Talk:Cædwalla of Wessex

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Yorke (p. 137) and Stenton (p. 70, 3rd edn) both say Bede says Cædwalla was seriously wounded in taking the Isle of Wight. I can't find this in the edition I have, and I wonder if this is actually a reference to the Whitby life of Wilfrid, which I don't have access to. I'm going to include a mention in the article but source it just to Stenton; it's clear some primary source supports it so I don't think I need to keep it out of the article. If anyone can find the reference, please leave a note here. Thanks. Mike Christie (talk) 17:38, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Found it; it's in IV 16. It's cited now. Mike Christie (talk) 21:55, 4 July 2007 (UTC)


I abbreviated this: "His name is an anglicized derivation from the British Cadwallon, itself derived from Catuvellauni the pre-Roman tribal name, meaning "Battle-expert.""; the latter clause is unsourced and though it's plausible I can't find support for it. I'm putting it here so it can be re-added if someone has a source. Mike Christie (talk) 03:59, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

The production of Cadwallon from Catuvellaun(us), simply follows the sound shift that produced the change of Old British into Early Welsh. The same shift produced Maelgwn from Maglocunus, Cynglas from Cuneglassus and Caradog/Cradoc from Caratacus. The meaning of the name Catuvellauni is not perfectly clear it contains the element 'cat' which definitely meant 'battle,' 'vellaunus' ('gwallon' in Early Welsh) possibly meant 'expert' or 'skilled' or perhaps 'ruler.'

Caedwalla's brother's name, Mul, is an OE word derived from the Latin mulus, meaning mule.

It is interesting that Bede never commented on the British origins of the names of many of the central persons in his writings, Caedwalla, St. Chad and his two brothers (one called Cynebil = Cunobelin) and Caedmon the father of English divine music/poetry.

Urselius 11:54, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

This would be great to add to the article. Is there a reference work that can be cited for the information above? Ideally the citation should specifically refer to Cadwallon and Catuvellaunus, otherwise it might be regarded as original research. I don't think the information about the underlying soundshifts has to be mentioned in the article (though it could be), but to talk about the meaning of the elements of "Catuvellanus" I think we should try to find some source that asserts Cadwallon's name is related to it. Mike Christie (talk) 14:57, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

I have found a very nice intermediate name form, in one 'Catwallaun Lauhir' who expelled the Irish from Anglesey in about 500AD (Morris, J., The Age of Arthur Weidenfeld and Nicolson (1973) Vol. I p.125). The progression: Catuvellaun(us)(i) - Catwallaun - Cadwallon - Caedwalla is quite convincing.

The etymology of 'Mul = halfbreed' is suggested in Rutherford Davis, K. Britons and Saxons The Chiltern region 400-700, Phillimore (1982). p.121.

I can't believe I am the only one to ever notice the Catuvellauni - Cadwallon connection, I'm sure I must have read it somewhere. I'll continue looking.

Urselius 19:42, 25 July 2007 (UTC)


Patrick Wormald, in "The Anglo-Saxons" (ed. Campbell) says that there is evidence Cædwalla was regarded as a bretwalda by some, but not by all. He says in the notes that his overall discussion of the bretwaldas will be defended in a "forthcoming publication". I think his comment needs a source that gives the argument, so I'm omitting it for now. If someone has a better source for this, please add it. Mike Christie (talk) 10:52, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

The title of Bretwalda seems to closely mirror that of Ard Ri (High King) in Ireland. The Irish recognised two forms of this title "with opposition" or "without opposition." The former would encompass Rory O'Connor at the time of Strongbow, the latter Niall of the Nine Hostages around 400AD. It seems that a certain level of recognition would allow the rightful use of the title but only those kings who could exert enough force to be universally recognised qualified for the "without opposition" clause. It may be that the claims to Bretwalda-ship were treated similarly by contemporaries. I can't remember if Offa of Mercia is recognised as a Bretwada, though he did title himself as "Basileus of the Whole World of Britain!"

Urselius 11:22, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Caedwalla's Christianity (and ruthlessness)[edit]

Caedwalla may have been following the precident of Contantine the Great in reserving baptism for his deathbed. A man on his deathbed can commit no further sin.

With reference to supporting Caedwalla's Christianity previous to his abdication, and to make a point that bloodthirstiness in pursuit of political advantage and Christian attitudes can coexist, the episode in Bede (Chapter XVI) concerning Caedwalla's agreement that the two young brothers of the last king of Wight be converted and baptised before they were executed could be usefully introduced. Caedwalla was obviously bent on exterminating the royal family of Wight, an effective way of crushing dissent, if harsh.

Urselius 20:21, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Good idea -- I added a note to that effect. Mike Christie (talk) 21:41, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Monastary at Hoo[edit]

I think the point needs to be made that the so called charter of his founding a monastery at Hoo in Kent is suspect because only the Peterborough version of the ASC refers to it and they claimed it was a property of theirs in the late tenth century when the Anglo Saxon kingdoms were united. As Caedwalla had no relation with East Anglian foundations and had no effective control over Kent after the anti-Mul revolt, the whole matter is dubious. Tony S (talk) 06:31, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

This is the relevant charter, according to Kirby (the source used in the article); it is regarded as at least partly forged. Kirby doesn't mention the Chronicle as a source for this. Do you have a source for this argument? The points you make are reasonable but we need to find a secondary source that makes them if we want to include them. Mike Christie (talk) 12:33, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

The first paragraph[edit]

I am having trouble making sense of the first paragraph:

He was exiled as a youth, and during this time attacked the South Saxons and killed their king, Æthelwealh, in what is now Sussex. Cædwalla was unable to hold the territory ...

Exiled from where?

"During this time" –- what time?

Was it their own king that the South Saxons killed?

"what is now Sussex" –- Sussex is now a county rather than a kingdom, but I think the borders are little changed.

What territory was Cædwalla unable to hold, and how had he got hold of it? Was he still in exile at the time?

Maproom (talk) 13:33, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Suggest: He was exiled from Wessex as a youth and during his exile gathered forces and attacked the South Saxons, killing their king, Æthelwealh, in what is now Sussex. Cædwalla was unable to hold the South Saxon territory ... -- (talk) 19:37, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
 Done -- (talk) 22:09, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. It seems much more readable now. Maproom (talk) 22:46, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
No problem, Maproom—you asked all the right questions. -- (talk) 00:52, 8 November 2013 (UTC)


Mike Christie, you haven't edited the article since just before this edit, on a matter you took issue with earlier. What do you think? Drmies (talk) 16:44, 13 August 2016 (UTC)

I can't see everything that's cited on Google Books, but I can see enough to be sure that there really is a discussion of Caedwalla's actions as genocide. It would be best if there were other sources making similar comments, since that's strong language, but I don't think there's a reason to remove it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:26, 13 August 2016 (UTC)