Royal standards of England
In high favour during the Tudor period, the Royal English Standard was a flag that was of a separate design and purpose to the Royal Banner. It featured St Georges Cross at its head, followed by a number of heraldic devices, a supporter, badges or crests, with a motto—but it did not bear a coat of arms. The Royal Standard changed its composition frequently from reign to reign, but retained the motto Dieu et mon droit, meaning God and my right, there were three main types of heraldic flag. A pennon was small, pointed or swallow-tailed at the fly, a banner was square or oblong, charged with the arms of the owner with no other device, borne by knight bannerets, ranking higher than other knights, and by barons and the sovereign. A standard was a narrow and tapering flag, of length, generally used only for pageantry. Mottoes were often introduced bendwise across these standards, the medieval standard was usually about eight feet long, but Tudor heralds determined different lengths, according to the rank of the nobility.
The Great Standard to be sette before the Kinges pavilion or tent – not to be borne in battle – was 33-foot long, a dukes standard was 21-foot in length, and that of the humble knight, 12-foot long. The St. George in the hoist of each standard was the symbol of national identity. Badges may possibly have preceded crests, the Norman kings and their sons may have originally used lions as badges of kingship. The lion was a Royal Badge long before heraldic records, as Henry I gave a shield of golden lions to his son-in-law Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, the seals of William II and Henry I included many devices regarded as badges. Stephen I used a sagittary as a badge, the Stuarts were the last to bear personal badges, ceasing with Anne, the royal badges afterward became more akin to national emblems, evolving into our modern versions. All sorts of devices were used on standards, usually badges, and sometimes the crest, the whole banner was usually fringed with the livery colours, giving the effect of the bordure compony.
Except in funerals, these standards were not used after the Tudor period, supporters are figures of living creatures each side of an armorial shield, appearing to support it. The origin of supporters can be traced to their usages in tournaments, on Standards, medieval Scottish seals afford numerous examples in which the 13th and 14th century shields were placed between two creatures resembling lizards or dragons. The term livery is derived from the French livrée from the Latin liberare, meaning to liberate or bestow, originally implying the dispensing of food and clothing &c to retainers. In the Middle Ages the term was applied to the uniforms and other devices, worn by those who accepted the privileges and obligations of embracery, or livery. The royal liveries of the Plantagenets were white and red, those of the House of Lancaster were white and blue, the liveries of the House of Tudor were white and green, those of the House of Stuart – and of George I – were yellow and red. In all subsequent reigns, they have been scarlet and blue and it appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the Coat of arms of the United Kingdom
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He ruled as Duke of Normandy and Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Poitiers, Anjou and Nantes and he was the third of five sons of King Henry II of England and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was known as Richard Cœur de Lion or Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a military leader. He was known in Occitan as Oc e No, because of his reputation for terseness, by the age of 16, Richard had taken command of his own army, putting down rebellions in Poitou against his father. Richard spoke both French and Occitan and he was born in England, where he spent his childhood, before becoming king, however, he lived most of his adult life in the Duchy of Aquitaine, in the southwest of France. Following his accession, he spent very little time, perhaps as little as six months, most of his life as king was spent on Crusade, in captivity, or actively defending his lands in France. Rather than regarding his kingdom as a responsibility requiring his presence as ruler, nevertheless, he was seen as a pious hero by his subjects.
He remains one of the few kings of England remembered by his epithet, rather than regnal number, Richard was born on 8 September 1157, probably at Beaumont Palace, in Oxford, son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was a brother of Count William IX of Poitiers, Henry the Young King. As the third son of King Henry II, he was not expected to ascend the throne. He was a brother of Duke Geoffrey II of Brittany, Queen Eleanor of Castile, Queen Joan of Sicily, and Count John of Mortain. Richard was the younger maternal half-brother of Countess Marie of Champagne, the eldest son of Henry II and Eleanor, died in 1156, before Richards birth. Richard is often depicted as having been the son of his mother. His father was Angevin-Norman and great-grandson of William the Conqueror, contemporary historian Ralph of Diceto traced his familys lineage through Matilda of Scotland to the Anglo-Saxon kings of England and Alfred the Great, and from there linked them to Noah and Woden. According to Angevin legend, there was even infernal blood in the family, while his father visited his lands from Scotland to France, Richard probably spent his childhood in England.
His first recorded visit to the European continent was in May 1165 and his wet nurse was Hodierna of St Albans, whom he gave a generous pension after he became king. Little is known about Richards education, during his captivity, English prejudice against foreigners was used in a calculated way by his brother John to help destroy the authority of Richards chancellor, William Longchamp, who was a Norman. One of the charges laid against Longchamp, by Johns supporter Hugh
Royal supporters of England
The royal supporters of England refer to the heraldic supporter creatures appearing on each side of the royal arms of England. Citations Bibliography Aveling, S. T. Heraldry, Ancient, a Manual of Heraldry and Popular. Brooke-Little, J. P. Wilson Royal Standards of England Royal Badges of England Royal Arms of England Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom Heraldry
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485, at the age of 32, in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty and his defeat at Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, marked the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of the historical play Richard III by William Shakespeare, when his brother King Edward IV died in April 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector of the realm for Edwards son and successor, the 12-year-old Edward V. As the young king travelled to London from Ludlow, Richard met and escorted him to lodgings in the Tower of London, on 25 June, an assembly of Lords and commoners endorsed the claims. The following day, Richard III began his reign, and he was crowned on 6 July 1483. The young princes were not seen in public after August, and accusations circulated that the boys had been murdered on Richards orders, there were two major rebellions against Richard.
The first, in October 1483, was led by allies of Edward IV and Richards former ally, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham. In August 1485, Henry Tudor and his uncle, Jasper Tudor, Henry Tudor landed in southern Wales with a small contingent of French troops and marched through his birthplace, recruiting soldiers. Henrys force engaged Richards army and defeated it at the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, Richard was struck down in the conflict, making him the last English king to die in battle on home soil and the first since Harold Godwinson. Henry ascended the throne as Henry VII, after the battle Richards corpse was taken to Leicester and buried without pomp. His original tomb monument is believed to have been removed during the Reformation, in 2012, an archaeological excavation was commissioned by the Richard III Society on a city council car park on the site once occupied by Greyfriars Priory Church. Richards remains were reburied in Leicester Cathedral on 26 March 2015 and they returned to England following the defeat of the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton and participated in the coronation of Richards eldest brother as King Edward IV in June 1461.
At this time Richard was named Duke of Gloucester and made a Knight of the Garter and Knight of the Bath, by the age of seventeen, he had an independent command. With some interruptions, Richard stayed at Middleham either from late 1461 until early 1465, while at Warwicks estate, he probably met Francis Lovell, a strong supporter in his life, and Warwicks younger daughter, his future wife Anne Neville. As the relationship between the king and Warwick became strained, Edward IV opposed the match, during Warwicks lifetime, George was the only royal brother to marry one of his daughters, the eldest, Isabel, on 12 July 1469, without the kings permission. George joined his father-in-laws revolt against the king, while Richard remained loyal to Edward, in 1468, Richards sister Margaret had married Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy, and the brothers could expect a welcome there. Although only eighteen years old, Richard played crucial roles in the battles of Barnet, during his adolescence, Richard developed idiopathic scoliosis.
Following a decisive Yorkist victory over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury, Richard married Anne Neville, by the end of 1470 Anne had previously been wedded to Edward of Westminster, only son of Henry VI, to seal her fathers allegiance to the Lancastrian party
Kings of the Angles
The Angles were a dominant Germanic tribe in the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, and gave their name to the English, England and to the region of East Anglia. Originally from Angeln, present-day Schleswig-Holstein, a legendary list of their kings has been preserved in the heroic poems Widsith and Beowulf, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. This is said to have occurred on an island named Scani or Scandza and his descendants became known as Scefings, or more usually Scyldings. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle derives the royal lines of the Heptarchy form a common ancestor, Woden, a version of the Germanic deity. The senior line of this genealogy was that of Mercia, descended from the rulers of the Angles, the historical Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain took place during the 5th to 6th centuries. As historical records only set in the 7th century, after Christianisation, reliable information on the royal genealogies only extend to what was in living memory, to the early 7th century. Bede, writing in the early 8th century, has information on the 7th century.
The genealogies extending into the 6th or even 5th century and thence to Woden are now regarded as fabrications of the Anglo-Saxon period. The genealogies as presented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle incorporate various Germanic heroes of legend, such as Wihtlæg, who defeated and killed Amleth, King of the Jutes. Under Wermund the Angles fortress at Schleswig is said to have been captured by a branch of the Saxons known as the Myrgings, but was retaken by Offa about whom many tales were told. The legends give Offa as bride a daughter of Freawine, governor of Schleswig, and upon becoming king he is said to have secured the Angles southern border with the Saxons along the River Eider. Like Offa, Freawine is made a descendant of Woden, and father of Wig, Wihtlæg, Wermund and Offa appear in a long list of legendary Danish kings given by Saxo Grammaticus. Whilst Offas line went on to found the Kingdom of Mercia, some of these names have parallels in the Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus. Deposed Fiallar, King of Scania and defeated and killed Amleth, after a long reign, Wermund suffered an invasion by Eadgils of the Myrgings who slew Freawine, governor of Schleswig.
Offa married a daughter of Freawine, regarded as a simpleton in youth, Offa fought the Saxons at Rendsburg on an island in the River Eider, thereby securing his southern border with them. Tolkien based many of the names of Rohan on Mercian examples, Mercia List of monarchs of Mercia Kings of Mercia family tree
English claims to the French throne
From the 1340s to the 19th century, excluding two brief intervals in the 1360s and the 1420s, the kings and queens of England claimed the throne of France. The claim dates from Edward III, who claimed the French throne in 1340 as the nephew of the last direct Capetian. Despite this and British monarchs continued to call themselves kings of France. This continued until 1801, by which time France had no monarch, the Jacobite claimants, did not explicitly relinquish the claim. The title was first assumed in 1340 by Edward III of England, Edward III claimed the throne of France after the death of his uncle Charles IV of France. At the time of Charles IVs death in 1328, Edward was his nearest male relative through Edwards mother Isabella of France, since the election of Hugh Capet in 987, the French crown had always passed based on male-line relations. There was no precedent for succeeding to the French throne based on his maternal ancestry. Philip arranged for his coronation, and became Philip V of France and he was challenged by the supporters of the Princess Joan, daughter of Louis X, on the basis of his right to the throne.
In response, he convened an assembly of prelates and burgesses at Paris, who acknowledged him as their lawful king, at the time of Charless death in 1328, there was once again a dispute over the succession. At the time, Edward paid homage to Philip VI for his Duchy of Aquitaine, however, in 1337, Edward, in his capacity as Duke of Aquitaine, refused to pay homage to Philip. The decision to assume the title of King of France was made at the solicitation of his Flemish allies, who had signed a treaty that they would no longer attack the French king. They said that if Edward took the French royal title, the Flemish would be able to keep their honor, Edward continued to use this title until the Treaty of Brétigny on 8 May 1360, when he abandoned his claims in return for substantial lands in France. After the resumption of hostilities between the English and the French in 1369, Edward resumed his claim and the title of King of France, Henry V adopted the title Heir of France instead. Henry V and Charles VI died within two months of each other in 1422, and Henry Vs infant son Henry VI became King of France.
He was the only English king who was de facto King of France, however, by 1429 Charles VII, with the support of Joan of Arc, had been crowned at Reims and begun to push the English out of northern France. The only French territory left to the English was Calais which they held until 1558, nonetheless the kings and queens of England continued to claim the French throne for centuries, through the early modern period. The words of France was prominently included among their realms as listed in their titles and styles, and this continued until 1801, by which time France had no monarch, having become a republic. Henry V, King of England Henry VI, King of England, succeeded as King of France upon the death of Charles VI, according to the Treaty of Troyes
William II of England
William II, the third son of William I of England, was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales, William is commonly known as William Rufus or William the Red, perhaps because of his red-faced appearance. He was a figure of complex temperament, capable of both bellicosity and flamboyance and he did not marry, nor did he produce any offspring, legitimate or otherwise. He died after being struck by an arrow while hunting, under circumstances that remain murky, circumstantial evidence in the behaviour of those around him raise strong but unproven suspicions of murder. His younger brother Henry hurriedly succeeded him as king, on the other hand, he was a wise ruler and victorious general. Barlow finds that, His chivalrous virtues and achievements were all too obvious and he had maintained good order and satisfactory justice in England and restored good peace to Normandy. He had extended Anglo-Norman rule in Wales, brought Scotland firmly under his lordship, recovered Maine, Williams exact date of birth is not known, but it was some time between the years 1056 and 1060.
He was the third of four born to William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, the eldest being Robert Curthose, the second Richard. William succeeded to the throne of England on his fathers death in 1087, Richard had died around 1075 while hunting in the New Forest. William had five or six sisters, records indicate strained relations between the three surviving sons of William I. A brawl broke out, and their father had to intercede to restore order, the division of William the Conquerors lands into two parts presented a dilemma for those nobles who held land on both sides of the English Channel. The only solution, as they saw it, was to unite England, in 1091 he invaded Normandy, crushing Roberts forces and forcing him to cede a portion of his lands. The two made up their differences and William agreed to help Robert recover lands lost to France, William Rufus was thus secure in what was the most powerful kingdom in Europe, given the contemporary eclipse of the Salian emperors. Less than two years after becoming king, William II lost his father William Is adviser and confidant, after Lanfrancs death in 1089, the king delayed appointing a new archbishop for many years, appropriating ecclesiastical revenues in the interim.
The English clergy, beholden to the king for their preferments, in 1095 William called a council at Rockingham to bring Anselm to heel, but the archbishop remained firm. In October 1097, Anselm went into exile, taking his case to the Pope, the diplomatic and flexible Urban II, a new pope, was involved in a major conflict with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, who supported an antipope. Reluctant to make another enemy, Urban came to a concordat with William Rufus, whereby William recognised Urban as pope, Anselm remained in exile, and William was able to claim the revenues of the archbishop of Canterbury to the end of his reign. Lanfranc retorted that you will not seize the bishop of Bayeux and it seems reasonable to suppose that such details are indicative of William IIs personal beliefs
Richard II of England
Richard II, known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed on 30 September 1399. Richard, a son of Edward, the Black Prince, was born in Bordeaux during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III. Richard was the brother of Edward of Angoulême, upon whose death, Richard. Upon the death of Richards father prior to the death of Edward III, Richard, by primogeniture, with Edward IIIs death the following year, Richard succeeded to the throne at the age of ten. During Richards first years as king, government was in the hands of a series of councils, most of the aristocracy preferred this to a regency led by the kings uncle, John of Gaunt, yet Gaunt remained highly influential. The first major challenge of the reign was the Peasants Revolt in 1381, the young king played a major part in the successful suppression of this crisis. By 1389 Richard had regained control, and for the eight years governed in relative harmony with his former opponents. In 1397, Richard took his revenge on the appellants, many of whom were executed or exiled, the next two years have been described by historians as Richards tyranny.
In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, the king disinherited Gaunts son, Henry of Bolingbroke, Henry invaded England in June 1399 with a small force that quickly grew in numbers. Claiming initially that his goal was only to reclaim his patrimony, meeting little resistance, Bolingbroke deposed Richard and had himself crowned as King Henry IV. Richard died in captivity in February 1400, he is thought to have starved to death. Richard was said to have tall, good-looking and intelligent. Less warlike than either his father or grandfather, he sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years War that Edward III had started, modern historians do not accept this interpretation, while not exonerating Richard from responsibility for his own deposition. While probably not insane, as historians of the 19th and 20th centuries believed, Richard of Bordeaux was the younger son of Edward, the Black Prince, and Joan of Kent. Edward, heir to the throne of England, had distinguished himself as a commander in the early phases of the Hundred Years War.
After further military adventures, however, he contracted dysentery in Spain in 1370 and he never fully recovered and had to return to England the next year. Joan of Kent had been at the centre of a dispute between Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent, and William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, from which Holland emerged victorious. Less than a year after Hollands death in 1360, Joan married Prince Edward, since she was a granddaughter of King Edward I and a first cousin of King Edward III, the marriage required papal approval
William the Conqueror
William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. A descendant of Rollo, he was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward, after a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England six years later. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands, William was the son of the unmarried Robert I, Duke of Normandy, by Roberts mistress Herleva. His illegitimate status and his youth caused some difficulties for him after he succeeded his father, during his childhood and adolescence, members of the Norman aristocracy battled each other, both for control of the child duke and for their own ends. In 1047 William was able to quash a rebellion and begin to establish his authority over the duchy and his marriage in the 1050s to Matilda of Flanders provided him with a powerful ally in the neighbouring county of Flanders.
By the time of his marriage, William was able to arrange the appointments of his supporters as bishops and his consolidation of power allowed him to expand his horizons, and by 1062 William was able to secure control of the neighbouring county of Maine. In the 1050s and early 1060s William became a contender for the throne of England, held by the childless Edward the Confessor, his first cousin once removed. There were other claimants, including the powerful English earl Harold Godwinson. William argued that Edward had previously promised the throne to him, William built a large fleet and invaded England in September 1066, decisively defeating and killing Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. After further military efforts William was crowned king on Christmas Day 1066 and he made arrangements for the governance of England in early 1067 before returning to Normandy. Several unsuccessful rebellions followed, but by 1075 Williams hold on England was mostly secure, Williams final years were marked by difficulties in his continental domains, troubles with his eldest son, and threatened invasions of England by the Danes.
In 1086 William ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book, a listing all the landholders in England along with their holdings. William died in September 1087 while leading a campaign in northern France and his reign in England was marked by the construction of castles, the settling of a new Norman nobility on the land, and change in the composition of the English clergy. He did not try to integrate his various domains into one empire, Williams lands were divided after his death, Normandy went to his eldest son, Robert Curthose, and his second surviving son, William Rufus, received England. Norsemen first began raiding in what became Normandy in the late 8th century, permanent Scandinavian settlement occurred before 911, when Rollo, one of the Viking leaders, and King Charles the Simple of France reached an agreement surrendering the county of Rouen to Rollo. The lands around Rouen became the core of the duchy of Normandy. Normandy may have used as a base when Scandinavian attacks on England were renewed at the end of the 10th century.
In an effort to improve matters, King Æthelred the Unready took Emma of Normandy, sister of Duke Richard II, as his second wife in 1002
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England from seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, and the first monarch of the House of Tudor. He ruled the Principality of Wales until 29 November 1489 and was Lord of Ireland, Henry won the throne when his forces defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. Henry was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle and he cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war and his supportive stance of the islands wool industry and stand off with the Low Countries had long lasting benefits to all the British Isles economy. However, the capriciousness and lack of due process that many would tarnish his legacy and were soon ended upon Henry VIIs death. According to the contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, simple greed underscored the means by which royal control was over-asserted in Henrys final years, Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle on 28 January 1457 to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond.
His father, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, died three months before his birth, Henrys paternal grandfather, Owen Tudor, originally from the Tudors of Penmynydd, Isle of Anglesey in Wales, had been a page in the court of Henry V. He rose to one of the Squires to the Body to the King after military service at the Battle of Agincourt. Owen is said to have married the widow of Henry V. One of their sons was Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII, Edmund was created Earl of Richmond in 1452, and formally declared legitimate by Parliament. Henrys main claim to the English throne derived from his mother through the House of Beaufort, Henrys mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III, and his third wife Katherine Swynford. Katherine was Gaunts mistress for about 25 years, when married in 1396, they already had four children. Thus Henrys claim was somewhat tenuous, it was from a woman, in theory, the Portuguese and Castilian royal families had a better claim as descendants of Catherine of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt and his second wife Constance of Castile.
Gaunts nephew Richard II legitimised Gaunts children by Katherine Swynford by Letters Patent in 1397, in 1407, Henry IV, who was Gaunts son by his first wife, issued new Letters Patent confirming the legitimacy of his half-siblings, but declaring them ineligible for the throne. Henry IVs action was of doubtful legality, as the Beauforts were previously legitimised by an Act of Parliament, but it further weakened Henrys claim. Henry made political capital out of his Welsh ancestry, for example in attracting military support. He came from an old, established Anglesey family that claimed descent from Cadwaladr and he took it, as well as the standard of St George, on his procession through London after the victory at Bosworth. A contemporary writer and Henrys biographer, Bernard André, much of Henrys Welsh descent
Royal badges of England
In heraldry, the royal badges of England comprise the heraldic badges that were used by the monarchs of the Kingdom of England. Heraldic badges are distinctive to a person or family, similar to the arms, but unlike them, the badge is not an integral component of a coat of arms, although they can be displayed alongside them. Badges are in complete and independent and can be displayed alone. Badges are displayed on standards and personal objects, as well as on private, Royal badges have been in use since the earliest stages of English heraldry. They are invariably simple devices, and numerous examples were adopted and inherited by various sovereigns and these are found in the glass and fabric of royal palaces and memorial chapels, and sometimes in the houses of those who enjoyed or anticipated royal patronage. The earliest royal heraldic badge is a sprig of common broom, the broom plant or Plantegenest, thus became Geoffreys nickname, Plantagenet. The heraldic device became the name of the dynasty that was borne from him, the Plantagenet kings would use this badge, sometimes combining it with other more personal devices.
King Henry II used the planta genista as well as an escarbuncle, King Richard I used a star and crescent device, which was adopted by his brother King John. King Henry III adopted the broom sprig and the star and crescent and his son Edward I in addition to these, added the golden rose device that he inherited from his mother Eleanor of Provence. King Edward II further added the castle of Castile, inherited from his mother Eleanor of Castile. It was actually Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York who adopted the Plantagenet name for him and it is obscure why Richard choose the name but it emphasised Richards hierarchal status as Geoffreys, and six English kings, patrilineal descendant during the Wars of the Roses. Badges came into use by the reign of King Edward III. The king himself deployed many badges alluding to his lineage, as well as new personal devices, citations Bibliography Bedingfeld, Gwynn-Jones, Peter. Heraldic Badges in England and Wales, Thomas, Regal Heraldry, London, W. Wilson Heraldic badge Royal Standards of England Royal Supporters of England Queens Beasts Royal Arms of England Prince of Waless feathers
Bretwalda is an Old English word the first record of which comes from the late 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is given to some of the rulers of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the 5th century onwards who had achieved overlordship of some or all of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It is unclear whether the dates back to the 5th century and was used by the kings themselves, or whether it is a later, 9th-century. The term bretwalda appears in a 10th-century charter of Æthelstan, the literal meaning of the word is disputed, and may translate to either wide-ruler or Britain-ruler. The Annals of Wales continued to recognise the kings of Northumbria as Kings of the Saxons until the death of Osred I of Northumbria in 716, the second element is taken to mean ruler or sovereign, though is more literally wielder. Thus, this interpretation would mean sovereign of Britain or wielder of Britain, the word may be a compound containing the Old English adjective brytten, an element found in the terms bryten rice, bryten-grund and bryten cyning.
Though the origin is ambiguous, the draughtsman of the charter issued by Æthelstan used the term in a way that can only mean wide-ruler. The first recorded use of the term Bretwalda comes from a West Saxon chronicle of the late 9th century that applied the term to Ecgberht, the chronicler wrote down the names of seven kings that Bede listed in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum in 731. All subsequent manuscripts of the Chronicle use the term Brytenwalda, which may have represented the original term or derived from a common error. There is no evidence that the term was a title that had any use, with implications of formal rights and office. Similarly, in his list of bretwaldas, the West Saxon chronicler ignored such Mercian kings as Offa, the use of the term Bretwalda was the attempt by a West Saxon chronicler to make some claim of West Saxon kings to the whole of Great Britain. The concept of the overlordship of the whole of Britain was at least recognised in the period and this was particularly attractive as it would lay the foundations for the establishment of an English monarchy.
The 20th-century historian Frank Stenton said of the Anglo-Saxon chronicler that his inaccuracy is more than compensated by his preservation of the English title applied to these outstanding kings. He argued that the term bretwalda falls into line with the evidence which points to the Germanic origin of the earliest English institutions. Over the 20th century, this assumption was increasingly challenged, patrick Wormald interpreted it as less an objectively realized office than a subjectively perceived status and emphasised the partiality of its usage in favour of Southumbrian rulers. In 1991, Steven Fanning argued that it is unlikely that the term ever existed as a title or was in usage in Anglo-Saxon England. The fact that Bede never mentioned a special title for the kings in his list implies that he was unaware of one and we might ask whether kings in the eighth and ninth centuries were quite so obsessed with the establishment of a pan-Southumbrian state. A complex array of dominance and subservience existed during the Anglo-Saxon period, a king who used charters to grant land in another kingdom indicated such a relationship