7th Century Wessex continues to grow, but has to fight with its Anglo Saxon neighbours to survive. Chrisitanity spreads throughout England, and Ine, one of Wessex's greatest early Kings, ends his reign in Rome. The History of England podcast looks at the 7th Century as Wessex finds its place amongst the Anglo Saxon nations.
Click and play: 3 Wars and Laws
The Anglo Saxon Kingdoms fight for Supremacy
Cynegils was king of Wessex from 611-643. During his reign, Wessex became Christian, but did not do well against its Anglo Saxom Competitors. This meanty thatCybegils lost the territory Ceawlin had won north of the Thames. During his reign, Edwin of Northumbria was recognised as the Bretwalda.
Cynegils' son, Cenwalh (King of Wessex 643-674) was married to the sister of the King of Mercia, and the last great Anglo saxon Pagan king - Penda. But he effectively declared war on Mercia by repudiating her, and allied himself with Northumbria. For most of his reign, this was not clever. Penda and his successor Wulfhere basically walked all over Cenwalh and Oswald of Northumbria. As a result, Cenwalh moved the capital of his kingdom to Winchester, further away from Mercia - where it would stay until the Normans arrive. But then in 674, Ecgfrith of Nortumbria defeated Wulfhere, and gave Wessex some respite from Mercian pressure.
Cenwalh was suceeded by his widow Seaxburgh and then Aescwine, who himself defeated Wulfhere in battle. Centwine, Cenwalh's brother, ruled from 676-685, and extende the kingdom at the expense of the Britons of the south west. Centwine retired from the throne to become a monk, which may well have had something to do with Cadwalla, who's short reign from 685-688 was full of ambition. Cadwalla was much more agressive, taking on and briefly overcoming Sussex and Kent.
Ine, King of Wessex 688-726
Ine stands out from the early Kings of Wessex. His reign ismarked by economic growth, religious re-organisation, ad the creation of one of the first surviving Anglo Saxon lawcodes. It gives a fascinating insight into society, and the simple relationship between the king and his people, with no feudal intermediary. Like Cadwalla and Centwine, Ine ended his reign for religion, and died in Rome.
A useful website
Regia Anglorum is a re-enactment society for the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Lots of great stuff on the website, including what a shield looks like after you've through a spear at it. So the website address is http://www.regia.org