Tag Archives: Edwin of Northumbria

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.

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.