Beornwulf of Mercia

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Beornwulf's defeat at the Battle of Ellandun marked the end of Mercian dominance

Beornwulf ( 826) was a Mercian nobleman who became the King of Mercia. Although not of the Mercian royal family himself he usurped the throne from Ceolwulf in 823. He ruled Mercia until his death three years later.


King of Mercia[change | change source]

Little is known about Beornwulf's family. He played a large part in Ceolwulf I losing the throne in 823. He succeeded Ceolwulf as king in the summer of 823.[1] Beornwulf continued the campaign against Powys started by Coenwulf and his brother Ceolwulf I.[1] By the end of 823 Powys was being controlled by Mercia. By 825 Beornwulf had extended his authority over Kent, Essex and Middlesex.[2] In 825 Beornwulf invaded Wessex.[a] In what Frank Stenton called "one of the most decisive battles of Anglo-Saxon history" Egbert defeated Beornwulf[2] at the Battle of Ellandun.[1] This was the end of the Mercian kings dominating England.[2] Egbert sent his son Athelwulf with an army to overthrow Baldred, the Mercian sub-king.[3] As a result, all of Kent, Surrey, Sussex and East Anglia submitted to Egbert of Wessex.[3] Egbert was cautious though. He kew Mercia had a powerful army and did not attack Mercia directly.[4] Instead he instigated the East Anglians to revolt against Beornwulf.[4] When Beornwulf tried to recover East Anglia in 826 he was killed in the attempt.[2] He was succeeded by one of his ealdormen, Ludeca of Mercia.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. This broke a 23 year peace between Mercia and Wessex. Egbert's rising power and designs on Kent is almost certainly what drove Beornwulf to attack Wessex.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens (New york: Carroll & Graf, 1999), p. 261
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 231
  3. 3.0 3.1 Barbara Yorke, Wessex in the early Middle Ages (London; New York: Leicester University Press, 1995), p. 94
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sharon Turner, The history of the Anglo-Saxons from the earliest period to the, Vol. I (Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1841), p. 280

Other websites[change | change source]