Talk:Wulfhere of Mercia

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Question about the map[edit]

The map recently added that shows the extent of Mercia is interesting, but I'd like to know more about how the boundaries were put together. I don't know of much in the way of boundary information, though I know there's some. Is this based on map given in a secondary source?

How about a version of the map that doesn't use boundary lines, but just places the names in the approximate positions that they should occupy? I think the definiteness of the boundaries might be misleading. Mike Christie (talk) 16:44, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

The map is based on the one in Sarah Zaluckyj & Marge Feryok. Mercia: The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England (2001) ISBN 1-873827-62-8. The boundaries are largely based on ecclesiastical boundaries that survived into the later Middle Ages unchanged, supplemented by information in the Tribal Hidage, because each Mercian sub-unit was given its own bishop (e.g. Hwicce = Worcester, etc.). TharkunColl 16:58, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I don't have that book, so I've gone ahead and ordered it, along with a couple of others. I'll have a crack at a couple more Mercian kings when it arrives -- probably Wulfhere or Offa to start with. Mike Christie (talk) 17:13, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Expansion approach for this article[edit]

I've been working on an expansion of this article offline, with the hope of taking it to FA. Before I make any big changes, I wanted to check in with other editors of this article to see what the best way to approach it is. I could either work section by section, expanding and revising each section and try to reach consensus on the edits that way; or I could do a complete rewrite/expansion offline and make all the changes in one big edit. Which would be easier to work with? The problem with the former is that the structure might make more sense done all at once; the problem with the latter would be that it would be hard to undo or changes parts of the edits. If nobody cares which way I do it I'll probably do one big edit; it seems the easiest way. Mike Christie (talk) 16:45, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

One big splurge is fine with me. I know you usually stick to a bold outline, but there's quite a lot of unreliable hagio-trivia concerning Wulfhere and his many dubious relatives: Saint Osgyth is said to have been his niece, for example, but I think our rather sad CE-inspired article conflates two quite different Saint Osgifus. Bassett's Origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms has rather a lot of this here and there if there's a copy near you. Angus McLellan (Talk) 17:27, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
OK, one big splurge it is. I don't think I'll get my version of Wulfhere sorted out this weekend; maybe next weekend. I don't have Bassett, though I've been thinking about picking it up; maybe I'll ask for it for Christmas. Mike Christie (talk)


Can I ask for the background on this: "The date at which Lindsey passed from Oswiu's control to Wulfhere's is not certain, but cannot be later than 669"? It's reffed to Williams, p. 12; I ask because Kirby is pretty definite that there isn't any evidence that Wulfhere exercised authority in Lindsey, and refers only to episcopal authority. Is Williams talking about Chad? That would fit. Mike Christie (talk) 23:01, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Apologies, it's p. 21 not p. 12, but yes: "Wulfhere's ability to grant this land [to Chad] demonstrates his control of the province [of Lindsey]". Angus McLellan (Talk) 08:40, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
No apologies needed; thanks. I've put a note about the date back in and reffed Williams for it. Mike Christie (talk) 04:21, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Expansion done[edit]

OK, I've expanded it; any comments, improvements, irate demands for reversion? One note: I removed some unsourced material at the end of the old version:

"The widowed Queen Eormenhild entered religion, becoming abbess of Minster-in-Thanet and Ely. Their daughter Saint Waerburh was later abbess of Ely."

I can't find anything to source the first part; the second sentence isn't covered by the article in the BEASE, which says there are multiple contradictory accounts of Werburh's life. So I just cut these, thinking they're not critical for Wulfhere's life anyway.

One other note: I changed the map at the top -- I rather like the other map too, but thought the new one might be a little easier to parse. Either one would work for me. Mike Christie (talk) 02:30, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Map: fine. Eormenhild was definitely an abbess, probably at Ely, see the PASE and Yorke Kings and kingdoms, p. 70. Werburh, no particularly strong views so long as she's mentioned. Angus McLellan (Talk) 15:29, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I added Eormenhild back in and said "probably Ely", citing Yorke. Werburh is already mentioned so I didn't re-add her.
I'll work on the lead a bit (I haven't expanded it at all yet) and will probably put it up for FA some time after that, if there are no other comments. Thanks for these notes. Mike Christie (talk) 04:23, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
In the "Lindsey, Surrey and Kent" section, I wonder if it would be better for Kent to precede Surrey, given that Egbert is mentioned in the Surrey section, but his relationship to Wuulfhere and dates are in the Kent section. Angus McLellan (Talk) 16:30, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, good idea. I switched the sequence; it's definitely an improvement. Thanks. Mike Christie (talk) 19:22, 5 December 2007 (UTC)


The passage from Eddius about Wulfhere refers to the period 667–9, when Wilfred was excluded from his diocese in Northumbria:

"He returned to an abbot's monastic seat and again lived humbly at Ripon for three years, except that King Wulfhere of the Mercians often invited him into his territory with real affection to perform various episcopal functions. The Lord raised up for himself this most kindly king, who among other things gave for his soul's healing many tracts of land in various places to our bishop, in which he soon established minsters for servants of God."

This is quoted on page 92 of The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society by John Blair, Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 0199211175.

--qp10qp (talk) 20:39, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Name spelling inconsistencies[edit]

The following name pairs each appear to refer to the same individual within the article, and the names are not in quotations or reference titles which might require spelling variation. If this is a correct appraisal of their status, selecting a single spelling of each name within the scope of the article might be appropriate. I leave the decision on need, and "best" name variant if needed, for those more qualified to make that decision.

  • Sebbi - Sæbbi
  • Sigehere – Sighere
  • Frithuwald – Frithuwold

-- Michael Devore (talk) 00:26, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for spotting this. I have fixed the problem, or at least made everything consistent. Frithuwold seems to be definitely the more common form; the others I found less definite evidence for, but made a chance on what I could find. Mike Christie (talk) 04:44, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Good work, as usual. I note that in this article the Frithuwold wikilink is piped to Frithuwald of Surrey which redirects to the article titled Frithuwold of Surrey. Then, in the Frithuwold article, the content consistently uses the spelling Frithuwald in direct contradiction of the article title. Oh well, sometimes you just can't win.
There is a related second issue that might be an error in this article. In the sentence Frithuwold himself was probably married to Wilburh, Wulfred's sister., there is no other mention in the article of Wulfred. In the problematic Frithuwold article it says Wilburh is Wulfhere's sister. Should the sentence here read Wilburh, Wulfhere's sister? -- Michael Devore (talk) 23:50, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
A good catch. Either that or perhaps it was "Wulf[here and Æthel]red's sister" Mike had in mind. Anyway, not Wulfred for sure. Angus McLellan (Talk) 00:03, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the fix, Angus; yes, it was just a typo for "Wulfhere". I also changed the Frithuwold link to at least be consistent; the Frithuwold of Surrey article will have to wait. We'll get to it eventually. Thanks for the eye to detail, Michael; please look through as many of the articles I work on as you have time for! Mike Christie (talk) 11:08, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Your FA king article list looks very clean to me. Just found and changed the one minor inconsistency in Eardwulf of Northumbria and that's it. -- Michael Devore (talk) 15:11, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Wulfhere the Kind Hearted ?[edit]

There is a website called "" "America's gateway to the British Isles" thatgives a legend of Wulfhere, ilustrated by a picture. That picture is in fact a Churchman's cigarette card, offered for sale at "mediastorehouse" and I suspect that the following "legend" comes from the back of this. The image is copywrighted "Mary Evans Picture Library"

Wulfhere, having conquered the Isle of Wight wished to marry a local woman called Edith of Stenbury. However she is betrothed to a captured Jute (king?) called Redwald the Bold and pleads for his life, saying that "Henceforth, you shall be known as Wulfhere the Kind-Hearted" (in the background of the picture there is a Jutish captive being butchered with an axe) at which he sails off and Redwald and Edith live happily ever after, or until 686 when they were massacred by Caedwalla.

Now I do not want to put this up anywhere without a proper source - other than a probably pre war cigarette card. Does anyone know anything else at all about this ? Streona (talk) 14:10, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

There are no sources for such an elaborate story, so perhaps it's a later legend. As always, it holds some grains of truth: Eddius called Wulfhere kind-hearted, for example, and Eafe was the Christian wife of that Æthelwealh of the South Saxons who was baptised under the influence of Wulfhere and to whom Wulfhere gave the conquered lands of the Isle of Wight and the Meonware. A point not mentioned in the article is that Bede calls these lands "Jutish" in his section on Cædwalla.
Are you named after Eadric Streona? qp10qp (talk) 17:20, 15 January 2008 (UTC)


I have no idea where this story originates, but the names Redwald and Edith sound made up.Streona (talk) 22:35, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Etymology of "Wulfhere"[edit]

Perhaps the meaning of his name could be included. Wulfhere (Wulf+Here) in Old English literally translates into Wolf Army. See Wiktionary:wulf and Wiktionary:here. Just an idea. --Dictionman (talk) 12:25, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Remove map? Opinions requested[edit]

I probably shouldn't wait until a few hours before the article goes on the main page to suggest this, but I'd like to remove the map showing the extent of Mercia. It's not sourced, for one thing, but I'm more concerned by the fact that it implies definite boundaries, which can't be supported by sources except perhaps very late in Mercia's history. Diocesan boundaries are known reasonably well, or at least can be sourced, but there is no particular reason to believe they corresponded exactly to the boundary of Mercian control, especially at early dates. There was a similar discussion over a map of Britain that ended with the removal of the map with boundaries, so I feel there is precedent for this. If I hear no reasons to leave it, or at least if there's more support than opposition, I'll remove it later today. Mike Christie (talk) 10:18, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

It's derived from the map of the Tribal Hidage that appears in Mercia: The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England (2001), Sarah Zaluckyj & Marge Feryok. ðarkuncoll 10:40, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
I've added that to the image file as a source. Zaluckyj says it is based on Cyril Hart's work; based on her bibliography the original source is probably Hart's "The Tribal Hidage" in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, Vol 21, Royal Historical Society, 1971. I'd like to see if Hart gives the specific boundaries that Zaluckyj draws, or if he expresses any reservations about the accuracy. I'd prefer to source this to Hart if possible; I don't know anything about Zaluckyj's background but I don't know that she holds an academic post -- I think she's an interested amateur. I've generally avoided sourcing to her if I have a better source. Anyway, at least we have a source for the map now, which helps. Since you created the map, TharkunColl, I assume you'd prefer it stays? If so I'll leave it in the article unless someone else comments. Mike Christie (talk) 11:14, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
It adds useful info I think, though it wasn't designed for this particular article. ðarkuncoll 11:23, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Here's a JSTOR link to the article: [1]; I can only see the first page. If someone else can see the whole article, please report here on what it says. Mike Christie (talk) 11:27, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

The source may be Hart's "The Kingdom of Mercia" in Mercian Studies (1977) [2]. ðarkuncoll 11:35, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

Interesting; I don't have the Dornier. You can see snippets of the map on Google Books by searching for "Dornier Mercian Studies" and then searching for "england in the late eighth century" or "minor political boundaries". It does look as though Hart was using definite lines on the map, rather than labels without boundaries. However, he does say "approximate", so I've added that to the caption. I also checked the two maps referenced in the caption and one uses no boundaries, while the other (Higham) does, for part of the area, but also says approximate; and Higham's boundaries do not correspond exactly to Zaluckyj's. I would like to see the Hart article, but am still in favour of removing the map completely since it gives a misleading impression of definiteness. Let's see if anyone else comments. Mike Christie (talk) 13:35, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
It would be better without the lines, but the caption says it is "approximate". I wouldn't think anyone who is paying attention should be misled. Anyone who isn't paying much attention probably won't register the lines on the map anyway. Angus McLellan (Talk) 22:39, 24 April 2010 (UTC)