (Uffo), King of Goths and Danes, whose descendants were called the Ofdingas, and his wife, Hervor [I], Queen of the Angles, only child and daughter of the Angle king Angantyr I. Icel fell fighting Theodoric and Marcellus, Year 493, in the ‘1st" Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill] or else in one of the series of battles which followed that battle. The Angle kingdom in Northern England however did not collapse after the battle like the Saxon kingdom had done in Southern England, and Icel's son, Osla, appears as King of Anglia in the following years. Osla, called "Big-Knife" ["Gyllellfawr"; Cyllellvawr'], was the contemporary of his 3rd-cousin, Angantyr V, the last King of the Angles on the European continent, who was killed by Eofor "The Great," who presented the spoils of war to his master, Hygelac, the King of the Geats. Osla's name is spelt "Ossa" in some manuscripts. Osla "Big-Knife" renewed the war with the Britons after the departure of Theodoric and Marcellus and slew the British "dux Britanniarum," Uchdryd "Wledic," conquered the British Kingdom of Loegria, occupied its capital city, York, and took the title "vrenin Lloegr" in 495 as the successor of that line of British kings. It was at this time that St. Samson, the Arch-Bishop of York, fled the city with most of its British inhabitants. Osla "Big-Knife" was expelled from York by King Arthur, in 505, and, defeated in battle, submitted to Arthur, and became one of Arthur's vassals. He served under Arthur as one of his generals, and was one of the "Knights of The Round Table." In the Welsh tale of "Culhwch and Olwen" he, Osla "Big-Knife," appears at King Arthur's Court. He however later rebelled in 514 and was defeated by Arthur in the "2nd" Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill], Year 517, thus we read: "Osla kyllell vawr, vrenin Lloegr, y gwr a ynladdodd yn erbyn Arthvr yNgwaith Vadon." There are conflicting traditions of Osla's fate: one says the he was killed in the battle; while, another says that he accidentally drowned while taking part in a boar-hunt with Arthur and his knights, circa 525, which would mean that he was among those pardoned and restored to their estates in 519. The Angle kingdom in Northern England collapsed after the "2nd" Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill] just like the Saxon kingdom had done in Southern England nearly twenty-five years earlier following the "1st" Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill], which left the Britons back in control of their country during the Arthurian Age. Osla was survived by his second-son, Cynwal (Kynwal) (Cynewald), who was a knight in King Arthur's Court. Osla's eldest son, Cymen [who had left a daughter] had been killed in an earlier battle fighting Arthur. Cynwal (Kynwal) was killed in the civil wars that followed Arthur's passing, in 538, and was survived by a son, Cneva (Cnebba). [note: the "ASC" reverses the order.] Cneva was executed by the 2nd Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda, Ceawlin of Wessex, in 568, and was survived by a son Crida, identified with Cretta of Lindsey, who became CREODA of Mercia, who renewed the war with the Britons and revived the Angle kingdom.
From around The Wash a colony of Angles under the leadership of Cretta of Lindsey migrated into the British midlands, settled in the upper Trent valley, took the British citadel at Tamworth, which became the capital city of Mercia, and found a "march" state, called "Mercia," in 571, which Cretta (Creoda) made into a separate kingdom in 586 as its first king when the descendants of the original Anglican settlers were displaced in Norfolk by the later-comers of Suffolk. The Suffolk settlers were called East Angles, though they were a mixture of Swedes, Germans, and Frisians. The Angles of Mercia, called "Mercians" ["men of the march" or "frontier-people'], were the West Angles. And, the Angles of Bernicia and Deira were the North Angles. Creoda of Mercia [formerly Cretta of Lindsey] expelled Ceawlin of Wessex, the 2nd Bretwalda, in 591, and established a hegemony of his own in Britain, however, he does not appear anywhere in the Saxon chronicles as a "bretwalda," though he does appear in the Welsh annals as a barbarian-king holding sway over the Britons. Creoda (Crida) was killed in a rebellion of his vassals in 593 fighting Ethelbert of Kent and Ethelfrit of Bernicia, after which his eldest son Pybba [whose mother was a British princess] succeeded him as king in Mercia under the overlordship of Ethelbert and Ethelfrit, co-bretwaldas. Pybba was killed by his brother Ceorl in 606 who succeeded him in office. Ceorl was later killed by the British king Cadwallon in 624, who placed Penda [Pybba's son] on the Mercian throne, and married his sister, Aelditha. Penda appears in Cadwallon's service as "Count of Britain," and, as such, was governor of England and held sway over all the other Anglo-Saxon kings. Mercia was a major power throughout most of its history until its subjugation by the Vikings in 874, when its king Burgred fled to Rome where he later died in exile. He was succeeded by Ceolwulf II, usually reckoned Mercia's last king. He was acceptable to the Vikings because he was too old to cause trouble, and as a scion of the Mercian royal house was acceptable to the Mercians. He was a puppet-king of the Viking conquerors, who soon tired of him, and expelled him in 879. The ex-king Ceolwulf [II] died in a monastery five years later, in 883. He was succeeded in Mercia as king by Ethelred [II], in 879/883, who dropped the title "king" in 886 and took the title "ealdorman" [or "Earl"] in deference to King Alfred "The Great", who founded the Kingdom of England that year. Thus, Ethelred II was the last King and the first Earl of Mercia, which was annexed to Alfred's English kingdom. He continued to rule Mercia, however, under the overlordship of Alfred "The Great," King of England. Ethelred [II] suffered an illness during his final years, and left the government to his wife, Ethelflede, who continued to govern Mercia after his death, in 911. She warred with the Vikings, and is remembered as Mercia's "warrior-queen." She died in 918 and was succeeded by her eldest daughter, Elfwyn, called "Lady of Mercia," the last of Mercia's royal-line, who was deposed by her uncle, Edward The Elder, King of England, who thereupon fully incorporated Mercia into the English state. Elfwyn, the Mercian heiress, married Ediulf of Devon, and had two sons, Ordhelm, Earl of Devon (945/6) and Elfwald, Earl of Mercia (945/6), from whom the later Mercian earls descend to Edwin and Morcar, who fought against the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.
BERNICIA was founded in 547 by the Angle prince IDA "GREAT-KNEE" or "FLAME-BEARER" or "TORCH-BEARER", the son of Eopa, the son of Oesa (Eosa), who and his brother, Octa, originally founded the colony of the North Angles in Northumbria about a century earlier. Octa and Eosa (Oesa) were the sons of the Angle chieftain Icel, the ancestor of the Angle dynasty in Britain. Their brother was Osla "Big-Knife." Ida "Great-Knee" or "Flame-Bearer" is identified with the Welsh Eda "Glinfawr"/"Glynuawr" ("Glynvar"), who was recorded in Welsh annals to have been a knight in King Arthur's Court, who was the captain of a garrison of Angle irregulars in Arthur's employ. It appears that in a triad ["TYP" # 30], in "HB," and in "BYS," he has been misidentified with other persons with similar names. Ida (Eda; Eta) "Glynvar" or "Flamdwyn" revolted in 538 following Arthur's passing, and sailed up the Humber and captured the old British fort of Din Guairi, i.e., Bamburgh. He made the city's great island-rock into his pirate fort as a base from where to make raids on the British mainland or "North Country." He was expelled in 541 by Maelgwn "Hir" of Gwynedd, but returned in 547 following Maelgwn's death. Local tradition says that Ida "Glynvar" landed at Flamborough Head in Deira with a huge host and subsequently moved northwards into Bernicia. Ida "Glynvar" and his war-band of North Angles defeated the Britons in a series of battles and slew the British "dux Britanniarum," Gwynbei (Gwibei; Gwylri) "Drahog" ("Drahawc"), the last king of BRYNEICH ["British" Bernicia], occupied his fort at Yeavering, which he made his seat, married the late king's daughter, Bernoc (Bearnoch), the Brigantae heiress, and usurped his late father-in-law's throne, and, thus, the British kingdom of Bryneich became the English kingdom of Bernicia, for which Ida "Glynvar" is reckoned as the first King of Bernicia, in 547. The barbarian-king Ida "Glynvar" campaigned all over Northern England against the Britons. His main adversary was the local British king Outigern. Ida "Glynvar" was killed in 559 fighting Ywaine of Lothian. There is a poem written by the sixth-century Welsh bard Taliesin that tells how Ywaine of Lothian killed Eda "Flamdwyn," i.e., Ida "Glynvar," King of Bernicia, in battle at Argoed Llwyfein, Year 559. Ida "Glynvar" was survived by his widow, Bernoc, and their six sons [all of whom succeeded one another in turn as king], and by at least ten illegitimate sons by various concubines. Ida's widow, Queen Bernoc, reigned for about a year as regent for her eldest son, Glappa (Clappa), who was a minor, and was deposed in 560 by some rebel Angle dukes who set her second son, Adda (Atha), on the Bernician throne. The North Angles may have been suspicious of Queen Bernoc at first since she was a Briton princess; but her attachment to her husband and later the support she gave to her sons in their wars against her own people, the Britons, won her the respect, devotion, and loyalty of the North Angles. Her son Clappa was carried away by his frightened nanny who fled abroad with him and found refuge with the Lombards on the European continent, who were then encamped on the Save River. Clappa appears later as a Lombardic duke. The last we hear of Queen Bernoc is in 593 when she accompanied her grandson Ethelfrit along with the Northumbrian Army to the Battle of Catraeth to encourage the soldiers. She was killed in the confusion of one of the British attacks on the third day of the seven-day battle.
The North Angles split at this point, and NORTHUMBRIA broke-up into two states with the founding of DEIRA as a separate kingdom, Year 560, by the Angle prince Elli. Meantime, Adda, in BERNICIA, was at first dominated by rebel Angle dukes, but after his coming of age asserted himself over them and brought them into line, however, they were to later murder him. Adda aggressively fought the Britons. He fought battles against the Britons under such famous British commanders as Bohort, Gualluac of Elmet, and Perdur "Steel-Arm." He slew Perdur "Steel-Arm" of York in battle at Caer Greu in 568, not 586, shortly before he was murdered in a conspiracy of some rebel Angle dukes, who had a grudge against him. He was succeeded by his brother Aedilric [Ida Glynvar's 3rd son], whom William of Malmesbury called "a pitiable prince." Aedilric was killed in 572 in battle fighting the Britons under Kynvelyn "Drwsgl" of Edinburgh, and was succeeded in Bernicia by his brother, Theodoric. Theodoric counter-attacked the Britons and achieved some success for a while however was soundly defeated and killed in battle, in 579, along with one of his half-brothers, Theodulf [."..ulph"][whom Florence of Worcester lists as one of Bernicia's rulers], fighting Urien of Rheged, Riderch Hael of Strathclyde, Tudwal of Galloway, and other northern kings, who nearly overwhelmed Bernicia. He was succeeded by his brother, Frituwald. Frituwald (Frithuwulf) reigned for six years, unsuccessfully fought the British kings Urien, Tudor, and Moric, and was deposed in 585 by his brother Hussa, the youngest of Ida's sons by Bernoc. Frituwald went into exile but later returned and lived well into the reign of his nephew, Ethelfrit, and appears to have been a co-ruler with him for a while. He was still alive in 597 at the time of Augustine's mission. The thirteen kings of the British "North Country" combined their forces and drove the North Angles from the British mainland in 591 to stand siege on Lindisfarne, the off-shore isle opposite Bamburgh. The North Angles nearly suffered annihilation but were saved by the rivalry and discord among the thirteen kings of the British Northern League who all broke siege and returned to their respective kingdoms, and civil wars broke-out among the thirteen northern British kings. Hussa, called "Fire-Brand" ("Fflamddwyn"), took advantage of the situation and counter-attacked the warring Britons. He burst out of Lindisfarne and invaded the British mainland in 592 and swept all before him until he was finally stopped by the Britons under Owain of Rheged, who defeated and slew him in battle. The death of Hussa left the North Angles in disarray and temporarily leaderless for a few months until the appearing of the Angle prince Ethelfrit [son of the earlier Bernician king Aedilric], who came from Kent to Bernicia in 593 and was received by the North Angles as their king. He slew the rival claimant, his cousin, Hering, Hussa's son, who returned from exile in Scotland in 603. Ethelfrit, who appears in some lists as the 3rd Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda, greatly extended the borders of Bernicia in Northern England westwards and transformed the Kingdom of Bernicia from what had been little more than a few scattered Angle settlements on the eastern coastline into a powerful state of wide territorial expanse and made Bernicia the dominant kingdom in Northern England which it remained until its later conquest by the Vikings, in 867/878, and its subsequent union with Southern England in 954 uniting the whole of England under one crown. Elli, the last independent King of Northumbria was killed by the Vikings in 867; after which the Vikings occupied Deira, which became the Viking Kingdom of York, but Bernicia survived as a client-kingdom. Egbert I, the puppet-king of Bernicia set up by the Viking-King Ivar "Boneless," in 867, was expelled in a rebellion of his countrymen, in 872, led by Ricsige, who thereupon usurped the Bernician throne. Egbert fled to his Viking master; and died the next year. The Viking-King Sigfrid of York came to contain the rebellion, however, was defeated and killed in battle. Sigfrid's brother and successor, Halfdan, came to avenge his brother's death, and crushed the rebellion of the Bernicians, and Ricsige was killed in battle in 876. Halfdan then installed Egbert II on the Bernician throne, but he was expelled in 878 by the Scots under Giric, who drove the Angles out of Lothian and Northern Bernicia; and with the death of Egbert II came to an end the remnant of what had been once the great kingdom of Northumbria. The dynasty of Northumbria [Bernicia and Deira] continued to rule an English enclave in Southern Bernicia at Bamburgh however not as kings but as earls or high-reeves under the overlordship of first the Viking-Kings of Danish Deria, i.e., the Viking Kingdom of York, then, after 886 acknowledged the overlordship of the Kings of England or the Old English Royal House until the Norman Conquest, the last of whom, Waltheof II, fell fighting the Normans in 1076 under William "The Conqueror."
DEIRA had its beginnings with the Angle prince YFFI (formerly Uffi of Ipswich), the 2nd-cousin of Ida "Great-Knee" of Bernicia, who established himself as a local ruler in Deira at Goodmanham, which he made his seat, in 552. Yffi of Deira was killed in 556 fighting the Britons, and his sons, Elli and Oelf, took over the leadership of their late father's war-band of barbarians. Elli, one of the Angle dukes of Northumbria, carved out his own kingdom during a period of anarchy in Northumbria and founded the Kingdom of Deira in 560 with himself as its first king. Elli occupied York after the British Army withdrew under Perdur "Steel-Arm" in 565 and made it his seat. Elli maintained himself against his enemies, and must have made Deira into a prosperous kingdom as he is recorded as selling slaves as far away as Rome. Elli died in 588 or 598 and his widow [3rd wife], Eurgain, a British princess, set her son, Edwin, a minor [age, either 3 or 13 years], on the throne of Deira over Elli's grandson, Osric, who was also a minor, the issue of Alric, the eldest and late son of Elli by his first wife, and ruled briefly as regent during her son's minority until her marriage to Ethelfrit of Bernicia, who afterwards ruled Deira as regent for Edwin whom he adopts as his step-son. Ethelfrit occupied Deira on his marriage to Elli's widow, Eurgain, in 598, however, the following year the Deirans rose up in rebellion under the leadership of their prince Ethelric [son of Oelf, the brother of Elli], who set himself up as king attempting to maintain the independence of Deira. Ethelfrit held off for five years, then, on his divorce of Eurgain, his 2nd wife, in 604, took action and marched into Deira, slew Ethelric, crushed resistance, and annexed Deira to Bernicia to form the Kingdom of Northumbria. Ethelfrit divorced Eurgain, his 2nd wife, to marry her step-daughter, Acha, who was Edwin's older half-sister, the daughter of Elli and his 2nd wife, and expelled Eurgain, who took her son Edwin and found refuge at the court of the British king Cadfan (Cadvan) of Gwynedd (Venedotia), whose own wife Tandreg was Eurgain's sister. The Deiran prince Edwin was fostered in Cadfan's Court along beside Cadfan's son Cadwallon, who was about the same age. Edwin, after the death of the British king Cadfan [his foster-father] fighting the barbarian-king Ethelfrit [his step-father], fled to Mercia, where its king Ceorl gave him refuge, for Ethelfrit sought to slay Edwin, then, when Ethelfrit marched into Mercia, Edwin fled to East Anglia, where its king Redwald gave him refuge. Redwald refused to surrender Edwin to Ethelfrit, and Ethelfrit marched against him. However, it was Ethelfrit who was killed in battle. Edwin returned to Deira after Ethelfrit's death in battle in 616 and was received back by the Deirans as their king, and Deira again became an independent state. Edwin conquered Bernicia the following year (617), expelled Ethelfrit's sons, and re-united Deira and Bernicia reviving the Kingdom of Northumbria, thus, Deira again disappears as a separate state. Deira was the dominant partner this time in the union during Edwin's reign, but after his death there was a reversal in fortunes and Bernicia became the dominant partner in the union under the rule of Ethelfrit's son Oswald who returned from exile. Deira regained its independence in 642, was once more subjugated by Bernicia and became an appanage of the Bernician kingdom in 654, with its own ruler, client-king, who always was a Bernician prince, and in 679 was annexed by Bernicia uniting or re-uniting Bernicia and Deira as the Kingdom of Northumbria, until the Viking Conquest in 867 when Deira broke-off from Bernicia to become the Viking Kingdom of York and Bernicia became its client-state. Danish Deira (cap. at York), called The "DaneLaw," was conquered and annexed by England in 954 and became an English shire.
EAST ANGLIA had its beginnings with Wehha, an Anglo-Gothic prince, who was the leader of a war-band of barbarians in the employ of the British king Keredic, i.e., Cerdic of Wessex. Wehha and his men were recruited in 539 by Cerdic during the civil wars in Britain following Arthur's passing, the year before. The next year, in 540, Wehha revolted against his British master, Cerdic, and he and his men founded the settlement of the East Angles in the sparsely populated area of south-east Suffolk. The East Angles were not actually Angles, but were a mixture of Franks, Scandinavians, and Frisians, among other elements. Wehha belonged to the Gothic Balthae Dynasty which originated in Sweden, and among his ancestors was one called Casere, the son of the Roman Emperor Maximin II "Daia," who was the son of the barbarian [Visi-Gothic] prince, Micca, and the sister of the Roman Emperor Galerius, who adopted him as his son and successor, thus, the dynasty of East Anglia had an imperial tradition. Wehha was killed in 541 fighting combined British forces under Malgo of Venedotia, Riwal of Dumnonia, and Budic of Armorica. Uffi of Ipswich (formerly Offa of Essex) appears briefly in East Anglia as a barbarian-leader and afterwards shows up in Northumbria under the name of Yffi of Deira. Wuffa, Wehha's son, expelled his rivals and became King of the East Angles by 552, and, took the town of Rendlesham, which he made his seat, and founded the Kingdom of East Anglia in Year 555, for which he is reckoned its first king. WUFFA, after whom the dynasty of East Anglia was called the Wuffingas, is usually considered the first King of East Anglia and not his father Wehha who was simply the leader [or, commanding-officer] of one of the groups of barbarians [foreign mercenaries] who settled in Britain in post-Roman times. Wuffa of East Anglia went on the offensive in 571, marched down the Icknield Way, and overran British lands until he was turned back in 577 and fell in battle the next year, in 578, fighting Ceawlin of Wessex, the 2nd Bretwalda, and was succeeded in East Anglia by his son Tytila. Tytila, who appears as one of Ceawlin's vassals, rebelled against Wessex overlordship in 585 and regained East Anglia's independence. Tytila warred with his neighbors, Creoda of Mercia, Elli of Deira, and Sledda of Essex, and wrestled Norfolk from Mercia and annexed it to Suffolk by which East Anglia took its present form. The North-Folk were the descendants of the original Anglican settlers, while the South-Folk [the East Angles] were descendants of later immigrants. Tytila built "Devil's Dyke" near Newmarket as a defense against the attacks of his neighbors, and died in defense of the dyke fighting Ethelbert of Kent and Ethelfrit of Bernica in 593, who both are listed as the third "Bretwalda" in different lists. He was succeeded in East Anglia on his death by his son Redwald who rose to supremacy in England as the 4th Bretwalda. East Anglia was a major power in Britain during Redwald's lifetime, however, after Redwald's death East Anglia suddenly found itself a minor state and was later conquered by the Vikings. In 869 St. Edmund, the last independent King of East Anglia, was defeated by the Vikings, under Ivar "Boneless," in battle at Hellesdon. He surrendered to the conquerors; was cruelly tortured, flayed, and executed by being tied to a post or tree and shot full of arrows. His successor, Oswald, who was East Anglia's last native king, was a puppet-king of the Vikings, who expelled him in 878, then, gave East Anglia a dynasty of Viking kings, who were themselves later expelled by the native English, and East Anglia was subsequently annexed by England in 916.
note: minor barbarian kingdoms
(a) The ISLE OF WIGHT was a minor barbarian kingdom, and, just like the other minor barbarian kingdoms, such as Lindsey, Surrey, and The Hwicce, it was not numbered among the seven major barbarian kingdoms which comprised the Anglo-Saxon "Heptarchy" ["seven states"]. In 531 Cerdic of Wessex gave the Isle of Wight to Stuf and his brother Uhtgar, the co-leaders of a war-band of Jute mercenaries in his hire, that is, after expelling another barbarian war-band formerly in his hire [who were Thuringians] then occupying the isle under their leader Hadugat, who was in rebellion and was using the Isle of Wight as a base from which to attack the British mainland and Wessex. Hadugat and his men took ships to the European continent where the Frankish king Thierry of Metz employed them as mercenaries in his hire. Uhtgar outlived his brother, Stuf, and later revolts himself against Cerdic and converts the Jute settlement on the Isle of Wight into a kingdom for which he is reckoned its first king, circa 541. He was killed fighting the Britons in 544, however, his descendants reigned after him in the Isle of Wight as kings. The last king of the Isle of Wight was Arwald, who was overthrown in 685 by Cedwalla of Wessex, who then annexed the Isle of Wight to the Wessex kingdom. Arwald and his brothers were executed by Cedwalla, however, the late king had a son who escaped and found refuge in South Hampshire where there was a small Jute settlement, and his descendants later emerged as the local lords of that settlement. The mother of Alfred "The Great," Osburh, the daughter of Oslac, the ealdorman of the Jute settlement in South Hampshire, descended from the old royal house of the Isle of Wight through its last king, Arnwald, to its first king, Uhtgar.
(b) LINDSEY, roughly equivalent to Lincolnshire, was another minor barbarian kingdom. The kings of Lindsey arose in the first years of the Angle settlement of England, when the future of the invaders was still uncertain, but none are recorded to have played any part in the wars of the seventh and eighth centuries. Its first recorded king was reckoned to have been Cretta who re-founded the Angle kingdom in England in the sixth century, but later led the descendants of the original Angle settlers into the English midlands and became Creoda of Mercia, when the East Angles of Suffolk expelled the Norfolk Angles. The genealogy of the Lindsey dynasty is actually a king-list rather than a pedigree, for the kings of Lindsey represented not one but at least three different dynasties. Lindsey was seldom independent and for the most part of its history was subject to its neighbors. It was subject to Northumbria 623-657, though relatively independent 642-651. It was subject to Mercia 657-674; to Northumbria again 674-678, and, to Mercia once more 678-796. The last recorded King of Lindsey was [E]Aldfrit[h], who was removed by King Offa of Mercia in 796, and Lindsey was annexed to Mercia. This [E]Aldfrit[h] was a witness of a charter of the Mercian king Offa in 786. The seat of the Lindsey kings is thought to have been Caistor, but this is unsure.
(c) HWICCE, roughly equivalent to the territory of Worcestershire, was another minor barbarian kingdom. It derives its name from its founder and first king, the Saxon chieftain, Wicca, who established a Saxon settlement in Worcestershire, circa 540, and, its last recorded ruler was Ealdred, on whose death, circa 795, The Hwicce was annexed to Mercia.
(d) MAGONSAETE, "march" state of Mercia, whose rulers were a branch of the Mercian royal house; was annexed to Mercia, date unknown.
(e) CHILTERNS, a barbarian kingdom, founded in the sixth century, circa 540, founded by (?), was annexed by Mercia on the death of its last king, Dida, circa 675.
C. THE BRETWALDAS
"The Venerable" Bede, the early English writer, wrote that there were eight Bretwaldas, that is, high-kings. The word "Bretwalda" is the English spelling of the Celtic "Brehin," meaning "King of Britain." The various versions of the Anglo-Saxon chronicles give differents lists of who the Bretwaldas were. The southern list names: (1) Aella of Sussex; (2) Ceawlin of Wessex; (3) Ethelbert of Kent; (4) Redwald of East Anglia; (5) Wulfhere of Mercia; (6) Ethelbald of Mercia; (7) Offa of Mercia; and (8) Egbert of Wessex; while the northern list names: (1) Aella of Sussex; (2) Ceawlin of Wessex; (3) Ethelfrit of Bernicia; (4) Redwald of East Anglia; (5) Edwin of Deira; (6) Oswald of Bernicia; (7) Oswy of Northumbria; and (8) Egbert of Wessex. There were, however, others beside these who ruled Anglo-Saxon England as Bretwalda, and if one includes them, then, there were at least eighteen bretwaldas! The "bretwaldship," that is, the high-kingship, unlike the seven regional kingships of The Heptarchy, was not an hereditary office but was elective and open to any of the seven Anglo-Saxon kings. The Anglo-Saxon bretwaldship was actually a continuation of the Celtic brehinship, that is, the British Monarchy, which institution continued after the Anglo-Saxon conquest under a new constitution. The Bretwaldas obtained the national-throne either by warfare or by election by the "witanagemot," which was an assembly of all the tribal chiefs and clan captains. The Anglo-Saxon "witanagemot" was a carry-over of the Teutonic "Thing" or Scandinavian "Diet" which was an ancient institution of the Teutonic Peoples. This was the Anglo-Saxon constitution of a democratic monarchy which replaced the Celto-Roman constitution of an absolute monarchy. The "witanagemot" seldom met, and never after the Norman Conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Bretwaldas, i.e. Kings of Britain, tried and failed to re-unite Britain under a single dynasty, yet the pretense of a single royal house was made by the various Anglo-Saxon dynasties by means of connecting their respective ancestors genealogically to the Anglo-Saxon pagan pantheon of gods claiming a common ancestry for themselves from the Anglo-Saxon sun-god Woden. It was the struggle for the bretwaldship among the seven Anglo-Saxon dynasties that eventually united the separate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into a single English kingdom under a single dynasty, that is, the Old English Royal House; and it was around the Anglo-Saxon bretwaldship that the English Monarchy took shape.
479-49 31. AELLA "THE SAXON" or "THE TYRANT" of SUSSEX,
was the first Anglo-Saxon "Bretwalda," and, as such he may properly be called the first King of England. Aella (Elli) was the first "barbarian" King of Britain succeeding the native British dynasty on the throne. Aella, a Teutonic [possibly Hunnish] prince, the leader of a military confederacy of Teutonic war-lords, came from Germany and landed on the southern shores of Britain with a large barbarian horde near Selsey Bill, Sussex, Year 477, in the "Adventus Saxonum," that is, the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion." Aella (Elli) of Sussex had a brother, Alesa (Else), who brought reinforcements in 479 to secure the "Saxon" presence in Britain, whom the "ASC" makes into the ancestor of the Wessex dynasty. Aella and Alesa may be identified with the two sons of Ellak, King of The Huns [son & successor of Attila "The Scourge"], or the two sons of Esle, the brother of Eaha, the King of Holstein, the sons of the Saxon chieftain Eafa mentioned in early Teutonic literature. Aella fought and defeated the Britons in a series of battles years 477, 478, and 479, and slew the British king ANBLAUD "THE GREAT" [the Welsh Anlawd "Wledic"] in battle, and within three years conquered most of Southern England, that is, Sussex, Essex, and Wessex.
The British Throne was usurped by Aella in 479 who adopted the title "Bretwalda," the English spelling of the Celtic "Brehin," meaning, "King of Britain," after defeating and slaying his predecessor in battle. The British nobles or local lords of Southern England submitted to Aella acknowledging his overlordship and gave him their children as hostages. The British local lords, or regional-rulers, called "earls" during the post-Roman period, were called "ealdormen" in the Anglo-Saxon Era. Aella established a "Saxon" [or, more precisely, "barbarian," because the Britons called all barbarians "Saxons"] in Southern England, and founded a "barbarian" kingdom, Saxony, in Britain; just like Odovacar in Italy; Clovis in France; and Ataulpho in Spain. It appears that the aspirations of Aella and his successors led the Anglo-Saxon Bretwaldas to behave in ways derived from Roman traditions. This could only have encouraged and assisted by the presence of a large number of Celto-Roman nobles in Post-Roman Britain surviving into the Anglo-Saxon Era. Thus, although the settlement of the Anglo-Saxons in England caused a certain amount of dislocation among the Britons, it did not entail a total change of the administrative personnel of the nation. Therefore, it is not surprising that Celto-Roman aristocrats continued to hold their office in governmental service though subject to the Anglo-Saxon kings.
The British people, oppressed by foreign conquerors, rose up in rebellion in 485. Aella was busy for months putting down scattered local uprisings while at the sametime fighting an organized British resistance. The Britons rallied around an un-named patriotic leader called "The Fox," and fought the Saxons in guerilla-warfare for a decade. Aella for a while was hard put to maintain his own position until his victory over the Britons at Mercred's-Burnsted [identified with Lye] where nearly all the rebel British leaders were either killed or captured and executed after the battle. Aella, after suppressing the rebellion, rounded-up and imprisoned numerous British nobles and local British leaders, and went about laying waste to British lands to punish the rebellious Britons.
Sometime between 484 and 488 Aella joined Britain with other western states in an alliance against the eastern empire. Thelo, the son of the barbarian-king Odovacar of Italy, was set up as a rival emperor in opposition to the eastern emperor, Zeno, and was briefly recognized by the western states, however, the alliance soon broke-up due to the jealousies of the western rulers, who were: Odovacar, the Germanic King of Italy; Alaric, the Visi-Gothic King of Spain; Gundamund, the Vandal King of North Africa; Clovis, the Frankish King of Gaul; Gundobad, the Burgundian King of Switzerland; Bisin, the Thuringian King of Germany; and Aella, the "Saxon" King of Britain. Zeno sent the Ostro-Goths under their king Theodoric "The Great" to the West as treaty-troops in the employ of the empire to put down the rebellion of the western rulers. Theodoric first defeated and slew Odovacar and drove the Germans [Saxons, Heruls, and Scirii] out of Italy and occupies the country. The occupation of Italy by the Ostro-Goths [also called the "Greutungi"] was not a "barbarian" invasion or conquest for Theodoric was a Byzantine general and ruled Italy as its governor with an imperial commission that made him viceroy of the western provinces.
The imperial succession was claimed by Aella of Britain during the interlude following the death of Zeno in 491, and Aella took the title "Brytwalda" and reigned in Britain as emperor for which he was called "The Tyrant." The title "Bryt[en]w[e]alda," meaning "wide-ruler," was what the Saxons called the Roman Emperors, and is not to be confused with the title "Bretwalda," which is a contraction of "Bretenanwealda," meaning "ruler [or king] of Britain." Bede says that Aella was the first of the Saxon race to exercise the "imperium" in Britain as St. Gildas says that Ambrosius was the last of the Roman race to do so.
Another rebellion of the Britons was ruthlessly suppressed in 491 by Aella, who stormed the old Roman fort of Anderida [Pevensey] where the Britons had sought refuge, slew its defenders, and once more laid waste to British lands. His rule was so oppressive that the Britons sent appeals to the empire for help; and, at the direction of Theodoric "The Great," the Ostro-Gothic Byzantine Viceroy of Western Europe, the Visi-Gothic Biscay Bay Fleet was dispatched to Britain under its commanders, (another) Theodoric, called "The Elder," and Marcellus, to fight the barbarians on behalf of the Roman Britons in response to their appeals. Aella fell fighting Theodoric and Marcellus in the "1st" Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill], in 493, after which the Saxon kingdom in Britain collapsed and the bretwaldship fell into abeyance. Many of the Saxons migrated back to their native homeland in Germany following the battle, while those remaining submitted to the victors.
The "ASC" gives Aella three sons, namely, Cymen, Wlanc, and Cissa, but these names are found elsewhere in other genealogies and were probably not Aella's sons but perhaps his sons-in-law, that is, the three consecutive husbands of his daughter, Adela, an only child, begotten of his wife, Alis (Alice), called "Mother of English Kings" by later Welsh writers, very likely because through intermarriage among the various Anglo-Saxon dynasties she was the ancestress of all the succeeding Anglo-Saxon bretwaldas. Alis (Alice) was the daughter of the British king Vortigern and his wife "barbarian" wife, Rowen, daughter of Hengist "The Half-Dane" of Kent. Cymen, Wlanc, and Cissa, may be identified with the contemporary historical figures: (a) Cymen, the Angle heir, was killed in battle, in 504, fighting King Arthur. Cymen doubtless gave his name to Keynor [Cymenes ora; Cumenshora] the beach near Wittering on the Selsea peninsula where he came ashore with a war-band of Angles, and won a victory over the Britons as allies of the Saxons. (b) Wlanc[a], the French duke, identified with Lancelot of medieval romance, who along with some immigrants from France came to Britain in 507 and became one of King Arthur's knights. His name is preserved in Lancing, and possibly also in Linchmere. His marriage to Adela ended in divorce to marry King Arthur‘s step-sister, Anne. (c) Cissa may be identified with the Lombardic prince Pissa, who was the father of the Lombardic king Audoin. Cissa [Pissa] came to Britain in 514 as the leader of a war-band of Lombards and gave his name to Cissbury, where he first established himself over the Lombardic settlement, and also to Chichester, which he later established himself as Sussex's first king.
The Anglo-Saxon Era was interrupted by the "Age of Arthur" during which the office of "bretwalda" lay vacant. The "barbarians" (Anglo-Saxons) in Britain were somewhat civilized during the Arthurian Age, such that the later Anglo-Saxon generation which finally conquered Britain was far more civilized than their ancestors who had originally come in the "Adventus Saxonium," that is, the "great Anglo-Saxon invasion." All of the Anglo-Saxon chiefs/kings appear as King Arthur's vassals, and their sons all appear as knights in King Arthur's Court, some of whom distinguished themselves in Arthur's service. The integration of the barbarians into British society ended abruptly with Arthur's passing, after which the Britons and the Saxons began again fighting each other. And, in the years following Arthur's passing the Anglo-Saxons eventually overcame the Britons and took over the whole of what became England, which they made into a Teutonic state and revived the Anglo-Saxon bretwaldship.
568-59 32. CEAWLIN (COELIN) of WESSEX,
was reckoned by Bede to have been the second Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda. Ceawlin of Wessex was a Briton and not a Saxon as the "ASC" makes him, though his step-mother, Lotilde, was a Franco-Saxon princess. He is first mentioned in the "ASC" as fighting alongside his father, Cynric (Cunorix), against the Arthurian heir, Cadrod "Calchvynydd," at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire, in 556, during the intermittent civil wars between the House of Cerdic [Celto-Saxon heritage] and the House of Arthur [Celto-Roman heritage]. In 560 he succeeded his father, Cynric [son of Cerdic], as king of Wessex, which he used as his base in his ambition to re-unify the British Nation. Ceawlin of Wessex in 560 asserted his claim to the British Throne, and set out to subdue the whole country. His first actions, after repelling attacks by the militias of Cornwall-Devonshire, Gloucestershire, and Glamorgan, were to subdue the West Saxons of the middle and upper Thames valley, drive the Jutes of Kent out of Surrey, and uproot a colony of Angles in Norrey. Ceawlin at this time made his brother, Cutha, the governor of the West Saxon settlement in the upper Thames valley. Ceawlin deployed mercenaries in his hire under their captain Glippa to fill the vacuum in Surrey and to patrol Wessex's border with Kent, and deployed other mercenaries under their captain Taeppa in Norrey to guard against attacks by either Essex, East Anglia, or Deira. Ceawlin, just like his grandfather, Cerdic, employed foreign mercenaries in his service, which, just like his grandfather's experience, was to prove to be disastrous for him. Ceawlin invaded Kent in 560 and slew its king Ermenric after defeating him in battle at Wimbleton. Meantime, civil wars were raging among the Britons. The year before, in 559, King Elidur of Lancaster invaded Gwynedd (Venedotia) against its king, Rhun, but was himself killed at the Battle of Cadnant Brook, which the northern British kings sought to avenge but were defeated and routed by King Rhun. Rhun supported the anti-king Cyndeyrn "Wledic," which brought him into conflict with King Ceawlin. Ceawlin returned to Kent in 563 and expelled the Viking invaders. Ceawlin fought off another Welsh offensive in 565 and killed the British anti-king Cyndeyrn "Wledic" of the British "West Country." In 568 Ceawlin struck out on a systematic campaign of conquest and subdued Sussex, whose king Ricolf gave his sister to Ceawlin in marriage; expelled Frankish invaders from Kent; marched into Essex and slew its king, Aescwine; defeated Wuffa of East Anglia in battle, who apparently submitted to him; occupied Lincoln and executed the Angle heirs, Oslaf and Cneva, after defeating them and the Lindsey-Militia in battle at Wibbandun; subdued Deira whose king Elli submitted to him; upon which Aedilric of Bernicia sent an embassy to Ceawlin and acknowledged his overlordship. Ceawlin, after subjugating the barbarians, called an assembly of both Briton and Saxon leaders to meet with him in London, where in a ceremony they all acknowledged him as their overlord or as King of Britain and became his vassals. Ceawlin thus revived the British Monarchy in 568 and reigned as a Celtic Brehin although later Saxon tradition made him into an Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda. He reigned over both Britons and Saxons alike.
The reign of Ceawlin began with great promise but ended in confusion and disaster, and an ignominious death for him. A civil war broke-out in 571 between Ceawlin and the Arthurian heir, Condidan. The barbarians took advantage of the situation to renew their attacks. Ceawlin dispatched his brother with a force against the attacking barbarians, while he was busy fighting the rival British king. Cutha slew the East Saxon king Bedca of Essex in battle at Bedford and retook four towns the barbarians had previously taken. The East Saxons of Essex, however, counter-attacked under their new king Sledda who slew the Wessex prince Cutha in battle at Oxford and overran the Thames Valley; while Wuffa of East Anglia was on the march down the Icknield Way towards Wessex; the sametime Cretta of Lindsey led a colony of Angles from around The Wash into the British midlands, defeated and expelled Dunawt "The Stout" [Dunod "Fwr"] and his brother Samuil [or Sawyle] "Penessil" ["The Arrogant"], the sons of Pabo Post Pryden, the British co-rulers of the Pennine Mountains, seized Central England, and became Creoda of Mercia. Meanwhile, in Northern England, the thirteen kings of the British "North Country," who openly repudiated Ceawlin's authority were fighting among themselves as well as the North Angles. They made a truce and joined forces in the 570s to fight the North Angles. In 573 Perdur "Steel-Arm" of York and his brother Gwrgi made an attempt to take the fort at Caerlaverock from King Gwendoleu, whom they slew in battle at Arthuret, however, were themselves slain in battle a few weeks later by King Adda of Bernicia. Ceawlin at length defeated the rival British king Condidan and his allies Ffernfael of Glamorgan and Coinmail (Cynfael) of ... in the Battle of Dyrham [Deorham], in 577, took three "chesters" formerly occupied by his enemies on his western border, that is, Gloucester, Bath, and Circencester, broke up such enemy strongholds as still remained in the Chilterns and the lower Severn, and occupied both British and English communities in the Avon Valley and Warwickshire. After ending the civil war between he and Condidan, Ceawlin was the free to deploy all his forces against the barbarians and proceeded to turn back the Anglo-Saxon advance and forced the barbarians to come to terms.
Civil war broke-out once more among the Britons in 581. Ceawlin suffered defeat in 584 against the rival claimant Cynferch in battle at Tintern Fird, or Frethern, in Herefordshire. His son, Cutha, the crown-prince, was killed in this battle. The "ASC" says that Ceawlin "departed in anger to his own territories" taking vengeance all the way back to Wessex. The battle was the turning-point of Ceawlin's fortunes. His defeat seriously undermined his prestige and standing among his vassals, who before long rose up in rebellion against him. It was the beginning of a spirited rally of both Britons and Saxons alike against Ceawlin, who, William of Malmesbury wrote, was hated by all of his subjects. In 586 Ceawlin was defeated in another battle this time in Oxfordshire at Fethanlea[g][Fethanleigh], or Faddiley, attempting to suppress the rebellion of his vassals, who had joined forces against him, after which his hegemony in Britain suddenly collapsed with Ceawlin reduced to Wessex. Rhun of Gwynedd, Iudwal of Domnonee, and Alain of Brittany were all killed in that battle. Ceawlin wins his last battle in 589 and slays King Constantine of Cornwall-Devonshire. Then, in 591, Ceawlin was decisively defeated in battle at Adam's Grave [or "Woden's Barrow"], east of Devizes, fighting Creoda of Mercia, who was joined by both Britons and Saxons alike under their own leaders. This sparked a struggle in Wessex itself between opposing factions, and Ceawlin was deposed in Wessex by his nephew Ceolric (Ceola), the son of his late brother, Cutha, who usurped the Wessex throne. Ceawlin hastily gathered another army, but was defeated in 592 at Woddesbeorg, i.e., Woodborough, in Wiltshire, fighting [his half-brother] Cwichelm of Wessex, Tridda of Surrey, and Ethelfrit of Bernicia, who had joined forces. Finding no more support Ceawlin took flight and fled abroad into exile. He, however, returned to Britain the next year with a force of foreign mercenaries which he hired on the European continent and fought to recover the throne. His foreign mercenaries, however, betrayed him and murdered Ceawlin during a battle in 593 fighting the barbarians under Ethelbert of Kent and Ethelfrit of Bernicia, after which the mutinous foreign mercenaries joined the barbarians in ravaging the British countryside. Ceawlin was survived by his queen Rixane [daughter of Rhywarch of Sussex and Alhilda, the Saxon heiress], who probably died shortly after. Their only son, Cutha, had been killed in an earlier battle [in 584], but had left issue of his wife [daughter of Creoda of Mercia] of two sons, Cedda (Chad) and Cutha, who were Ceawlin's grandsons, who were raised by King Ceolric of Wessex, their father's cousin, who had married their mother after their father's death nine years earlier. Ceolric reigned in Wessex as a local king under the overlordship of Ethelbert of Kent, the 3rd Bretwalda. It was during his reign that "British" Hampshire became "Saxon" Wessex, and in the following years the Wessex dynasty was thoroughly "anglicized" and lost its identity as Briton and in due course came to be thought of as Saxon. The dynasty of Wessex suppressed its native Briton origin and ancestry once the Saxons had taken over England and sought to find their roots in the new order of things and made their ancestor Cerdic into a Saxon giving him a fictitious Saxon pedigree. This manipulation of a royal pedigree to suit changing political conditions is not an isolated instance. The genealogies of Cerdic, Vortigern, and Arthur, are three examples.
593-616 3A. ETHELBERT of KENT
appears as the third Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda in some regnal-lists, while in others (3B) ETHELFRIT of BERNICIA appears so. Indeed, they both shared the bretwaldship and reigned together as colleagues with Ethelbert over Southern England and Ethelfrit over Northern England, thus, they are both recognized as the third bretwalda in different lists. England was "anglicized" during their co-reigns and the native Britons of England adopted the Anglo-Saxon economy. Ethelbert [born 552; died 616] was only eight years old when his father Ermenric of Kent was killed in 560 fighting Ceawlin of Wessex. His mother fled with him to Bernicia, where she married the Bernician prince (later king), Aedilric, and begot another son, Ethelfrit. His father had betrothed Ethelbert to a French princess in 558 when he was only age six; and, in 562 the Franks invaded Kent in support of the dispossessed Kentish prince. Ethelbert, age ten, appears to have been sent to France in 562, and the Franks took Ethelbert to Kent and briefly restored him to his father's throne. However, in 563, the Franks were driven out of Kent by Ceawlin of Wessex, and Ethelbert returned into exile. Ethelbert returned to Bernicia, for in 569 he married a Bernician princess, by whom he begot a son and a daughter. She was the first of his three wives. In 578 he married the French princess, Bertha, whom he had originally been betrothed to, and, by whom he begot a son and a daughter. Then, in 602, he married another Bernician princess, by whom he begot a daughter. Ethelbert, with Bernician support, was able to establish himself on the throne in Kent in 571 while Ceawlin of Wessex was busy fighting a large-scale Anglo-Saxon offensive. In 577 he made a treaty with Ceawlin, whereby, Ceawlin, the second bretwalda, recognized Ethelbert in Kent in exchange for tribute and homage; and Ethelbert became one of Ceawlin's vassals. However, in 591, Ethelbert rebelled against Ceawlin, and, in 593, Ethelbert and his half-brother Ethelfrit overthrew Ceawlin and divided England north and south between them, each succeeding Ceawlin in office reigning as co-bretwaldas.
Meantime, England came to the attention of the Church when Pope Gregory "The Great" saw some fair-haired, blue-eyed English boys for sale in the slave-market of Rome, and enquiring whence they came was told that they were Angles, to which his response was "not Angles, but Angels," and resolved thereupon to convert the pagan English to Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons were pagans unlike the native Britons who were Christians. Christianity wholly disappeared in the parts of Britain which were conquered by the Anglo-Saxons. The Church and its whole organization in England vanished during the Anglo-Saxon conquest, and church buildings survived in England only as deserted ruins. Then, in 597, Christianity was re-introduced to England by St. Augustine, whose mission was received by the Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda Ethelbert of Kent, whom Pope Gregory addressed in his letters of introduction as "King of England." Augustine was accompanied by forty missionaries; and more arrived to help over the following years. Ethelbert was converted to Christianity by St. Augustine, and he allowed the saint to use the old Roman church of St. Martin's in Canterbury as his residence, and St. Augustine became the first Arch-Bishop of Canterbury as well as the first "English" Primate. Canterbury thus became the primary seat of the Christian Church in England as it has remained since. The spread of Christianity beyond Kent throughout Southern England was facilitated by the authority of Ethelbert as Bretwalda. He strongly encouraged the conversion of his subjects. British [or Welsh] bishops, however, were unwilling to help St. Augustine convert the pagan English due to the fierce hatred between the Britons [or Welsh] and the Saxons, which the British/Welsh bishop Dinoot explained to St. Augustine. Ethelbert helped St. Augustine in difficult negotiations with the British [i.e., the Welsh] King Cadfan. St. Augustine built new churches and re-opened old ones, and additional properties were endowed by Ethelbert by grants. The bishop Mellitus was sent by Augustine to London to preach the gospel to its inhabitants, but he was driven out by the city's pagan inhabitants, which frustrated the intention of Pope Gregory to re-establish the primacy of London as the headquarters of the country's episcopate. The heathenism of the city's inhabitants shows that the inhabitants of London of that day were not the survivors of the city's inhabitants of Arthur's time just a little over fifty years earlier, but pagan Saxons squatting within the city's walls. Nevertheless, Ethelbert repaired and re-opened the old Roman church of St. Paul's in London despite the objections of the city's inhabitants. The Angles in Northern England under Ethelfrit remained pagan, while Christianity was spreading among the Saxons in Southern England under Ethelbert.
Kent, under Ethelbert, became civilized state, especially due to French influence. Ethelbert restored a form of governance in England after the anarchy that prevailed during the last decade of Ceawlin‘s reign, introduced a legal code based on old Roman law, and re-opened the British mint. Ethelbert brought stability back to Southern England, which enjoyed a period of peace; while his colleague Ethelfrit in Northern England was constantly warring with the Welsh, Scots, and Irish.
593-616 3B. ETHELFRIT of BERNICIA
was also reckoned the third Bretwalda in some regnal-lists. He appears in medieval Welsh annals as Edelfled/Edelfled "Ffeisor"/Ffleissawc"/"Ffleisawr." His epithet means "The Twister" or "Artful Dodger." He was also called "THE FEROCIOUS". Ethelfrit of Bernicia and Ethelbert of Kent were half-brothers sharing the same mother, Alhilda, the Saxon heiress, the grand-daughter of Aella of Sussex, the first Bretwalda. Their half-sister, Rixane, was the queen of Ceawlin of Wessex, the second Bretwalda. Another half-sister, Ricole, was the mother of Sigewise, the queen of Redwald of East Anglia, the fourth Bretwalda. Thus, they were all inter-related one way or another. Ethelfrit married thrice. His first wife, Bebbe[b], identity unsure, bore him one son; he was childless of his second wife, Eurgain, a British princess, the widow of Elli of Deira [his 3rd wife], the mother of Edwin, the fifth Bretwalda, whom Ethelfrit adopted as his step-son; and, of his third wife, Acha, his second wife's step-daughter, whom he divorced to marry her, begot six sons and one daughter. Ethelfrit was a great warrior, but also used wile, cunning, and deceit to achieve his ends, as his epithets portray him. He was violent, vindictive, and volatile. Ethelfrit was received by the North Angles of Bernicia as their king in 593 following a period of anarchy there. He fought a series of battles against the Britons the first five years of his reign, from 593 to 598. His victory over the thirteen kings of the British "North Country" in the Battle of Catraeth [Catterick, Yorkshire] in 593 re-established the Bernician kingdom and secured him as its king. His defeat in the Battle of Bangor in 598 temporarily saved the British "West Country" from conquest. Ethelfrit conquered the British "North Country" by his victory in the Battle of Degsastan [Dawston, in Liddesdale], in 603; and, ten years later, conquered the British "West Country" by his victory in the Battle of Chester, in Cheshire, in 613. Meantime, in 604, Ethelfrit occupied Deira and annexed it to Bernicia re-creating the Kingdom of Northumbria. Ethelfrit expanded his kingdom from Lothian in the north to the Humber River in the south, and also exercised some authority over Lindsey. Following the death of Ethelbert of Kent in 616 [24 Feb.], Ethelfrit set out to conquer Southern England and proceeded to invade the realm of his late colleague, Ethelbert. He marched through Mercia, which submitted to him, then, onto East Anglia. The King of East Anglia, Redwald, however, resisted him and gave battle. The two armies met at Retford on the banks of the river Idle, in Nottingham, on the Mercian border, and, though greatly out-numbered, Redwald was victorious despite overwhelming odds. Ethelfrit during the heat of the battle was separated from his bodyguard and was cut down by one of his own officers [11 Apr.]. This was called in The "Triads" one of the "three fortunate assassinations." It was the conquests of Ethelfrit which established Northumbria as a major English kingdom, which it remained over the next century.
Ethelbert died several weeks before the death of Ethelfrit, and therefore was not with Ethelfrit when he was killed during battle fighting Redwald of East Anglia, one of their vassals, who challenged their supremacy and contended for the bretwaldship, which at length he obtained and succeeded them on the English throne as the fourth Bretwalda, which made East Anglia the dominant power in England for a while. Ethelbert's son, Eadbald; and Ethelfrit's son, Eanfrit, both submitted to Redwald after the battle and became his vassals.
616-623 4. REDWALD of EAST ANGLIA
rose to great power following the deaths of Ethelbert ad Ethelfrit in 616 and is reckoned as the fourth Bretwalda. Bede says of him that he was "noble by birth though ignoble in deeds," which may indicate that Redwald gained ascendancy by both fair and foul means. That is, he was responsible for the deaths of both Ethelbert and Ethelfrit; one, Ethelbert, by foul means, and, the other, Ethelfrit, by fair means. Ethelbert was possibly murdered by assassins in a conspiracy of his vassals instigated by Redwald, whereas Ethelfrit brought about his own death playing right into Redwald's hands. Redwald had given refuge to Edwin of Deira, whom Ethelfrit sought to slay. Ethelfrit thrice sent messengers to Redwald offering him large sums of money if he would surrender Edwin over to him, or else put Edwin to death. Redwald was tempted, and told his queen of Ethelfrit‘s offer. She, however, dissuaded him from obliging Ethelfrit saying that to murder a guest was dishonorable. He took her advice, and not only refused to give Edwin up, but determined to espouse his cause. This outraged Ethelfrit who thereupon marched against Redwald, but it was Ethelfrit who met defeat and was killed in battle.
England enjoyed a burst of prosperity and cultural activity during Redwald's reign. He was very wealthy and kept a splendid court. The "Old English" literary works "Beowulf," "Deor," and "Widsith," were written by their authors at Redwald's Court, which patronized authors, artisans, and artists. These old literary epics only survive today in eighth-century copies. The presence of St. Paulinus at Redwald's Court may indicate the king's position as regards religion. Redwald had earlier professed Christianity under pressure from Ethelbert, but later after Ethelbert's death under the influence of his queen recanted and reverted back to the worship of the old pagan gods of his ancestors. He did not, however, renounce Christianity altogether but maintained a temple with both a Christian and a pagan altar, one for Christian mass, the other for sacrifice to pagan idols.
The first wife of Redwald was Clothilde of Allemannia (Germany) by whom he had a son, Ragenheri (Rainer), who was killed in the battle his father won over Ethelfrit in 616. Ragenheri was survived by two daughters, but none sons. Redwald, of his second wife, Sigewise of Essex [niece of Ethelbert and Ethelfrit, i.e., the daughter of their half-sister], had a son, Earpwald, and a daughter, Cynewise [the later wife of Penda of Mercia, sometimes reckoned a bretwalda]. Sigewise, of a previous marriage, had a daughter, Saewara, and possibly a son, Sigebert, or else Sigebert was the son of Redwald's first wife, Clothilde, born of a previous marriage. Redwald expelled Sigebert, who found refuge in France, and Saewara was given in marriage to the East Angle prince, Anna, the son of Redwald's half-brother, Eni. The third wife of Redwald was Waldwynn of Westphalia (?) by whom there is no record of any issue. Redwald also made Edwin of Deira his "god-son," whom he sponsors and restores to his estate.
In 623 Redwald was killed fighting invading Danes under their king Ivar "Vidfadmi" ("Wide-Fathom"), who conquered and lost one-fifth part of England within a year's time. He had already conquered Kurland, Estland, and all lands east of Denmark to "Gardarike" (Russia). He campaigned in England, France, and Ireland also, but was unable to hold on to his conquests. The Sutton-Hoo ship-burial is generally believed to be Redwald's grave. It is a pagan burial site. The body of the East Angle king buried there [which rapidly decayed into nothing due to the soil's high acidity] was placed inside the hull of a ship 90 feet long and up to 14 feet wide [which was to convey him to the next world with money to pay the steersman and rowers and with all the equipment he would need for the journey] which was covered over by a mound of earth. The objects buried in the grave testify to the great wealth of the king interred there.
The hegemony of East Anglia in England dissolved after Redwald's death; whose death was followed by an interregnum in the bretwaldship as the Danish invaders ravaged East Anglia, who were driven out by the Britons, who saw their opportunity here and briefly retook their country from the Anglo-Saxons, who fought back and eventually regained control of the country. It was out of this period of warfare that Edwin of Deira rose to reign as the next Bretwalda.
624/5-633 5. EDWIN of DEIRA,
the Welsh IUDOIN [List "F" # 15], appears as a bretwalda in some regnal-lists but his name is absent in others. In 616, with the support of Redwald of East Anglia, Edwin was restored to his kingdom, Deira. The next year, in 617, Edwin occupied Bernicia, expelled Ethelfrit's sons, and united Bernicia and Deira back to form the greater kingdom of Northumbria. Edwin, in 619, sought to eradicate the last remaining British kingdoms in Central England, those of Dent, Elmet, and Kyle, expelled their kings, and annexed those regional-states to his realm.
Edwin, after the death of Redwald of East Anglia, in 623, submitted to the British king Cadwallon of Gwynedd, who expelled the Danish invaders from Britain and occupied Saxon lands. Edwin appears as "comes Britanniae," i.e., "Count of Britain," in the service of the British king Cadwallon, his foster-brother, which made him "Governor" of England over all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Edwin, however, desired the title "king" rather than "count" of England and petitioned King Cadwallon of Britain for the English crown. His request was rejected by King Cadwallon, upon which Edwin rebelled against the British king in 624 and fought a series of battles against him. Edwin, by 625, had driven Cadwallon out of Britain and had subdued the British "West Country" as well as the British "North Country," and having done so usurped the British throne. Bede says that Edwin ruled over the whole of England except for Kent alone.
The mission of St. Paulinus to York in 625 was received by Edwin who gave the saint a residence, and St. Paulinus became the first Arch-Bishop of York since its last incumbent St. Tadioc fled the city over seventy-five years earlier when the city fell to the Angles for the second time (540). Pope Boniface V sent Edwin a letter through Paulinus urging his acceptance of the Christian faith. The Angles of Northern England were still pagan unlike the Saxons of Southern England who already had been converted to Christianity some years earlier. Edwin had been exposed to Christianity as a youth while growing-up in the court of the British king Cadfan of Gwynedd, and had even undergone baptism, however, his conversion was false and he remained a pagan at heart. In 626 Edwin was faced with a rebellion of his vassals, and swore to St. Paulinus that he would renounce his pagan idols if successful in suppressing the rebellion. Edwin successfully quelled the rebellion however did not embrace Christianity immediately as he had promised the saint, but constantly meditated alone on the course he should take. The question of a national religion was debated in the witanagemot, which Edwin called to convene, and Christianity was adopted by all the Anglo-Saxon kings in 627 except for Penda of Mercia, who remained a pagan due to a promise he had made to his late father. Coifi, the pagan high-priest, was also converted to Christianity and oversaw the destruction of idols and pagan altars throughout the country. Penda of Mercia rebelled against the changes in 628 but threatened by Edwin submitted and did not object to the conversion of the Mercian people nor even of his own family yet remained himself a pagan all his life.
For the next few years England experienced a period of peace and prosperity, however, in 632 the British ex-king Cadwallon returned from exile and rallied his supporters in an attempt to retake the throne. Penda of Mercia, whose sister was Cadwallon's wife, joined forces with Cadwallon against Edwin. Cadwallon fought sixteen battles against Edwin over the next year, and at length defeated and slew Edwin in battle at Hatfield Chase, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in 633 [12 Oct.]. Osfrid [GM's Offrid], Edwin's eldest son, was killed in the battle along with his father, while his brother Edfrid attempting to flee with the scattered army was taken alive by Penda. He was taken to Mercia by Penda who kept him a prisoner for a while, but later executed him to please Oswald of Bernicia. These were the sons of Edwin by his first wife, Cwenburg, daughter of King Ceorl of Mercia. His marriage to Ethelburh "Tate," daughter of the late Bretwalda Ethelbert of Kent, his second wife, produced two more sons and two daughters. She, on hearing the news of her husband's death in battle, fled York with her children along with her late husband's grandson from his first marriage, accompanied by St. Paulinus, and, escorted by the Northumbrian general Bassa, and sought refuge in Kent with her brother, Eadbald, its king. James "The Deacon" remained in York to keep alive the work of the Christian mission; and, Osric [GM's Ofric], Edwin's nephew [the son of Edwin's elder late half-brother], set himself up as king in York after the flight of the royal family, but was only recognized in Deira for Bernicia recalled its ex-king Eanfrit after Edwin's death. Osric rallied Edwin's scattered army and attacked Cadwallon who was ravaging Northumbria. He forced Cadwallon and his men into a fortress the following summer, but was unable to maintain the siege. The Britons under Cadwallon broke out and surprised Osric, who was killed in the fighting. Meanwhile, Eanfrit [the son of Ethelfrit], whom Edwin had earlier expelled, returned to Bernicia from exile after Edwin's death, and was received back by the Bernicians as their king. He reigned a second time but this time for only 18 months. Eanfrit endeavored to make peace with Cadwallon who was still ravaging Northumbria but was taken prisoner and executed when he came to discuss peace terms. Then, Oswald, another of Ethelfrit's sons, whom Edwin had expelled, returned from exile, slew Cadwallon, and overran England to become the next Anglo-Saxon bretwalda. Ethelburh "Tate," Edwin's widow, upon Oswald's advance, fled abroad to safety with her children and found refuge at the court of King Dagobert I of France, to whom she was related through her late mother, Bertha. Ethelburh "Tate", later, after Oswald's death, returned to England. She retired from public life. Her brother, King Eadbald of Kent, gave his sister the manor of Lyminge, which she converted into a church. There Ethelburh "Tate" founded a nunnery for women. She was its abbess at the time of her death (647).
634-642 6. OSWALD of BERNICIA,
the Welsh Oswallt "Llafnwyn" ["Bright-Blade"] or "Lamnguin" ["Fair-Hand"], one of Ethelfrit's sons, was the next Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda. Oswald, who and his brothers had been expelled by Edwin of Deira, returned from exile during the anarchy that followed Edwin's death. He was received as king by the Bernicians following the death of his elder half-brother, Eanfrit, who was treacherously slain by the British king Cadwallon during a peace conference. Oswald was called "The Saint" because he had become a Christian during his exile and had developed Christian virtues. His elder full-brother, Osric, was killed earlier in Ireland accompanying the Scottish king Eochaid in his battles to protect the Scottish homeland in Ulster. His death made Oswald the next heir. The submission of Deira to Oswald following the death of its king, (another) Osric, that year, maintained the union of Deira and Bernicia as Northumbria. Oswald, according to the "ASC," with a small force, defeated the combined forces of the British King Cadwallon and his vassals, including Penda of Mercia, in the Battle of Hevenfelth (Hallington), near Hexham, in Northumberland, where Oswald raised a cross and he and his men all knelt around it and prayed before battle, in 634. Cadwallon had come north intending to deal with Oswald, the Bernician heir, before he could consolidate his position further, and was surprised by Oswald in a dawn attack just as his soldiers were getting up from the night's sleep, and was killed in flight in the rout of his army; after which his vassals all submitted to Oswald and became his vassals. Oswald went on to subdue the whole of England, along with Wales, and Scotland too; and held sway over all Britain, and was ordained by St. Aidan as "bretwalda." However, according to the "HRB," the exploits of Oswald were actually those of Cadwallon who it says was not killed in the Battle of Hevenfelth and was still alive reigning as Britain's king. Christianity was restored in Northern England, which had briefly relapsed into paganism, by Oswald with the help of the Celtic clergy, however, it could just as well have been Cadwallon who established Celtic Christianity among the English if he were still alive as the "HRB" says. It is written that Oswald was a humble, gracious, and virtuous king. He was also charitable to the poor which is illustrated in a story about him. The story goes that once while dining with St. Aidan, just as the king raised his hands to say grace, a thegn came in and told the king that the streets thronged with a multitude of the poor crying out for alms, to which Oswald responded by giving the food prepared for him and his court to the poor and that the silver dishes on which the food was served should be broken up into pieces and distributed among the poor. This prompted St. Aidan to take hold of the king's right hand and prophesy that his hand would never perish because of his generosity to the poor, from which episode derives Oswald's epithet "Fair-Hand" ["Lamnguin"]. Oswald, according to the "ASC," was killed in battle in Shropshire at Maserfelth, renamed "Oswestry", meaning "Oswald's Tree," in 642 [5 Aug.], in a rebellion of his vassals led by Penda of Mercia, who had his body hung on a tree, whence the name of the place. The location of the battle suggests that either Oswald must have been fighting the Welsh, and have found Penda already joined up with them on their frontier, or Oswald may have hurried to give them battle before they could attack him, for historians agree that no ordinary battle between Northumbria and Mercia would have been fought there unless the Welsh were the aggressors. The presence of the Welsh at the battle is confirmed in early Welsh literature, in which one of the combatants is said to have been King Cynddylan of Powys. No doubt, Cadafael of Gwynedd, who styled himself "King of Britain," who maintained friendly relations with Mercia, was the aggressor. The "HRB," however, which says that Cadwallon was still King of Britain at the time, tells the story differently from that which the "ASC" gives. It was a full year before the Northumbrians were able to recover Oswald's body and bring it back home for burial. Oswald was survived by his wife, Cyneburg [the daughter of King Cynegils of Wessex, is said to have become a nun], and their son, Ethelwald, a minor, who was passed-over in the succession in favor of Oswald's brother, Oswiu (Oswy).
642-654 7. PENDA of MERCIA,
called PANTHA in the "HB" and the "AC," called PANNA in the "ByA," was a great warrior-king whose vigor earned him the epithet "THE STRONG", translated from the Latin "STRENUUS". Penda, one of the most ambitious of the early English kings, succeeded his uncle, Ceorl, as King of Mercia, in 626, according to the "ASC," or 632, according to "HE" ["Historia Ecclesiastica"], under the overlordship of Edwin of Deira, the earlier bretwalda, whose first wife had been Penda's cousin. He bore a grievance against Edwin, and Penda, in 632, joined up with the British king Cadwallon, who had married Penda's sister, who was warring against Edwin, and slew Edwin in battle in 633, after which Penda reigned under Cadwallon's overlordship. The victory of Oswald of Bernicia/Northumbria over Cadwallon in 634 brought Penda under Oswald's overlordship. Then, Penda, upon his defeating and slaying Oswald in battle in 642, rose himself to reign supreme in England [unless if Cadwallon was still alive] and thus was properly a Bretwalda or King of England as the overlord of all the other Anglo-Saxon kings, even though his name does not appear in any of the lists of the bretwaldas we have. He was said to have been 50 years old on his assumption of the bretwaldship in 642. Penda, after Oswald's death, dissolved the union of Bernicia and Deira which made up Northumbria, and permitted the succession of Oswald's brother, Oswiu (Oswy) in Bernicia, and revived Deira as a separate kingdom under its original dynasty represented by the Deiran prince, Oswin[e]. Too, he gave Lindsey its independence from Northumbria, yet made it a client-kingdom of Mercia. Penda sought to extend Mercia's control and fought battles to the north, east, and south. To Penda's west lay the territory of the Britons, the Welsh, who were his allies, upon whom Penda relied so heavily to establish his power base [or vice versa, if Cadwallon was still alive]. Penda subjugated Wessex, Essex, and Surrey, to his south, whose kings swore their fealty to him [or Cadwallon] as his vassals. He invaded East Anglia to his east three times and slew three of its kings. And, Penda repeatedly invaded Bernicia to his north and continually harried its king Oswiu. Penda, on one of his expeditions against Bernicia, besieged Bamburgh, its capital city, but unable to take the city, ravaged the surrounding countryside, devastating Bernicia over the next year, sacking and burning its towns and slaying their inhabitants, before he returned to Mercia. This behavior describes Cadwallon rather than Penda, which is the puzzling if Cadwallon were still alive as the "HRB" says. Too, these campaigns would be the actions of what Cadwallon would do if he were still alive; and are not really in Mercia's interests. Bede says that thirty "dukes" and/or "client-kings" both Saxons and Britons followed Penda on his last campaign, which was against Oswiu of Bernicia/Northumbria. There was also an Irish army among the contingents of Penda's [or Cadwallon's] "Great Army." Oswiu sought to avert Penda's attack by offers of tribute, and only after Penda refused his entreaties did he rally himself and his people to arms and though greatly outnumbered and against overwhelming odds defeated and slew Penda in battle at Gaius FIeld, or Winwidfeld, on the river Winwaed (Went), near Leeds [or perhaps on the river Are in Yorkshire] in 654 [15 Nov.]. There had been quarreling and treachery in the "Great Army." The night before battle some of Penda's allies deserted him under cover of darkness and quietly took off back to their own lands. Penda was survived by his wife, Cynewise, daughter of Redwald of East Anglia, and their children, at least seven sons and three or more daughters. Penda's greatest achievement was forging Mercia into a powerful state in Central England, which it remained during the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries. The word "penny," derived from Penda's name, was the name of a coin minted by him. Penda was regarded by Bede as ruthless, diabolic, and savage. Penda was a life-long pagan while all around him Christianity was spreading and almost everyone else had converted by the time of his death. To some extent Penda stood for the old pagan religion of the Anglo-Saxons, but did not persecute Christians nor did he obstruct the conversion of his people, or even of his family to the Christian faith. Penda was the last "pagan" King of England.
654-657 8. OSWIU (OSWY) of BERNICIA/NORTHUMBRIA,
who appears as Oswydd "Aelwyn"/"Ailguin" ["Fair-Brow"] in early Welsh annals, succeeded his brother Oswald in Bernicia on his death in 642 passing over Oswald's son, Ethelwald, who was a minor; while Deira broke-away from its union with Bernicia and acknowledged a prince of its native dynasty, Oswine, as its king. The relationship between Oswiu (Oswy) of Bernicia and Oswin[e] of Deira was strained from the beginning. In 651 Oswiu invaded Deira with a large army. Oswine gathered a force to meet him, but seeing himself outnumbered and took weak to venture a battle disbanded his men and sought shelter in the home of a local reeve, Hunvald, who betrayed him to Oswiu, who dispatched one of his officers, Ethelwine, who murdered him. This opened the way for the eventual reunion of Bernicia and Deira, which Oswiu was unable to immediately do since it was opposed by Penda of Mercia, the Bretwalda, to whom Oswiu owed his allegiance. He had to conciliate the Deirans, which he did by marrying the Deiran princess, Eanflede, Edwin's daughter; and, to satisfy his nephew, Ethelwald, a dangerous rival to the throne [the son of Oswald, his late elder brother], who had come of age, he installed as Deira's new king. Ethelwald, however, aspired to his father's inheritance, the Bernician kingship, and rebelled against his uncle, Oswiu, when Penda of Mercia marched north with an enormous force in 654 to fight Oswiu. The victory of Oswiu over Penda at Gaius Field, or Winwidfeld, near Leeds, in 654, was to make Oswiu the next bretwalda. Ethelwald waited the outcome of the battle. It is unsure what became of him, he was either killed by Oswiu or escaped to safety into exile. No more is heard of him. Oswy, after Ethelwald disappears, made his son Alchfrit the new King of Deira, which then became an appanage of the Bernician kingdom. Alchfrit died of the plague in 664, and Oswiu replaced him with another son, Egfrit. Egfrit later succeeded his father as King of Bernicia, in 670, whereupon, he made his brother, Elfwine, the King of Deira. Then, on Elfwine's death in 679 Egfrit annexed Deira to Bernicia permanently uniting or re-uniting the two kingdoms as the single kingdom of Northumbria. Oswiu, after slaying Penda of Mercia in battle, 654, marched into Mercia and occupied the country. He divided Mercia in halves north and south of the Trent river. He made Penda's son, Peada, who was married to his daughter, his client-king of South Mercia, while North Mercia was ruled directly by Northumbrian thegns. Too, Lindsey again lost its independence and came under Northumbrian overlordship. East Anglia also acknowledged its vassalage to Oswiu. And, Oswiu established close alliances with the kings of Essex, Wessex, and Kent. Oswiu then turned his attention northwards and made incursions into Scotland and subjugated the British kingdom of Strathclyde, the Scottish kingdom of Dalriada, and the Pictish Kingdom of Albany. Oswiu also made incursions into Wales, and it was he who overran Powys, burned its capital city, Pengwern (Shrewsbury), and slew its king, Cynddylan, in 658, which war is commemorated in early Welsh literature. In 656 Oswiu's puppet-king of Mercia, Peada, was murdered by the Mercian nobles who rallied around Wulfhere, another of Penda's sons, who raised a rebellion to regain Mercian independence; and Oswiu was tied-up for three years in Mercia attempting to suppress the rebellion. His failure broke up his hegemony in Britain, his vassals rebelled against him, and his authority by 659 was reduced to Northumbria alone, whereupon, he ceased to be recognized as bretwalda by the other Anglo-Saxon kings. He was prevented from re-establishing his hegemony in Britain due to his involvement in a series of wars with the Scots, Welsh, and Picts, that kept him preoccupied for several years. Thereafter, Oswiu confined himself to the domestic affairs of his kingdom. Though a warlike king, Oswiu also gave his attention to religious affairs, and presided over the Synod of Whitby, which adopted the Roman Catholic usage, in 664, over the Celtic Church usage. He called the synod to convene the sametime Wulfhere of Mercia, whom he considered his rival in the bretwaldship, was presiding over a synod of his own at Lichfield, which also adopted the Roman Catholic usage. Oswiu died of an illness in 670 [15 Feb.]. He was one of the few Northumbrian kings to die to natural causes. He was survived by children of three wives. He had a son, [E]Aldfrit, of his 1st wife, Fintaan, an Irish princess, daughter of King Colman Rimidh of Ireland, whom he had married in his youth during his exile. He had a son, Alchfrit, and a daughter, Alchfleda [wife of Peada of Mercia], of his 2nd wife, Riemelt (Rhiainfellt), a British princess, the daughter of Rhoeth, King of Rheged. And, had three sons, Edfrit, Egfrit, and Elfwin, plus two daughters, Osthryth and Aelfleda, of his 3rd wife, Eanfled, an Anglian princess, daughter of Edwin of Deira, whom he married to placate the rebellious Derians. Oswiu had banished [E]Aldfrit, his eldest son, who was abroad at the time of his father's death. His second son, Alchfrit, had died of the plague in 664. Too, his third son, that is, Edfrit, his eldest son of his 3rd wife, also had died of the plague in 664. Thus, his fourth son, Egfert (Egfrith), succeeded his father as king Northumbria on his death, in 670; and, he briefly restored Northumbria's supremacy in England.
657-674 9. WULFHERE [GM's WULFRED],
who was Penda's second son, began his career when his older brother, Peada, who was Oswiu's puppet-king, was murdered in 656 by Emmin, Eafa, and Ebert, three Mercian nobles, who revolted against Oswiu's overlordship, expelled his agents, formed a military-junta, and set Wulfhere on the Mercian throne. Oswiu attempted to suppress the rebellion in Mercia, and campaigned in Mercia for three years, but was at length driven out of Mercia by the Mercian general Eba, in 659, and was obliged to come to terms. Oswiu, in 661, renewed the war against Mercia in an attempt to revive his supremacy south of the Humber, and was again defeated in battle. He and Wulfhere met on a boat in the Humber River and by treaty divided England north and south between them. Thereafter, the two remained on good terms with each other, however, Lindsey remained a sore spot between them. In 657 Wulfhere expelled Northumbrian troops from Lindsey, and occupied the country; but was retaken by Northumbria by Egfert, Oswy's successor, by 675. Wulfhere, in 661, after he and Oswy of Northumbria had come to terms, set about on a systematic campaign to re-establish Mercian authority over Southern England and marched south and took London, which was disputed among Essex, Wessex, and Kent, and subdued those states, compelling their kings to acknowledge his overlordship. Too, Surrey passed under Wulfhere's control and became a Mercian province. This effectively hemmed in East Anglia, whose king was forced into an alliance and also paid Wulfhere tribute. Wulfhere re-established Sussex as a separate state. The Isle of Wight was ravaged by Wulfhere, who slew its king, and turned the isle over to Sussex. Wulfhere, after subduing Southern England, which he secured at the Battle of Pontesbury, in Shropshire, against King Cenwalh of Wessex, in 661, turned west. He annexed the Hwicce, the Magonsaete, and the Chilterns, which he made into Mercian provinces. Wulfhere then campaigned against the Welsh over the next three years, 661-664. He and his vassals decisively defeated the Welsh in the "3rd" Battle of Mount Badon [or Badon Hill], Year 664 [3 May], overran Wales, and laid waste to the British "West Country." Bede records an eclipse on that date. Thereupon, Wulfhere usurped the British throne, had had himself crowned "King of Britain," i.e., "Bretwalda," by the "English" Primate, Year 664. He turned Britain from a Celto-Roman into a Teutonic state. The subjugation of Kent by Wulfhere gave him authority over the Holy See at Canterbury, which claimed primacy over all the other English churches; and, Wulfhere, the son of England's last pagan king, Penda, converted to Christianity out of political necessity, and presided over a synod of the English clergy at Lichfield in 664 to enhance his reputation as Bretwalda the sametime his northern rival Oswiu was presiding over one of his own at Whitby, which both adopted the Roman Catholic usage. Wulfhere saw the importance of the church in the life of the state, and thus, supported the activities of the Christian Church in his realm. St. Wilfred, bishop-elect of York, claims there is no one with the authority to consecrate him in Britain and so travels to France, and is consecrated by the Arch-Bishop of Paris. A plague which had swept across Europe reached the British Isles that year and decimated the population. Deusdedit, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, who had anointed and crowned Wulfhere as Britain‘s king, was among its victims. In 668, Wigheard, the archbishop-elect, dies in Rome. Pope Vitalian then consecrates Theodore as the new Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, who arrives in England in 669. Wulfhere appoints Bishop Wine of Dorchester to the See of London , which shows that he had some authority in Church affairs. In 672, Theodore, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, held another synod this one at Hertford attended by all the English bishops everywhere to devise a general system of organization for the Anglican Church and to restore the authority of the arch-bishops of Canterbury over all of England's churches. It was the first "general council" of the Anglican Church, and was presided over by Wulfhere, the Bretwalda. He mistrusted the broad schemes of Arch-Bishop Theodore, who reorganized the episcopal structure of the church in England dividing the diocese into parishes or smaller administrative units, however, publicly supported him. It was probably Theodore who gave Wulfhere the idea to compile the "Tribal Hidage," which was a document that gave a list of the various clans or folk-groups subject to Mercian overlordship, each of which was assessed in round numbers of hides for the payment of tribute and service. A "hide" was the unit of land required to support one family; and 100 hides, called a "hundred," was the local administrative division of the country under the Anglo-Saxon constitution. Each "hundred," or shire, was centered on a village or town. The reign of Wulfhere ended in disaster. In 674 he marched north, crossed the Humber, and attacked Northumbria, in an attempt to unite the whole of England under him, however, suffered a humiliating defeat fighting its king, Egfert [son of Oswiu, and his successor], after which Mercia's hegemony in Southern England collapsed with the rebellion of his vassals. He marched south against his rebellious vassals, and suffered another major defeat fighting Aescwine of Wessex. He was probably wounded in that battle, for he died soon after. Egbert of Northumbria succeeded Wulfhere as Bretwalda, while he was succeeded as King of Mercia by his brother, Ethelred, passing over his sons. Wulfhere had one son and two daughters of his first wife Eormengild of Kent; and, had two sons of his second wife Eadburh, daughter of Oswald of Northumbria; and, had three sons of a third wife, who identity is unsure; and, of a mistress begot two illegitimate sons.
674-679 10. EGFERT (EGFRITH) of NORTHUMBRIA
was the next bretwalda. His victory over Mercia in 674 saw supremacy pass once more to Northumbria. Egfert extended Northumbria's borders west of the Pennines by his conquests of the British kingdoms of Rheged, Cumberland (Cumbria), and Galloway. He made raids in Wales, the Isle of Man, and in Ireland too; and undertook an expedition to Scotland and subdued Strathclyde, Dalriada, and Albany, which he made his tributaries. His main opponent was Ethelred of Mercia, who rebelled against Northumbrian overlordship and defeated Egfert in battle at the Trent river, in 679, upon which supremacy passed back to Mercia, and Ethelred became the bretwalda. The death of Egfert's brother, Elfhere, the King of Deira, in that battle, was the occasion for Egfert to annex Deira to Bernicia uniting or re-uniting Bernicia and Deira as the Kingdom of Northumbria, which union held until the Viking Conquest in 867 when Deira became the Viking Kingdom of York, and Bernicia broke off as its client-state. In 684 Egfert sent an expedition to Ireland, devastating the country, which returned with much spoils. Egfert, who had won an important victory over the Picts at the beginning of his reign, was soundly defeated and killed in another battled fighting the Picts at Nechtansmere, in Scotland, in 685, upon which Northumbria's hegemony in the north collapsed and the Picts of Albany, the Britons [Welsh] of Strathclyde, and the Scots of Dalriada, regained their independence. The days of Northumbrian supremacy were over, and Northumbria thereafter was pre-occupied with maintaining the security of its own frontiers. The weakness of the Northumbrian kingdom and the strength of Mercia ensured that Northumbria's hegemony over the south would not revive. Egfert's successor, [E]Aldfrit, his half-brother, restored the shattered state of the Northumbrian kingdom though within narrower bounds, and presided over a renaissance of Northumbrian culture. Egfert was childless of his first and second marriages, however, his third wife, his widow, was pregnant at the time of his death, and Egfert was survived by posthumous twin sons, who both were later murdered by their uncle, [E]Aldfrit, their father's half-brother and successor, to secure the throne for himself and his issue.
679-704 11. ETHELRED of MERCIA,
the Welsh Ethred [or Edryd], the brother of Wulfhere, and his successor in Mercia, came to the throne at a time when Mercia was under attack on all sides. His initial acts were to secure Mercia's borders. He was at first unable to suppress the rebellion of his late brother's vassals but eventually regained strength and recovered much of what Wulfhere had lost. Ethelred regained control of London, ravaged Kent, in 676, and brought Southern England back under Mercian overlordship. He struggled for three years with Egfert of Northumbria, to whom for a short time Mercia paid tribute at the beginning of his reign, then, by his victory over Egfert in battle on the River Trent, in 679, supremacy passed back to Mercia. The Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Theodore, mediated the peace between them, and Egfert returned Lindsey [Lincolnshire] to Mercia, and agreed to pay Ethelred a yearly tribute. Ethelred of Mercia was afterwards generally recognized as Bretwalda or England's king. The supremacy of Mercia was threatened by the rising power of Wessex, under its king Cedwalla, who added Surrey, Kent, Sussex, and the Isle of Wight, to his realm . It was his conquests that made Wessex into the third greatest power in England, after Northumbria and Mercia. Ethelred warred against the Welsh [Britons], took their old capital city of Chester, in 689, and occupied Cheshire, which became a Mercian province. Ethelred decisively defeated the Welsh, under the Arthurian heir, Ivor, and their allies, the West Saxons, under Ine of Wessex, in 692, and, overran Welsh lands. Yvor was killed in the battle, however, Ine of Wessex submitted to Ethelred and recognized Mercia's overlordship. Meanwhile, the relations between Mercia and Northumbria remained as bad as ever, even though Ethelred was married to a Northumbrian princess. Ethelred, of his wife, Osthryth [daughter of Oswiu of Northumbria], had two sons and one daughter. His queen, Osthryth, was murdered by some disaffected Mercian nobles in a palace coup that failed in 697. There is some suggestion that Ethelred afterwards took a second wife, but her identity is unknown. Ethelred abdicated in the midst of a rebellion of his vassals, in 704, and retired to Rome. He later returned to England and entered a monastery, Bardney Abbey, and became a monk. He was the Abbot of Bardney Abbey at the time of his death . His retirement in 704 let loose a series of devastating raids on Mercia by its neighbors, its former vassals.
note: There was an interregnum following Ethelred's abdication; and the vacancy of the bretwaldship caused the break-up of The Heptarchy into its separate states. In the following years three kingdoms of almost equal power arose in England, which were: Wessex in Southern England; Mercia in Central England; and Northumbria in Northern England. The balance of power among Wessex, Northumbria, and Mercia, fluctuated so rapidly that none of its kings could properly be styled "bretwalda."
704-709 12A. CENRED of MERCIA,
the son of Wulfhere, succeeded his uncle, Ethelred, in Mercia, in 704, on Ethelred's abdication. His reign was troubled by attacks by the Welsh [Britons], who made territorial gains. He was weak, ineffective, and soft, as a ruler. The nobles of Mercia encouraged him to abdicate, which he did in 709 and retired to Rome, where he later died a monk.
709-716 X. CEOLRED of MERCIA,
the son of Ethelred, succeeded his cousin, Cenred, in Mercia, in 709, on Cenred's abdication. He unsuccessfully tried to reassert Mercia's overlordship. His wars with Wessex and Northumbria gained Mercia nothing. Coelred, a dissolute individual who misused his power, persecuted the clergy, intimidated the nobles, and oppressed the public, was "smitten with sudden madness" at a banquet as he was feasting with his thanes (soldiers), and died in convulsions in 716, which no doubt was brought on by poison.
XXX 716 X. CEOLWALD of MERCIA,
the brother of Coelred, succeeded his brother in Mercia in 716 on his brother's sudden death. He reigned briefly for only about a month and was murdered in a power struggle within the Mercian royal house.
XXX 704 X. [E]ALDFRIT[H] of NORTHUMBRIA,
succeeded his half-brother, Egfert, in Northumbria, on Egfert's death, in 685, in battle fighting the Picts. He was Oswiu's eldest son, however, was initially passed over in the succession due to his banishment by his father. He passed his years in exile at first in Ireland with his mother's relatives, then, studied as a private person in England at Canterbury, Malmesbury, and Gloucester, and, finally settled in Scotland where he was at the time of his brother's death. He returned to Northumbria on his brother's death, and claimed the throne. He received support from his half-brothers and half-sisters, and was accepted by the Northumbrians as their king. [E]Aldfrit was a scholar-king, and made peace with the Picts, the Mercians, and the Welsh. His reign was one of comparative peace, during which Northumbria experienced a renaissance in the arts. The beautifully illustrated "Lindisfarne Gospels" were produced during his reign as well as other literary works. He died in 704 following a long illness, the same year as Ethelred of Mercia's abdication. His wife, Cuthburh of Wessex, retired into a convent and became a nun. He was survived by two sons. His eldest son, Osred, was declared king upon his father's death, however, he was a minor, age eight, and the popular Northumbrian prince, Eadwulf (Ediulf), led an opposition movement and expelled the boy-king and his supporters, and usurped the Northumbrian throne.
704-705 12B. EADWULF (EDIULF) of NORTHUMBRIA,
a popular Northumbrian prince, usurped the throne, in 704, however, reigned for only a couple of months [Dec.-Feb.]. Beorhtfrith, the Northumbrian general, led a counter operation and expelled Eadwulf in turn and re-placed the boy-king Osred on the throne.
705-716 X. OSRED of NORTHUMBRIA,
the son of [E]Aldfrit, was only age eight on his succession. He was a puppet in the hands of his aunt, Elflede, the Abbess of Whitby, supported by the Northumbrian general Beorhtfrith, who together acted as regents during the king's minority, while Bishop Wilfrid of Hexham saw to the boy's up-bringing. Wilfrid died in 710, we hear no more of Beorhtfrith after 711, and Elflede died in 713, by which time Osred had already assumed authority and had taken up personal rule. He began to rule in 712 at age sixteen. There was no one remaining except Bishop John of York to be a good influence on the young king; and after his passing Osred became dissolute. [note: It was not until 735 that the pope in Rome restored York to archiepiscopal status, which it had once had before the Anglo-Saxon conquest.] Osred, the teenage-king, frequently roamed the streets at night reveling with his gang of teenage friends, molesting nuns, robbing peasants, and getting into brawls with the city‘s citizens. He executed and exiled many Northumbrian nobles, and after four years of misrule was murdered by a distant relative who also a prince of the Northumbrian royal house claimed the succession, upon which Northumbria entered a period of instability rocked by internal dissensions.
704-726 12C. INE of WESSEX,
a Wessex prince, identified with the British resistance-leader Yni in the "HRB" who fought the Saxons, succeeded his father's second-cousin, King Cedwalla of Wessex, in Wessex, upon Cedwalla's abdication in 688. He may not have succeeded immediately as there were several other claimants, however, Ine rapidly established his claim, for by late 688 he had consolidated his position by eliminating the various Wessex sub-kings. He introduced an administrative system which enabled him to manage Wessex as a single kingdom rather than as a confederacy of several sub-kingdoms united into a nation by an over-king. Ine, after 692, was one of the vassals of the Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda Ethelred of Mercia; then, after 704, was one of the vassals of the British King Geraint "Feddw" of Devon. In 710/711, Ine rebelled against the overlordship of the British king, and in 712 defeated and killed Geraint "Feddw" in the "3rd" Battle of Llongborth, which took place at Langport in Somerset, after which Ine reigned as an independent king. Ine seems to have been pre-occupied with domestic affairs rather than establishing relationships with any of the Anglo-Saxon kings. He is represented as a Saxon king in the "ASC" , however, appears as a Briton king in the "HRB." Ine integrated Briton and Saxon communities in Wessex "such that both Welsh [Briton] and Saxon lived side by side as equal subjects of the Wessex king, which is seen by his inclusion of the Welsh in the details of the English "wergelds." Too, the code of laws Ine issued, whose seventy-six articles touched on nearly every aspect of social, religious, and agrarian life, safeguarded the rights of all of his subjects regardless of race in the predominantly Saxon population of Wessex. Ine, during his reigned warred with the Saxons and conquered Sussex which he ruled oppressively; he laid the Jutes of Kent under massive tribute; and he vigorously defended himself from attacks by the Angles of Mercia. His power in Kent was short-lived, and before the end of his reign Sussex had also freed itself from him. Ine, by 721, faced internal dissension in Wessex among various claimants to the throne. He executed the Wessex prince Cynewulf in 721 for actively asserting his claim to the throne. He sought to slay another claimant, Ealdbert, who, in 722, was besieged in Taunton by Ine's queen, Ethelburh, who destroyed Tauton in the process. Too, in 721, Ine defeated the Cornish under their king Hoel [VI], who styled himself "King of Britain," on the estuary of the Hayle River, and drove the Cornish out of Devonshire, which he then annexed to Wessex. He pushed the Cornish westwards but was repulsed by them in 722 at the Tamar River, which thereafter became the boundary-line between Cornwall and Wessex. His victory over Rhodri "Molmynog" of Gwynedd, who styled himself as "King of Britain," in 723, gave Ine the title. That year, 723, civil war broke out in Wessex between the Britons [who were Ine's supporters] and the Saxons [who supported Ealdbert "The Exile"] which ended in 725 with the Saxons' defeat and Ealdbert's death in battle. The civil war had taken its toll on Ine, and the following year, in 726, he abdicated and went on a pilgrimage to Rome leaving behind a disputed succession between Ethelhard, his brother-in-law, and Ethelhard's cousin, the Wessex prince Oswald, which broke out into another civil war. These were rivaling claimants in the Saxons' camp; whereas the Britons of Wessex preferred another candidate altogether. The civil war between them allowed Mercia to regain its influence over Southern England. The ex-king, Ine, founded an English hospice in Rome  and died , and was buried in the Church of San-Spirito-in-Sassia at Borgo and later revered as a saint. The abdication of Ine in 726 was followed by an interregnum in the Anglo-Saxon bretwaldship; however, the Welsh [Britons] elected the Arthurian heir, Evrawg [also called Philip[pon], the son of Geraint "Feddw"], as "King of Britain."
735-752 13. ETHELBALD (ETHBAL) of MERCIA,
a Mercian prince, succeeded his second-cousin, Ceolwald, in Mercia, in 716, following his murder and a power struggle within the Mercian royal house. Ethelbald re-asserted Mercian supremacy in England with energy and success, and subdued all England under him. He took control of Essex, Middlesex, and Surrey, in 731; bullied Wessex into submission in 733; ravaged Northumbria in 735; and held in check all the Anglo-Saxon kings. The murders of the British Queen, Galaes [also called Meliadice in medieval romance], and her son, name unsure, in 735, caused the collapse of the Welsh League, and prompted Ethelbald to convene the English witanagemot, which elected him "Bretwalda"; and the various independent Welsh regional-rulers sent delegates and recognized him as "Rex Britanniae." He was crowned "Rex Anglorum," i.e., "King of the English" [or, "King of England"] in a ceremony by the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, in 736. His influence as Bretwalda in church affairs may be seen by the election of three Mercians to the office of Arch-Bishop of Canterbury during his reign. He presided over the Synod of Gumley  in which the church clergy was granted exemption from royal service.
note: The Welsh, i.e., the Britons, referred to the English not as "Angles" but as "Saxons," however, the Anglo-Saxons by this time were beginning to refer to themselves as "Angles," i.e., "English," in the process of their development into a new race.
The Welsh revolted against English overlordship in 743. Ethelbald campaigned in Wales that year, but was not able to conquer them; and, was repulsed by the Welsh in 755 in battle at Hereford during a second Welsh campaign. His wars with the Welsh led one side or the other to build what became known as "Wat's Dyke," a major earthwork to serve as a defensive line. It was either built by the Welsh to defend themselves against English expansion, or built by the English to defend themselves against Welsh raids.
In foreign affairs, Ethelbald made an alliance with France, and exchanged ambassadors with Charles "Martel," the Mayor of the Palace [of the Merovingian Kings of France], who, the hero of the Battle of Tours, saved "Christian" Europe from "Islamic" conquest by invading Muslims, the Saracens, for which he was called "Defender of The Faith" by the pope. His son, Pepin "Le Bref" succeeded him as "Mayor of the Palace" [i.e., "Prime Minister"] and later deposed the Merovingian King Childeric III and usurped the French throne in prejudice of the ex-king's son, Thierri (V), founding the Carolingian Dynasty, which was named after either Pepin's father Charles "Martel" or Pepin's son Charles "Magnus" (751).
The character of Ethelbald was described by a contemporary writer as despotic, dissolute, and deviate. He was rebuked by St. Boniface for his adulterous life-style, yet was commended by the saint for maintaining a firm peace in the kingdom, defending widows and the poor, and for dispensing quick justice to criminals.
Ethelbald, of his wife, Mildred, a Mercian princess, had an only child, a daughter, Marcelline. Marcelline married a Mercian prince, Thingferth, and had a son, Offa, whom Ethelbald groomed as his heir.
There was a rebellion of Ethelbald's vassals in 752. He marched against them, however, in the midst of battle at Burford, in Oxfordshire, Ethelbald was suddenly overcome with fear and fled leaving his army still engaged in battle. The sight of his flight by his soldiers turned the tide of battle, and the Mercians were utterly routed in the wake. The results were the loss of Mercia's supremacy over the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and the end to Ethelbald's overlordship. Ethelbald struck out on a second campaign to re-establish his authority in 757 but was defeated by his former vassals in battle at Seckington, in Warwickshire. He again took flight after hesitating with his army still engaged in battle, and was murdered by his bodyguard led by its captain, Bernred (Beornred), a Mercian prince, who re-grouped the Mercian Army, which proclaimed him Mercia's king.
XXX 757 X. BERNRED (BEORNRED),
a Mercian prince, murdered Ethelbald and usurped the Mercian throne, which sparked a civil war in Mercia between him and Ethelbald's grandson, Offa, his designated-successor. Bernred was defeated in battle by Offa and escaped into hiding. He was twelve years an exile before he was captured and put to death.
758-796 14. OFFA "THE GREAT" of MERCIA,
a Mercian prince, obtained the Mercian throne in 757 after defeating and putting to flight the usurper Bernred, who had murdered his grandfather. His original name was Winefrith, but changed it to Offa on account of his likeness he bore to his ancestor of that name. Offa, one of the greatest of the old Anglo-Saxon kings, re-asserted Mercian supremacy in England and revived the bretwaldship after a period of anarchy. The hegemony of Mercia in England had crumbled in the latter years of Ethelbald's reign, but Offa suppressed the rebellion of his grandfather's old vassals and restored the supremacy of Mercia in England. The year following his succession in Mercia, Offa struck out on a systematic campaign to subdue the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. He marched into East Anglia and slew its king, Albert, in battle; took an army to Northumbria, which was in turmoil following the murder of its king, Oswulf, and helped the usurper Ethelwald "Moll," who was fighting the heirs of his predecessor, to secure himself on the Northumbrian throne; then, came to Essex and slew its king Swithedus in battle; advanced into Kent, whose king Ethelbert II submitted to him; attacked Wessex, whose king Cynewulf succumbed and became one of his vassals; and made an incursion into Sussex, whose king Osmund acknowledged his overlordship, thus, establishing himself as Bretwalda in 758. Offa, however, had trouble throughout his reign maintaining his realm.
Several expeditions were made into Wales by Offa during his reign. The first, in 759, was to secure the Hwicce, the Magonsaete, and the Chilterns, whose rulers submitted to him. In 760, the Welsh counter-attacked and won a victory over the Mercians. The next year, in 761, Offa avenged the defeat of his army by the Welsh, and occupied Wales, whose regional-rulers submitted to him. The Welsh kings were summoned to Offa's Court where they paid him homage. Later, in 775, the Welsh rose up in rebellion against Mercian overlordship; and, by 776, the Welsh had driven the Mercians out of Wales. In response, Offa invaded Wales, drove the King of Powys from his capital-city, slew the King of Buellt, defeated the King of Gwent, marched through Wales all the way to Demetia (Dyfed), whose king sued for peace; and, in 778, all the Welsh kings again had to pay Offa tribute. The Welsh soon rebelled again to which Offa responded by undertaking another campaign in Wales in 784 during which he wreaked havoc throughout the Welsh countryside. It was at this time that "Offa's Dyke" was built as a defensive wall against Welsh attacks. This massive earthwork stretched about 150 miles north to south from the mouth of the Dee to the mouth of the Wye, and eventually was recognized as the English-Welsh border. Offa made another incursion into Wales in 795, but was stopped and turned-back by a league of Welsh kings in battle at Rhuddlann. Three famous Welsh kings were killed in the fighting, but still the Welsh had won the battle.
Not until 761upon the submission of the Welsh kings did Offa style himself as "Rex Britanniae," i.e., "Bretwalda," though he had styled himself "Rex Anglorum," i.e., "King of the English," from 758 upon his subjugation of the other Anglo-Saxon kings. Offa was addressed as "King of England" in a letter from pope [H]Adrian I, who sent a papal legate to England in 786 to ensure that papal codes were observed, and a legatine council was held in Mercia presided over by King Offa. Offa was ordained "imperator" by the papal legate, Theophylact, in 786, for all the bretwaldas before him had styled themselves "emperor," which caused a feud between Offa and Charlemagne, who also had imperial aspirations. The belief in the imperial position of the English kings is reflected in the phrase "this realm of England is an empire." In 787 Offa presided over the Synod of Chelsea.
It appeared that Offa and Charlemagne would settle their differences, in 789, when Charlemagne entered into an agreement that his eldest son would marry one of Offa's daughters; but when Offa made this dependent on his son marrying one of Charlemagne's daughters it offended Charlemagne, who thereupon broke off diplomatic relations, and the marriage never took place. And, for three years [790-793] Charlemagne closed all European ports to English trade; and they were only re-opened after intense negotiations. In the end, Offa and Charlemagne became good friends; and Charlemagne in a letter dated 795 called Offa "his dearest brother."
The Carolingian Renaissance was introduced into England by King Offa. His reform of the coinage was based on that carried out in France by Charlemagne; the code of laws he compiled was largely borrowed from Charlemagne's law-code; and, his court was modeled after that held by Charlemagne, who held court after the manner of the Byzantine emperors. Offa at first was a benevolent ruler, however, as time went by he came to be a tyrant who oppressed his subjects, terrified the Mercian nobles, and bullied his neighboring vassal-kings. His queen, Quendrida [Cynethryth of Wessex], was responsible for the despotism of Offa's later years. She incited Offa to rash acts offending his vassals, foreign rulers, as well as the pope. She even plotted against her husband, but was herself murdered by some robbers. She bore Offa one son and five daughters.
The on-going quarrel between Offa and Arch-Bishop Jaenbert of Canterbury was one of the features of Offa's reign. It came to a head when Offa, without the pope's permission, transferred the primacy from Canterbury to the see of Lichfield and made Bishop Hygebert the Arch-Bishop of Lichfield as a rival primate at the Synod of Chelsea in 787, which gave Offa control of the Church in England with Hygebert as his puppet. This arrangement however did not last long after Offa‘s death, and the primacy was transferred back to Canterbury in 803 at the Synod of Clofesho. To appease the pope, Offa is said to have journeyed to Rome, where he was received by Pope [H]Adrian, who granted Offa his requests for the establishment of an archbishopric for the see of Lichfield and the transfer of the English primacy to that see, and, in return, Offa granted to "The Holy See" at Rome a yearly tribute. This grant seems to have been the origin of "Peter's Pence." It is said that Offa was a liberal benefactor to monasteries, and a large number of charters establishing churches purport to be grants from him. This seems not to square with William of Malmesbury assertion that Offa despoiled many churches, however, both accounts are probably true. Those he despoiled probably are the ones which remained loyal to the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, rather than acknowledging the primacy of the Arch-Bishop of Lichfield in Offa's and Jaenbert's quarrels.
There were uprisings in England of Offa's vassals from time to time that kept him busy throughout his reign. In 771 he suppressed rebellions in Sussex, East Anglia, and Essex. Sussex was divided into halves, east and west, by Offa, in 772, and instead of a single king he appointed two co-rulers who were reduced in status and governed Sussex as dukes. In 777 Offa reduced the status of the client-kingdoms of the Hwicce, the Magonsaete, and the Chilterns, to march-states; and, in 794, he removed their ruling families and replaced them with Mercian ealdormen. Wessex rebelled in 779 which Offa suppressed by defeating its king Cynewulf in battle at Bensington, or Benson, in Oxfordshire. Kent caused Offa the most trouble. He invaded Kent a second time in 764 and replaced King Sigered with his own candidate [Heabert] on the Kentish throne. His army was defeated in battle at Otford while attempting to suppress another rebellion in Kent in 776, and for a decade Kent was able to maintain its independence under its own king, Egbert II. Then, in 779, Offa suppresses the rebellion of King Cynewulf of Wessex. Kent was again occupied by Offa in 785. He deposed King Egbert II of Kent and left the Kentish throne vacant; and Offa appointed as its governor a Mercian prince, Cuthbert, who held the title "ealdorman." The brother of King Egbert II of Kent, Edbert "Praen," fled of Charlemagne's Court, and bided his time in exile. In 786 Offa returned to Wessex which was in anarchy following the murder of its king, Cynewulf, and he placed the Wessex prince Berhtric on the Wessex throne [who had married one of his daughters]. That same year, 786, another rebellion in East Anglia was suppressed by Offa who deposed its king [Ethelred II] but allowed the succession of his son. In 789, the Vikings, under Ogier "The Dane," attack England for the first time. Offa conducted another campaign in Sussex in 791, and removed its last native ruler, or co-rulers, and appointed a Mercian ealdorman in Sussex as its ruler. The menace of the Vikings prompts Offa to organize the country's coastal defenses in 792 to fend off their attacks. Offa returned to East Anglia in 793, deposed its king, Ethelbert, whom he brought captive to Mercia, imprisoned, and executed in 794 leaving the throne of East Anglia vacant. In 795 King Offa received an embassy from Charlemagne who sent the English king many gifts. Offa removed [E]Aldfrit, the last King of Lindsey, in 796, and annexed Lindsey to Mercia. Offa took another army to Northumbria in 796 whose king Ethelred [who had married one of Offa's daughters] had been murdered by his court while the Vikings were ravaging the Northumbrian countryside. Offa repulsed the invading Vikings and gave his support to the new Northumbrian king Osbald who was elected by the pro-Mercian faction of the Northumbrian nobles, but as soon as Offa had departed Northumbria Osbald was deserted by the nobles and was expelled by the people. Meantime, from Northumbria, Offa was called to Kent to suppress the uprising there of the self-styled Kentish rebel-king Edbert II "Praen." He had returned to England from exile in France and had raised a rebellion and had slain the Mercian governor, Cuthbert. It was during the rebellion in Kent that Offa died at Offley in Hertfordshire [29 July 796], and was buried in a chapel on the Ouse, near Bedford, rather than in the royal crypt of the Mercian kings. Offa is the subject of many English legends.
XXX 796 X. EGFRIT[H] [II] of MERCIA,
the only son of King Offa, of whom Alcuin of York says "much blood did his father shed to secure the kingdom for him," was the youngest child and darling son of his father. He was a minor at the time of his father's death. Hygebert, the "English" Primate, who sometimes served King Offa as his "Prime Minister," very liked served as regent during his brief reign. The minority of the king gave Kent, East Anglia, and Essex, the opportunity to regain their independence. The Vikings, who made their first appearance in English History during Offa's reign, took advantage of the situation to make raids all over England. Egfrit reigned only 141 days [Jul.-Dec.], Year 796, and was probably murdered by his aunt, Eanburh, Offa's sister, in the interests of her son, Cenwulf, who succeeded Egfrit on the throne.
796-821 15. CENWULF (COENWULF)(CENULF) of MERCIA,
the son of Offa's sister, Eanburh, and her husband, Cuthbert, the late Mercian Ealdorman of Kent, succeeded to the throne of Mercia on the death of the boy-king, Egfrit. Cenwulf was described by Alcuin of York, an English scholar at Charlemagne's Court, to have been an usurper, despotic, and a sinner. He rebuked Cenwulf for disposing his first wife, Cynegyth, to marry another, Aelfrida, and for disposing her to marry another, Burghild, who each was his mistress when he married them. Cenwulf was hindered from asserting his power early due to attacks by the Vikings, whom he at length drove out of the country. Cenwulf marched into Wales in 797 and defeated and slew King Maredudd of Dyfed (Demetia) in battle at Rhuddlan. The rebel-king Edbert II "Praen" of Kent, after Offa's death, came out of the monastery into which he had been forced to enter to save his life, and raised another rebellion in Kent, but was defeated in battle by Cenwulf in 798, captured, blinded, mutilated, and taken in chains to Mercia where he was imprisoned for several years, and Cenwulf appointed his own brother Cuthred as Kent's new king. The fate of Edbert "Praen" is unsure. He is said to have later been executed in one account, while another account says that he was released from prison in 811 and retired into a monastery where he lived out the remainder of his days. The rebellion in East Anglia was crushed by Cenwulf the next year, in 799, but it is not known what became of its rebel king Edwald who had led the drive for East Anglia's independence after Offa's death. In Essex, Cenwulf forced the abdication of its king Sigeric in 798, who retired to Rome and died there, and, though he allowed the succession of his son, Sigered, the new king was demoted by Cenwulf in status to duke. Cenwulf, following a campaign in Northumbria which ended in a stalemate, in 801, made a treaty with King Eardulf of Northumbria by which Mercia lost its authority north of the Humber. Thus, Cenwulf regained most of Mercia's losses after Offa's death and reigned supreme in England south of the Humber. In 803, Cenwulf, at the Synod of Clofesho, demoted the see of Lichfield in status and restored the primacy of the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, thus, reversing what Offa had done. He came to regret this, for his relations with the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury soured and came to be as bad as that had been between the Arch-Bishop and King Offa in his time. In response, Cenwulf tried to transfer the metropolitan see from Canterbury to London, which was where it was before the Anglo-Saxon conquest 300 years earlier, but Cenwulf failed to persuade the pope to agree. Cenwulf extended England's influence and exchanged ambassadors with the Scottish king Constantine and with the Irish king Aedh V "Oirdnide" ["The Dignified"] as well as with the French king Charlemagne. He recognized the overlordship of Charlemagne as Emperor of Europe on the visit of Charlemagne to Britain on his invitation in 808.
note: THE ROMAN EMPIRE was revived in Western Europe as the "HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE" by CHARLEMAGNE, Year 800, which ended the Early Middle Ages and began the High Middle Ages in Europe. The Byzantine Empire, that is, the surviving remnant of the ancient Roman empire, was at that time governed by an empress, Irene, and, since the pope in Rome did not recognize that a woman could sit on the imperial throne in her own right, the imperial throne was considered vacant by the pope, Leo III, who, the "translatio imperii" felt justified in conveying the imperial dignity on a candidate of his choosing, namely, Charlemagne, to occupy the vacant throne of the Roman emperors, ending the "great interregnum." The imperial throne was never hereditary, though it was originally suppose to be, however, strong rulers often managed to keep the title in their families for several generations, and the long line of emperors were of as diverse nationalities as were their subjects. Thus, Charlemagne, a scion of the Gallic branch of the Roman gens Iulii, was crowned "emperor" by Pope Leo III in Old St. Peter's in Rome on Christmas Day Year 800, though it could not be prevented by the Byzantine Empress Irene to whom Charlemagne proposed marriage. His title was later recognized by the Byzantine Empire in 812 in exchange for The Balkans and/or Eastern Europe. The title "emperor" was no where used in Europe from the time of Charlemagne to the time of Napoleon [who claimed to have been Charlemagne's successor] except by those claiming succession from the ancient Roman emperors. Ever since Roman times, the imperial notion had stood for world domination, and since the days of Charlemagne for a universal Christian community on earth under the temporal leadership of the emperor and the spiritual leadership of the pope as the empire's high-priest. The title "emperor" was confined in the West to the successors of Charlemagne and in the East to the Byzantine emperors, and, after the end of the Byzantine Empire, to the Russian czars as the successors of the Byzantine emperors, hence, czarist Moscow was called the "3rd Rome." Charlemagne made Aachen (Aix-La-Chapelle) in Germany his capital city, which was called "New Rome" and/or the "3rd Rome." There he built his palace, of which only its chapel still survives, and, where there may still be seen his old throne, that is, the THRONE OF EUROPE, now vacant. The revived empire lasted a thousand years, until 1804 when NAPOLEON forced its last emperor, FRANCIS II, to renounce his title, who, thereupon, took the title "emperor", and reigned for a decade, 1804-1814, hence, actually NAPOLEON was Europe's last emperor.
Meantime, in England, the struggle against the Welsh, suspended by Offa, was resumed by Cenwulf, who conducted three campaigns in Wales. His first expedition was in 797 when he defeated and slew three Welsh kings in battle. His second incursion into Wales was in 816 when he conquered several petty local Welsh kingdoms, including Rhufuniog. And, his third foray into Wales was in 818 when the country was in anarchy due to attacks by the Vikings. Cenwulf was about to launch another expedition when he suddenly died in 821. He was survived by a daughter, Cwenthryth, begotten of his first wife; by a son, St. Kenelm, begotten by his second wife; and, another daughter, Burgenhild, begotten by his third wife.
XXX 821 X. KENELM (CYNEHELM) of MERCIA, called "THE SAINT",
was a minor at the time of his father's death. The varying accounts of his life cannot be reconciled with each other. He was said to have become king upon his father's death in 821 while still a child, age seven, and reigned if at all for only a few days. Legend says that he was murdered at Clent, Worcestershire, by his tutor, who was the lover of his ambitious older half-sister, in a scheme to seize the throne. The boy-king's uncle, Ceolwulf, however, arrested Cwenthryth and placed her in a convent where she later died a nun; and executed her lover for the murder of the boy-king, and himself took the throne.
821-823 16. CEOLWULF of MERCIA,
the brother of Cenwulf, took the throne in 821 following a struggle for power within the Mercian royal house. Ceolwulf maintained the offensive against the Welsh, overran Powys; ravaged Gwynedd, destroying the stone hill-fort of Degannwy, the residence of its king; and attacked Dyfed, in 822. The reign of Ceolwulf was a time of general disorder. He was deposed by a coup in 823 which brought Bernulf (Beornwulf), a distant cousin, to the throne, and was killed later that year attempting to recover the throne.
823-825 17. BERNULF (BEORNWULF) of MERCIA,
a scion of the Mercian royal house, deposed Ceolwulf, his distant cousin, and usurped the throne. The usurpation of Bernulf caused unrest in Mercia, and riots broke out in the capital city of Tamworth which encouraged the rebellion of Mercia's vassal-states. Bernulf set out on a campaign to bring Mercia's rebellious vassals back into line. Mercia seemed poised to conquer, or re-conquer, the whole country, however, Bernulf was defeated in battle at Ellendun, near Wroughton, in Wiltshire, in 825, by Egbert of Wessex, who then went on the offensive. The hegemony of Mercia in England collapsed after the battle, and Wessex rose to take its place in England as the dominant kingdom. Bernulf, after the battle, regrouped his forces and struck out to avenge his defeat and re-establish the supremacy of Mercia, but was killed in battle in East Anglia attempting to suppress his ex-vassals.
825-839 18. EGBERT of WESSEX,
the last Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda, a Wessex prince, following his victory over Bernulf of Mercia in battle saw his opportunity to capitalize on his victory and set out on a campaign to subdue the whole of England under him. He expelled the last Mercian governor of Sussex; drove Duke/King Sigered of Essex from his estate; and annexed Sussex and Essex to Wessex to form the greater Wessex kingdom, in 825, while his son Athelstan took an armed-force into Kent, expelled its last king, Baldred, and seized Kent which became an appanage of the Wessex kingdom. Egbert marched into Mercia, which had been in turmoil since the Battle of Ellendun, and expelled its king, Wiglaf, and Mercia became a tributary to Wessex. East Anglia became a protectorate of Wessex at the request of its king, Athelstan, who led his country in rebellion against Mercian domination. And, Northumbria sent delegates to meet Egbert who had invaded the country to convey its allegiance to him and avert his further advance, and the Northumbrian king Eanred came himself and paid homage to Egbert at Dore, near Sheffield, in Derbyshire.
The witanagemot met at Winchester in 829 and elected Egbert to the bretwaldship; and Egbert was crowned Bretwalda in London that year on Christmas Day. Egbert is numbered the eighth Bretwalda, however, he was at least the eighteenth to hold sway over England in that capacity. He was to be the last one.
The next year, however, there was a sudden turn of events. The exiled Mercian ex-king recovered his throne and re-established Mercia's independence. Northumbria regained its independence at the sametime. And, East Anglia took advantage of the rapidly changing political situation to free itself and regained its independence. There was even a short-lived rebellion in Essex, which Egbert suppressed in good time. It is curious how the hegemony of Egbert in England so quickly collapsed by a change of events.
Egbert undertook three campaigns in Wales. The first, in 825, he defeated a league of Welsh kings, who paid him tribute. In 830 he returned and defeated Cyngen of Powys in battle. Then, in 835, he came back to suppress a rebellion of his Welsh vassals.
The final years of his reign Egbert spent fighting the Vikings, whose raids came to be a grave menace. Egbert rose to the challenge and defeated the Vikings in the Battle of Hingston Down, near Callington, in 838, and expelled the Vikings from England. His victory won Egbert the allegiance of all the other Anglo-Saxon kings, who sent delegates to him bearing tribute. The supremacy of Wessex in England dissolved again, the next year, in 839, on Egbert's death; and no other kingdom in England arose to take its place as the dominant power, and before long the Vikings came back to England and overran the country.
Some material presented will contain links, quotes, ideologies, etc., the contents of which should be understood to first, in their whole, reflect the views or opinions of their editors, and second, are used in my personal research as "fair use" sources only, and not espousement one way or the other. Researching for 'truth' leads one all over the place...a piece here, a piece there. As a researcher, I hunt, gather and disassemble resources, trying to put all the pieces into a coherent and logical whole. I encourage you to do the same. And please remember, these pages are only my effort to collect all the pieces I can find and see if they properly fit into the 'reality aggregate'.
I've come to realize that 'truth' boils down to what we 'believe' the facts we've gathered point to. We only 'know' what we've 'experienced' firsthand. Everything else - what we read, what we watch, what we hear - is what someone else's gathered facts point to and 'they' 'believe' is 'truth', so that 'truth' seems to change in direct proportion to newly gathered facts divided by applied plausibility. Though I believe there is 'truth', until someone celestial who 'knows' all the facts parts the heavens and throws us a scroll titled "Here Are ALL The Facts And Lies In The Order They Happened," I can't know for sure exactly what "the whole truth' on any given subject is, and what applies to me applies to everyone.
~Gail Bird Allen
Never in your long ascendancy will you lose the power to recognize your associates of former existences. Always, as you ascend inward in the scale of life, will you retain the ability to recognize and fraternize with the fellow beings of your previous and lower levels of experience. Each new translation or resurrection will add one more group of spirit beings to your vision range without in the least depriving you of the ability to recognize your friends and fellows of former estates.
Princess Bride 1987 Wallace Shawn (Vizzini) and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya)
Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
And here is mystery: The more closely man approaches God through love, the greater the reality -- actuality -- of that man. The more man withdraws from God, the more nearly he approaches nonreality -- cessation of existence. When man consecrates his will to the doing of the Father's will, when man gives God all that he has, then does God make that man more than he is.
"And do you not remember that I said to you once before that, if you had your spiritual eyes anointed, you would then see the heavens opened and behold the angels of God ascending and descending? It is by the ministry of the angels that one world may be kept in touch with other worlds, for have I not repeatedly told you that I have other sheep not of this fold?"
But we know that there dwells within the human mind a fragment of God, and that there sojourns with the human soul the Spirit of Truth; and we further know that these spirit forces conspire to enable material man to grasp the reality of spiritual values and to comprehend the philosophy of universe meanings. But even more certainly we know that these spirits of the Divine Presence are able to assist man in the spiritual appropriation of all truth contributory to the enhancement of the ever-progressing reality of personal religious experience—God-consciousness.
When you are through down here, when your course has been run in temporary form on earth, when your trial trip in the flesh is finished, when the dust that composes the mortal tabernacle "returns to the earth whence it came"; then, it is revealed, the indwelling "Spirit shall return to God who gave it." There sojourns within each moral being of this planet a fragment of God, a part and parcel of divinity. It is not yet yours by right of possession, but it is designedly intended to be one with you if you survive the mortal existence.
And the greatest of all the unfathomable mysteries of God is the phenomenon of the divine indwelling of mortal minds. The manner in which the Universal Father sojourns with the creatures of time is the most profound of all universe mysteries; the divine presence in the mind of man is the mystery of mysteries.
To every spirit being and to every mortal creature in every sphere and on every world of the universe of universes, the Universal Father reveals all of his gracious and divine self that can be discerned or comprehended by such spirit beings and by such mortal creatures. God is no respecter of persons, either spiritual or material. The divine presence which any child of the universe enjoys at any given moment is limited only by the capacity of such a creature to receive and to discern the spirit actualities of the supermaterial world.
Paradise is the eternal center of the universe of universes and the abiding place of the Universal Father, the Eternal Son, the Infinite Spirit, and their divine co-ordinates and associates. This central Isle is the most gigantic organized body of cosmic reality in all the master universe. Paradise is a material sphere as well as a spiritual abode. All of the intelligent creation of the Universal Father is domiciled on material abodes; hence must the absolute controlling center also be material, literal. And again it should be reiterated that spirit things and spiritual beings are real.
Culture presupposes quality of mind; culture cannot be enhanced unless mind is elevated. Superior intellect will seek a noble culture and find some way to attain such a goal. Inferior minds will spurn the highest culture even when presented to them ready-made.
True liberty is the associate of genuine self-respect; false liberty is the consort of self-admiration. True liberty is the fruit of self-control; false liberty, the assumption of self-assertion. Self-control leads to altruistic service; self-admiration tends towards the exploitation of others for the selfish aggrandizement of such a mistaken individual as is willing to sacrifice righteous attainment for the sake of possessing unjust power over his fellow beings.
How dare the self-willed creature encroach upon the rights of his fellows in the name of personal liberty when the Supreme Rulers of the universe stand back in merciful respect for these prerogatives of will and potentials of personality! No being, in the exercise of his supposed personal liberty, has a right to deprive any other being of those privileges of existence conferred by the Creators and duly respected by all their loyal associates, subordinates, and subjects.
There is no error greater than that species of self-deception which leads intelligent beings to crave the exercise of power over other beings for the purpose of depriving these persons of their natural liberties. The golden rule of human fairness cries out against all such fraud, unfairness, selfishness, and unrighteousness.