[13] The name Cerdic is derived from the British name *Caraticos. This website uses cookies to store information. At its greatest extent Wessex encompassed the modern areas of Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Dorset and Wiltshire, as well as the western half of Berkshire and the eastern hilly flank of Somerset. ANCIENT WESSEX – No new earl was appointed before the ensuing Norman Conquest of England, and as the Norman kings soon did away with the great earldoms of the late Anglo-Saxon period, 1066 marks the extinction of Wessex as a political unit. The area has many other earthworks and erected stone monuments from the Neolithic and Early Bronze periods, including the Dorset Cursus, an earthwork 10 km (6 mi) long and 100 m (110 yd) wide, which was oriented to the midwinter sunset. The attributed arms of Wessex are also known as the "Arms of Edward the Confessor", and the design is based on an emblem historically used by King Edward the Confessor on the reverse side of pennies minted by him. Any questions regarding news or information on this website please contact the organization mentioned in the article directly. [27][28] A report by The Guardian adds that[29]. Over the following years, what became known as the Great Heathen Army overwhelmed the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia. This covers an area of about 11,500 km2 (4,400 sq mi). Æthelwulf was succeeded in turn by his four sons, the youngest being Alfred the Great. In 918 Æthelflæd died and Edward took over direct control of Mercia, extinguishing what remained of its independence and ensuring that henceforth there would be only one Kingdom of the English. However, the kings of Wessex, starting with Alfred the Great (reigned 871-899), have fought the Vikings back and have succeeded in uniting the whole of England – plus southern Scotland – under their rule. The West Saxons formed one of the most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England - in fact it was their kingdom that formed the basis of a single, united English kingdom in the mid-tenth century. During this period Wessex continued its gradual advance to the west, overwhelming the British kingdom of Dumnonia (Devon). The process by which this transformation of the status of Mercia took place is unknown, but it left Alfred as the only remaining English king. Centwine is known to have fought and won battles against the Britons, but the details have not survived. Simultaneous Danish raids on the north coast of France and Brittany occurred in the 870s – prior to the establishment of Normandy in 911 – and recorded Danish alliances with both Bretons and Cornish may have resulted in the suppression of Cornish autonomy with the death by drowning of King Donyarth in 875 as recorded by the Annales Cambriae. Centwine was succeeded by another supposed distant relative, Cædwalla, who claimed descent from Ceawlin. The invaders reportedly defeated or co-opted Roman forces in most parts of northern and western Britain. The capture of Cirencester, Gloucester and Bath in 577, after the pause caused by the battle of Mons Badonicus, opened the way to the southwest. Cnut the Great, who conquered England in 1016, created the wealthy and powerful earldom of Wessex, but in 1066 Harold Godwinson reunited the earldom with the crown and Wessex ceased to exist. In 802 the fortunes of Wessex were transformed by the accession of Egbert who came from a cadet branch of the ruling dynasty that claimed descent from Ine's brother Ingild. Oxford University Press, pp. The dates are uncertain but it was probably in the late 640s or early 650s. [20] In 825 or 826 he overturned the political order of England by decisively defeating King Beornwulf of Mercia at Ellendun and seizing control of Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Essex from the Mercians, while with his help East Anglia broke away from Mercian control. The Kingdom of Wessex had thus been transformed into the Kingdom of England. However, he too was baptised only a few years later and Wessex became firmly established as a Christian kingdom. Cynric became the ruler of Wessex after Cerdic died in 534, and reigned for twenty-six years. Cædwalla later conquered Sussex, Kent and the Isle of Wight. Within a few years, however, he had created an earldom of Wessex, encompassing all of England south of the Thames, for his English henchman Godwin. These attacks marked the beginning of sustained pressure from the expanding kingdom of Mercia. Wessex became a Christian kingdom after Cenwalh was baptised and was expanded under his rule. The Danish conquests had destroyed the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia and divided Mercia in half, with the Danes settling in the north-east while the south-west was left to the English king Ceolwulf, allegedly a Danish puppet. Gildas states that the Saxons were completely defeated in the battle, in which King Arthur participated according to Nennius. Although Wessex had now effectively been subsumed into the larger kingdom which its expansion had created, like the other former kingdoms, it continued for a time to have a distinct identity which periodically found renewed political expression. The battle of Mons Badonicus is believed to have been fought around this time. Alfred responded effectively and was able with little fighting to bring about their withdrawal in 877. The seven kingdoms of England in the dark ages. In 959, Eadwig died and the whole of England came under Edgar's control. Cædwalla reigned for just two years, but achieved a dramatic expansion of the kingdom's power, conquering the kingdoms of Sussex, Kent and the Isle of Wight, although Kent regained its independence almost immediately and Sussex followed some years later. Two imperial coins recovered from the treasure hunters depict the two kings, "indicating an alliance between the two kingdoms—at least, for a time—that was previously unknown to historians", according to the report. Learn how to create your own. His reign ended in 688 when he abdicated and went on pilgrimage to Rome where he was baptised by Pope Sergius I and died soon afterwards. He gathered scholars from around England and elsewhere in Europe to his court, and with their help translated a range of Latin texts into English, doing much of the work personally, and orchestrated the composition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. [26] In the 890s these reforms helped him to repulse the invasion of another huge Danish army – which was aided by the Danes settled in England – with minimal losses. The chart shows their (claimed) descent from the traditional first king of Wessex, Cerdic, down to the children of Alfred the Great.A continuation of the tree into the 10th and 11th centuries can be found at English monarchs family tree.. With his accession the throne became firmly established in the hands of a single lineage. In 865, several of the Danish commanders combined their respective forces into one large army and landed in England. Under Egbert, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Essex, and Mercia, along with parts of Dumnonia, were conquered. But the rarity of the coins also suggests that Alfred quickly dropped his ally, who was just about written out of history". The Heptarchy (Old English: Seofonrīċe) is a collective name applied to the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England (sometimes referred to as petty kingdoms) from the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain in the 5th century until the consolidation into the four kingdoms of Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex and East Anglia in the eighth century. This was the first conversion to Christianity by a West Saxon king, but it was not accompanied by the immediate conversion of all the West Saxons: Cynegils' successor (and probably his son), Cenwealh, who came to the throne in about 642, was a pagan at his accession. Ine was the most durable of the West Saxon kings, reigning for 38 years.