Ælla of Deira

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Ælla (Ella, Ille) (died 588), is the first certain king of Deira. One of his sons was Edwin of Northumbria and his daughter Acha married Æthelfrith of Bernicia.


There is archaeological evidence for the settlement of Germanic people in eastern Yorkshire by the late fifth century.[1]

The manuscripts of Matthew Parker, and their dependent copies, preserve the following genealogy of Ælla: "Ælla was the son of Yffe, the son of Uxfrea, the son of Wilgisl, the son of Westerfalca, the son of Sæfugl, the son of Sæbald, the son of Segegeat, the son of Swebdæg, the son of Sigegar, the son of Wædæg, the son of Woden."

A somewhat different genealogy is given in the Historia Brittonum, where it is stated that Aella was the son of Iffi, grandson of Giulgis, great grandson of Sguerthing and great-great grandson of Soemil who "first separated Deira from Bernicia"[1] (presumably the British kingdom Bryneich was meant). Bede claims that Ælla was one of the kings reigning at the time of the Gregorian mission in 597.

Nothing more is known of Ælla, but he appears to be mentioned in the legendary saga Gautreks saga, where he is visited by the peasant hero, Ref. He is also one of the main characters in Chaucer's "Man of Law's Tale" in the Canterbury Tales.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he became king the same year as Ceawlin of Wessex (560) on the death of Ida of Bernicia, and ruled 30 years. However, the Chronicle records that Ælla died in the year 588, and was succeeded by Aethelric. Possibly this is the reason Florence of Worcester offered the date Ælla came to the throne as 559, which would harmonize with a reign of thirty years.


Preceded by
King of Deira
Succeeded by