Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world, the second oldest after Cambridge University Press. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the vice-chancellor known as the delegates of the press, they are headed by the secretary to the delegates, who serves as OUP's chief executive and as its major representative on other university bodies. Oxford University has used a similar system to oversee OUP since the 17th century; the Press is located on opposite Somerville College, in the suburb Jericho. The Oxford University Press Museum is located on Oxford. Visits are led by a member of the archive staff. Displays include a 19th-century printing press, the OUP buildings, the printing and history of the Oxford Almanack, Alice in Wonderland and the Oxford English Dictionary; the university became involved in the print trade around 1480, grew into a major printer of Bibles, prayer books, scholarly works. OUP took on the project that became the Oxford English Dictionary in the late 19th century, expanded to meet the ever-rising costs of the work.
As a result, the last hundred years has seen Oxford publish children's books, school text books, journals, the World's Classics series, a range of English language teaching texts. Moves into international markets led to OUP opening its own offices outside the United Kingdom, beginning with New York City in 1896. With the advent of computer technology and harsh trading conditions, the Press's printing house at Oxford was closed in 1989, its former paper mill at Wolvercote was demolished in 2004. By contracting out its printing and binding operations, the modern OUP publishes some 6,000 new titles around the world each year; the first printer associated with Oxford University was Theoderic Rood. A business associate of William Caxton, Rood seems to have brought his own wooden printing press to Oxford from Cologne as a speculative venture, to have worked in the city between around 1480 and 1483; the first book printed in Oxford, in 1478, an edition of Rufinus's Expositio in symbolum apostolorum, was printed by another, printer.
Famously, this was mis-dated in Roman numerals as "1468", thus pre-dating Caxton. Rood's printing included John Ankywyll's Compendium totius grammaticae, which set new standards for teaching of Latin grammar. After Rood, printing connected with the university remained sporadic for over half a century. Records or surviving work are few, Oxford did not put its printing on a firm footing until the 1580s. In response to constraints on printing outside London imposed by the Crown and the Stationers' Company, Oxford petitioned Elizabeth I of England for the formal right to operate a press at the university; the chancellor, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, pleaded Oxford's case. Some royal assent was obtained, since the printer Joseph Barnes began work, a decree of Star Chamber noted the legal existence of a press at "the universitie of Oxforde" in 1586. Oxford's chancellor, Archbishop William Laud, consolidated the legal status of the university's printing in the 1630s. Laud envisaged a unified press of world repute.
Oxford would establish it on university property, govern its operations, employ its staff, determine its printed work, benefit from its proceeds. To that end, he petitioned Charles I for rights that would enable Oxford to compete with the Stationers' Company and the King's Printer, obtained a succession of royal grants to aid it; these were brought together in Oxford's "Great Charter" in 1636, which gave the university the right to print "all manner of books". Laud obtained the "privilege" from the Crown of printing the King James or Authorized Version of Scripture at Oxford; this "privilege" created substantial returns in the next 250 years, although it was held in abeyance. The Stationers' Company was alarmed by the threat to its trade and lost little time in establishing a "Covenant of Forbearance" with Oxford. Under this, the Stationers paid an annual rent for the university not to exercise its full printing rights – money Oxford used to purchase new printing equipment for smaller purposes.
Laud made progress with internal organization of the Press. Besides establishing the system of Delegates, he created the wide-ranging supervisory post of "Architypographus": an academic who would have responsibility for every function of the business, from print shop management to proofreading; the post was more an ideal than a workable reality, but it survived in the loosely structured Press until the 18th century. In practice, Oxford's Warehouse-Keeper dealt with sales and the hiring and firing of print shop staff. Laud's plans, hit terrible obstacles, both personal and political. Falling foul of political intrigue, he was executed in 1645, by which time the English Civil War had broken out. Oxford became a Royalist stronghold during the conflict, many printers in the city concentrated on producing political pamphlets or sermons; some outstanding mathematical and Orientalist works emerged at this time—notably, texts edited by Edward Pococke, the Regius Professor of Hebrew—but no university press on Laud's model was possible before the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
It was established by the vice-chancellor, John Fell, Dean of Christ Church, Bishop of Oxford, Secretary to the Delegates. Fell regarded Laud as a martyr, was determined to honour his vision of the Press. Using the provisions of the Great Charter, Fell persuaded Oxford to refuse any further payments from the Stationers and drew
Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians ruled Mercia in the English Midlands from 911 until her death. She was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, his wife Ealhswith. Æthelflæd was born around 870 at the height of the Viking invasions of England. By 878, most of England was under Danish Viking rule – East Anglia and Northumbria having been conquered, Mercia partitioned between the English and the Vikings – but in that year Alfred won a crucial victory at the Battle of Edington. Soon afterwards the English-controlled western half of Mercia came under the rule of Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, who accepted Alfred's overlordship. Alfred adopted the title King of the English, claiming to rule all English people not living in areas under Viking control. In the mid-880s, Alfred sealed the strategic alliance between the surviving English kingdoms by marrying Æthelflæd to Æthelred. Æthelred played a major role in fighting off renewed Viking attacks in the 890s, together with Æthelflæd's brother, the future King Edward the Elder.
Æthelred and Æthelflæd fortified Worcester, gave generous donations to Mercian churches and built a new minster in Gloucester. Æthelred's health declined early in the next decade, after which it is that Æthelflæd was responsible for the government of Mercia. Edward had succeeded as King of the Anglo-Saxons in 899, in 909 he sent a West Saxon and Mercian force to raid the northern Danelaw, they returned with the remains of the royal Northumbrian saint, which were translated to the new Gloucester minster. Æthelred died in 911 and Æthelflæd ruled Mercia as Lady of the Mercians. The accession of a female ruler in Mercia is described by the historian Ian Walker as "one of the most unique events in early medieval history". Alfred had built a network of fortified burhs and in the 910s Edward and Æthelflæd embarked on a programme of extending them. Among the towns where she built defences were Bridgnorth, Stafford, Warwick and Runcorn. In 917 she sent an army to capture Derby, the first of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw to fall to the English, a victory described by Tim Clarkson as "her greatest triumph".
In 918 Leicester surrendered without a fight. Shortly afterwards the Viking leaders of York offered her their loyalty, but she died on 12 June 918 before she could take advantage of the offer, a few months Edward completed the conquest of Mercia. Æthelflæd was succeeded by her daughter Ælfwynn, but in December Edward took personal control of Mercia and carried Ælfwynn off to Wessex. Historians disagree whether Mercia was an independent kingdom under Æthelred and Æthelflæd but they agree that Æthelflæd was a great ruler who played an important part in the conquest of the Danelaw, she was praised by Anglo-Norman chroniclers such as William of Malmesbury, who described her as "a powerful accession to party, the delight of his subjects, the dread of his enemies, a woman of enlarged soul". According to Pauline Stafford, "like... Elizabeth I she became a wonder to ages". In Nick Higham's view and modern writers have been so captivated by her that Edward's reputation has suffered unfairly in comparison.
Mercia was the dominant kingdom in southern England in the eighth century and maintained its position until it suffered a decisive defeat by Wessex at the Battle of Ellandun in 825. Thereafter the two kingdoms became allies, to be an important factor in English resistance to the Vikings. In 865 the Viking Great Heathen Army landed in East Anglia and used this as a starting point for an invasion; the East Anglians were forced to buy peace and the following year the Vikings invaded Northumbria, where they appointed a puppet king in 867. They moved on Mercia, where they spent the winter of 867–868. King Burgred of Mercia was joined by King Æthelred of Wessex and his brother, the future King Alfred, for a combined attack on the Vikings, who refused an engagement; the following year, the Vikings conquered East Anglia. In 874 the Vikings expelled King Burgred and Ceolwulf became the last King of Mercia with their support. In 877 the Vikings partitioned Mercia, taking the eastern regions for themselves and allowing Ceolwulf to keep the western ones.
He was described by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as "a foolish king's thegn", a puppet of the Vikings. The historian Ann Williams regards this view as partial and distorted, that he was accepted as a true king by the Mercians and by King Alfred; the situation was transformed the following year when Alfred won a decisive victory over the Danes at the Battle of Edington. Ceolwulf is not recorded after 879, his successor as the ruler of the English western half of Mercia, Æthelflæd's husband Æthelred, is first seen in 881 when, according to the historian of medieval Wales, Thomas Charles-Edwards, he led an unsuccessful Mercian invasion of the north Welsh Kingdom of Gwynedd. In 883 he made a grant with the consent of King Alfred. In 886 Alfred occupied the Mercian town of London, in Viking hands, he received the submission of all English not under Viking control and handed control of London over to Æthelred. In the 890s, Æthelred and Edward, Alfred's son and future successor, fought off more Viking attacks.
Alfred died in 899 and Edward's claim to the throne was disputed by Æthelwold, son of Alfred's elder brother. Æthelwold joined forces with the Vikings when he was unable to get sufficient support in Wessex, his rebellion only ended with his death in battle in December 902. The most important source for history in this period is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle but Æthelflæd is ignored in the standard West Saxon version, in what F. T. Wainwright calls "a c
Ecclesiastical History of the English People
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written by the Venerable Bede in about AD 731, is a history of the Christian Churches in England, of England generally. It was composed in Latin, is considered one of the most important original references on Anglo-Saxon history and has played a key role in the development of an English national identity, it is believed to have been completed in 731 when Bede was 59 years old. The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, or An Ecclesiastical History of the English People is Bede's best-known work, completed in about 731; the first of the five books begins with some geographical background and sketches the history of England, beginning with Caesar's invasion in 55 BC. A brief account of Christianity in Roman Britain, including the martyrdom of St Alban, is followed by the story of Augustine's mission to England in 597, which brought Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons; the second book begins with the death of Gregory the Great in 604, follows the further progress of Christianity in Kent and the first attempts to evangelise Northumbria.
These encountered a setback when Penda, the pagan king of Mercia, killed the newly Christian Edwin of Northumbria at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in about 632. The setback was temporary, the third book recounts the growth of Christianity in Northumbria under kings Oswald and Oswy; the climax of the third book is the account of the Council of Whitby, traditionally seen as a major turning point in English history. The fourth book begins with the consecration of Theodore as Archbishop of Canterbury, recounts Wilfrid's efforts to bring Christianity to the kingdom of Sussex; the fifth book brings the story up to Bede's day, includes an account of missionary work in Frisia, of the conflict with the British church over the correct dating of Easter. Bede wrote a preface for the work, king of Northumbria; the preface mentions. The preface makes it clear that Ceolwulf had requested the earlier copy, Bede had asked for Ceolwulf's approval. Divided into five books, the Historia covers the history of England and political, from the time of Julius Caesar to the date of its completion in 731.
The first twenty-one chapters, covering the period before the mission of Augustine, are compiled from earlier writers such as Orosius, Prosper of Aquitaine, the letters of Pope Gregory I, others, with the insertion of legends and traditions. After 596, documentary sources that Bede took pains to obtain throughout England and from Rome are used, as well as oral testimony, which he employed along with critical consideration of its authenticity; this is impressive. It seems to be a mixture of fact and literature. For example, Bede quotes at length some speeches by people who were not his contemporaries and whose speeches do not appear in any other surviving source; the monastery at Jarrow had an excellent library. Both Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith had acquired books from the Continent, in Bede's day the monastery was a renowned centre of learning. For the period prior to Augustine's arrival in 597, Bede drew on earlier writers, including Orosius, Eutropius and Solinus, he used Constantius's Life of Germanus as a source for Germanus's visits to Britain.
Bede's account of the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons is drawn from Gildas's De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. Bede would have been familiar with more recent accounts such as Eddius Stephanus's Life of Wilfrid, anonymous Lives of Gregory the Great and Cuthbert, he drew on Josephus's Antiquities, the works of Cassiodorus, there was a copy of the Liber Pontificalis in Bede's monastery. Bede had correspondents who supplied him with material. Albinus, the abbot of the monastery in Canterbury, provided much information about the church in Kent, with the assistance of Nothhelm, at that time a priest in London, obtained copies of Gregory the Great's correspondence from Rome relating to Augustine's mission. All of Bede's information regarding Augustine is taken from these letters, which includes the Libellus responsionum, as chapter 27 of book 1 is known. Bede acknowledged his correspondents in the preface to the Historia Ecclesiastica. Bede mentions an Abbot Esi as a source for the affairs of the East Anglian church, Bishop Cynibert for information about Lindsey.
The historian Walter Goffart argues that Bede based the structure of the Historia on three works, using them as the framework around which the three main sections of the work were structured. For the early part of the work, up until the Gregorian mission, Goffart asserts that Bede used Gildas's De excidio; the second section, detailing the Gregorian mission of Augustine of Canterbury was framed on the anonymous Life of Gregory the Great written at Whitby. The last section, detailing events after the Gregorian mission, Goffart asserts were modelled on Stephen of Ripon's Life of Wilfrid
Wulfhere of Mercia
Wulfhere or Wulfar was King of Mercia from 658 until 675 AD. He was the first Christian king of all of Mercia, though it is not known when or how he converted from Anglo-Saxon paganism, his accession marked the end of Oswiu of Northumbria's overlordship of southern England, Wulfhere extended his influence over much of that region. His campaigns against the West Saxons led to Mercian control of much of the Thames valley, he conquered the Isle of Wight and the Meon valley and gave them to King Æthelwealh of the South Saxons. He had influence in Surrey and Kent, he married the daughter of King Eorcenberht of Kent. Wulfhere's father, was killed in 655 at the Battle of Winwaed, fighting against Oswiu of Northumbria. Penda's son Peada was murdered six months later. Wulfhere came to the throne when Mercian nobles organized a revolt against Northumbrian rule in 658 and drove out Oswiu's governors. By 670, when Oswiu died, Wulfhere was the most powerful king in southern Britain, he was the overlord of Britain south of the Humber from the early 660s, although not overlord of Northumbria as his father had been.
In 674, he was defeated. He died of disease, in 675. Wulfhere was succeeded as King of Mercia by Æthelred. Stephen of Ripon's Life of Wilfrid describes Wulfhere as "a man of proud mind, insatiable will". England in AD 600 was ruled entirely by the Anglo-Saxon peoples who had come to Britain from northwestern Europe over the previous 200 years; the monk Bede, writing in about AD 731, considered the Mercians to be descended from the Angles, one of the invading groups. Little is known about the origins of the kingdom of Mercia, in what is now the English Midlands, but according to genealogies preserved in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Anglian collection the early kings were descended from Icel; the earliest Mercian king about whom definite historical information has survived is Penda of Mercia, Wulfhere's father. According to Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, a history of the English church, there were seven early Anglo-Saxon rulers who held imperium, or overlordship, over the other kingdoms.
The fifth of these was Edwin of Northumbria, killed at the Battle of Hatfield Chase by a combined force including Cadwallon, a British king of Gwynedd and Penda. At the time of this victory, Penda was not yet king of Mercia, his children included two future kings of Mercia: Æthelred. After Edwin's death, Northumbria fell apart into its two constituent kingdoms. Within a year Oswald killed Cadwallon and reunited the kingdoms, subsequently re-established Northumbrian hegemony over the south of England. However, on 5 August 642, Penda killed Oswald at the Battle of Maserfield at Oswestry in the northwest midlands. Penda is not recorded as overlord of the other southern Anglo-Saxon kings, but he became the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kings after he defeated Oswald. On Oswald's death, Northumbria was divided again: Oswald's son Oswiu succeeded to the throne of Bernicia, Osric's son Oswine to Deira, the southern of the two kingdoms; the main source for this period is Bede's History, completed in about 731.
Despite its focus on the history of the church, this work provides valuable information about the early pagan kingdoms. For other kingdoms than his native Northumbria, such as Wessex and Kent, Bede had an informant within the ecclesiastical establishment who supplied him with additional information; this does not seem to have been the case with Mercia, about which Bede is less informative than about other kingdoms. Further sources for this period include the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, compiled at the end of the 9th century in Wessex; the Chronicle's anonymous scribe appears to have incorporated much information recorded in earlier periods. Wulfhere was the son of Penda of Mercia. Penda's queen, Cynewise, is named by Bede; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives Penda's age as fifty in 626, credits him with a thirty-year reign, but this would put Penda at eighty years old at the time of his death, thought unlikely as two of his sons are recorded as being young when he was killed. It is thought at least as that Penda was 50 years old at his death, rather than at his accession.
Wulfhere's date of birth is unknown, but Bede describes him as a youth at the time of his accession in 658, so it is he was in his middle teens at that time. Nothing is known of Wulfhere's childhood, he had two brothers, Peada and Æthelred, two sisters and Cyneswith. He married Eormenhild of Kent. Another possible child is Berhtwald, a subking, recorded as a nephew of Æthelred, a third child, Werburh, is recorded in an 11th-century manuscript as a daughter of Wulfhere. An 11th-century history of St. Peter's Monastery in Gloucester names two other women and Eafe, as queens of Wulfhere, but neither claim is plausible. In 655 Penda besieged Oswiu of Northumbria at Iudeu, the location of, unknown but which may have been Stirlin
Cadwallon ap Cadfan
Cadwallon ap Cadfan was the King of Gwynedd from around 625 until his death in battle. The son and successor of Cadfan ap Iago, he is best remembered as the King of the Britons who invaded and conquered the Kingdom of Northumbria and killing its king, prior to his own death in battle against Oswald of Bernicia, his conquest of Northumbria, which he held for a year or two after Edwin died, made him the last Briton to hold substantial territory in eastern Britain until the rise of the House of Tudor. He was thereafter remembered as a national hero by the Britons and as a tyrant by the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria; as with other figures of the era little is known of Cadwallon's early life or reign. The primary source of information about him is the Ecclesiastical History of the English People of the Anglo-Saxon writer Bede, critical of him. Cadwallon appears in the genealogies of the Kings of Gwynedd as the son of Cadfan ap Iago and a descendant of Maelgwn Gwynedd and Cunedda. Historian Alex Woolf, presents the case that the genealogists have erroneously inserted Bede's Cadwallon into the pedigree of the unrelated Kings of Gwynedd as son of Cadfan.
Instead, Woolf suggests that Bede's Cadwallon was the Catguallaun liu found in genealogies as son of Guitcun and grandson of Sawyl Penuchel, rulers in the Hen Ogledd or Brythonic-speaking area of northern Britain. Whatever the case may be, Cadwallon was affected by the ambitions of Edwin, King of Northumbria. Bede, writing about a century after Cadwallon's death, describes Edwin, the most powerful king in Britain, conquering the Brittonic kingdom of Elmet and ejecting its king, Cerdic; this opened the door to the Irish Sea, Edwin extended his rule to the "Mevanian Islands" – the Isle of Man and Anglesey. The Annales Cambriae says that Cadwallon was besieged at Glannauc, dates this to 629. Surviving Welsh poetry and the Welsh Triads portray Cadwallon as a heroic leader against Edwin, they refer to a battle at Digoll and mention that Cadwallon spent time in Ireland before returning to Britain to defeat Edwin. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, Cadwallon went to Ireland and to the island of Guernsey.
From there, according to Geoffrey, Cadwallon led an army into Dumnonia, where he encountered and defeated the Mercians besieging Exeter, forced their king, Penda of Mercia, into an alliance. Geoffrey reports that Cadwallon married a half-sister of Penda. However, his history is, on this as well as all matters, it should be treated with caution. In any case and Cadwallon together made war against the Northumbrians; the Battle of Hatfield Chase on 12 October 633 ended in the defeat and death of Edwin and his son Osfrith. After this, the Kingdom of Northumbria fell into disarray, divided between its sub-kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia, but the war continued: according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, "Cadwallon and Penda went and did for the whole land of Northumbria". Bede says that Cadwallon was besieged by the new king of Deira, Osric, "in a strong town". Furthermore, Bede tells us that Cadwallon, "though he bore the name and professed himself a Christian, was so barbarous in his disposition and behaviour, that he neither spared the female sex, nor the innocent age of children, but with savage cruelty put them to tormenting deaths, ravaging all their country for a long time, resolving to cut off all the race of the English within the borders of Britain."
Bede's negative portrayal of Cadwallon as a genocidal tyrant cannot be taken at face value. Cadwallon's alliance with the Anglo-Saxon Penda undermines Bede's assertion that Cadwallon had attempted to exterminate the English. Additionally, the fact that Cædwalla of Wessex a generation after Cadwallon's death bore a name derived directly from the British Cadwallon suggests that Cadwallon's reputation could not have been so poor among the Saxons of Wessex as it was in Northumbria; the new king of Bernicia, was killed by Cadwallon when the former went to him in an attempt to negotiate peace. However, Cadwallon was defeated by an army under Eanfrith's brother, Oswald, at the Battle of Heavenfield, "though he had most numerous forces, which he boasted nothing could withstand". Cadwallon was killed at a place called "Denis's-brook". Kings of Wales family trees Koch, John T.. Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. Alex Woolf, "Caedualla Rex Brittonum and the Passing of the Old North", in Northern History, Vol. 41, Issue 1, March 2004, pages 5–24.
Cadwallon 1 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
Offa of Mercia
Offa was King of Mercia, a kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, from 757 until his death in July 796. The son of Thingfrith and a descendant of Eowa, Offa came to the throne after a period of civil war following the assassination of Æthelbald. Offa defeated Beornred. In the early years of Offa's reign, it is that he consolidated his control of Midland peoples such as the Hwicce and the Magonsæte. Taking advantage of instability in the kingdom of Kent to establish himself as overlord, Offa controlled Sussex by 771, though his authority did not remain unchallenged in either territory. In the 780s he extended Mercian Supremacy over most of southern England, allying with Beorhtric of Wessex, who married Offa's daughter Eadburh, regained complete control of the southeast, he became the overlord of East Anglia and had King Æthelberht II of East Anglia beheaded in 794 for rebelling against him. Offa was a Christian king who came into conflict with the Church with Jænberht, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Offa persuaded Pope Adrian I to divide the archdiocese of Canterbury in two, creating a new archdiocese of Lichfield.
This reduction in the power of Canterbury may have been motivated by Offa's desire to have an archbishop consecrate his son Ecgfrith as king, since it is possible Jænberht refused to perform the ceremony, which took place in 787. Offa had a dispute with the Bishop of Worcester, settled at the Council of Brentford in 781. Many surviving coins from Offa's reign carry elegant depictions of him, the artistic quality of these images exceeds that of the contemporary Frankish coinage; some of his coins carry images of his wife, Cynethryth—the only Anglo-Saxon queen depicted on a coin. Only three gold coins of Offa's have survived: one is a copy of an Abbasid dinar of 774 and carries Arabic text on one side, with "Offa Rex" on the other; the gold coins are of uncertain use but may have been struck to be used as alms or for gifts to Rome. Many historians regard Offa as the most powerful Anglo-Saxon king before Alfred the Great, his dominance never extended to Northumbria, though he gave his daughter Ælfflæd in marriage to the Northumbrian king Æthelred I in 792.
Historians once saw his reign as part of a process leading to a unified England, but this is no longer the majority view. In the words of a recent historian: "Offa was driven by a lust for power, not a vision of English unity. Offa died in 796. In the first half of the 8th century, the dominant Anglo-Saxon ruler was King Æthelbald of Mercia, who by 731 had become the overlord of all the provinces south of the River Humber. Æthelbald was one of a number of strong Mercian kings who ruled from the mid-7th century to the early 9th, it was not until the reign of Egbert of Wessex in the 9th century that Mercian power began to wane. The power and prestige that Offa attained made him one of the most significant rulers in Early Medieval Britain, though no contemporary biography of him survives. A key source for the period is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a collection of annals in Old English narrating the history of the Anglo-Saxons; the Chronicle was a West Saxon production, is sometimes thought to be biased in favour of Wessex.
That power can be seen at work in charters dating from Offa's reign. Charters were documents which granted land to followers or to churchmen and were witnessed by the kings who had the authority to grant the land. A charter might record the names of both a subject king and his overlord on the witness list appended to the grant; such a witness list can be seen on the Ismere Diploma, for example, where Æthelric, son of king Oshere of the Hwicce, is described as a "subregulus", or subking, of Æthelbald's. The eighth-century monk and chronicler the Venerable Bede wrote a history of the English church called Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum. Offa's Dyke, most of, built in his reign, is a testimony to the extensive resources Offa had at his command and his ability to organise them. Other surviving sources include a problematic document known as the Tribal Hidage, which may provide further evidence of Offa's scope as a ruler, though its attribution to his reign is disputed. A significant corpus of letters dates from the period from Alcuin, an English deacon and scholar who spent over a decade at Charlemagne's court as one of his chief advisors, corresponded with kings and ecclesiastics throughout England.
These letters in particular reveal Offa's relations with the continent, as does his coinage, based on Carolingian examples. Offa's ancestry is given in the Anglian collection, a set of genealogies that include lines of descent for four Mercian kings. All four lines descend from Pybba. Offa's line descends through Pybba's son Eowa and through three more generations: Osmod and Offa's father, Thingfrith. Æthelbald, who ruled Mercia for most of the forty years before Offa, was descended from Eowa according to the genealogies: Offa's grandfather, was Æthelbald's first cousin. Æthelbald granted land to Eanwulf in the territory of the Hwicce, it is possible that Offa and Æthelbald were from the same branch of the family. In one charter Offa refers to Æthelbald as his kinsman, Headbert, Æthelbald's brother, continued to witness charters after Offa rose to power. Offa's wife was Cynethryth, whose ancestry is u
Creoda of Mercia
Creoda may have been the first king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, ruling toward the end of the 6th century. Although he is mentioned in a pedigree found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Creoda is not given the title of king, his existence is disputed by some scholars. Barbara Yorke wrote: "Although it is possible that some kind of regnal list could be the source of the information, these entries could be nothing more than intelligent guesswork based on names derived from Bede and the genealogy of Æthelred, while the dates seem to be influenced by an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the death of a West Saxon Creoda... The surviving sources allow us to say with confidence little more than that the kingdom of Mercia was in existence by the end of the sixth century."Yorke's sentiment was shared by Professor of Medieval History Nicholas Brooks, who wrote: "Despite Professor Davies's tentative advocacy of the historicity of this material, it cannot be said that it is yet clear that what lies behind these scattered entries in the works of Henry of Huntingdon, Roger of Wendover and Matthew Paris is anything more important than some inventive conjectures by an English monk as late as the early twelfth century, on the basis of the names available in Bede, the Mercian royal genealogy and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
On such an interpretation it would not be surprising that they should more or less fit the fragments of information that we have on the early history of Mercia. Creoda's presumed death was reported by Henry of Huntingdon as occurring in 593, but appears to be based on a confusion, because in that year the death of a man called Crida is specified, but the context suggests that the dying man was West Saxon and not Mercian. Creoda is recorded by the Mercian pedigree in the Anglian collection as having been the son of Cynewald and the great-grandson of Icel, the eponymous ancestor of his family, the Iclingas. Kings of Mercia family tree Creoda 1 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England