Tag Archives: Kings of Essex

Swithelm of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 660-663

Born :

Died : 663

Spouse :

Parents :

Swithelm ruled in Essex as king between 660-664. With his brother it is believed they killed the previous King Sigeberht II the Good.

The accused Sigeberht of being too friendly towards Christians, but was persuaded to convert to Christianity by Aethelwald, King of East Anglia.

Sigeberht II the Good

Title : King of Essex

Reign : c 653 – c 660

Born :

Died :

Spouse :

Parents : Sigeferth, younger cousin of Sæberht

Sigeberht II was sometimes called the Good or the Blessed. He ruled between c 653 and c 660. Was converted to Christianity during a trip to Northumbria.  The re-Christianity of Essex took place during his reign.

He could have been murdered by his successor Swithelm in a power struggle with in the East Saxon elite.

Sigeberht I the Little

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 617 -653

Born :

Died :

Spouse :

Parents : Sæward, King of Essex

Sigeberht I, was King of Essex between 617 and 653. He is believed to be a pagan and possibly allied with Penda of Mercia who was also a pagan.

Sexred of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : c 616 – c 617

Born :

Died : c.617

Spouse :

Parents : Sæberht, King of Essex

Sexred was King of Essex between c 616 and c 617. He ruled jointly with his brother Sæward.  There is also possibly a third brother, Seaxbald who may also have ruled.

The brothers were killed in battle with the West Saxons led by Ceawlin and Cwichelm.

Sæberht of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : c.600 – c.616

Born :

Died :

Spouse : Ethelgoda

Parents : Sledd, King of Essex and Ricula, sister of King Æthelberht of Kent

Succeeded his father Sledd as King of Essex in c.604 and is known as the first East Saxon king to convert to Christianity. More and likely he was persuaded by his uncle King Æthelberht of Kent, to whom he was more and likely a vassal to.   He converted in 604 as per Bede and was baptised by Mellitus, Bishop of London.

Later medieval legend states that Sæberht and his wife Ethelgoda built the original chapel on the site of Westminster Abbey and were later buried there.

Sæberht is more and likely the occupier of the Prittlewell tomb ‘by the Prittle stream’ near Southend-on-Sea, Essex.  The tomb was filled with vast amounts of impressive grave goods.  These came not only from England but also from the continent.  The only part left of the body was a few teeth.  The discovery of golden foil crosses shows that the grave was an early Christian.

After his death his sons converted back to paganism.

Æscwine of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : c.560-587

Born :

Died :

Spouse :

Parents : Offa

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

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

Precious little is known regarding Æscwine and is listed as the first king of the East Saxons (Essex) in the Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies presumably from the ninth century.  It is stated that he is the father of Sledd, and then the son of Offa, son of Bedca, son of Sigefugi, son of Swæppa, son of Gesecg, son of Seaxnet the legendary founder of the Saxons.

More information is then given in later chronicles from the 12th and 13th Centuries, including, Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Anglorum, Roger of Wendover’s Flores Historiarum and Matthew Paris’ Chronica Majora.

It is possible that Æscwine was not a Saxon from Essex but a Jute from Kent.  Æscwine name is more Jutish in origin.  Essex was originally formed into a kingdom by the more aggressive Kent.  Firstly by Eormenric and secondly by his son Æthelbert I.  Bede places Eormenric’s death at 560.  It is possible that Æthelbert ruled in Essex while his father ruled in Kent and then on the death of his father another person of importance in Kent then ruled on in Essex, Æscwine.