Burgred of Mercia

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Burgred or Burhred or Burghred was the king of Mercia (852 - 874).

Burgred became king of Mercia in 852. He was possibly related to his predecessor Beorhtwulf, whose two sons Beorhtric and Beorhtfrith probably predeceased their father. The following year, Burgred sent messengers to Æthelwulf, king of the West Saxons, to come and help him subjugate the midland Britons, who lived between Mercia and the western sea (Welsh), and who were rebelling against his rule. Immediately upon receiving Burgred's embassy, King Æthelwulf moved his army, and advanced with King Burgred against Britain (Wales). They invaded and ravaged it, reducing it under subjection to Burgred. Then Æthelwulf's army returned to their home, Wessex. In the same year also, after Easter, Æthelwulf gave his daughter (Æthelswith) to Burgred, king of the Mercians, as his queen, and the marriage was celebrated at the royal villa of Chippenham in Wessex.

A charter of Burgred's dated 869

Twelve years after Burgred's success against the Welsh, in 865, the Great Heathen Army, a force of around 10,000 men invaded. They were led by three brothers: Ivar, Halfdan and Ubba. Following successful campaigns against East Anglia and Northumbria they advanced through Mercia, arriving in Nottingham in 867. Burgred then appealed to Ethelred of Wessex and his brother, Alfred the Great for assistance against the Vikings, who were in possession of Nottingham. The armies of Wessex and Mercia did no serious fighting, and the Vikings were allowed to remain through the winter. In 874 the march of the Vikings from Lindsey to Repton drove Burgred from his kingdom after they sacked Tamworth.[1]

After Burgred left, the Vikings appointed a Mercian Ceolwulf to replace him, demanding oaths of loyalty to them.[2] Burgred retired to Rome and died there. He was buried, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, "in the church of Sancta Maria, in the school of the English nation" in Rome.

Burgred is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the years 852, 853, 868, and 874.

Coins from the reign of Burgred — all bearing the spelling Burgred — have been found in several hoards. In December, 2003, silver coins from the reign of King Burgred were found at a site in Yorkshire, which may be the first actual Viking ship burial in England proper.

Burgred is thought to have belonged to the 'B-dynasty' of Mercian kings, a group thought to have been related based on their names which all begin with B hence 'B-dynasty', Beorhtwulf's son Beorhtfrith was said to have been the cousin of Wigstan, meaning if Burgred was related to his predecessor Beorhtwulf he was also related to the 'W-dynasty' who were also related to the 'C-dynasty' who first came to power in Mercia in 796.

Burgred may have had descendants, in 902 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that "Brihtsige, son of the ætheling Beornoth" was a casualty at the Battle of the Holme.

Mercian ninth-century kings.svg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica - Burgred
  2. ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s.a. 874


  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: MS A v. 3, Janet Bately (ed.), Brewer, Rochester (NY) 1986, ISBN 0-85991-103-9.

External links[edit]

Titles of nobility
Preceded by
King of Mercia
Succeeded by
Ceolwulf II