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Saxons vs. Vikings: Alfred the Great and England in the Dark Ages by West Ed

Author:West, Ed [West, Ed]

Language: eng

Format: azw3

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Published: 2017-08-07T16:00:00+00:00

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Saxons vs. Vikings: Alfred the Great and England in the Dark Ages by West Ed

CHAPTER SEVEN

Wessex: The Last Kingdom

The kingdom of the West Saxons was founded in 519 by Cerdic, the leader who supposedly fought Arthur at Badon Hill, although Cerdic is a Celtic name and he may have been half-British himself, if he existed. Until the ninth century Wessex was fairly obscure, noted only for once having a woman in charge, although Queen Seaxburh only lasted one year.

 

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Saxons vs. Vikings: Alfred the Great and England in the Dark Ages by West Ed

Author:West, Ed [West, Ed] , Date: June 6, 2019

,Views: 52

Author:West, Ed [West, Ed]

Language: eng

Format: azw3

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Published: 2017-08-07T16:00:00+00:00
CHAPTER SEVEN

Wessex: The Last Kingdom

The kingdom of the West Saxons was founded in 519 by Cerdic, the leader who supposedly fought Arthur at Badon Hill, although Cerdic is a Celtic name and he may have been half-British himself, if he existed. Until the ninth century Wessex was fairly obscure, noted only for once having a woman in charge, although Queen Seaxburh only lasted one year.

Its most important king was probably Ine, who had come to the throne in 696, and who was possibly behind the creation of the Saxon School in Rome (although it could also have been Offa); also under Ine Southampton, or Hamwic, became prominent as a town, although by later standards it was still tiny. Most importantly, Ine also issued laws in 694, the first English codes outside of Kent, which Alfred later cited, and also introduced the first coins in Wessex. The kingdom began to expand across southern England, and during this period Kent was under West Saxon rule, we know, because at one point King Wihtred of Kent had to pay Ine a fine because Ine’s brother had been killed by Kentishmen. In the end Ine, presumably fed up with the whole business, abdicated to go to Rome on pilgrimage and stayed there.

Like the other large kingdoms, Wessex was racked by internal conflict. Alfred’s grandfather Egbert, who became king in 802, had spent the previous sixteen years trying to seize the crown, living much of it at the court of Charlemagne. There he had seen the steps taken by the emperor to stop raids by the Vikings and after his rival Beorhtric died in 802 Egbert turned up and proclaimed himself king.

Beorhtric had been a sort of pawn of Mercia and made the mistake of marrying the great king Offa’s daughter, the “grasping and wicked” Eadburh of Mercia (as Asser called her). According to the Welshman, “As soon as she had won the king’s friendship and power throughout almost the entire kingdom, she began to behave like a tyrant after the manner of her father—to loathe every man whom Beorhtric liked, to do all things hateful to God and men, to denounce all those whom she could before the king.” She also started poisoning people. Eventually she decided to do away with her husband’s right-hand man because she didn’t like him, but ended up accidentally killing her husband too. Eadburh then fled to Charlemagne, King of the Franks, and he offered her the choice of marrying him or his son (presumably she hadn’t told him the whole truth of why her first marriage ended). She foolishly chose the son, to which the king replied that it was a trick question and “you will have neither him nor me,” sending her off to a monastery. But even this didn’t end well, and eventually she was caught in debauchery “with a man of her own race,” ejected from the nunnery, and “shamefully spent her life in poverty and misery until her death” in Pavia. This is not

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