Category Archives: Dark Ages

The early kings of Mercia

Imaginary depiction of Creoda from John Speed's 1611 "Saxon Heptarchy".

Imaginary depiction of Creoda from John Speed’s 1611 “Saxon Heptarchy”.

Name : Creoda (Cryda or Crida) of Mercia

House : Icelingas

Title : Kng of Mercia

Born :

Died : c. 593

Parents : Cynewald of Mercia

Married :

Children : Pybba 

Creoda was the great grandson of Icel, but nothing is really known of him except he gave name to the Icelingas line. Possibly he would have been a local warlord or minor noble who family rose in power to rule the whole region, or maybe he is the legendary starting point and fictional hero made up to give the name of the Icelingas a truth.

In the Anglo Saxon Chronicle the following line; Penda was the son of Wybba (Pybba), Wybba of Creoda, Creoda of Cynewald, Cynewald of Cnebba, Cnebba of Icel, Icel of Eomer, Eomer of Angelthew, Angelthew of Offa, Offa of Wearmund, Wearmund of Whitley, Whitley of Woden.

It was common at the time to prove your right to rule that you were descended of the Gods.

Mercia means ‘mark’ or ‘borderlands’ and it could be thought that due to the vast amount of settlement during the latter part of the 6th Century would of seen the strong Icelingas having a strong leader to co-ordinate and defend against any attacks from the native Britons. An ‘official’ date of Creoda’s accession to the leadership is given as c.589.

The ‘original’ lands of Mercia is given in the later 7th Century ‘Tribal Hideage’. Mercia was apparently based around Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and eastern Staffordshire, areas of Shropshire (the Wreocanseate), the Arrow valley in Warwickshire (the Arowsaete), northern and eastern Worcestershire (the Westerne), the Peaks area of Derbyshire (Pecsaete, northern Oxfordshire, (the Faerpingas), Hertfordshire (Hicce around Hitchin) and southern Lincolnshire (the Fenland Gyrwe).

Creoda is said to have died in c.593 and was succeeded by his son Pybba.

Name : Pybba (Pibba, Wibba, Wybba) of Mercia

House : Icelingas

Title : Kng of Mercia

Born : c.570

Died : 606/615

Parents : Creoda of Mercia

Married :

Children : Penda, Eowa, Coenwalh (possibly)

Pybba the presumed son of Credoa mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as Wybba and only as the father of more famous king Penda. In the Historia Brittonum Pybba is mentioned twice;

Penda, son of Pybba, reigned ten years; he first separated the kingdom of Mercia from that of the North-men, and slew by treachery Anna, king of the East Anglians, and St. Oswald, king of the North-men. He fought the battle of Cocboy, in which fell Eawa, son of Pybba, his brother, king of the Mercians, and Oswald, king of the North-men, and he gained the victory by diabolical agency. He was not baptized, and never believed in God.

It is thought that Pybba died young either in 606 or 615, this would then of left his sons to young to have ruled and a more experienced warlord.

Name : Cearl (Ceorl) of Mercia

House :

Title : Kng of Mercia

Born :

Died :

Parents :

Married :

Children : Cwenburh (Quenberga), who married King Edwin of Northumbria

Cearl is regarded as ruling after Pybba and before Penda and could have been an experienced Warlord who took control until Penda came of age following the death of Pybba. He is the first Mercian to be mentioned by Bede in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Angorum.

 

Cearl is not mentioned in any of the Mercian royal genealogies      Henry of Huntingon in the 12th Century places him ruling after Pybba and mentions that he is not Pybba’s son but his kinsman.

Bede also mentions him as father of Cwenburh who was the wife of King Edwin of Northumbria. This causes some controversy as at the time King Æthelfrith ruled Northumbria and was the arch rival to Edwin. It is thought that Cearl would not have been able to marry his daughter to Edwin if he was under the overlordship of Æthelfrith. As mentioned above Mercia is not meant to have split from Northumbria until Penda. It is possibly that the overlordship came after the marriage.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle has Penda becoming king in 626 and it is unknown whether Cearl ruled up to this point or not. It is thought that Penda and Creal were rivals. In 633 the Anglo Saxon Chronicle states that Penda defeated Edwin of Northumbria, Creal’s ally with the assistance of Cadwallon of Gwynedd.

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Sigered of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 798 – 825

Born :

Died :

Spouse :

Parents : Sigeric, King of Essex

The last of the Kings of Essex as his rank was reduced to duke by his Mercian overlords in 812. This then saw Essex join Hwicce and Sussex in becoming Mercian provinces.

In 825 Essex joins Kent and East Anglia in revolting against Mercia and Sigered then disappears from the records.

Sigeric of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 758 -798

Born :

Died :

Spouse :

Parents : Saelred, King of Essex

The longest ruler of the Kingdom of Essex.  He was more and likely vassal to King Offa of Mercia.

Abdicated to go on pilgrimage to Rome.

Was succeeded by his son Sigered.

Swithred of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 746-758

Born :

Died :

Spouse :

Parents : Sigemund

Possibly connection to either King Swithelm or Swaefred.  Possibly chosen as king because Saelred’s son Sigeric was under age at the time of his fathers dead.

Saelred of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : c 709 – 746

Born :

Died : 746

Spouse :

Parents :

Distinct relative of the previous king, Offa.  Possibly at the time Essex was a vassal to Mercia as their is no mention of any conflicts between the two kingdoms.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle mentions his death in 746.

Offa of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 707-709

Born :

Died :

Spouse :

Parents : Sigehere, King of Essex and Osyth, daughter of Firthwold.

According to Bede he was apparently good-looking and extremely popular.

Abdicated within two year of the beginning of his reign and then travelled to Rome with him his cousin Ceonred of Wessex.  After some time he became a monk and was succeeded by his cousin Saelred.