List of monarchs of Mercia

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The Kingdom of Mercia was an important monarchy in the English Midlands from the 6th century to the 10th. From the mid-7th century until it ceased to exist as a kingdom, Mercia was the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Some of its rulers were the first to claim titles such as King of the English and King of Britain. Mercia was one of the seven kingdoms of the Heptarchy. This is a later name given to the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England during the early Middle Ages.[1] Besides Mercia it included Northumbria, Wessex, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, and Sussex.[2]

The first dynasty of Mercian kings are called the Iclingas. The name comes from Icel who ruled the Mercians c. 450.[a][3] Members of this dynasty claimed to be descendants the royal family of their homeland in Western Europe. Mercia became a dominant force under Penda from about c. 632 until his death in 655.[4] Bretwalda, his son, was the first Mercian overlord of the southern English.[5] Offa (757–796), was the first of the Anglo-Saxon kings who might rightly be called "king of the English".[6] Mercia was never again as powerful as it was during Offa's reign.[7] For their successors in England see List of English monarchs.

Monarchs of Mercia[change | change source]

Iclingas[change | change source]

  • Icel (late 5th century–early 6th century) - Son of Eomer, King of the Angles.[b]
  • Cnebba - Son of Icel
  • Cynewald - Son of Cnebba
  • Creoda (c. 584c. 593) - Son of Cynewald.
  • Pybba (c. 593c. 606) - Son of Creoda.
  • Cearl (c. 606c. 626) - Listed by Bede
  • Penda (c. 626–655) - Son of Pybba.
  • Eowa (c. 635–642) - Co-ruled with Penda, son of Pybba.
  • Peada (655–655) - Son of Penda.
  • Oswiu of Northumbria (ruled Mercia 655–658)[c] - King of Northumbria, took control of Mercia.
  • Wulfhere (658–675) - Son of Penda.
  • Aethelred - Son of Penda.
  • Coenred (704–709) - Son of Wulfhere.
  • Ceolred (709–716) - Son of Aethelred.
  • Ceolwald of Mercia (716) - Probable son of Aethelred, may have ruled briefly.
  • Aethelbald (716–757) - Grandson of Eowa.
  • Beornred of Mercia (757) - No known connection to Iclingas dynasty.
  • Offa (757–796) - Great-great-grandson of Eowa.
  • Ecgfrith (796) - Son of Offa.[d]
  • Coenwulf (796–821) - A descendant of Pybba.
  • Ceolwulf I of Mercia (821–823) - Brother of Coenwulf.

Other dynasties[change | change source]

When the Iclingas line died out in the male line, members of other noble Mercian families competed for the throne.[9] The 'B' dynasty is for kings Beornwulf, Berhtwulf and Burgred. The 'W' dynasty is for king Wiglaf.[9] Others have no dynasty they are connected with.

  • Beornwulf (823–826) - "B" dynasty.
  • Ludeca (826–827) - Unknown or no dynasty connections.
  • Wiglaf of Mercia (1st reign) (827–829) - "W" dynasty.
  • Egbert of Wessex (829–830) - King of Wessex who took control of Mercia.
  • Wiglaf of Mercia (restored to the throne) (830–839) - "W" dynasty.
  • Wigmund (c. 839c. 840) - "W" dynasty, son of Wiglaf.
  • Wigstan (840) - "W" dynasty, son of Wigmund.
  • Aelfflaed of Mercia (840) - Daughter of Ceolwulf I, wife of Wigmund. Regent for her son Wigstan.
  • Beorhtwulf (840–852) - "B" dynasty.
  • Burgred (852–874) - "B" dynasty.
  • Ceolwulf (874–c. 883) - Unknown dynasty.

Client rulers under Wessex[change | change source]

After being defeated by Alfred the Great, the king of Wessex, the rulers were no longer considered kings and queens but rather ealdormen. The title of the female rulers was "Lady of the Mercians." They were styled Kings and Queens in Mercia only.

  • Aethelred, Lord of the Mercians (c. 883–911) - Unknown dynasty.
  • Ethelflaeda, Lady of the Mercians (911–918) - Daughter of King Alfred of Wessex, wife of Aethelred.
  • Aelfwynn, Lady of the Mercians (918) - Daughter of Ethelflaeda and Aethelred. Removed from her position by her uncle Edward the Elder, King of Wessex.

Rulers in name only[change | change source]

After Mercia became an annex of Wessex (Mercia was no longer a kingdom), 'King of Mercia' became a title only.

Image gallery[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Several names of places in the eastern parts of England appear to named for Icel or his people. Ickleton in Cambridgeshire, Ickleford in Hertfordshire and Iklingham in Suffolk are examples. This may indicate Icel and his people may have been in Middle Anglia before moving into the midlands of Mercia.[3]
  2. First of this dynasty. He was said to have led his people from Angeln (Anglia) to Britain.[8]
  3. Ruled Mercia for three years after the death of Peada. Was expelled from Mercia and Wulfhere was placed on the throne restoring Iclingas dynasty.[5]
  4. Ecgfrith was a co-king with his father from 787–796. He succeeded his father as king, but died a few months later.

References[change | change source]

  1. Michael Frassetto, The Early Medieval World (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013), p. 308
  2. Michael Frassetto, Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe: Society in Transformation (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003). pp. 201–02
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Nowell Linton Myres, The English Settlements (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 185
  4. Peter Hunter Blair, Roman Britain and Early England; 55 B.C.–A.D. 871 (New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1966), p. 178
  5. 5.0 5.1 Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 34
  6. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens (New york: Carroll & Graf, 1999), p. 257
  7. John Cannon; Ralph Griffiths, The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 26
  8. Sam Newton, The Origins of Beowulf: And the Pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Cambridge: Brewer, 1993), p. 62
  9. 9.0 9.1 Nicholas Higham; M. J. Ryan, The Anglo-Saxon World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), p. 240