Bede known as Saint Bede, Venerable Bede, Bede the Venerable, was an English Benedictine monk at the monastery of St. Peter and its companion monastery of St. Paul in the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles. Born on lands belonging to the Monkwearmouth monastery in present-day Sunderland, Bede was sent there at the age of seven and joined Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery, both of whom survived a plague that struck in 686, an outbreak that killed a majority of the population there. While he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede travelled to several abbeys and monasteries across the British Isles visiting the archbishop of York and King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, he is well known as an author and scholar, his most famous work, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, gained him the title "The Father of English History". His ecumenical writings were extensive and included a number of Biblical commentaries and other theological works of exegetical erudition. Another important area of study for Bede was the academic discipline of computus, otherwise known to his contemporaries as the science of calculating calendar dates.
One of the more important dates Bede tried to compute was Easter, an effort, mired with controversy. He helped establish the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ, a practice which became commonplace in medieval Europe. Bede was one of the greatest teachers and writers of the Early Middle Ages and is considered by many historians to be the single most important scholar of antiquity for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I in 604 and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church, he is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation. Bede was moreover a skilled linguist and translator, his work made the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church Fathers much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, which contributed to English Christianity. Bede's monastery had access to an impressive library which included works by Eusebius and many others. Everything, known of Bede's life is contained in the last chapter of his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, a history of the church in England.
It was completed in about 731, Bede implies that he was in his fifty-ninth year, which would give a birth date in 672 or 673. A minor source of information is the letter by his disciple Cuthbert. Bede, in the Historia, gives his birthplace as "on the lands of this monastery", he is referring to the twinned monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, in modern-day Wearside and Tyneside respectively. Bede says nothing of his origins, but his connections with men of noble ancestry suggest that his own family was well-to-do. Bede's first abbot was Benedict Biscop, the names "Biscop" and "Beda" both appear in a king list of the kings of Lindsey from around 800, further suggesting that Bede came from a noble family. Bede's name reflects West Saxon Bīeda, it is an Anglo-Saxon short name formed on the root of bēodan "to bid, command". The name occurs in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s.a. 501, as Bieda, one of the sons of the Saxon founder of Portsmouth. The Liber Vitae of Durham Cathedral names two priests with this name, one of whom is Bede himself.
Some manuscripts of the Life of Cuthbert, one of Bede's works, mention that Cuthbert's own priest was named Bede. At the age of seven, Bede was sent, as a puer oblatus, to the monastery of Monkwearmouth by his family to be educated by Benedict Biscop and by Ceolfrith. Bede does not say whether it was intended at that point that he would be a monk, it was common in Ireland at this time for young boys those of noble birth, to be fostered out as an oblate. Monkwearmouth's sister monastery at Jarrow was founded by Ceolfrith in 682, Bede transferred to Jarrow with Ceolfrith that year; the dedication stone for the church has survived to the present day. In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow; the Life of Ceolfrith, written in about 710, records that only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices. The two managed to do the entire service of the liturgy; the young boy was certainly Bede, who would have been about 14. When Bede was about 17 years old, Adomnán, the abbot of Iona Abbey, visited Monkwearmouth and Jarrow.
Bede would have met the abbot during this visit, it may be that Adomnan sparked Bede's interest in the Easter dating controversy. In about 692, in Bede's nineteenth year, Bede was ordained a deacon by his diocesan bishop, bishop of Hexham; the canonical age for the ordination of a deacon was 25.
Rhos (North Wales)
Rhos means'moor' or'moorland' in Welsh. It is a region to the east of the River Conwy in north Wales, it started as a minor kingdom became a medieval cantref, was part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Rhos is identified as a small kingdom during the sub-Roman and early medieval periods in an Old Welsh genealogical document ‘Ancestry of the Kings and Princes of Wales’ listing thirteen of its kings; the most famous monarch was Cynlas Goch, the son of Owain Ddantgwyn, who lived in the early 6th century and was denounced by the monk, Gildas. He wrote that Cynlas was the “guider of the chariot, the receptacle of the bear“; the latter may refer to a “Fort of the Bear” Dinerth, the name of a hillfort on Bryn Euryn in Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. The road that runs below the western side of the hill is still called Dinerth Road and Dinarth Hall is nearby; the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust have undertaken a trial excavation of this hillfort and set up related information boards in Colwyn Bay Library. Their investigations revealed a massive defensive stone wall, well built and faced with good-quality limestone blocks rising to about ten feet high.
The ramparts were eleven and a half feet thick. These defences are unlike those of Iron Age hillforts but comparable with similar Dark Age fortifications, so may represent a possible stronghold of the Kings of Rhos. By the 11th century, Rhos was part of Gwynedd Is Conwy as an administrative unit known as a cantref. Along with its three adjoining cantrefi, the area was known as Y Berfeddwlad or the'Middle Country' lying between Gwynedd and Powys and changing hands between those two powerful kingdoms. With the loss of Welsh independence in 1283, Rhos became part of the lordship of Denbigh, as granted to the English Earl of Lincoln; the cantrefi were abolished in 1536 with the creation of Denbighshire, but the name of Rhos survives today in places such as Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, Llanelian-yn-Rhos, Penmaen Rhos. Creuddyn was a historic commote or cymwd of Rhos later of Caernarfonshire. Roose Hundred In Search of Ednyfed's Castle
Paganism, is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian. Paganism was a pejorative and derogatory term for polytheism, implying its inferiority. Paganism has broadly connoted the "religion of the peasantry", During and after the Middle Ages, the term paganism was applied to any non-Abrahamic or unfamiliar religion, the term presumed a belief in false god. Most modern pagan religions existing today - Modern Paganism, or Neopaganism - express a world view, pantheistic, polytheistic or animistic; the origin of the application of the term pagan to polytheism is debated.
In the 19th century, paganism was adopted as a self-descriptor by members of various artistic groups inspired by the ancient world. In the 20th century, it came to be applied as a self-descriptor by practitioners of Modern Paganism, Neopagan movements and Polytheistic reconstructionists. Modern pagan traditions incorporate beliefs or practices, such as nature worship, that are different from those in the largest world religions. Contemporary knowledge of old pagan religions comes from several sources, including anthropological field research records, the evidence of archaeological artifacts, the historical accounts of ancient writers regarding cultures known to Classical antiquity, it is crucial to stress right from the start that until the 20th century, people did not call themselves pagans to describe the religion they practised. The notion of paganism, as it is understood today, was created by the early Christian Church, it was a label that Christians applied to others, one of the antitheses that were central to the process of Christian self-definition.
As such, throughout history it was used in a derogatory sense. The term pagan is derived from Late Latin paganus, revived during the Renaissance. Itself deriving from classical Latin pagus which meant'region delimited by markers', paganus had come to mean'of or relating to the countryside','country dweller','villager', it is related to pangere and comes from Proto-Indo-European *pag-. The adoption of paganus by the Latin Christians as an all-embracing, pejorative term for polytheists represents an unforeseen and singularly long-lasting victory, within a religious group, of a word of Latin slang devoid of religious meaning; the evolution occurred only in the Latin west, in connection with the Latin church. Elsewhere, Hellene or gentile remained the word for pagan. Medieval writers assumed that paganus as a religious term was a result of the conversion patterns during the Christianization of Europe, where people in towns and cities were converted more than those in remote regions, where old ways lingered.
However, this idea has multiple problems. First, the word's usage as a reference to non-Christians pre-dates that period in history. Second, paganism within the Roman Empire centred on cities; the concept of an urban Christianity as opposed to a rural paganism would not have occurred to Romans during Early Christianity. Third, unlike words such as rusticitas, paganus had not yet acquired the meanings used to explain why it would have been applied to pagans. Paganus more acquired its meaning in Christian nomenclature via Roman military jargon. Early Christians saw themselves as Milites Christi. A good example of Christians still using paganus in a military context rather than religious is in Tertullian's De Corona Militis XI. V, where the Christian is referred to as paganus: Paganus acquired its religious connotations by the mid-4th century; as early as the 5th century, paganos was metaphorically used to denote persons outside the bounds of the Christian community. Following the sack of Rome by the Visigoths just over fifteen years after the Christian persecution of paganism under Theodosius I, murmurs began to spread that the old gods had taken greater care of the city than the Christian God.
In response, Augustine of Hippo wrote De Civitate Dei Contra Paganos. In it, he contrasted the fallen "city of Man" to the "city of God" of which all Christians were citizens. Hence, the foreign invaders were "not of the city" or "rural"; the term pagan is not attested in the English language until the 17th century. In addition to infidel and heretic, it was used as one of several pejorative Christian counterparts to gentile as used in Judaism, to kafir and mushrik as in Islam. In the Latin-speaking Western Roman Empire of the newly Christianizing Roman Empire, Koine Greek became associated with the traditional polytheistic religion of Ancient Greece, regarded as a foreign language in the west. By the latter half of the 4th century in the Greek-speaking Eastern Empire, pagans were—paradoxically—most called Hellenes; the word entirely
Bernicia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by Anglian settlers of the 6th century in what is now southeastern Scotland and North East England. The Anglian territory of Bernicia was equivalent to the modern English counties of Northumberland and Durham, the Scottish counties of Berwickshire and East Lothian, stretching from the Forth to the Tees. In the early 7th century, it merged with its southern neighbour, Deira, to form the kingdom of Northumbria and its borders subsequently expanded considerably. Bernicia occurs in Old Welsh poetry as Bryneich or Brynaich and in the 9th-century Historia Brittonum, as Berneich or Birneich; this was most the name of the native Brittonic kingdom, whose name was adopted by the Anglian settlers who rendered it in Old English as Bernice or Beornice. The counter hypothesis suggesting these names represent a Brythonic adaption of an earlier English form is considered less probable. Local linguistic evidence suggests continued political activity in the area before the arrival of the Angles.
Important Anglian centres in Bernicia bear names of British origin, or are known by British names elsewhere: Bamburgh is called Din Guaire in the Historia Brittonum. Analysis of a potential derivation has not produced a consensus; the most cited etymology gives the meaning as "Land of the Mountain Passes" or "Land of the Gaps". An earlier derivation from the tribal name of the Brigantes has been dismissed as linguistically unsound. In 1997 John T. Koch suggested the conflation of a probable primary form *Bernech with the native form *Brïγent for the old civitas Brigantum as a result of Anglian expansion in that territory during the 7th century; the Brythonic kingdom of the area was formed from what had once been the southern lands of the Votadini as part of the division of a supposed'great northern realm' of Coel Hen in c. AD 420; this northern realm is referred to by Welsh scholars as Yr Hen Ogledd or "The Old North". The kingdom may have been ruled from the site that became the English Bamburgh, which features in Welsh sources as Din Guardi.
Near this high-status residence lay the island of Lindisfarne, which became the seat of the Bernician bishops. It is unknown when the Angles conquered the whole region, but around 604 is likely. There are several Old Welsh pedigrees of princely "Men of the North" that may represent the kings of the British kingdom in the area, which may have been called Bryneich. John Morris surmised that the line of a certain Morcant Bulc referred to these monarchs, chiefly because he identified this man as the murderer of Urien Rheged who was, at the time, besieging Lindisfarne; some of the Angles of Bernicia may have been employed as mercenaries along Hadrian's Wall during the late Roman period. Others are thought to have migrated north from Deira in the early 6th century; the first Anglian king in the historical record is Ida, said to have obtained the throne and the kingdom about 547. His sons spent many years fighting a united force from the surrounding Brythonic kingdoms until their alliance collapsed into civil war.
Ida's grandson, Æthelfrith, united Deira with his own kingdom by force around the year 604. He ruled the two kingdoms until he was defeated and killed by Rædwald of East Anglia around the year 616. Edwin became king; the early part of Edwin's reign was spent finishing off the remaining resistance coming from the Brythonic exiles of the old British kingdom, operating out of Gododdin. After he had defeated the remaining Brythonic population of the area, he was drawn towards a similar subjugation of Elmet, which drew him into direct conflict with Wales proper. Following the disastrous Battle of Hatfield Chase on 12 October 633, in which Edwin was defeated and killed by Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd and Penda of Mercia, Northumbria was divided back into Bernicia and Deira. Bernicia was briefly ruled by Eanfrith, son of Æthelfrith, but after about a year he went to Cadwallon to sue for peace and was killed. Eanfrith's brother Oswald raised an army and defeated Cadwallon at the Battle of Heavenfield in 634.
After this victory, Oswald appears to have been recognised by both Bernicians and Deirans as king of a properly united Northumbria. The kings of Bernicia were thereafter supreme in that kingdom, although Deira had its own sub-kings at times during the reigns of Oswiu and his son Ecgfrith. Ida son of Eoppa Glappa Ida's brother Adda son of Ida Æthelric son of Ida Theodric son of Ida Frithuwald Adda's son Hussa Adda's son Æthelfrith, son of Æthelric Under Deiran rule 616–633) Eanfrith of Bernicia son of Æthelfrith Under Oswald son of Æthelfrith, Bernicia was united with Deira to form Northumbria from 634 onward until the Viking invasion of the 9th Century. Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. Jackson, Kenneth H.. Language and History in Early Britain. Edinburgh University Press. Jackson, Kenneth H.. The Gododdin: The Oldest Scottish poem. Edinburgh: Edinburg
Kingdom of East Anglia
The Kingdom of the East Angles, today known as the Kingdom of East Anglia, was a small independent kingdom of the Angles comprising what are now the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk and the eastern part of the Fens. The kingdom formed in the 6th century in the wake of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, it was ruled by the Wuffingas in the 7th and 8th centuries, but fell to Mercia in 794, was conquered by the Danes in 869, forming part of the Danelaw. It was conquered by Edward the Elder and incorporated into the Kingdom of England in 918; the Kingdom of East Anglia was organised in the first or second quarter of the 6th century with Wehha listed as the first king of the East Angles, followed by Wuffa. Until 749 the kings of East Anglia were Wuffingas, named after the semi-historical Wuffa. During the early seventh century, under Rædwald of East Anglia, it was a powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Rædwald, the first of the East Anglian kings to be baptised as a Christian, is considered by many experts to be the person, buried within the ship burial at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge.
During the decades that followed his death in around 624, East Anglia became dominated by the powerful kingdom of Mercia. Several of Rædwald's successors were killed in battle, such as Sigeberht. Under Sigeberht's rule and the guidance of his bishop, Felix of Burgundy, Christianity was established in East Anglia. After Æthelberht II was killed by the Mercians in 794, until 825, East Anglia ceased to be an independent kingdom, although it reasserted its independence under Eadwald in 796, it survived until 869, when the Vikings defeated the East Anglians in battle and their king, Edmund the Martyr, was killed. After 879, the Vikings settled permanently in East Anglia. In 903 the exiled Æthelwold ætheling induced the East Anglian Danes to wage a disastrous war on his cousin Edward the Elder. By 917, after a succession of Danish defeats, East Anglia had submitted to Edward and was incorporated into the kingdom of England, afterwards becoming an earldom. East Anglia was settled by the Anglo-Saxons as early as around 450, earlier than many other regions.
It emerged from the settlement and political consolidation of Angles in the approximate area of the former territory of the Iceni and the Roman civitas with its centre at Venta Icenorum, close to Caistor St Edmund. According to Bede, the East Angles were descended from natives of Angeln; the first reference to the East Angles is from around 704–713, in the Whitby Life of St Gregory. The East Angles formed one of the seven kingdoms known to post-mediaeval historians as the Heptarchy, a scheme used by Henry of Huntingdon in the twelfth century; some modern historians have questioned whether seven independent kingdoms really existed contemporaneously, claim that the political situation was much more complicated. The East Angles were ruled by the pagan Wuffingas dynasty named after an early king, although his name could have been an invention to explain the dynastic name, which means'descendants of the wolf'. An indispensable main source of information on the early history of the kingdom and its rulers is Bede's Ecclesiastical History, but he provided few facts relating to the chronology of the East Anglian kings or the length of their reigns.
Nothing is known of the earliest kings of East Anglia, or how the kingdom was organised, although a possible indication of the original centre of royal power is the concentration of ship-burials at Snape and Sutton Hoo in eastern Suffolk. The "North Folk" and "South Folk" may have existed before the arrival of the first East Anglian kings; the most powerful of the Wuffingas kings was Rædwald,'the son of Tytil, whose father was Wuffa', according to the Ecclesiastical History. For a brief period in the early seventh century, whilst Rædwald ruled, East Anglia was among the most powerful kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England: Rædwald was described by Bede as the overlord of the kingdoms south of the Humber. In 616, he had been strong enough to defeat and kill the Northumbrian king Æthelfrith at the Battle of the River Idle and enthrone Edwin of Northumbria, he was the individual honoured by the sumptuous ship burial at Sutton Hoo. It has been suggested by Blair, on the strength of the parallels between some of the objects found under Mound 1 at Sutton Hoo and those discovered at Vendel in Sweden, that the Wuffingas may have been the descendants of an eastern Swedish royal family.
However, as those items thought to have come from Sweden are now believed to have been made in England, it seems less that the Wuffingas were of Swedish origin. During the seventh century, Anglo-Saxon Christianity was established; the extent to which paganism was displaced in East Anglia is exemplified by a lack of any East Anglian settlements that are named after the old gods. Rædwald was the first East Anglian king to be baptised, in 604, he maintained a Christian altar, but at the same time continued to worship pagan gods. From 616, when pagan monarchs returned in Kent and Essex, until Rædwald's death, East Anglia was the only Anglo-Saxon kingdom with a reigning baptised king. On his death in around 624, he was succeeded by his son Eorpwald, soon afterwards converted from paganism as a result of the influence of Edwin, but his new religion was evidently opposed in East Anglia and Eorpwald met his death at the hands of a pagan, Ricberht. After three years of apostasy, Christianity prevailed with the accession of Eorpwald's brother Sigeberht, baptised during his exile in Francia.
Bamburgh is a village and civil parish on the coast of Northumberland, England. It had a population of 454 in 2001; the village is notable for the nearby Bamburgh Castle, a castle, the seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, for its association with the Victorian era heroine Grace Darling, buried there. The extensive beach by the village was awarded the Blue Flag rural beach award in 2005; the Bamburgh Dunes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, stand behind the beach. Bamburgh is popular with holidaymakers and is within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the site now occupied by Bamburgh Castle was home to a fort of the indigenous Celtic Britons known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the kingdom of Bernicia, the realm of the Gododdin people, from the realm's foundation in c. 420 until 547, the year of the first written reference to the castle. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia and became Ida's seat. Late medieval British author Thomas Malory identified Bamburgh Castle with Joyous Gard, the mythical castle home of Sir Lancelot in Arthurian legend.
According to Bede, St Aidan built a wooden church outside the castle wall in AD 635, he died here in AD 652. A wooden beam preserved inside the church is traditionally said to be the one on which he rested as he died; the present church dates from the late 12th century, though some pre-conquest stonework survives in the north aisle. The chancel, said to be the second longest in the country, was added in 1230. S. Hicks, depicting northern saints of the 7th and 8th centuries. There is an effigy of local heroine Grace Darling in the North Aisle; this formed part of the original Monument to Grace Darling but was removed due to weathering of the stonework. Her memorial is sited in the churchyard in such a position. An electoral ward of the same name exists; this ward includes Belford and stretches south to Ellingham with a total population taken at the 2011 census of 4,846. Æthelfrith of Northumbria William George Armstrong Joe Baker-Cresswell Ida of Bernicia Prideaux John Selby Grace Darling Bamburgh Lighthouse was built by Trinity House in 1910 to guide shipping both passing along the Northumberland coast and in the waters around the Farne Islands.
It was extensively modernised in 1975 and is now monitored from the Trinity House Operations and Planning Centre in Harwich. Routine maintenance is carried out by a local attendant, it is the most northerly land-based lighthouse in England. When built, the lamp was mounted on a skeletal steel tower which stood alongside the white building which housed an acetylene plant to power the lamp. During electrification in 1975 the tower was removed, the lantern was placed instead on top of the acetylene building. Bamburgh Coast and Hills, a Site of Special Scientific Interest along the coast north-east of Bamburgh List of lighthouses in England Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Bamburgh". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press. Bamburgh Photos Local Information on Bamburgh, The Farne Islands and surrounding areas. Stained glass windows at St. Aidan's Church, Photos by Peter Loud Bamburgh Tourist Attractions Bamburgh Online GENUKI Northumberland Communities Trinity House
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. The name is a Latinisation of the Old English Mierce or Myrce, meaning "border people". Mercia dominated what would become England for three centuries, subsequently going into a gradual decline while Wessex conquered and united all the kingdoms into Kingdom of England; the kingdom was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries, in the region now known as the English Midlands. The kingdom did not have a single capital as such. In times before a sizable civil service the'capital' was wherever the king was at any given time. Early in its existence Repton seems to have been the location of an important royal estate. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it was from Repton in 873-4 that the Great Heathen Army deposed the King of Mercia. Earlier, King Offa seems to have favoured Tamworth, it was there where he was spent many a Christmas. For 300 years, having annexed or gained submissions from five of the other six kingdoms of the Heptarchy, Mercia dominated England south of the River Humber: this period is known as the Mercian Supremacy.
The reign of King Offa, best remembered for his Dyke that designated the boundary between Mercia and the Welsh kingdoms, is sometimes known as the "Golden Age of Mercia". Nicholas Brooks noted that "the Mercians stand out as by far the most successful of the various early Anglo-Saxon peoples until the ninth century", some historians, such as Sir Frank Stenton, believe the unification of England south of the Humber estuary was achieved during the reign of Offa. Mercia was a pagan kingdom; the Diocese of Mercia was founded in 656, with the first bishop, based at Repton. After 13 years at Repton, in 669 the fifth bishop, Saint Chad, moved the bishopric to Lichfield, where it has been based since. In 691, the Diocese of Mercia became the Diocese of Lichfield. For a brief period between 787 and 799 the diocese was an archbishopric, although it was dissolved in 803; the current bishop, Michael Ipgrave, is the 99th. At the end of the 9th century, following the invasions of the Vikings and their Great Heathen Army, much of the former Mercian territory was absorbed into the Danelaw.
At its height, the Danelaw included all of East Anglia and most of the North of England. The final Mercian king, Ceolwulf II, died in 879, it was ruled by a lord or ealdorman under the overlordship of Alfred the Great, who styled himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". The kingdom had a brief period of independence in the mid-10th century, again briefly in 1016. Mercia is still used as a geographic designation, the name is used by a wide range of organisations, including military units, public and voluntary bodies. Mercia's exact evolution at the start of the Anglo-Saxon era remains more obscure than that of Northumbria, Kent, or Wessex. Mercia developed an effective political structure and adopted Christianity than the other kingdoms. Archaeological surveys show that Angles settled the lands north of the River Thames by the 6th century; the name "Mercia" is Old English for "boundary folk", the traditional interpretation is that the kingdom originated along the frontier between the native Welsh and the Anglo-Saxon invaders.
However, P. Hunter Blair argued an alternative interpretation: that they emerged along the frontier between Northumbria and the inhabitants of the Trent river valley. While its earliest boundaries will never be known, there is general agreement that the territory, called "the first of the Mercians" in the Tribal Hidage covered much of south Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and northern Warwickshire; the earliest person named in any records as a king of Mercia is Creoda, said to have been the great-grandson of Icel. Coming to power around 584, he built a fortress at Tamworth, his son Pybba succeeded him in 593. Cearl, a kinsman of Creoda, followed Pybba in 606; the Mercian kings were the only Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy ruling house known to claim a direct family link with a pre-migration Continental Germanic monarchy. The next Mercian king, ruled from about 626 or 633 until 655; some of what is known about Penda comes from the hostile account of Bede, who disliked him – both as an enemy to Bede's own Northumbria and as a pagan.
However, Bede admits that Penda allowed Christian missionaries from Lindisfarne into Mercia, did not restrain them from preaching. In 633 Penda and his ally Cadwallon of Gwynedd defeated and killed Edwin, who had become not only ruler of the newly unified Northumbria, but bretwalda, or high king, over the southern kingdoms; when another Northumbrian king, Oswald and again claimed overlordship of the south, he suffered defeat and death at the hands of Penda and his allies – in 642 at the Battle of Maserfield. In 655, after a period of confusion in Northumbria, Penda brought 30 sub-kings to fight the new Northumbrian king Oswiu at the Battle of Winwaed, in which Penda in turn lost the battle and his life; the battle led to a temporary collapse of Mercian power. Penda's son Peada, who had converted to Christianity a