Tag Archives: Mercia

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.

The Kings of Hwicce

Hwicce was a kingdom in the Heptarchy period of Anglo-Saxon England. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle it became a Kingdom in 577. It lasted until, 628 when it became client or sub-kingdom of Mercia after the Battle of Cirencester.According to the Anglo-Saxon chronicle there was a battle at Dyhmam in 577 in which the Gewisse (West Saxons) under Ceawlin killed three British Kings and captured Gloucester, Cirencester and Bath.

The Kingdom included the majority of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. Also small parts of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the north-west tip of Wiltshire.

Below is a list of different kings who sometimes ruled in tandem with other kings.

Eanhere and Eanfrith, mid 7th century were brothers who were believed to have been kings of the Hwicce. Eanfrith’s daughter Eafe married Aethelwealh, King of Sussex.

Osric, is believed to reigned jointly at points with his brother Oshere. Osric is believed to be the possible son of Eanhere and Osthryth who was daughter of Oswiu of Northumbria. It is claimed that Osric founded two monastic houses. One at Bath, which is now Bath Abbey and the other in Gloucester, now Gloucester Cathedral. Osric was buried at Gloucester Cathedral next to his sister Cyneburh, before the alter of St Petonilla. Cyneburh was the first Abbess. His remains now lie in a medieval tomb in the cathedral.

Oshere, was the believed brother to Osric. He was reigning in 693 when he issued a charter to Abbess Cuthswith, witnessed by his sons Aethelheard, Aethelweard, Aethelberht and Aetheric. It is believed after the death of Osric, that he would of ruled with his sons, including another son Aethelmod.

Aethelheard and Aethelweard together in 692 issued a charter to Abbess Cuthswith and also a charter with King Aethelred of Mercia. Aethelheard was styled ‘rex’ in a list of witnesses to a possible charter issued by King Cenred of Mercia in 709. Aethelweard in 706 granted land to Bishop Ecgwine.

Aethelric, in 706 was granted land with consent of King Cenred of Mercia, and in 736 he witnessed a charter by King Aethelbald of Mercia. In another undated charter he received a grant hiself from Aethelbald.

Eanberht, is said to have ruled along side Uhtred and Ealdred. In 757 the three granted land to Bishop Milred and in 759 to Abbot Headda. Eanberht is then not recorded after 759.

Uhtred and Ealdred, in 770 Uhtred issued a charter to the thegn Athelmund. Ealdred was styled ‘dux’ or duke by King Offa of Mercia, but considered himself king ruling with Earnberht and Uhtred his brothers. In 778 a charter with Offa gave land to Ealdred and after Ealdred’s death Offa then absorbed Hwicce into Mercia.

Ealdred’s successor was Aethelmund but he was only ever named as Earl or Ealdorman of Hwicce, which leads to believe it had integrated into Mercia fully by this time.


Modern day Bath Abbey

Modern day Bath Abbey