787. Synod of Chelsea: Lichfield established as third archbishopric
Ecgfrith, son of Offa of Mercia, consecrated king

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that there was a contentious synod at Chelsea, and Archbishop Jænberht lost part of his province, and Hygeberht was chosen by King Offa, and Ecgfrith was consecrated king.

The third archbishopric at Lichfield existed from the Synod of Chelsea in 787 until it was demoted back to a bishopric at the Synod of Clofesho in 803. Hygeberht was the first and only archbishop. Most of what we know about the see comes from letters written in the five years before it is abolished. Alcuin writes to Æthelheard, archbishop of Canterbury, in 798 (EHD 203), suggesting that it would be good if the unity of the (southern English) church could be restored, given that it was apparently torn asunder not out of reasonable motives but out of a desire for power. In the same year Offa's successor Coenwulf wrote to Pope Leo III (EHD 204), noting that Offa had divided the southern archdiocese in two because of his enmity against Archbishop Jænberht and the people of Kent. Pope Leo replied (EHD 205) that Offa had told the previous pope that it was the united wish of all the English people that there should be a new southern archbishopric, both because of the vast size of the country and of the expansion of the Mercian kingdom. (Pope Leo incidentally quashed Coenwulf's suggestion that the southern archdiocese be placed in London rather than restored to Canterbury; this had been a clever ploy of Coenwulf's, because while he claimed that he was trying to restore Pope Gregory's original choice for the southern see, his more pragmatic reason would be that London was much more under Mercian control than Canterbury had been.) The Pope wrote to Æthelheard of Canterbury on January 18, 802 (EHD 209), confirming the ancient privileges of the see of Canterbury, and this ruling was confirmed by the 803 Synod of Clofesho.

It seems clear then that Offa convinced Pope Hadrian that the division of the see was because Southumbrian England was too large for a single archbishopric, but that he misrepresented this as a unanimous view, and that his underlying reasons included enmity with Jænberht and the people of Kent. The fact that the Chronicle notes that Ecgfrith was consecrated king immediately after it notes the new archbishopric may suggest that the Kentish archbishop, Jænberht, refused to consecrate Ecgfrith. Jænberht might well have feared that the anointing of a Mercian prince by the archbishop of Canterbury might be seen as conferring hereditary rule over all of southern England, including Kent which had been independent until Offa re-occupied it two years previously (see Brooks, pp.119-20).

The enmity between Offa and Jænberht raises the possibility that it was Jænberht who started the rumour that surfaced in about 784 that Offa planned to dethrone the pope, as part of a plan to discredit Offa in the Papal Curia and ensure that any suggestion from the Mercian king about changing the arrangement of bishoprics should fall on deaf (or enraged) ears. (See entry on 786 for the background to this rumour, which may have helped prompt the dispatch of the papal legates to England.)

Ecgfrith was the first Anglo-Saxon whom we know to have been anointed as king (Eardwulf of Northumbria in 796 is the next known case). This anointing of the son of a reigning king during the king's lifetime follows the example of Charlemagne, who in 781 sent his two sons to be anointed by the pope (see Brooks, p.117). Offa's own example shows that the Mercian kingship was not always handed down in the immediate family (the closest common ancestor of Offa and his predecessor Æthelbald was Eowa, Penda's brother and Offa's great-great-grandfather), and he may well have felt that his son needed as much support as he could give him. After his anointing, Ecgfrith often witnesses at least two of Offa's charters as "Ecgfrith king" or even "Ecgfrith king of the Mercians" (S 129, 131) after his father's attestation, another clear sign that Offa associated his son with the royal power and intended to pass the kingship to his son. Alcuin implied in a letter written after Offa and Ecgfrith were both dead that Offa also killed many other claimants to ensure his son's succession (EHD 202), and it is clear that Alcuin regarded Ecgfrith's short reign as divine vengeance for the deaths compassed by his father.

N. Brooks, The Early History of the Church of Canterbury (Leicester: 1984)

September 2, 787. Northumbrian synod at Pincanheale

This synod is noted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; nothing is known of the proceedings, but they very probably centred on the twenty canons drawn up by the papal legate the previous year.

September 23, 788. Ælfwold of Northumbria killed by Sicga
Osred, Alhred's son and Ælfwold's nephew, succeeds to Northumbria

The Chronicle notes that on September 23 Ælfwold of Northumbria was killed by Sicga, and a heavenly light was seen where he was killed, and he was buried at Hexham, and that Osred, Alhred's son and Ælfwold's nephew, succeeded to the kingdom. Simeon of Durham adds that Sicga had formed a conspiracy to kill Ælfwold, that the death took place at Scythlescester (probably Chesters, a station by Hadrian's Wall), and that because of the light from heaven seen in that place a church was built there by the local faithful, in honour of God, St Cuthbert and St Oswald (another murdered Northumbrian king).

Sicga was probably the most important secular Northumbrian nobleman after the king: he is the first lay witness after the king to the legatine canons of 786, somewhat ironically since these emphasize loyalty to one's lord so strongly. The Chronicle notes that he died on February 23, 793, while Simeon adds that he died by his own hand and was conveyed to Lindisfarne on April 23. One has to wonder if any thoughtful Northumbrians saw a message in the sacking of Lindisfarne by Vikings a little over a month after they took in the body of a man who killed his king in defiance of the legatine canons he had sworn to uphold. A letter of Alcuin written after the sack suggests that the connection might have been drawn, though Alcuin was writing in very general terms (EHD 194: Alcuin suggests the sins of the community at Lindisfarne may have called the disaster upon them; but see further the entry on Æthelred's accession in 790).

Almost nothing is known of Osred's reign. He was supplanted and forced into exile by the returning Æthelred in 790, and killed when he attempted to reclaim the kingdom in 792.

789. Beorhtric of Wessex marries Eadburh, daughter of Offa of Mercia
Ecgberht of Wessex into exile in France

From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (839) we learn that Beorhtric and Offa had driven Ecgberht of Wessex into exile in France for three years after Beorhtric married Offa's daughter (so presumably in 789).

c.790. Conflict between Offa of Mercia and Charlemagne

From a letter of Alcuin to Colcu (EHD 192), we learn that dissension had lately arisen between Offa of Mercia and Charlemagne, such that each ruler refused landfall to the ships and merchants of the other. Alcuin had heard rumours that he would be sent back to England to help negotiate a peace.

The Acts of the Abbots of Fontenelle (EHD 20), written some forty years later, explain that the cause of the conflict was that Charlemagne had sought Offa's daughter as a wife for his son, and that Offa had replied that this might only be if Offa's son might wed Charlemagne's daughter Bertha. Charlemagne apparently grew furious, and ordered that no English ships be allowed to land on the coast of Gaul, but was restrained by the wise counsel of the abbot of Fontenelle.

Another possible cause of the conflict might be that Charlemagne was harbouring enemies of Offa who had been driven from England. That this did happen we know from letters Charlemagne wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury and to Offa himself (EHD 196 and 197). Ecgberht of Wessex, who was exiled to France in about 789 (see entry), might have sheltered at Charlemagne's court. With the hindsight that comes from our knowledge that Ecgberht conquered all of southern England including Mercia in the 820s, we can see that Ecgberht was potentially Offa's most dangerous foe. If this was at all apparent in the young Ecgberht of 789, Offa might well have hoped that Charlemagne would kill Ecgberht instead of succouring him, and this would be a further reason for the cooling of relations in about 790.

Whatever the reasons behind the breach, it had healed by 796 at the latest, when Charlemagne wrote a very cordial letter to Offa (EHD 197), making provisions that English merchants should be protected by the laws while in Frankish territory, and enjoining that Offa similarly protect Frankish merchants in English territory.

c.790. Earliest Viking raid on England (Portland, Dorset)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes that some time in the reign of Beorhtric of Wessex (786-802) three ships of Northmen arrived (at Portland in Dorset), and when the local reeve (Beaduheard of Dorchester) came and tried to lead them to the royal estate, thinking that they were traders, they killed him. And "those were the first ships of Danish men which came to the land of the English": they were by no means the last, as the spectacular raid on Lindisfarne in 793 was to demonstrate. Raids may have been sporadic for the first forty years or so, but they intensified in the 830s (as we can see from more frequent references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle): great armies landed in the 860s and proceeded to carve up whole Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, until the 870s and 880s when Alfred of Wessex was the last English king and the only one to successfully see off the invaders. Alfred's defensive workings meant the country was better-prepared when the Vikings returned in the 890s, and over the first half of the 10th century Alfred's descendents won back the rest of the country from Viking lords. Viking raiders would return in the 980s, however, to trouble the kingdom of Æthelred, and finally conquer it in the person of the Cnut the Dane, who became king of England in 1016.

S. Keynes, "The Vikings in England", The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings (Oxford: 1997), pp.48-82

790. Osred of Northumbria exiled (flees to Isle of Man)
Æthelred, Æthelwold Moll's son, again succeeds to Northumbria

The Chronicle notes only that Osred was betrayed and driven out of the kingdom and that Æthelred succeeded. Simeon of Durham adds that Osred was deceived by his nobles, taken prisoner and deprived of the kingdom, tonsured at York, and forced into exile. (That from his Historia Regum; in his History of the Church of Durham he adds that Osred fled to the Isle of Man.) The nobles are not named, but it would be interesting to know whether Sicga was still among them (we know nothing of him between his killing of Ælfwold in 788 and his own death in 793).

The first couple of years of Æthelred's second reign (his first reign was 774-778/9) show him moving quickly to eliminate opposition, killing the sons of King Ælfwold in 791 (Ælfwold himself had been killed in 788), and killing King Osred on his return in 792. His attempt to kill Ealdorman Eardwulf was unsuccessful, and it might have been seen as poetic justice that it was this same Eardwulf who eventually succeeded him in 796. His marriage to a daughter of Offa of Mercia in 792 gained him a strong southern ally, who incidentally favoured the same approach to getting rid of superfluous rivals, as his beheading of Æthelberht of East Anglia in 794 makes clear. Almost nothing is known of Æthelred's domestic affairs after 792: it is the Viking onslaughts of 793 and 794 which attract the attention of the chroniclers.

That at least one contemporary observer thought things were pretty dire in the state of Northumbria can be seen from a letter Alcuin wrote to Æthelred and his nobles after the sack of Lindisfarne (EHD 193), suggesting that the Vikings might be divine punishment for the manifold sins of the English. Alcuin is politic enough not to limit his criticism to Æthelred's reign, saying things had been bad since King Ælfwold's day (778/9-788). Since his visit in 786 for the council with Ælfwold and the papal legate was the last occasion before this letter that we know Alcuin was in Northumbria, it would be unwise to use the letter as an indication that things were worse in Æthelred's reign. It is also clear that Alcuin was well aware of scriptural explanations of foreign invasions allowed as divine vengeance for the sins of a chosen people: in following this model he stands four-square in a literary tradition that in Britain goes back to Gildas in the 6th century and forward to King Alfred in the 9th and Wulfstan in the 11th. This is not necessarily to deny the truth of Alcuin's observations, but to point out that he was collecting facts to back a particular thesis, and like Wulfstan's long catalogue of the sins of the English in the reign of another King Æthelred troubled by Viking invasions (see entry on 978), he was looking with a dark-adapted eye.

791. Æthelred of Northumbria kills the sons of King Ælfwold

Ælfwold was an earlier king of Northumbria (778/9-788). Simeon of Durham reports that his sons, Ælf and Ælfwine, were in the principal church in York (presumably in sanctuary), but were brought from it by false promises, taken by force and miserably killed.

791/2. Æthelred of Northumbria orders Ealdorman Eardwulf killed, but he survives

Ealdorman Eardwulf would emerge in 796 as king of Northumbria. These earlier events come down to us only in the account of Simeon of Durham, who notes that in Æthelred's second year Eardwulf was captured and brought to Ripon, and ordered to be killed outside the gate of the monastery. The brethren carried his body to the church, and placed it outside in a tent, and after midnight he was found in the church, alive. The details are not clear, but it seems that Eardwulf survived an attempted execution, in circumstances which were seen as miraculous. These are probably "the perils from which the divine mercy freed you" which Alcuin notes in a letter written to Eardwulf after 796 (EHD 199).

September 14, 792. Osred, former king of Northumbria, killed on his return from exile

The Chronicle notes that Osred was captured on his return from exile, and killed on 14 September, and buried at Tynemouth. Simeon adds that he returned in secret, relying on the oaths and good faith of certain nobles (Sicga again, perhaps?), who deserted him in the event so that he might be killed on Æthelred's orders.

September 29, 792. Æthelred of Northumbria marries Ælfflæd, daughter of Offa of Mercia (at Catterick)

This marriage, mentioned in the Chronicle and located at Catterick by Simeon of Durham, can be seen from Æthelred's point of view as part of his efforts to ensure his security on the throne. He was already killing potential rivals at home, and a marriage with the Mercian king's daughter would make raids from the south less likely (such as plagued Eadberht in 740, when he raided the Picts and Offa's predecessor Æthelbald raided Northumbria). It would also give him a strong ally to call on if he were threatened.

c.792. Offa of Mercia's second coinage reform

June 8, 793. "Fiery dragons over Northumbria": Vikings sack Lindisfarne

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle includes under 793 its famous reference to dire portents appearing over Northumbria, taking the form of immense whirlwinds and flashes of lightning, and "fiery dragons were seen flying in the air". These portents were followed by a great famine, and then the sack of Lindisfarne on June 8.

794. Vikings sack Donemutha (Jarrow?)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes that the Vikings plundered Ecgfrith's monastery at Donemutha, which is unidentified though Simeon of Durham in the twelfth century identified it as Bede's house of Jarrow.

794. Offa of Mercia has Æthelberht of East Anglia killed

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes, without explanation, that Offa had Æthelberht beheaded. This was probably Offa's response to a renewed bid for East Anglian independence (see entry on 749-94). Æthelberht came to be revered as a saint, and Hereford Cathedral was dedicated to him by the 11th century (see Rollason, p.9). According to post-Conquest lives of St Æthelberht, Offa had him killed at Sutton, near Hereford, where he had come to ask for the hand of Offa's daughter in marriage. It would be interesting to know whether such a match had been seriously considered: the marriages of other daughters of Offa to Beorhtric of Wessex in 789 and Æthelred of Northumbria in 792 suggest the possibility.

S. Ridyard, The Royal Saints of Anglo-Saxon England: A Study of West Saxon and East Anglian Cults (Cambridge: 1988) [see p.224 n.20 and references there]

D. Rollason, "The cults of murdered royal saints in Anglo-Saxon England", Anglo-Saxon England 11 (1982), pp.1-22

C. Wright, The Cultivation of Saga in Anglo-Saxon England (London: 1939)

795. Offa of Mercia raids Wales (Brycheiniog?)

This raid is noted only in the Annales Cambriae, which record "The devastation of Reinuch by Offa". For the identification of Reinuch with Brycheiniog in this somewhat ambiguous annal, see Sims-Williams, p.53. The date given in the annal corresponds to 796, but since the death of Offa is recorded under the following annal, the raid should probably be dated to 795.

P. Sims-Williams, Religion and Literature in Western England, 600-800 (Cambridge: 1990)

April 18, 796. Æthelred of Northumbria killed by Ealdred
April 19 - May 13, 796. Osbald succeeds to Northumbria
May 14, 796. Eardwulf succeeds to Northumbria
May 26, 796. Eardwulf consecrated king of Northumbria at York

The Chronicle notes that there was an eclipse of the moon on 28 March, that Eardwulf succeeded to Northumbria on 14 May, and that he was afterwards consecrated and enthroned on 26 May at York by Archbishop Eanbald and the bishops Æthelberht, Higbald and Badwulf. This is the second recorded consecration of a king in Anglo-Saxon England, after that of Ecgfrith of Mercia in 787. The violence that had attended the Northumbrian succession over the previous forty years showed that it needed all the additional sanctification it could get.

Simeon of Durham adds that Æthelred was killed near the Cover (a river in Yorkshire) on 18 April, and that the nobleman Osbald (perhaps the same as the one involved in the burning of Beorn in 779) was appointed by some nobles of the nation and after 27 days was deserted and banished, fleeing to Lindisfarne and then to the Pictish court. Alcuin wrote a letter to Osbald (EHD 200) which shows that he was suspected of being a party to Æthelred's death, and urged him to turn from secular to religious affairs. This he seems to have done, for Simeon notes that he was an abbot when he died in 799, and was buried at York.

While Osbald may have helped to plan the deed, it was one Ealdred who actually killed King Æthelred, and one of Æthelred's followers, Torhtmund, killed Ealdred in vengeance for his slain lord. We learn this from a letter of Alcuin to Charlemagne of 801 (EHD 206), in which Alcuin provides introductions for several Englishmen who wished to visit Charlemagne's court, Torhtmund among them. Simeon records Torhtmund's killing of Ealdred in his annal for 799.

Eardwulf had been an ealdorman in Æthelred's reign, and narrowly escaped execution in 791/2. In his own reign (796-806), Eardwulf faced a battle with some of his nobles in 798, ordered the deaths of what might have been rival claimants in 799 and 800, went to war with Coenwulf of Mercia in 801, and was driven into exile in 806.

Alcuin seems initially optimistic about Eardwulf's reign, or at least hopeful that Eardwulf will avoid making the mistakes of his predecessors (see Alcuin's letter to Eardwulf, EHD 199), but he soon returns to the gloom he showed in earlier reigns (see entry on 790). In a letter of 797 (EHD 202) Alcuin notes that Eardwulf dismissed his wife and took a concubine and that he might expect to lose his kingdom soon as a result; in a letter of 801 (EHD 207) Alcuin sympathises with the archbishop of York about his tribulations and makes dark hints about the death of kings who opposed the church.

July 29, 796. Offa of Mercia dies
Offa's son Ecgfrith is king for only 141 days
Coenwulf (Centwine's great-great-grandson) succeeds to Mercia

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes Offa's death and the fact that Ecgfrith died in the same year. The precise figure of 141 days comes from the Mercian regnal list, which would put Coenwulf's accession in mid-December at the earliest. Almost nothing is known of Ecgfrith's reign: four charters appear to survive (S 148-51), but at least two of these are later fabrications, which may be based on genuine documents but cannot themselves be trusted.

Coenwulf does not appear in charters of Offa, which may be because he was in exile in Offa's reign, much as Æthelbald had been in the reign of Ceolred (see entry on 716). Given the amount of blood which Offa is said to have shed to secure the succession of his son (see Alcuin's letter, EHD 202), it is likely that being out of the country was the only safe option for someone other than Offa's son who hoped one day to be king of the Mercians. Coenwulf was the great-great-grandson of King Centwine (676-85), and traced his descent farther back through Penda; somewhat ironically, given Offa's efforts to ensure the kingship descended in direct family lines, the nearest common ancestor of Coenwulf and Offa is Penda's father Pybba.

After Offa's death, Kent (q.v.), East Anglia (q.v.), and the East Saxons (q.v.) became independent, but Kent was recaptured by 798, East Anglia probably within another few years after that, and the East Saxons definitely by 814. Coenwulf faced an invasion from Eardwulf of Northumbria c.801, cancelled the controversial archbishopric of Lichfield in 803, and famously quarelled with the archbishop of Canterbury, Wulfred, in 816. He raided into Dyfed in 818, and may have been planning another raid when he died at Basingwerk in 821.

D. Dumville, "The Anglian collection of royal genealogies and regnal lists", Anglo-Saxon England 5 (1976), pp.23-50 [p.31 for genealogies of Offa and Coenwulf; p.33 for Mercian regnal list]

796. On Offa's death, Kent becomes independent
Eadberht Præn succeeds to Kent
Æthelheard, Archbishop of Canterbury, flees Kent

Eadberht Præn's accession to Kent in 796 is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and also by the coins bearing Eadberht's name struck at Canterbury in this period (see Grierson and Blackburn, p.283). It is probable that Eadberht of Kent, like Ecgberht of Wessex was another of the exiles sheltered at Charlemagne's court: in a letter to Offa written in 796 (EHD 197), Charlemagne mentions an Eadberht (using the Frankish form Odberht) who had taken refuge with him.

Archbishop Æthelheard's flight is mentioned in a surviving letter of Alcuin (EHD 203), which refers to an earlier letter of Æthelheard in which he said that the clerics of Canterbury asked him to leave. Alcuin nonetheless chastises Æthelheard for deserting his post, reminding him that Archbishop Laurence, faced with the hostile King Eadbald back in 616, stayed put. It may be though that Æthelheard, as the archbishop who helped diminish the primacy of Canterbury by collaborating in the elevation of Lichfield, was concerned to draw Kentish anger away from the cathedral. Nicholas Brooks has suggested that the absence of Christ Church documents before 798, compared with the profusion afterwards, might be attributed to an attack on Æthelheard in newly-independent Canterbury (Brooks, p.121). In any event, another letter of Alcuin (Allott, no. 50), written in 797, imploring the people of Kent to take back their archbishop, makes it clear that they did not want him back.

S. Allott, Alcuin of York, c. A.D. 732 to 804 -- His Life and Letters (York: 1974)

N. Brooks, The Early History of the Church of Canterbury (Leicester: 1984)

796. On Offa's death, East Anglia becomes independent
Eadwald succeeds to East Anglia

The independence of East Anglia can be deduced from the fact that East Anglian moneyers start minting coins in the name of Eadwald after Offa's death (see Grierson and Blackburn, p.293). This coinage is the only evidence of East Anglia's independence, and since the coin types cannot be precisely dated it is impossible to say when Eadwald's reign ended and Coenwulf's reign in Mercia began (two East Anglian moneyers struck coins for Offa, Eadwald, and Coenwulf in turn). Grierson and Blackburn note that the first East Anglian type of Coenwulf features a bust of Coenwulf which probably makes it later than c.805 (when the portrait type was introduced at Canterbury), but caution that since late 8th-century East Anglian coins are so rare, there may have been an earlier East Anglian issue of Coenwulf which has not survived.

P. Grierson and M. Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage, 1: The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th centuries) (Cambridge: 1986)

796. On Offa's death, East Saxons becomes independent
Sigeric, son of Selered, succeeds to East Saxons

The independence of the East Saxons after Offa's death is assumed from a reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to Sigeric, king of the East Saxons, going to Rome in 798. This King Sigeric may be the Sigeric who witnessed one of Ecgfrith's charters of 796 (S 151) as an ealdorman, in which case he presumably ruled independently from late 796 until 798. It may be that Coenwulf resumed control over the East Saxons in 798, as he did over the people of Kent and shortly after that over the East Angles, but from charters we learn of another East Saxon king, Sigered, in 811. Sigered may have succeeded his father in 798, or he may have rebelled from Coenwulf's overlordship at some point in the first decade of the 9th century. Unfortunately there was no royal mint in Essex, so East Saxon independence is much more difficult to track than that of Kent and East Anglia, which produced coins of the local rulers who arose after Offa's death.

April 2, 798. Battle at Whalley: Eardwulf of Northumbria defeats a conspiracy of his enemies

This battle, like the Battle of Edwin's Cliff fought by Æthelwold of Northumbria in 761 shortly after his accession, shows that being elected king of the Northumbrians in this age was not enough to ensure the loyalty of the people. In this context, while Æthelred's killings of his enemies in 791 and 792 look brutal from our vantage point, there were doubtless contemporaries who thought them simply well-judged pre-emptive strikes, avoiding the battles to establish effective supremacy that would otherwise be inevitable.

The Chronicle notes only that there was a great battle in Northumbria, on April 2, at Whalley (Lancs.) and that Alric, Heardberht's son, was killed, along with many others. Simeon of Durham as usual adds more details, suggesting that the battle was the result of a conspiracy formed by the murderers of King Æthelred, and joined by one Ealdorman Wada, and that after many had been killed on both sides Wada took to his heels, and Eardwulf royally won the victory. Wada may have fled to Coenwulf of Mercia, because he appears in connection with Coenwulf in a papal letter of 808 discussing the exile of Eardwulf (Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, III.563).

798. Coenwulf of Mercia ravages and regains control of Kent
Eadberht Præn of Kent captured and killed
Coenwulf appoints his brother Cuthred king of Kent

The Chronicle notes that Coenwulf ravaged the people of Kent, and had Eadberht Præn seized and brought in fetters into Mercia; one of the manuscripts adds that they had his eyes put out and his hands cut off, a detail repeated by Simeon of Durham.

Though Cuthred was appointed as king of Kent, from the charters it appears that Coenwulf kept power to himself for several years. Coenwulf granted land in Kent without reference to Cuthred in 798-9 (S 153, 155), and with Cuthred in 801-5 (S 157, 159-61). It is not until the last years of his reign that we see Cuthred independently issuing charters in Kent (S 39-41, of 805?807).

A charter of 798 issued by Æthelheard as archbishop (S 1258) shows that the return of Mercian rule in Kent also brought the return of the Mercian archbishop to Canterbury.

799. Eardwulf of Northumbria orders the killing of Ealdorman Moll

This item, though first reported by Simeon of Durham, fits plausibly into the pattern of earlier 8th-century Northumbrian politics. Simeon gives no details of the identity of Moll, but the name suggests a connection with Æthelwold Moll (king 759-65) and his son Æthelred (king 774-778/9 and 790-6), and one who was descended or claimed descent from that family (Æthelwold's grandson, perhaps?) might well have been seen as a threat to the throne, or have been in the process of trying to claim it when Eardwulf ordered his death.

800. Eardwulf of Northumbria orders the killing of Alhmund, son of King Alhred

Simeon of Durham notes that Alhmund, the son of King Alhred (765-74), was seized by the guards of King Eardwulf, and killed along with his fellow fugitives. It is not clear where Alhmund had fled to; in 801 Eardwulf would pursue more fugitives into Coenwulf's Mercia. It was perhaps as a result of the battles of 801 that a cult of St Alhmund was encouraged at Derby where his body rested: Coenwulf may have used the cult to emphasize the guilt of Alhmund's murderer and so encourage dissatisfaction with Eardwulf (see Rollason, p.20). If Wada had fled to Coenwulf immediately after the battle of 798, the Mercian / Northumbrian antipathy might have begun a few years earlier.

D. Rollason, "The cults of murdered royal saints in Anglo-Saxon England", Anglo-Saxon England 11 (1982), pp.1-22

c.801. Eardwulf of Northumbria attacks Coenwulf of Mercia

Simeon of Durham notes in his annal for 801 that in these times Eardwulf of Northumbria led an army against Coenwulf of Mercia, because Coenwulf harboured Eardwulf's enemies. There was a long campaign between Eardwulf and Coenwulf, with Coenwulf leading many forces from other provinces, but finally, by the advice of the English bishops and nobles on both sides, they made a peace and swore to hold by it in their lifetimes.

This harbouring of enemies seems to have been a common complaint in the period: see the entry on c.790 for the dispute between Offa and Charlemagne, probably caused by Charlemagne harbouring Offa's enemies, and the entry on 798 for the possibility that Wada was one of the fugitives Eardwulf was trying to recover. Other Northumbrian nobles might have thought Mercia a good refuge because Eardwulf's predecessor, Æthelred, had been married to a daughter of Offa of Mercia. A letter of Alcuin suggests that other Northumbrian refugees took refuge with the archbishop of York (EHD 207).

802. Beorhtric of Wessex dies (poisoned accidentally by his wife Eadburh?)
Mercian ealdorman Æthelmund raids into Wessex
Ecgberht succeeds to Wessex

The story of the accidental poisoning of Beorhtric of Wessex by his queen Eadburh appears in chapter 14 of Asser's Life of King Alfred, where it is used to explain the low status of the king's wife in 9th-century Wessex. Asser notes that Beorhtric's wife Eadburh was daughter of the tyrannical Offa, and like her father in her tyrannical ways and misuse of power. She is supposed to have hated Beorhtric's friends, and to have denounced them before the king; if she failed to make him kill or imprison them, she killed them herself with poison. On one occasion, when Eadburh meant to kill one of the king's friends, Beorhtric himself took some of the poison unawares, and died.

Asser goes on in the following chapter to explain that, not surprisingly, Eadburh had to leave the country, and she fetched up with many treasures at the court of Charlemagne. Charlemagne apparently gave her the choice of marrying him or his son; she chose the son because he was younger, and was doubtless chagrined to hear the king reply that had she chosen him, he would have given her his son, but as she had not, she would have neither of them. She was granted charge of a large convent as abbess, but expelled a few years later for reckless and debauched behaviour, and ended her days as a beggar in Pavia.

One cannot help comparing this with the more obviously legendary tale of how Rowenna killed Vortigern's son Vortimer with a poisoned glove, or wondering how much truth there may be in either. Asser tells us that he has the story from the truthful King Alfred, and adds that Alfred had it from many reliable witnesses, most of whom remembered the story in all its particulars -- this unusual emphasis on the veracity of the story might suggest that Asser was worried his audience would think it unlikely. It should be remembered that the marriage of Eadburh and Beorhtric was part of an alliance as a result of which Alfred's grandfather Ecgberht was forced to leave the country: it would not be surprising if stories to the discredit of Offa, Beorhtric and Eadburh began to circulate once Ecgberht was back and in power. The story of Eadburh's antics should perhaps be treated with the same caution as the vituperation heaped on King Eadwig by the author of the first Life of St Dunstan, which is probably the result not of a truthful and sober assessment of Eadwig's character, but of spite that Eadwig exiled Dunstan towards the beginning of his reign.

No other source mentions the accidental poisoning: of the death, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says only that Beorhtric died and Ecgberht succeeded to the kingdom. It is probably safest to leave it at that, and treat the story of Eadburh as an example of later 9th-century propaganda rather than early 9th-century fact.

The Chronicle adds that on the same day (as Beorhtric's death or Ecgberht's succession), the (Mercian) ealdorman Æthelmund rode from the territory of the Hwicce across the border at Kempsford, and was repulsed in a great battle by ealdorman Weohstan and the people of Wiltshire. This shows the importance of quickly establishing the succession in Anglo-Saxon times, since at least on this occasion nobles of bordering kingdoms were ready and waiting to take advantage of any weakness or confusion in the aftermath of a king's death.

October 12, 803. Council of Clofesho: Lichfield's archdiocese cancelled, and supremacy of Canterbury restored

806. Eardwulf of Northumbria driven from his kingdom
806-66. Gap in reliable narrative sources for Northumbrian history

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that in 806 Eardwulf of Northumbria was driven from his kingdom. Unfortunately, after this brief comment, sources of reliable narrative history for Northumbria lapse into near-silence for almost 60 years, picking up the story only with the Viking conquest in 866/7. (That there was continuity in Northumbrian attitudes and power-struggles is however suggested by the fact that at their reappearance in 866/7 they are said to be involved in great civil strife, having just deposed one king and taken on another.)

A set of early 9th-century Frankish annals (cited at EHD 21) reports under 808 that Eardwulf, having been expelled, visited Charlemagne, and then went on to Rome, and on his return from Rome he was escorted by envoys of the pope and of Charlemagne back to his kingdom. Since the annal for 809 deals with events after Eardwulf's return home, we can place this return somewhere in 808/9. The 12th-century History of the Church of Durham states that a certain Ælfwold, about whom nothing is known, ruled the Northumbrians for two years after Eardwulf's flight (ii.5). The same passage states that after Ælfwold, Eardwulf's son Eanred began to reign. The contradiction in sequence of events could be explained away by suggesting that Eardwulf was restored and immediately made way for his son Eanred who was seen as a more acceptable ruler, but it is more honest to admit we don't know precisely what happened. No coins of this second Ælfwold survive (another Ælfwold had ruled Northumbria 778/9-788), but this is not decisive either way, since until 1994 no coins of the otherwise-attested Eardwulf were known either (see Pirie 1995).

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does note in 829 that Ecgberht of Wessex met the Northumbrians and made peace with them, but gives no indication who was in charge of the Northumbrians at the time. The 12th-century History of the Church of Durham states that Eanred ruled for 33 years, that Æthelred succeeded him, that Osberht succeeded Æthelred, that Osberht's fifth year was A.D. 854 (ii.5), and that A.D. 867 was the fifth year of Ælle, who succeeded the exiled Osberht (ii.6). If we assume that Eanred's reign started in 808, this gives Æthelred's succession in 841 and Osberht's in 849. The 13th-century Flowers of History of Roger of Wendover claims instead that Eanred succeeded Ælfwold in 810, and died himself in 840, when he was succeeded by his son Æthelred, that Æthelred was expelled from the kingdom by Rædwulf in 844, but when Rædwulf was killed in a battle with the pagans (Vikings) Æthelred resumed the kingship, and that in 848 Æthelred died and was succeeded by Osberht, who ruled for 18 years.

Both late narratives ignore the return of Eardwulf, mentioned in a contemporary source, and there is disagreement as to whether Ælle took over in 866 (Roger of Wendover) or 862 (History of the Church of Durham). It is uncertain that much weight can be placed on either of them (see Dumville). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in 866/7 Osberht had just been deposed and Ælle elected. The substantial surviving coinage from 9th-century Northumbria provides independent evidence for the sequence of rulers Eanred, Æthelred, Rædwulf, Æthelred again, and Osberht. This supports the order of events given in the later sources, but numismatists have been troubled by the small volume of coins of Osberht in comparison to his predecessor, and this has led to suggestions that the coinage ended in 851 or that all the dates should be advanced by 14 years or so (so that Æthelred succeeds in 854, Rædwulf in 858, and Osberht in 862; see Pagan). Grierson and Blackburn, noting that Pagan's radical 14-year shift creates some problems in Northumbrian archiepiscopal chronology, prefer a less radical shift by which Æthelred's second reign is placed in the 850s and most of Osberht's in the 860s (pp.301-3). They do not commit themselves to a figure, however, with understandable caution in light of all the uncertainty (one question that has not been tackled, and which probably cannot be tackled, is what effect the continuing Northumbrian civil wars or intensifying Viking attacks may have had on coin production). It is probably best to admit that while we know the overall sequence of rulers for the period (with lingering question marks over Eardwulf's possible second reign after 808 and the civil strife between Osberht and Ælle), we do not have enough information to give dates for the individual reigns.

D. Dumville, "Textual archaeology and Northumbrian history subsequent to Bede", Coinage in Ninth-Century Northumbria (Oxford: 1987), pp.43-55

P. Grierson and M. Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage, 1: The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th centuries) (Cambridge: 1986), pp.301-3

H. Pagan, "Northumbrian Numismatic Chronology in the Ninth Century", British Numismatic Journal 38 (1969), pp.1-15

E. Pirie, "Earduulf: A Significant Addition to the Coinage of Northumbria", British Numismatic Journal 65 (1995), pp.20-31

807. Cuthred the (Mercian) king of Kent dies
Coenwulf of Mercia resumes direct control of Kent

811-4. Coenwulf of Mercia reconquers Sigered and the East Saxons

The East Saxon king after Offa's death had been Sigeric, who went to Rome in 798 (see entry for 796). There is a Sigered who is called king in charters of Coenwulf of Mercia for 811 (S 165, 168), subking (subregulus) in 812 (S 170), and ealdorman (dux) by 814 (S 180). This Sigered is not explicitly stated to be East Saxon in the charters, but the name appears in the East Saxon regnal list as a son of Sigeric, and the other neighbouring kingdoms, Kent and East Anglia, were firmly back under Mercian control before 811. The charters enable us to say that Coenwulf brought Sigered and the East Saxons back under his control in 811-4: there is unfortunately no way of knowing what relations existed between Coenwulf and Sigered before 811. It would be very interesting to know whether Coenwulf tolerated an independent East Saxon kingdom because he did not have the same resources that Offa had had and could not take it back, or whether he tolerated it because he could not be bothered to take it back, or whether he simply reached an agreement with Sigered which meant that he did not need to take it back. Perhaps Sigered was installed with Mercian support, much as Coenwulf established his brother Cuthred as king of Kent, and Coenwulf could have taken back full control at any time he wished. Whatever his status with regard to the Mercians, Sigered is the last known East Saxon king.

D. Dumville, "The West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List: Manuscripts and Texts", Anglia 104 (1986), pp.1-32 [for Sigered, son of Sigeric, see p.32]

815. Ecgberht of Wessex ravages Cornwall

816. Council of Chelsea: Wulfred, Archbishop of Canterbury, attacks Coenwulf of Mercia

No mention in ASC, but Wulfred was deprived of his see 817-21 (note archiepiscopal coins without names)

Wulfred forced to make terms in 821 or lose estates?

-- Wulfred attacks lay lordships and insists on bishop's right to appoint abbots

-- Wulfred then claims lordship of Reculver, Minster-in-Thanet (run by Coenwulf's daughter Cuenthryth)

-- Coenwulf suspends Wulfred for 6 years, threatens permanent exile, enlists papal support

-- Wulfred loses -- has to pay ?120 compensation, forfeits Eynsham, Oxon. -- and abbeys withhold obedience.

c.818. Coenwulf of Mercia devastates Dyfed

This battle is recorded only in the Annales Cambriae, which note "Coenwulf devastated the regio of the Demetae" (that is, Dyfed).

821. Coenwulf of Mercia dies
Ceolwulf, Cenwulf's brother, succeeds to Mercia

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records Coenwulf's death without details. It is in the 12th-century historical poem L'Estoire des Engleis of Geffrei Gaimar that we learn that he died at Basingwerk, at the north end of Wat's Dyke (Stenton, p.230, says this is unlikely to be invention and suggests it may come from a lost version of the Chronicle possessed by Gaimar).

Charters of Ceolwulf calling him the king of the Mercians and the people of Kent show that Ceolwulf retained control of Kent. The East Angles revolted briefly (q.v.), but the rebellion was quashed. Ceolwulf conquered Powys in 822, but was himself deposed in 823.

F. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd edn (Oxford: 1971)

821. On Coenwulf's death, Æthelstan of East Anglia revolts

While Æthelstan of East Anglia's reign properly begins in 827 on the death of Ludica, there are two coins of Æthelstan by the East Anglian moneyer Edgar which Marion Archibald has convincingly argued should be dated rather earlier than the rest of Æthelstan's coins, closer to the ship-type of Ceolwulf of Mercia (821-3). It seems most likely then that these two coins of Æthelstan should be dated c.821 and seen as evidence of an East Anglian revolt after Coenwulf's death, just as the coins of Eadwald point to an East Anglian revolt after the death of Offa (see entry for 796). Since the moneyer Edgar went on to mint coins for the Mercians Ceolwulf and Beornwulf, Æthelstan's revolt was presumably unsuccessful. He would try again in 826, when an unnamed East Anglian king applied to Ecgberht of Wessex for protection, and the East Angles killed the Mercian king Beornwulf (see entry on 826), but his reign still did not properly begin until 827.

822. Ceolwulf of Mercia conquers Powys

This conquest is recorded in the Annales Cambriae, which note "The fortress of Deganwy was destroyed by the Saxons and they took into their power the regio of Powys".

823. Ceolwulf of Mercia deprived of Mercia
Beornwulf succeeds to Mercia
Bealdred succeeds to Kent, with Beornwulf's support (?)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not state that Ceolwulf died in 823, but that he was deprived of the kingdom. The very different name of the following king, Beornwulf (as compared to the brothers Coenwulf, Cuthred, and Ceolwulf) leads to the suspicion that he might have been from a different family. It is tempting to associate him with the Beornred who tried to take power in Mercia after Æthelbald's death in 757 but was ousted by Offa, but since Coenwulf is the last Mercian king for whom we have a full genealogy, there is no way of verifying this. Beornwulf is best remembered for losing the battle of Ellendun against the West Saxons in 825 and being killed by the East Angles in 826.

The position of Kent in Beornwulf's reign is uncertain. Where the Kentish mints had produced coins in the names of the previous Mercian kings Coenwulf and Ceolwulf, in Beornwulf's reign they produced coins in the name of one Bealdred. No charters of Bealdred survive, and he appears in the documentary sources only in the Chronicle's account of the West Saxon take-over of 825, in which after the defeat of Beornwulf, the West Saxons send some forces to Kent and drive out King Bealdred. The alliterating names raise the possibility that this Bealdred is a kinsman of Beornwulf of Mercia's, placed in charge of Kent just as Coenwulf of Mercia had put his brother Cuthred earlier (798-807). The fact that a charter of Archbishop Wulfred of 826 (S 1267) is dated by Beornwulf's regnal year, with no reference to Bealdred's, supports the theory that Bealdred was a Mercian caretaker or dependent rather than an independent king.

August 19, 825. Battle of Galford (Devon): Ecgberht of Wessex defeats the Britons

The precise date of this battle is supplied from the dating clauses of two charters, which note that they were drawn up on August 19 when the army of Ecgberht advanced against the Britons at the place called Creodantreow (S 272-3). A letter of Archbishop Dunstan in the 10th century (EHD 229) mentions that the people of Cornwall rose up against Ecgberht and he went there and subdued them, which may refer to this battle or the earlier one of 815.

825. Battle of Ellendun (Wroughton, Wilts.): Ecgberht of Wessex defeats Beornwulf of Mercia
Æthelwulf of Wessex drives Bealdred out of Kent
People of Kent, Surrey, South Saxons and East Saxons submit to Æthelwulf

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that Ecgberht fought Beornwulf of Mercia at Ellendun (Wroughton) and that Ecgberht won and there was a great slaughter there. Then Ecgberht sent his son Æthelwulf and bishop Ealhstan and ealdorman Wulfheard to Kent, with a large force, and they drove Bealdred north across the Thames, and the people of Kent and Surrey and the South Saxons and the East Saxons submitted to Æthelwulf because they had been wrongfully forced away from his kinsmen.

A late 11th-century manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes under 784 that Ealhmund ruled in Kent, and that Ealhmund was Ecgberht's father, who was Æthelwulf's father. This makes clear the link between the West Saxon ruling house and Kent and the south-east. Since we know that members of the main West Saxon ruling family were not in power in Wessex between Ine's death in 726 and Ecgberht's accession in 802, the most likely explanation is that one of these exiled West Saxon æthelings gained a foothold in Kent while Cynewulf was ruling in Wessex (757-86). (See also Keynes, p.3, n.8)

S. Keynes, "King Alfred and the Mercians", in M. Blackburn and D. Dumville (edd.), Kings, Currency and Alliances: History and Coinage of Southern England in the Ninth Century (Woodbridge: 1998), pp.1-45

826. East Angles appeal to Ecgberht of Wessex for protection
Beornwulf of Mercia killed by the East Angles
Ludica succeeds to Mercia

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle seems to date these events to 825, but this long annal probably recounts the events of more than one year. Corroboration that Beornwulf lasted until at least 826 is provided by a charter of that year (S 1267), which is dated to the third year of Beornwulf of Mercia. The king of the East Angles who appealed to Ecgberht for peace and protection, unnamed by the Chronicle, was probably the Æthelstan who rebelled in 821 and began his reign properly in 827, and whose name is recorded only on his coins. The death of Beornwulf of Mercia was not enough to gain the East Angles their independence, as Beornwulf's successor Ludica continued to issue coins in East Anglia (Grierson and Blackburn, pp.293-4). Ludica witnesses a record of a council at Clofesho of King Beornwulf of 824 as an ealdorman (S 1434). Almost nothing is known of his reign.

P. Grierson and M. Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage, 1: The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th centuries) (Cambridge: 1986)

827. Ludica of Mercia killed
Wiglaf succeeds to Mercia

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes that Ludica was killed, and his five ealdormen with him, and that Wiglaf succeeded.

Wiglaf was conquered by Ecgberht of Wessex in 829, but re-emerged as Mercian king the following year (q.v.). He died in 840.

827-870. East Anglia in the 9th century

The narrative sources for East Anglia dry up in the ninth century, even more so than for Northumbria (see entry on 806-66). Beyond the facts that an unnamed East Anglian king sought the help of Ecgberht of Wessex and that the East Angles killed Beornwulf of Mercia in 826, that East Anglia was one of the many targets of Viking raids in 841 and the landing-place of the "Great Heathen Army" in 865, the East Angles leave no traces in narrative history until the martyrdom of King Edmund in 869. It is only from their coins that we can deduce the existence of the kings Æthelstan and Æthelweard, predecessors of Edmund of East Anglia.

The two ship-type coins of Æthelstan seem to date from a revolt after Coenwulf's death in 821. The rest of Æthelstan's coinage follows on directly from the coinage of Ludica of Mercia: no coins of Wiglaf of Mercia were minted in East Anglia, and since we know from other sources that Ludica was killed in 827, that year probably also marks the beginning of Æthelstan's reign as king of an independent East Anglia.

The problems of constructing a skeletal history from the coinage are discussed at length by Pagan. A hoard deposited c.840 and containing (among its East Anglian coins) only coins of King Æthelstan allows the probability that Æthelstan was king at least until 840. A hoard deposited c.860 and containing East Anglian coins of Æthelstan (3), Æthelweard (16), and Edmund (3) suggests that Edmund had come to power shortly before 860, since otherwise we might expect more coins of Edmund. (A hoard deposited c.872, for instance, includes 50 East Anglian coins of Edmund, 5 of Æthelweard, and 2 of Æthelstan.) It would be plausible then to assume that Æthelstan ruled from 827 until the early 840s (perhaps falling in the Viking raids of 841), Æthelweard ruled for the later 840s and early 850s, and Edmund ruled from the later 850s until his death on 20 November 869. Later accounts of Edmund's martyrdom such as the Annals of St Neots place it in his 16th year, and while this appears too late to be accepted as historical evidence it may be noted that the coinage does not contradict a reign-beginning for Edmund in 855.

P. Grierson and M. Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage, 1: The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th centuries) (Cambridge: 1986)

H. Pagan, "The Coinage of the East Anglian Kingdom from 825 to 870", British Numismatic Journal 52 (1982), pp.41-83

829. Ecgberht of Wessex takes direct control over Mercia
Ecgberht of Wessex meets the Northumbrians and makes peace with them

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes that Ecgberht conquered the kingdom of the Mercians. This is confirmed by an issue of coins of Ecgberht as king of the Mercians (with the inscription ECGBERHT REX M, for Rex Merciorum), and a regnal list of Mercia which assigns Ecgberht a reign of one year (see Keynes, "Alfred", p.4, and references there).

The Chronicle notes further that Ecgberht had conquered everything south of the Humber, and so was the eighth king who was Bretwalda, or Brytenwalda; the chronicler then inserts Bede's list of seven kings who held wide powers south of the Humber (HE, ii.5), and adds Ecgberht at the end. This annal has seemed to solidify the idea of overlordship over Southumbrian England into a recognized post, with attendant ramifications and questions (Was the "sceptre" found at Sutton Hoo the symbol of Rædwald's "Bretwalda-ship"? Why are the Mercian overlords from Penda to Offa not counted as "Bretwaldas" number 8-12, making Ecgberht the 13th?). It seems more likely, however, that the word was invented by the chronicler than that it was a long-recognized official title. It appears elsewhere only once, in a forged charter of King Æthelstan (S 427; not even the 9th-century Old English translation of Bede uses "Bretwalda"), and the copyists of the Chronicle seem unsure what the word is (different manuscripts use three different words, Bretwalda, Brytenwalda, and Brytenanwalda; see further Keynes, "Bretwalda", pp.110-16).

After Ecgberht conquered the Mercians, the Chronicle reports that he led an army to Dore (in northern Derbyshire) against the Northumbrians, and they submitted to him there and made peace with him, and parted on those terms. Roger of Wendover in the 13th century writes that Ecgberht took a large army into Northumbria and ravaged the province and made King Eanred pay tribute, but this contradicts earlier accounts and one might expect the Chronicle written in the reign of Ecgberht's grandson to make more of such a conquest if it had taken place.

S. Keynes, "Rædwald the Bretwalda", Voyage to the Other World: The Legacy of Sutton Hoo (Minneapolis: 1992), pp.103-23

S. Keynes, "King Alfred and the Mercians", in M. Blackburn and D. Dumville (edd.), Kings, Currency and Alliances: History and Coinage of Southern England in the Ninth Century (Woodbridge: 1998), pp.1-45

830. Wiglaf re-emerges as king of Mercia

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes laconically (after Ecgberht had conquered the kingdom of the Mercians the previous year) that Wiglaf again obtained the kingdom of the Mercians. The surviving evidence gives no indication whether this was the result of a Mercian rebellion or of a new arrangement peacefully agreed between the West Saxons and the Mercians (see further Keynes, p.4 n.14). The fact that Ecgberht led an army (presumably through Mercia) against the Welsh in 830 with no apparent difficulties suggests that the West Saxons and the Mercians were on good terms, or at the very least that the balance of power was in Ecgberht's favour and he could have prevented a Mercian revolt had he wished.

S. Keynes, "King Alfred and the Mercians", in M. Blackburn and D. Dumville (edd.), Kings, Currency and Alliances: History and Coinage of Southern England in the Ninth Century (Woodbridge: 1998), pp.1-45

830. Ecgberht of Wessex defeats the Welsh

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes that Ecgberht led an army against the Welsh, and reduced them all to submission to him. It is important to note that Ecgberht of the West Saxons was leading this campaign, unlike some earlier campaigns against the Welsh when West Saxon kings may have fought under Mercian supervision (see entries on 726 and 743). The balance of power had clearly shifted in favour of the West Saxons.

835. Vikings ravage Sheppey

836. Ecgberht of Wessex loses to the Vikings at Carhampton

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes that Ecgberht fought against the crews of 35 ships at Carhampton (on the coast of Somerset), and that there was a great slaughter and the Danes won.

838. Ecgberht of Wessex defeats the Vikings and Cornish at Hingston Down (Cornwall)

838. Council of Kingston: Archbishop of Canterbury pledges support to West Saxons