Aella, King of Deira.

When you think of England and you think of all the different accents and dialects there are within the few hundred miles that separate the English channel and Hadrian’s Wall, it may be more easier to picture how fragmented the land once was.  England wasn’t always England.   The joining of the last fragmentation brought Northumbria in with Wessex, East Anglia and Mercia uniting them all as England. 

Northumbria it’s self was not always as one and was a make up of smaller kingdoms. 

One of these was Deira.  According to Simeon of Durham (died after 1129) it lay on the east coast of what would become England between the Humber and the Tyne.  Although the land north of the Tees was wasteland and useless.  It’s capital would of been Ebrauc which is now modern day York. 

The first known King of Deira was Aella who died in 588.   According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he became king the same year as Ceawlin of Wessex (560) on the death of Ida of Bernicia, and ruled 30 years. However, the Chronicle records in the year 588 that Aella died, and was succeeded by Aethelric. Possibly this is the reason Florence of Worcester offered the date Aella came to the throne as 559, which would closer align the dates of his death and reign. 

Not much is actually known of Aella but his geneology is disputed by two different sources.

According to the manuscripts of Matthew Parker a 16th Century Archbishop of Canterbury, Aella was the son of Yffe, the son of Uxfrea, the son of Wilgisl, the son of Westerfalca, the son of Sæfugl, the son of Sæbald, the son of Segegeat, the son of Swebdæg, the son of Sigegar, the son of Wædæg, the son of Woden

Although in the Historia Brittonum it is stated that Aella was the son of Iffi, grandson of Giulgis, great grandson of Sguerthing and great-great grandson of Soemil who “first separated Deira from Bernicia”. 

Another mention of Aella, appears in the Gautreks Saga where he was visited by a peasant hero. 

One of Aella’s sons was Edwin of Northumbria who went on to become King of both Bernicia and Deira which joined together to become Northumbria.  Edwin was later venerated as a Saint.  Aella’s daughter was Acha who married Aethelfrith of Bernicia.

He was succeeded by Aethelric (d.c604) although there is some ambiguity regarding this.  The Anglo Saxon Chronicle states that Aethelric succeeded Aella in 588.  Bebe states that Deira was invaded by Aethelfrith in about 604.  The exact details are unclear and it is stated that Edwin is exciled which would lead to believe that Deira was conquered by Aethelfrith and Aethelric’s fate is unknown.  Aethelfrith then ruled both Deira and Bernicia together until his death in battle when then Edwin and the Deria line was restored.

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