Kings of the Isle of Wight

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The Isle of Wight is a 147-square-mile (380 km2) island off the south coast of England. The first Kings of the Isle of Wight were recorded by St Bede in 512 CE as Stuf and Wihtgar, the nephews of Cerdic, the founder of the Wessex dynasty, then known as the "Allies" or "Gewisse". However, the name for the "Men of Wight" was "Wihtwara" and their fort "Wihtwarasburgh". Hence it is conjectured (by Stenton, Yorke et al.) that Wihtgar was a made-up name to account for this. Although the dynasty has never been given a name, presumably they would be named after their founder—as the kings of Kent and East Anglia were (the "Oiscings" and "Wuffings" respectively after Oisc and after Wuffa).

The subsequent kings are unknown until the final King, who died in 686CE. In 661CE Wulfhere of Mercia conquered Wessex and gave the overlordship to his godson, King Aethelwalh of Sussex and forced the Islanders to convert to Christianity. Upon Wulfhere's departure the Island returned to paganism. The last Jutish King and the last pagan king in England was King Arwald, about which we only know that he was killed resisting the invasion by King Caedwalla of Wessex, under the tutelage of St. Wilfrid and that Caedwalla later died of his wounds sustained in action. According to Bede, Caedwalla "endeavoured to destroy all the inhabitants thereof" and replaced them with his own followers. The only known survivor of the Jutes was Arwald's sister, whose name is unknown, but was at this time married to Egbert King of Kent, another Jute engaged in fighting off Caedwalla and his brother, Mul. She was an ancestor of Alfred the Great.

Wihtred's son, Æthelbert II of Kent had an unnamed daughter. She married Ealhmund of Kent. His son was Egbert of Wessex, whose son was Æthelwulf of Wessex, father of Alfred the Great.

Norman and Plantagenet periods[edit]

  • After the Norman Conquest the Isle of Wight was given to the de Redvers family in 1101 who were known as "Lords of the Isle of Wight". However the last of them was Isabella de Fortibus (1237–1293) who was known as the Queen of the Isle of Wight until her death. Upon her death bed she was visited by the King, Edward Longshanks, later known as "Edward I" who said that she had sold the Isle of Wight to him whilst on the point of death for 6,000 marks in 1293.

The village of Queensbower is said to be named after her.

  • Henry VI had a favourite courtier named Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, to whom he gave the honorific title, or perhaps nickname would be more accurate, "King of the Isle of Wight" in 1444, although this does not appear to have entailed any other implication, and he died shortly after.

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