Æscwine of Essex

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Imaginary depiction of Æscwine from John Speed's 1611 "Saxon Heptarchy".

Æscwine, or Erkenwine, Erchenwine in the Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies is listed as the first king of Essex. If historical, he would have flourished during the 6th century.

Precious little evidence is available for his existence. His name Æscwine first appears in a West-Saxon genealogy which is imperfectly preserved in London, BL, Add. MS 23211, presumably of the late 9th century. Here he is said to be father to King Sledd and himself a son of Offa, son of Bedca, son of Sigefugl, son of Swæppa, son of Antsecg, son of Gesecg, son of Seaxnet (the legendary founder of the Saxons).

Further information is supplied by works of historians writing in the 12th and 13th centuries, who appear to have used pre-Conquest material, i.e. Henry of Huntingdon's Historia Anglorum, Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarum and Matthew Paris's Chronica Majora. These, however, substitute the name Æscwine for Erkenwine or Erchenwine as Sledd's father. Both these names seem to betray Kentish connections. On no known authority, Roger of Wendover and Matthew Paris state that Erkenwine founded the kingdom in 527 and reigned from that year to 587, when he died and was succeeded by his son Sledd. The reputed length of his reign appears unlikely for the time. Alternatively, genealogies included in the works of William of Malmesbury and John of Worcester (Chronicon B) make Sledd the first king of Essex and genealogies for Sigered and Swithred in Add. MS 23211 trace the line of East Saxon kings to Sledd.

References[edit]

  • Yorke, Barbara. "The Kingdom of the East Saxons." Anglo-Saxon England 14 (1985): 1-36.
Preceded by
King of Essex Succeeded by
Sledd