Wilfrid was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul, at Rome. In 664 Wilfrid acted as spokesman for the Roman position at the Synod of Whitby, became famous for his speech advocating that the Roman method for calculating the date of Easter should be adopted, his success prompted Alhfrith, to appoint him Bishop of Northumbria. Wilfrid chose to be consecrated in Gaul because of the lack of what he considered to be validly consecrated bishops in England at that time. During Wilfrid's absence Alhfrith seems to have led an unsuccessful revolt against his father, leaving a question mark over Wilfrid's appointment as bishop. Before Wilfrid's return Oswiu had appointed Ceadda in his place, resulting in Wilfrid's retirement to Ripon for a few years following his arrival back in Northumbria. After becoming Archbishop of Canterbury in 668, Theodore of Tarsus resolved the situation by deposing Ceadda and restoring Wilfrid as the Bishop of Northumbria.
For the next nine years Wilfrid discharged his episcopal duties, founded monasteries, built churches, improved the liturgy. However his diocese was large, Theodore wished to reform the English Church, a process which included breaking up some of the larger dioceses into smaller ones; when Wilfrid quarrelled with Ecgfrith, the Northumbrian king, Theodore took the opportunity to implement his reforms despite Wilfrid's objections. After Ecgfrith expelled him from York, Wilfrid travelled to Rome to appeal to the papacy. Pope Agatho ruled in Wilfrid's favour, but Ecgfrith refused to honour the papal decree and instead imprisoned Wilfrid on his return to Northumbria before exiling him. Wilfrid spent the next few years in Selsey, where he founded an episcopal see and converted the pagan inhabitants of the Kingdom of Sussex to Christianity. Theodore and Wilfrid settled their differences, Theodore urged the new Northumbrian king, Aldfrith, to allow Wilfrid's return. Aldfrith agreed to do so. Wilfrid went to Mercia, where he acted as bishop for the Mercian king.
Wilfrid appealed to the papacy about his expulsion in 700, the pope ordered that an English council should be held to decide the issue. This council, held at Austerfield in 702, attempted to confiscate all of Wilfrid's possessions, so Wilfrid travelled to Rome to appeal against the decision, his opponents in Northumbria excommunicated him, but the papacy upheld Wilfrid's side, he regained possession of Ripon and Hexham, his Northumbrian monasteries. Wilfrid died in 709 or 710. After his death, he was venerated as a saint. Historians and now have been divided over Wilfrid, his followers commissioned Stephen of Ripon to write a Vita Sancti Wilfrithi shortly after his death, the medieval historian Bede wrote extensively about him. Wilfrid lived ostentatiously, travelled with a large retinue, he ruled a large number of monasteries, claimed to be the first Englishman to introduce the Rule of Saint Benedict into English monasteries. Some modern historians see him as a champion of Roman customs against the customs of the British and Irish churches, others as an advocate for monasticism.
During Wilfrid's lifetime Britain and Ireland consisted of a number of small kingdoms. Traditionally the English people were thought to have been divided into seven kingdoms, but modern historiography has shown that this is a simplification of a much more confused situation. A late 7th-century source, the Tribal Hidage, lists the peoples south of the Humber river. Smaller groups who at that time had their own royalty but were absorbed into larger kingdoms include the peoples of Magonsæte, Hwicce, the East Saxons, the South Saxons, the Isle of Wight, the Middle Angles. Other smaller groups had their own rulers, but their size means that they do not appear in the histories. There were native Britons in the west, in modern-day Wales and Cornwall, who formed kingdoms including those of Dumnonia and Gwynedd. Between the Humber and Forth the English had formed into two main kingdoms and Bernicia united as the Kingdom of Northumbria. A number of Celtic kingdoms existed in this region, including Craven, Elmet and Gododdin.
A native British kingdom called the Kingdom of Strathclyde, survived as an independent power into the 10th century in the area which became modern-day Dunbartonshire and Clydesdale. To the north-west of Strathclyde lay the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata, to the north-east a small number of Pictish kingdoms. Further north still lay the great Pictish kingdom of Fortriu, which after the Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685 came to be the strongest power in the northern half of Britain; the Irish had always had contacts with the rest of the British Isles, during the early 6th century they immigrated from the island of Ireland to form the kingdom of Dál Riata, although how much conquest took place is a matter of dispute with historians. It appears that the Irish settled in parts of Wales, after the period of Irish settlement, Irish missionaries were active in Britain. Christianity had only arrived in some of these kingdoms; some had been converted by the Gregorian mission, a group of Roman missionaries who arrived in Kent in 597 and who influenced southern Britain.
Others had been converted by the Hiberno-Scottish mission, chiefly Irish missionaries wo
Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex, in South-East England. It is its county town, it was important in Anglo-Saxon times. It is the seat of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester, with a 12th-century cathedral; the city is a hub of several main road routes, has a railway station, hospital and museums. The River Lavant runs through, beneath, the city; the area around Chichester is believed to have played significant part during the Roman Invasion of A. D. 43, as confirmed by evidence of military storage structures in the area of the nearby Fishbourne Roman Palace. The city centre stands on the foundations of the Romano-British city of Noviomagus Reginorum, capital of the Civitas Reginorum; the Roman road of Stane Street, connecting the city with London, started at the east gate, while the Chichester to Silchester road started from the north gate. The plan of the city is inherited from the Romans: the North, South and West shopping streets radiate from the central market cross dating from medieval times.
The original Roman city wall was over 6½ feet thick with a steep ditch. It survived for over one and a half thousand years but was replaced by a thinner Georgian wall; the city was home to some Roman baths, found down Tower Street when preparation for a new car park was under way. A museum, The Novium, preserving the baths was opened on 8 July 2012. An amphitheatre was built outside the city walls, close to the East Gate, in around 80 AD; the area is now a park, but the site of the amphitheatre is discernible as a gentle bank oval in shape. In January 2017, archaeologists using underground radar reported the discovery of the untouched ground floor of a Roman townhouse and outbuilding; the exceptional preservation is due to the fact the site, Priory Park, belonged to a monastery and has never been built upon since Roman times. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle it was captured towards the close of the fifth century, by Ælle, renamed after his son, Cissa, it was the chief city of the Kingdom of Sussex.
The cathedral for the South Saxons was founded in 681 at Selsey. Chichester was one of the burhs established by Alfred the Great in 878-9, making use of the remaining Roman walls. According to the Burghal Hidage, a list written in the early 10th century, it was one of the biggest of Alfred's burhs, supported by 1500 hides, units of land required to supply one soldier each for the garrison in time of emergency; the system was supported by a communication network based on hilltop beacons to provide early warning. It has been suggested; when the Domesday Book was compiled, Cicestre consisted of 300 dwellings which held a population of 1,500 people. There was a mill named Kings Mill that would have been rented to local villeins. After the Battle of Hastings the township of Chichester was handed to Roger de Mongomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, for courageous efforts in the battle, but it was forfeited in 1104 by the 3rd Earl. Shortly after 1066 Chichester Castle was built by Roger de Mongomerie to consolidate Norman power.
In around 1143 the title Earl of Arundel became the dominant local landowner. In 1216, Chichester Castle, along with Reigate Castle, was captured by the French, but regained the following year, when the castle was ordered to be destroyed by the king. Between 1250 and 1262, the Rape of Chichester was created from the western half of Arundel rape, with the castle as its administrative centre. At Christmas 1642 during the First English Civil War the city was besieged and St Pancras church destroyed by gunfire. A military presence was established in the city in 1795 with the construction of a depot on land where the Hawkhurst Gang had been hanged, it was named the Roussillon Barracks in 1958. The military presence had ceased by 2014 and the site was being developed for housing. Chichester was a city and liberty, thereby self-governing. Although it has retained its city status, in 1888 it became a municipal borough, transferring some powers to West Sussex administrative county. In 1974 the municipal borough became part of the much larger Chichester District.
There is a city council but it only has the powers of a parish council. The City Council consists of twenty elected members serving four wards of the city – North, South and West. Chichester Council House on North Street dates from 1731. In addition to its own council offices, those of the Chichester District and the West Sussex County Council are located in the City; the current MP for the Chichester Constituency is Gillian Keegan. Chichester has an unusual franchise in its history. Chichester's residents had enjoyed political enfranchisement for 300 years before the 19th century Reform Bills expanded the right to vote for members of Parliament to include most ordinary citizens. However, when the mayor restricted the vote to Freemen in the election of 1660 for the Convention Parliament that organised the restoration of the monarchy, the House of Commons noted that "for One-and-twenty Parliaments, the Commonalty, as well as the Citizens, had had Voice in the electing of Members to serve in Parliament.
Kingdom of Sussex
The Kingdom of the South Saxons, today referred to as the Kingdom of Sussex, was one of the seven traditional kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. On the south coast of the island of Great Britain, it was a sixth century Saxon colony and an independent kingdom; the South Saxons were ruled by the kings of Sussex until the country was annexed by Wessex in 827, in the aftermath of the Battle of Ellandun. The Kingdom of Sussex had its initial focus in a territory based on the former kingdom and Romano-British civitas of the Regnenses and its boundaries coincided in general with those of the county of Sussex. For a brief period in the 7th century, the Kingdom of Sussex controlled the Isle of Wight and the territory of the Meonwara in the Meon Valley in east Hampshire. From the late 8th century, Sussex seems to have absorbed the Kingdom of the Haestingas, after the region was conquered by the Mercian king Offa. A large part of its territory was covered by the forest that took its name from the fort of Anderitum at modern Pevensey, known to the Romano-British as the Forest of Andred and to the Saxons as Andredsleah or Andredsweald, known today as the Weald.
This forest, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was 30 miles deep. It was the largest remaining area of woodland and heath in the territories that became England and was inhabited by wolves and bears, it was so dense. The forested Weald made expansion difficult but provided some protection from invasion by neighbouring kingdoms. Whilst Sussex's isolation from the rest of Anglo-Saxon England has been emphasised, Roman roads must have remained important communication arteries across the forest of the Weald; the Weald was not the only area of Sussex, forested in Saxon times--for example, at the western end of Sussex is the Manhood Peninsula, which in the modern era is deforested, but the name is derived from the Old English maene-wudu meaning "men's wood" or "common wood" indicating that it was once woodland. The coastline would have looked different from today. Much of the alluvium in the river plains had not yet been deposited and the tidal river estuaries extended much further inland, it is estimated.
Before people reclaimed the tidal marshes in the 13th century the coastal plain contained extensive areas of sea water in the form of lagoons, salt marsh, wide inlets and peninsulas. To the South Saxons of the 5th and 6th centuries this coastline must have resembled their original homeland between coastal Friesland, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein; the landscape gave rise to some key regional differences within the kingdom. The rich coastal plain continued to be the base for the large estates, ruled by their thegns, some of whom had their boundaries confirmed by charters; the Downs were more deserted. South Saxon impact was greatest in the Weald. Along the north scarp of the Downs runs a series of parishes with land evenly distributed across the different soils to their northern boundaries. In the early mediaeval period, the rivers of Sussex may have acted locally as a major unifier, linking coastal and riverside communities and providing people in these areas with a sense of identity; the boundaries of the Kingdom of Sussex crystallised around the 6th and 7th centuries.
To the west, Bede describes the boundary with the Kingdom of Wessex as being opposite the Isle of Wight, which fell on the River Ems. It is possible that the Jutish territories of the Isle of Wight and the Meon Valley in modern Hampshire acted as a buffer zone between the Saxon kingdoms of Sussex and Wessex until they were conquered by the Mercian king Wulfhere and passed to King Aethelwealh of Sussex in the 7th century. To the east at Romney Marsh and the River Limen, Sussex shared a border with the Kingdom of Kent. North of the Forest Ridge in the Wealden forest lay the sub-kingdom of Surrey, which became a frontier area disputed by various kingdoms until it became part of Wessex. To the south of Sussex lay the English Channel, beyond which lay Francia, or the Kingdom of the Franks. By the 680s, when Christianity was being introduced, there is no doubt that the district around Selsey and Chichester had become the political centre of the kingdom, though there is little archaeological evidence for a reoccupation of Chichester itself before the 9th century.
The capital of the Kingdom of Sussex was at Chichester, the seat of the kingdom's bishopric was at Selsey. The traditional residence of the South Saxon kings was at Kingsham, once outside the southern walls of Chichester although within its modern boundaries. Ditchling may have been an important regional centre for a large part of central Sussex between the Rivers Adur and Ouse until the founding of Lewes in the 9th century. By the 11th century the towns were developments of the fortified towns founded in the reign of Alfred the Great; the ancient droveways of Sussex linked coastal and downland communities in the south with summer pasture land in the interior of the Weald. The droveways were used throughout the Saxon era by the South Saxons and originated before the Roman occupation of Britain; the droveways formed a road system that suggests that the settlers in the oldest developed parts of Sussex were concerned not so much with east–west connections between neighbouring settlements as with north–south communication between each settlement and its outlying woodland pastur
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being updated in 1154. Nine manuscripts survive in whole or in part, though not all are of equal historical value and none of them is the original version; the oldest seems to have been started towards the end of Alfred's reign, while the most recent was written at Peterborough Abbey after a fire at that monastery in 1116. All of the material in the Chronicle is in the form of annals, by year; these manuscripts collectively are known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The Chronicle is not unbiased: there are occasions when comparison with other medieval sources makes it clear that the scribes who wrote it omitted events or told one-sided versions of stories.
Taken as a whole, the Chronicle is the single most important historical source for the period in England between the departure of the Romans and the decades following the Norman conquest. Much of the information given in the Chronicle is not recorded elsewhere. In addition, the manuscripts are important sources for the history of the English language. Seven of the nine surviving manuscripts and fragments now reside in the British Library; the remaining two are in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. All of the surviving manuscripts are copies, so it is not known for certain where or when the first version of the Chronicle was composed, it is agreed that the original version – sometimes known as the Early English Annals – was written in the late 9th century by a scribe in Wessex. Frank Stenton argued from internal evidence that it was first compiled for a secular, but not royal, patron. After the original Chronicle was compiled, copies were distributed to various monasteries.
Additional copies were made, for further distribution or to replace lost manuscripts, some copies were updated independently of each other. Some of these copies are those that have survived; the earliest extant manuscript, the Parker Chronicle, was written by a single scribe up to the year 891. The scribe wrote DCCCXCII, in the margin of the next line; this appears to place the composition of the chronicle at no than 892. It is known, it is difficult to fix the date of composition, but it is thought that the chronicles were composed during the reign of Alfred the Great, as Alfred deliberately tried to revive learning and culture during his reign, encouraged the use of English as a written language. The Chronicle, as well as the distribution of copies to other centres of learning, may be a consequence of the changes Alfred introduced. Of the nine surviving manuscripts, seven are written in Old English. One, known as the Bilingual Canterbury Epitome, is in Old English with a translation of each annal into Latin.
Another, the Peterborough Chronicle, is in Old English except for the last entry, in early Middle English. The oldest is known as the Winchester Chronicle or the Parker Chronicle, is written in the Mercian dialect until 1070 Latin to 1075. Six of the manuscripts were printed in an 1861 edition for the Rolls Series by Benjamin Thorpe with the text laid out in columns labelled A to F, he included the few readable remnants of a burned seventh manuscript, which he referred to as destroyed in a fire at Ashburnham House in 1731. Following this convention, the two additional manuscripts are called and; the known surviving manuscripts are listed below. The manuscripts are all thought to derive from a common original, but the connections between the texts are more complex than simple inheritance via copying; the diagram at right gives an overview of the relationships between the manuscripts. The following is a summary of the relationships. Was a copy of, made in Winchester between 1001 and 1013. was used in the compilation of at Abingdon, in the mid-11th century.
However, the scribe for had access to another version, which has not survived. Includes material from Bede's Ecclesiastical History written by 731 and from a set of 8th-century Northumbrian annals and is thought to have been copied from a northern version that has not survived. Has material that appears to derive from the same sources as but does not include some additions that appear only in, such as the Mercian Register; this manuscript was composed at the monastery in Peterborough, some time after a fire th
Sussex, from the Old English Sūþsēaxe, is a historic county in South East England corresponding in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the English Channel, divided for many purposes into the ceremonial counties of West Sussex and East Sussex. Brighton and Hove, though part of East Sussex, was made a unitary authority in 1997, as such, is administered independently of the rest of East Sussex. Brighton and Hove was granted City status in 2000; until Chichester was Sussex's only city. Sussex has three main geographic sub-regions, each oriented east to west. In the southwest is the fertile and densely populated coastal plain. North of this are the rolling chalk hills of the South Downs, beyond, the well-wooded Sussex Weald; the name derives from the Kingdom of Sussex, founded, according to legend, by Ælle of Sussex in AD 477. Around 827, it was absorbed subsequently into the kingdom of England, it was the home of some of Europe's earliest recorded hominids, whose remains have been found at Boxgrove.
It is the site of the Battle of Hastings. In 1974, the Lord-Lieutenant of Sussex was replaced with one each for East and West Sussex, which became separate ceremonial counties. Sussex continues to be recognised as cultural region, it has had a single police force since 1968 and its name is in common use in the media. In 2007, Sussex Day was created to celebrate history. Based on the traditional emblem of Sussex, a blue shield with six gold martlets, the flag of Sussex was recognised by the Flag Institute in 2011. In 2013, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles formally recognised and acknowledged the continued existence of England's 39 historic counties, including Sussex; the name "Sussex" is derived from the Middle English Suth-sæxe, in turn derived from the Old English Suth-Seaxe which means of the South Saxons. The South Saxons were a Germanic tribe that settled in the region from the North German Plain during the 5th and 6th centuries; the earliest known usage of the term South Saxons is in a royal charter of 689 which names them and their king, Noðhelm, although the term may well have been in use for some time before that.
The monastic chronicler who wrote up the entry classifying the invasion seems to have got his dates wrong. The New Latin word Suthsexia was used for Sussex by Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in his 1645 map. Three United States counties, a former county/land division of Western Australia, are named after Sussex; the flag of Sussex consists of six gold martlets, or heraldic swallows, on a blue background, blazoned as Azure, six martlets or. Recognised by the Flag Institute on 20 May 2011, its design is based on the heraldic shield of Sussex; the first known recording of this emblem being used to represent the county was in 1611 when cartographer John Speed deployed it to represent the Kingdom of the South Saxons. However it seems that Speed was repeating an earlier association between the emblem and the county, rather than being the inventor of the association, it is now regarded that the county emblem originated and derived from the coat of arms of the 14th-century Knight of the Shire, Sir John de Radynden.
Sussex’s six martlets are today held to symbolise the traditional six sub-divisions of the county known as rapes. Sussex by the Sea is regarded as the unofficial anthem of Sussex. Adopted by the Royal Sussex Regiment and popularised in World War I, it is sung at celebrations across the county, including those at Lewes Bonfire, at sports matches, including those of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club and Sussex County Cricket Club; the county day, called Sussex Day, is celebrated on 16 June, the same day as the feast day of St Richard of Chichester, Sussex's patron saint, whose shrine at Chichester Cathedral was an important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Sussex's motto, We wunt be druv, is a Sussex dialect expression meaning "we will not be pushed around" and reflects the traditionally independent nature of Sussex men and women; the round-headed rampion known as the "Pride of Sussex", was adopted as Sussex's county flower in 2002. The physical geography of Sussex relies on its lying on the southern part of the Wealden anticline, the major features of which are the high lands that cross the county in a west to east direction: the Weald itself and the South Downs.
Natural England has identified the following seven national character areas in Sussex:South Coast Plain South Downs Wealden Greensand Low Weald High Weald Pevensey Levels Romney MarshesAt 280m, Blackdown is the highest point in Sussex, or county top. Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex. At 113 kilometres long, the River Medway is the longest river flowing through Sussex; the longest river in Sussex is the River Arun, 60 kilometres long. Sussex's largest lakes are man-made reservoirs; the largest is Bewl Water on the Kent border, while the largest wholly within Sussex is Ardingly Reservoir. The coastal resorts of Sussex and neighbouring Hampshire are the sunniest places in the United Kingdom; the coast has more sunshine than the inland areas: sea breezes, blowing off the sea, tend to clear any cloud from the coast. Most of Sussex lies in Hardiness zon
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
Anglo-Saxon charters are documents from the early medieval period in England, which made a grant of land, or recorded a privilege. The earliest surviving charters were drawn up in the 670s: the oldest surviving charters granted land to the Church, but from the eighth century, surviving charters were used to grant land to lay people; the term charter covers a range of written legal documentation including diplomas and wills. A diploma was a royal charter that granted rights over land or other privileges by the king, whereas a writ was an instruction by the king which may have contained evidence of rights or privileges. Diplomas were written on parchment in Latin, but contained sections in the vernacular, describing the bounds of estates, which correspond to modern parish boundaries; the writ was authenticated by a seal and replaced the diploma as evidence of land tenure during the late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman periods. Land held by virtue of a charter was known as bookland. Charters have provided historians with fundamental source material for understanding Anglo-Saxon England, complementing the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other literary sources.
They are catalogued in Peter Sawyer's Annotated List and are referred to by their Sawyer number. The Anglo-Saxon charter can take many forms: it can be a lease, a will, an agreement, a writ or, most a grant of land. Our picture is skewed towards those that regard land in the earlier period. Land charters can further be subdivided into royal charters, or diplomas, private charters. Over a thousand Anglo-Saxon charters are extant today, as a result of being maintained in the archives of religious houses; these preserved their charters so as to record their right to land. The oldest extant original charter, now in Canterbury Cathedral archive, was issued in 679 by King Hlothhere of Kent granting land to the Reculver Abbey; some surviving charters are copies, which sometimes include interpolations. Anglo-Saxon charters were sometimes used in legal disputes, the recording of the contents of a charter within a legal document has ensured the survival of text when the original charter has been lost. Overall, some two hundred charters exist in the original form, whilst others are post-Conquest copies, that were made by the compilers of cartularies or by early modern antiquaries.
The earliest cartularies containing copies of Anglo-Saxon charters come from Worcester, early-11th-century Liber Wigorniensis and Hemming's Cartulary of a century later. The importance of charters in legal disputes over land as evidence of land tenure, gave rise to numerous charter forgeries, sometimes by those same monastic houses in whose archives they were preserved; the primary motivation for forging charters was to provide evidence of rights to land. Forging was focussed on providing written evidence for the holdings recorded as belonging to a religious house in the Domesday Book, it is important. The study of charters to determine authenticity gave rise to diplomatics – the science of ancient documents. Anglo-Saxon charters are catalogued in Peter Sawyer's'Annotated List', are referred to by their Sawyer number; the three most common forms of Anglo-Saxon charter are diplomas and wills. The largest number of surviving charters are diplomas, or royal charters, that granted privileges and rights over land.
The typical diploma had three sections: protocol and eschatocol. The protocol opened the charter by invoking God and enumerating the pious considerations for the King's act; the corpus was in Latin and named the beneficiary, recorded the grant or transfer, reserved common burdens and invoked the wrath of God on anyone who failed to observe it. The corpus' final section, in Old English, described the boundaries of the land; the eschatocol was composed of a dating clause and witness-list, which included powerful lay and ecclesiastical members of the king's court. Much of the language of the diploma was explicitly religious – that a grant was made for the benefit of the grantor's soul or that anyone breaking the charter would be excommunicated. Charters opened by situating themselves within the Christian order, with a pictorial and a verbal invocation to God. Many early charters were granted in anticipation of the founding of a monastery; the document served a secular purpose – to document the legal possession of land and to free that land from certain duties that would otherwise be attached to it.
The second most common form of Anglo-Saxon charter, although far fewer in number than the diploma, is the royal writ. These differed from the diploma in both function. A writ was an instruction from the king to group of recipients, it was authenticated by a royal seal. The writ did not require witnesses and was written in Old English. Under the Normans, the use of writs was extended to cover many other aspects of royal business and was written in Latin. Florence Harmer provided the text of 120 pre-Conquest royal writs. Anglo-Saxon wills were intended to make gifts of proper