Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms and Kings: Facts and Information

Following the end of Roman rule in Britain (5th century), a patchwork of numerous kingdoms was established in England by the Anglo-Saxons. These kingdoms were independent and many of them had their own king.

Some of the main kingdoms were Northumbria, Mercia, Kent, East Anglia, Essex, Wessex and Sussex. Other minor kingdoms included, the Kingdom of Lindsey (located between the Wash and the Humber estuary),  and the Kingdom of the Iclingas (located in the valley of the River Trent).

Over time, the kingdoms joined together until King Athelstan was recognised as monarch by the Kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex, uniting the independent kingdoms of England.

Famous Anglo-Saxon Kings

  • According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic was the first King of Wessex, and ruled from 519 to 534. All future Kings of Wessex claimed that they were related to Cerdic. Some historians believe that Cerdic was a legendary figure and didn’t actually exist.
  • The Venerable Bede, the chronicler, reported that Aethelberht, King of Kent (who lived during the late 6th century), was the first English monarch to become a Christian. He also brought in a law code which included more than 90 written laws.
  • King Raedwald of East Anglia ruled from around the year 600 to somewhere in the 620s. He was the first of the East angles to become a Christian, but he also kept a pagan temple. Many historians believe that his body was buried in the ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk.
  • Alfred the Great was a King of Wessex. He called himself King of the Anglo-Saxons, and defended his lands from attacks carried out by the Vikings. He was born in 849 and died in 899.
  • Born in Wessex in the early 890s, King Athelstan is though of by many historians as the first King of England. In 927 he conquered York, the last remaining Viking kingdom in England.
  • Harold Godwinson (Harold II) was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. He ruled from 5th January 1066 to 14th October 1066. His reign was ended by his death in the Battle of Hastings at the hands of the Normans, led by William the Conqueror.
  • Other Anglo-Saxon kings include: Edward the Confessor, Edward the Elder (the son of Alfred the Great), Sweyn Forkbeard (King of Denmark, Norway and England), Aethelwulf (King of Wessex), ans Penda (King of Mercia).

Visit our resources page to discover more facts about the Anglo-Saxons.

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