List of monarchs of Wessex

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This is a list of monarchs of Wessex until AD 886. 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 Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and Latin, the prevalent languages of record at the time in England.

This was a period in which spellings varied widely, even within a document. A number of variations of the details below exist. Among these are the preference between the runic character thorn (Þ, lower-case þ, from the rune of the same name) and the letter eth (Ð or ð), both of which are pronounced /th/ and were interchangeable. They were used indiscriminately for voiced and unvoiced /th/ sounds, unlike in modern Icelandic. Thorn tended to be more used in the south (Wessex) and eth in the North (Mercia and Northumbria). Separate letters th were preferred in the earliest period in Northern texts, and returned to dominate by the Middle English period onward.

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 characters, and the letters W and U. W was occasionally rendered VV (later UU), but the runic character wynn (Ƿ or ƿ) was a common way of writing the /w/ sound. Again the West Saxons initially preferred the character derived from a rune, and the Angles/Engle preferred the Latin-derived lettering VV, consistent with the thorn versus eth usage pattern.

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.

List[edit]

Reign Incumbent Notes
The Kingdom of the Gewissae
Cerdicing dynasty
519 to 534 Cerdic Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name.
534 to 560 Cynric Son, or according to some sources grandson, of Cerdic.
560 to 591 Ceawlin Son of Cynric. Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name.
591 to 597 Ceol Nephew of Ceawlin, grandson of Cynric.
597 to 611 Ceolwulf Brother of Ceol, grandson of Cynric.
611 to 643 Cynegils Sources derive him from Cynric, but name different dynasty members as his father. Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name
c. 626 to 636 Cwichelm Co-ruler with Cynegils, perhaps his son of this name.
643 to 645 Cenwalh Son of Cynegils. Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name; Deposed
Mercian dynasty
645 to 648 Penda King of Mercia, expelled Cenwalh.
Cerdicing dynasty
648 to 674 Cenwalh Restored; reigned jointly with his wife Queen Seaxburh 672 to 674.
672 to 674 Seaxburh Reigned jointly with her husband Cenwalh until his death 674
674 Cenfus (Disputed) Perhaps reigned between Seaxburh and his son Æscwine. Given a remote descent from Cynric.
674 to 676 Æscwine Son of Cenfus.
676 to 685 Centwine Traditionally son of Cynegils, but this is disputed. Deposed by Cædwalla
685 to 688 Cædwalla Perhaps descendant of Ceawlin. Usurper; abdicated, possibly of British origin.
688 to 726 Ine Descendant of Ceawlin. Abdicated
726 to 740 Æthelheard Perhaps brother-in-law of Ine.
740 to 756 Cuthred Relative, possibly brother, of Æthelheard.
756 to 757 Sigeberht Distant relative of Cuthred. Deposed (and killed?) by Cynewulf
757 to 786 Cynewulf Assassinated by Cyneheard, brother of Sigeberht
786 to 802 Beorhtric Reigned 786 to 802
802 to 839 Ecgberht Descendant of Ine's brother.
839 to 858 Æthelwulf Son of Ecgberht.
858 to 860 Æthelbald Son of Æthelwulf.
860 to 865 Æthelberht Son of Æthelwulf.
865 to 871 Æthelred Son of Æthelwulf.
871 to 899 Alfred the Great Son of Æthelwulf. The only Anglo-Saxon monarch to be given the epithet "the Great".

Timeline[edit]

Alfred the GreatÆthelred I, King of WessexÆthelberht of WessexÆthelbald of WessexÆthelwulf, King of WessexEgbert of WessexBeorhtric of WessexCynewulf of WessexSigeberht of WessexCuthred of WessexÆthelheard of WessexIne of WessexCædwalla of WessexCentwine of WessexÆscwine of WessexCenfus of WessexSeaxburh of WessexCenwalh of WessexPenda of MerciaCenwalh of WessexCwichelm of WessexCynegils of WessexCeolwulf of WessexCeol of WessexCeawlin of WessexCynric of WessexCerdic of WessexIclingas

Genealogy[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),[1] 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.[2]

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 [3] (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.[4] 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).[5]

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.[6] There are also a number of discrepancies between different sources.

Key[edit]

The red border indicates the monarchs
The black border indicates the close relatives of the monarchs (parents, spouses and children)
The blank box indicates other relatives.

Cerdic
*? †534
1st King of Wessex
519 - 534
Cynric
*? †560
2nd King of Wessex
534 - 560
Ceawlin
*? †593
3rd King of Wessex
560 - 592
Cutha
*? †?
Ceolwulf
*? †?
Cuthwine
*~565 †?
Ceol
*? †597
4th King of Wessex
592 - 597
Ceolwulf
*? †611
5th King of Wessex
597 - 611
Cuthgils
*? †?
Cynebald
*? †?
Cedda
*590 †?
Cuthwulf
fl. 592–648
Cynegils
*? †643
6th King of Wessex
611 – 643
Pybba
*? †606~615
King of Mercia
593 – 606~615
Cenferth
*? †?
Cenberht
*620 †661
Ceolwald
*? †?
Cwichelm
*? †636
7th King of Wessex
625 – 636
Seaxburh
*? †~674
(11th) Queen of Wessex
~672 – ~674
Cenwalh
*? †674
8/10th King of Wessex
642-645 – 648-683
Centwine
*? †685
13th King of Wessex
676 – 685
sister
of Penda
*? †?
Penda
*~606 †655
9th King of Wessex
645 – 648
Eowa
*? †?
Cenfus
*? †674
12th King of Wessex
674
Cædwalla
*~659 †689
14th King of Wessex
685 – 688
Mul
*? †687
King of Kent
686 – 687
Cenred
*? †?
Cuthred
*ante 639 †661
Osmod
*? †?
Æscwine
*? †676
12th King of Wessex
674 – 676
Ingild
*? †?
Ine
*670 †post 726
15th King of Wessex
689 – 726
Æthelburg
*? †?
Æthelheard
*? †740?
16th King of Wessex
726 – 740
Cuthred
*? †756
17th King of Wessex
740 – 756
Eanwulf
*? †?
Eoppa
*? †?
Sigeberht
*? †?
18th King of Wessex
756 – 757
Cyneheard
*? †786
Cynewulf
*? †786
19th King of Wessex
757 – 786
Thingfrith
*? †?
Eafa
*? †?
Offa
*? †796
King of Mercia
757 – 796
Ealhmund
*745 †827
King of Kent
784
Beorhtric
*? †802
20th King of Wessex
786 – 802
Eadburh
fl. 787–802
Ecgberht
*~770 †839
21st King of Wessex
802 – 839
Judith
*~843 †~870
Æthelwulf
*795 †858
22nd King of Wessex
839 – 858
Osburh
*? †?
Æthelstan
*? †~852
King of Kent
839 – 851
Æthelbald
*~831 †860
23rd King of Wessex
858 – 860
Æthelberht
*~835 †865
24th King of Wessex
860 – 865
Æthelred I
*~847 †871
25th King of Wessex
865 – 871
Alfred the Great
*848~849 †899
26th King of Wessex
871 – ~886
1st King of the Anglo-Saxons
~886 – 899
English monarchs'
family tree

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ A "political fiction", according to D.P. Kirby (1992), The Earliest English Kings. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-09086-5, p. 49)
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Heather Edwards (2004), Ecgberht, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

References[edit]