List of monarchs of Wessex

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This is a list of monarchs of Wessex until 927. For later monarchs, see the List of English monarchs. While the details of the later monarchs are confirmed by a number of sources, the earlier ones are in many cases obscure.

The names are given in modern English form followed by the names and titles (as far as is known) in contemporary Anglo-Saxon English and Latin, the prevalent 'official' languages of the time.

This was a time when spellings varied widely, even within a document. A number of variations of the details below exist. Amongst these are the preference between the runic letter "Thorn" (Þ) and the letter "Eth" (Ð), both of which are pronounced "Th" and were interchangeable. They were used indiscriminately for voiced and unvoiced sounds, unlike modern Icelandic. Thorn tended to be more used in the south (Wessex) and eth in the North (Mercia and Northumbria). "Th" was preferred in the earliest period in Northern texts.

The character "⁊" (tironian et) was used as the ampersand (&) in contemporary Anglo-Saxon writings. The era pre-dates the emergence of some forms of writing accepted today; notably rare were lower case and the letters "W" and "U". W was occasionally rendered "VV", but the runic letter "wynn" (Ƿ) was the normal way of writing the "W" sound. Again, in the earliest period, the Angles/Engle preferred 'VV', whilst the West Saxons preferred the letter derived from a rune. (Compare "Thorn" and "Eth")

Except in manuscripts, runic letters were an Anglian phenomenon. (The early Engle restricted the use of runes to monuments, whereas the Saxons adopted Wynn and Thorn for sounds which did not have a Latin equivalent. Otherwise they were not used in Wessex).

Monarchs of the West Saxons (Wessex)[edit]

Reign Incumbent Notes
The Kingdom of the Gewissae
Cerdicing Dynasty
519 to 534 Cerdic CERDIC ELESING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CERDIC REX GEVVISSÆ
Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name
534 to 560 Cynric CYNRIC CERDICING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CYNRIC REX GEVVISSÆ
560 to 591 Ceawlin CEAVVLIN CYNRICING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CEAVVLIN REX GEVVISSÆ
Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name
591 to 597 Ceol CEOL CVÞING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CEOL REX GEVVISSÆ
597 to 611 Ceolwulf CEOLVVLF CVÞING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CEOLVVLF REX GEVVISSÆ
611 to 643 Cynegils CYNEGILS CEOLING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CYNEGILS REX GEVVISSÆ
Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name
c. 626 to 636 Cwichelm CVVICHELM CYNEGILSING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CVVICHELM REX GEVVISSÆ
643 to 645 Cenwalh CENVVALH CYNEGILSING GEVVISSÆ CYNING
CENVVALH REX GEVVISSÆ
Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name; Deposed
Mercian Dynasty
645 to 648 Penda PENDA PYBBING MIERCNA 7 GEVVISSÆ CYNING
PENDA REX MIERCNA ET GEVVISSÆ
Cerdicing Dynasty
648 to 674 Cenwalh CENVVALH CYNEGILSING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
CENVVALH REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Restored; reigned jointly with his wife Queen Seaxburh 672 to 674
672 to 674 Seaxburh SEAXBVRG VVESTSEAXNA CVEN
SEAXBVRH REGINA SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Reigned jointly with her husband Cenwalh until his death 674
674 Cenfus CENFVS CENFERÞING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
CENFVS REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
674 to 676 Æscwine ÆSCVVINE CENFVSING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ÆSCVVINE REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
676 to 685 Centwine CENTVVINE CYNEGILSING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
CENTVVINE REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Deposed by Cædwalla
685 to 688 Caedwalla CÆDVVALLA CENBRYHTING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
CÆDVVALLA REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Usurper; abdicated, possibly of British origin
688 to 726 Ine INE CENREDING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
INE REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Abdicated
726 to 740 Æthelheard ÆÞELHEARD VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ÆÞELHEARD REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
740 to 756 Cuthred CVÞRED VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
CVÞRED REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
756 to 757 Sigeberht SIGEBRYHT VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
SIGEBRYHT REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Deposed (and killed?) by Cynewulf
757 to 786 Cynewulf CYNEVVLF VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
CYNEVVLF REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Assassinated by Cyneheard, brother of Sigeberht
786 to 802 Beorhtric BEORHTRIC VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
BEORHTRIC REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
802 to 839 Egbert ECGBRYHT EALHMVNDING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ECGBRYHT REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
839 to 858 Æthelwulf ÆÞELVVLF ECGBRYHTING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ÆÞELVVLF REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
858 to 860 Æthelbald ÆÞELBALD ÆÞELVVLFING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ÆÞELBALD REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
860 to 865 Æthelberht ÆÞELBRYHT ÆÞELVVLFING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ÆÞELBRYHT REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
865 to 871 Æthelred ÆÞELRED ÆÞELVVLFING VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ÆÞELRED REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
871 to 899 Alfred the Great ÆLFRED ÆÞELVVLFING ÐE GREAT VVESTSEAXNA CYNING
ÆLFRED MAGNVS REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
The only Anglo-Saxon monarch to be given the epithet "the Great".
899 to 924 Edward the Elder EADVVEARD ÆLFREDING ÐE ELDRA WESTSEAXNA CYNING
EADVVEARD REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Died 17 July 924
924 Ælfweard? ÆLFVVEARD WESTSEAXNA CYNNING
ÆLFVVEARD REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Second son of Edward the Elder. Died 2 August 924, only 16 days after his father
924 to 927 Æthelstan ÆÞELSTAN EADVVEARDING WESTSEAXNA CYNNING
ÆÞELSTAN REX SAXONVM OCCIDENTALIVM
Became King of the English in 927 when the Northumbrians accepted his lordship.[1]

House of Wessex family tree[edit]

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.

The tree is largely based on the late 9th-century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List (reproduced in several forms, including as a preface to the [B] manuscript of the Chronicle),[2] and Asser's Life of King Alfred. These sources are all closely related and were compiled at a similar date, and incorporate a desire in their writers to associate the royal household with the authority of being a continuation of a unified line of kingship descended from a single original founder.[3]

One apparently earlier pedigree survives, which traces the ancestry of King Ine back to Cerdic. This first appears in a 10th-century manuscript copy of the "Anglian collection" of Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies. The manuscript is thought to have been made at Glastonbury in the 930s during the reign of King Æthelstan [4] (whose family traced their own royal descent back to Cerdic via a brother of King Ine), but the material may well date back to the earliest reconstructable version of the collection, c. 796; and possibly still further back, to 725-6.[5] Compared to the later texts, this pedigree gives an ancestry for Ceolwald as son of Cuthwulf son of Cuthwine which in the later 9th-century texts sometimes seems confused; and it states Cynric as son of Creoda son of Cerdic, whereas the Chronicle annals go to some length to present Cerdic and Cynric as a father-and-son pair who land in and conquer the southern part of Wessex together (a narrative now considered spurious by historians).[6]

Many of the links shown are disputed. Egbert, who became King of Wessex in 802, was probably of Kentish origin, and his ancestry back to Cerdic may have been invented to legitimize his claim to the throne of Wessex.[7] There are also a number of discrepancies between different sources.


Cerdic
King of Wessex
?–519-534
Cynric
King of Wessex
c.494–534-560
Ceawlin
King of Wessex
c.535–560-592
Cutha
Cuthwine
b. c.565
Ceol
King of Wessex
?–592-597
Ceolwulf
King of Wessex
?–597-611
Cedda
b.590
Cuthwulf
b.592
Cynegils
King of Wessex
?–611-642
Pybba
King of Mercia
Cenfus
King of Wessex
?–674-674
Cenberht
620-661
Ceolwald Cwichelm
King of Wessex
?–626-636
Seaxburh
Queen of Wessex
?–672-674
Cenwalh
King of Wessex
?–642-645,
648-672
sister
of Penda
Penda
King of Mercia
c.606–c.626-655
King of Wessex
645-648
Eowa
Æscwine
King of Wessex
?–674-676
Caedwalla
King of Wessex
659–685-688
Mul
King of Kent
660-686-687
Cenred
b. 640
Cuthred Centwine
King of Wessex
?–676-685
Osmod
Ingild
672-718
Aldfrith
King of Northumbria
?–685–704/5
Cuthburh
d. c.718
Cwenburh
d. c.735
Ine
King of Wessex
c.670–688-726
Æthelburh Æthelheard
King of Wessex
?–726-740
Cuthred
King of Wessex
?–740-756
Eanwulf
Eoppa
b. 706
Cynric
aethling
d. 748
Thingfrith
Eafa
b. 730
Kentish Princess Sigeberht
King of Wessex
?–756-757
Cyneheard
d. 786
Cynewulf
King of Wessex
?–757-786
Offa
King of Mercia
?–757-796
Ealhmund
King of Kent
c.750–784-784
Beorhtric
King of Wessex
?–786-802
Eadburh
Egbert
King of Wessex
775–802-839
Æthelwulf
King of Wessex
795–839-858
Osburh
Æthelstan
King of Kent
830–839-855
Æthelbald
King of Wessex
831–856-860
Burgred
King of Mercia
?–852-874
Æthelswith
833–889
Æthelberht
King of Wessex
835–860-865
Æthelred I
King of Wessex
c.848–865-871
Alfred
the Great
King of the
Anglo-Saxons
849–871-899
Ealhswith
852–905
Æthelhelm
c.865–c.890
Æthelwold
d. 901
Æthelred
Lord of the Mercians
?–c.881-911
Æthelflæd
Lady of the Mercians
869–911-918
Edward
the Elder
King of the
Anglo-Saxons
871–899-924
Æthelweard
875–922
Ælfthryth
877–929
Ælfwynn
Ruler of Mercia
c.888-r. 918-d.?
English monarchs tree

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Keynes, Simon (2001). "Edward, King of the Anglo-Saxons". In N. J. Higham & D. H. Hill. Edward the Elder 899-924. Routledge. p. 61. ISBN 0-415-21497-1. 
  2. ^ D.N. Dumville (1985), "The West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List and the Chronology of Early Wessex", Peritia 4 21–66 doi:10.1484/J.Peri.3.96
    D.N. Dumville (1986), "The West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List: Manuscripts and Texts", Anglia 104 1–32 doi:10.1515/angl.1986.1986.104.1
  3. ^ A "political fiction", according to D.P. Kirby (1992), The Earliest English Kings. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-09086-5, p. 49)
  4. ^ Kenneth Sisam (1953), "Anglo-Saxon Royal Genealogies", Proceedings of the British Academy 39 287–348
    David Dumville (1976) "The Anglian collection of royal genealogies and regnal lists", in Anglo-Saxon England, Clemoes, ed., 5 (1976), pp. 23–50. doi:10.1017/S0263675100000764
  5. ^ Dumville (1976), pp. 40, 42, 46. It is also possible that the material may first have been joined in with the collection in a copy made in Mercia c.840.
  6. ^ Barbara Yorke (1989), "The Jutes of Hampshire and Wight and the origins of Wessex" in S.R. Bassett (ed), The Origins of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, Leicester: Leicester University Press. ISBN 0718513177 pp. 84-96.
    Yorke's theory "has met with general acceptance (I cannot find any historian or archaeologist that disagrees with her conclusions)", according to Robin Bush at "Were the West Saxons guilty of ethnic cleansing?". Time Team Live 2001. Channel 4. 2001-08-28. Archived from the original on 2006-02-19. 
  7. ^ Heather Edwards (2004), Ecgberht, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

References[edit]

External links[edit]