Sigeberht of Wessex

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King of Wessex
Diedc. 757
The Weald, Kent (?)
HouseHouse of Wessex

Sigeberht ( c. 757) was a West Saxon nobleman and atheling. He was King of Wessex from 756 to 757.

King of Wessex[change | change source]

Sigeberht was a West Saxon atheling (prince) who in 756 succeeded Cuthred as King of Wessex.[1] in 756. After ruling a year he was accused of unlawful acts and removed from power by the witan.[2] This council was led by Cynewulf.[3] This same council then elected Cynewulf to replace Sigeberht as king.[3] Sigeberht was allowed to keep Hampshire and was supported there by the ealdorman Cumbra. But Sigeberht then killed Cumbra and as a result was driven out of Hampshire.[3] Sigeberht met his end while wandering in the great forest of the Weald[a], killed by a herdsman. The herdsman killed Sigeberht in revenge for killing Cumbra.[5]

This series of events formed the basis for the story of Cynewulf and Cyneheard.[b] Thirty years later Cynewulf was killed by Cyneheard, the brother of Sigeberht.[3] This was either in revenge for killing his brother or because Cyneheard was about to be expelled from Wessex.[7]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. The great Weald (Old English: meaning forest) was an area of wild forested country that stretched over Kent, Surrey and Sussex.[4]
  2. The story of Cynewulf and Cyneheard is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 755. It is the earliest written story or narrative prose, in English writing. Chronologically the story is out of place in the chronicle because the events did not take place in 755. They took place in 786 and the story is repeated briefly under the year 784 (corrected to 786). It is an example of heroic verse that was written before the time of Alfred the Great.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 204
  2. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, trans. & ed. Michael James Swanton (New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 46
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens (New york: Carroll & Graf, 1999), p. 311
  4. The South Saxons, ed. Peter Brandon (London: Phillimore, 1978), p. 138
  5. Francis Joseph Battaglia, 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 755: The Missing Evidence for a Traditional Reading', PMLA, Vol. 81, No. 3 (Jun., 1966), p. 174
  6. Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 209, note 3
  7. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens (New york: Carroll & Graf, 1999), pp. 311-12

Other websites[change | change source]