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PART 4: AD 756-801

756 - Death of King Cuthred of Wessex. He is succeeded by his distant kinsman, Sigeberht. King Edbert of Northumbria and King Angus I of the Picts successfully besiege King Dumnagual of Strathclyde at Dumbarton. However, Edbert's entire force is subsequently wiped out, probably by the Britons, at the Battle of Newburgh-on-Tyne.

757 - King Aethelbald of Mercia is murdered by his own household in a dynastic coup by one Beornred. He is buried at Repton. King Beornred is quickly ousted by Aethelbald's distant cousin, Offa. In the meantime, Mercian supremacy over Southern England is lost. King Sigeberht of Wessex acts unjustly and is removed from power by a council of nobles, in favour of his distant kinsman, Cynewulf. Sigeberht is given control of Hampshire, probably as ealdorman; but he murders one of his own men and is driven out and eventually suffers the same fate. First written record of the county of Hampshire.

758 - King Edbert of Northumbria abdicates in favour of his son, Oswulf. He becomes a monk at York. Death of King Swithred of Essex. He is succeeded by Sigeric I, son of the late King Saelred.

c.758 - King Cynewulf of Wessex retakes Berkshire from the Mercians. Death of King Beorna of East Anglia. Apparent succession of Prince Aethelred, a descendant of King Redwald of East Anglia, as King.

759 - King Oswulf of Northumbria is murdered by his own household at Methel Wongtun. The Deiran patrician, Aethelwald Moll, who probably conspired in the regicide, seizes the throne. He may have been a descendant of King Oswin of Deira.

760 - The Battle of Hereford is fought probably between the Mercians and the Kingdom of Brycheiniog under King Nowy Hen.

c.760 - Building work, under Abbot Guba expands the Abbey Church at Glastonbury.

761 - King Aethelwald Moll of Northumbria faces a rebellion under a rival claimant to the throne named Oswin. The latter is defeated after the three day Battle of Eildon.

762 - Death of King Aethelbert II of Kent. His nephew, King Edbert of West Kent, possibly rules all Kent for a time. Sigered, probably an East Saxon, succeeds in West Kent. Death of King Edbert also, followed by the establishment of Enmund as King of Kent. King Aethelwald Moll of Northumbria marries his queen, Aethelthrith, at Catterick.

764 - King Offa of Mercia brings an end to the rule of Kings Enmund and Sigered of Kent. He imposes Mercian overlordship on the kingdom, but allows a local king, Heabert, to rule there. Death of ex-King Ceolwulf of Northumbria. He is buried at Lindisfarne Priory and later revered as a saint.

765 - King Heabert of Kent is joined in ruling Kent by King Aethelbert II's son, Egbert II. King Aethelwald Moll of Northumbria is deposed at Pincanheale, possibly by at a gathering of his own magnates. He enters a monastery. The throne is taken by Elchred, a distant cousin of the late King Oswulf.

c.765 - Building of the Northumbrian Cathedral at Whithorn.

768 - Death of the former King Edbert of Northumbria. In an attempt to strengthen his position, King Elchred of Northumbria marries Princess Osgyfu, daughter of the late King Oswulf of Northumbria.

c.770 - King Elchred of Northumbria takes an interest in continental missionary activities and sends Willehad to Frisia.

771 - King Offa of Mercia defeats the Haestingas and joins their little region to his sub-kingdom of Sussex.

772 - Possible deposition of King Egbert II of Kent with subsequent direct rule from Mercia.

773 - King Elchred of Northumbria makes overtures of friendship toward King Charlemagne of the Franks.

774 - Unrest in the Northumbrian Church appears to lead to the expulsion of King Elchred who is driven from York. He sails from Bamburgh into exile amongst the Picts. He is replaced by Aethelred I, the eleven year old son of the late King Aethelwald Moll of Northumbria.

776 - King Egbert II of Kent defeats the Mercians at the Battle of Otford and re-asserts himself as King of Kent.

778 - Unrest in Northumbria leads to King Aethelred I ordering the execution of three of his Duces. This considerably weakens his position.

779 - Offa, King of Mercia, becomes "King of All England". Offa defeats King Cynewulf of Wessex at the Battle of Bensington and seizes control of Berkshire, and probably London as well. Death of King Aethelred of East Anglia. He is succeeded by his son, Aethelbert. King Aethelred I of Northumbria is driven from the kingdom by Prince Aelfwald, son of the late King Oswulf who takes the throne as Aelfwald I.

c.780 - The rise of Aldwich as an important trading centre under Mercian control. King Offa of Mercia possibly establishes a Royal Palace at Aldermanbury, on the site of the old Roman Cripplegate fort and Amphitheatre.

781 - The King Charlemagne of the Franks summons the monk and scholar Alcuin of York to head the palace school at Aachen.

784 - Construction of Offa's Dyke, the artificial bank and ditch boundary between England and Wales, is begun at the command of King Offa of Mercia. Prince Elmund of Wessex appears as King of Kent, possibly as a joint-monarch in some sort of alliance with his brother-in-law, King Egbert II.

785 - King Offa of Mercia re-asserts his control of Kent, deposes King Egbert II and establishes direct Mercian rule. Egbert's brother, Prince Edbert Praen flees to the Court of King Charlemagne of the Franks and enters holy orders.

786 - The Yorkist scholar Alcuin accompanies the Papal Legates, Bishops George of Ostia and Theophylact of Todi, from France to the Mercian Royal Court. King Aelfwald I of Northumbria also receives Bishop George at a Northumbrian ecclesiastical council. The exiled Wessex noble, Cyneheard, brother of the late King Sigeberht of Wessex, ambushes King Cynewulf of Wessex while he is at Meretun with his mistress, and kills him. He is buried at Winchester. The Wessex nobles refuse to recognise Cyneheard as king. They execute him and, through the support of King Offa of Mercia, elect one Beortric instead. Cyneheard is buried at Axminster. Beortric's rival claimant to the Wessex throne, a very distant nephew of the late King Ine named Egbert, is driven across the Channel. Egbert settles at the Court of King Charlemagne of the Franks.

787 - Kings Offa of Mercia and Beortric of Wessex call the Synod of Chelsea, which is attended by the Papal Legate. There, Offa persuades the Papacy to grant Archiepiscopal status to the Mercian See of Lichfield. Bishop Higebert is thus elevated and given control of Hereford, Worcester, Leicester, Lindsey, Dunwich and Elmham, as well as Lichfield. In order to secure the Royal succession, Offa has Higebert crown his son, Egfrith, King of Mercia within his father's own lifetime, possibly at Brixworth. Offa founds Winchcombe Abbey. Archbishop Jaenberht of Canterbury is alienated from Mercia.

789 - Assassination of King Aelfwald I of Northumbria, probably at Chesters, at the instigation of Patrician Siga. He is buried at Hexham Abbey and his sons, Oelf and Oelfwin, seek sanctuary in York Minster. The son of the late King Elchred is installed as King Osred II of Northumbria. The Vikings attack Britain for the first time with three ships raiding Portland. Thinking them to be peaceful traders, High-Reeve Beaduheard of Dorchester rides out to greet them and his killed. King Beortric of Wessex marries Princess Edburga, daughter of King Offa of Mercia, and accepts Mercian overlordship.

790 - King Aethelred I returns to Northumbria, captures King Osred II, forces him to become a monk and ejects him from the kingdom. He flees to the Isle of Man. Aethelred then faces a rebellion by a rival, named Erdwulf. The latter is captured and hanged outside the gates to Ripon Abbey. The body is taken into the Abbey where Erdwulf recovers and escapes to exile. King Charlemagne of the Franks begins to nurture Northumbrian friendship in order to circumscribe the power of King Offa of Mercia.

c.790 - King Offa of Mercia takes control of East Anglia. King Aethelbert mints his own coins in defiance of his overlord.

791 - Princes Oelf and Oelfwin of Northumbria are persuaded to leave their sanctuary in York Minster and are immediately forcibly drowned in Wonwaldremere at the instigation of King Aethelred I.

792 - King Aethelred I of Northumbria marries Princess Aelfflaed, daughter of King Offa of Mercia, at Catterick. Unrest in Northumbria tempts the exiled King Osred II back to his kingdom from the Isle of Man. His supporters dessert him and he is killed by King Aethelred's men at Aynburg. He is buried at Tynemouth Priory. King Offa of Mercia arranges coastal defences to fend off Viking attacks.

793 - Vikings attack Britain in a surprise raid on the monastic community at Lindisfarne Priory.

794 - King Aethelbert of East Anglia visits the Royal Mercian Court at Sutton Walls, with a view to marrying Princess Elfthryth. Her father, King Offa of Mercia, already unhappy with Aethelbert's rejection of his overlordship, has him executed, supposedly after the wicked Queen Cynethryth of Mercia accuses Aethelbert of making advances towards her. He is buried at Marden and later revered as a saint. East Anglia ruled directly from Mercia.

795 - King Offa of Mercia receives gifts from King Charlemagne of the Franks. Offa re-founds St. Albans Abbey, supposedly in thanks for overrunning East Anglia.

796 - King Offa of Mercia and King Charlemagne of the Franks seal a trading agreement and a marriage alliance is proposed. However, King Offa dies soon afterward. He is buried at Bedford and succeeded for a short time by his son, Egfrith, and then a distant cousin, Coenwulf. Prince Edbert Praen leaves the church, returns to Kent and claims his throne. One Edwald proclaims himself King of East Anglia, but is later ousted by King Coenwulf of Mercia. Direct rule from Mercia is re-established. King Aethelred I of Northumbria is murdered, probably at Corbridge, by his Ealdormen, Eldred and Wada. Ealdorman Torhtmund slays Eldred in revenge. The kingdom is plunged into confusion. The Patrician Osbald is placed on the throne, but is deserted by his supporters after only twenty-seven days. He flees from Lindisfarne to Pictland. Another faction, brings back King Aethelred I's old back-from-the-dead rival, Erdwulf, as King. King Erdwulf dismisses his wife and publicly takes a concubine. He is alienated from Archbishop Eanbald II of Canterbury. King Coenwulf of Mercia gives protection to Erdwulf's enemies. The Yorkist Scholar, Alcuin, is made Abbot of Saint-Martin in Tours by King Charlemagne of the Franks.

797 - King Coenwulf of Mercia tries to re-assert his domination of North-East Wales. He clashes with Welsh forces, including those of Powys and Dyfed, at the Battle of Rhuddlan. King Maredydd of Dyfed is killed in the fighting. The Mercians push on westward.

798 - The Mercians of King Coenwulf invade Gwynedd and kill King Caradog of that country in Snowdonia. The Mercians also defeat and capture King Edbert Praen of Kent. King Coenwulf of Mercia introduces his brother, Cuthred, as a sub-King of Kent. King Sigeric I of Essex abdicates and departs for Rome. His son, Sigered, takes the throne. Ealdorman Wada attempts to return King Osbald to the Northumbrian throne. The Yorkist Abbot Alcuin of Saint-Martin, Tours writes to the exiled Osbald in order to dissuade him. Wada is defeated by King Erdwulf of Northumbria at the Battle of Billington Moor.

799 - Death of the former King Osbald of Northumbria as an Abbot in exile. He is buried in York. King Erdwulf of Northumbria worried about further rivals, has Ealdorman Moll, probably a relation of the late King Aethelwald Moll, killed.

800 - King Erdwulf of Northumbria has his men seize Prince Ealhmund, son of the late King Elchred, and put him to death. He is buried at Derby and later revered as a saint.

c.800 - Retirement of Archbishop Higebert of Lichfield. He is succeeded by Aldwulf. King Coenwulf of Mercia is on better terms with the Archiepiscopate of Canterbury than his predecessor, and unsuccessfully attempts to have the Mercian Archiepiscopal See transferred to London.

801 - King Erdwulf of Northumbria invades Mercia in order to flush out his enemies taking refuge there under King Coenwulf. After a long campaign the nobles and Bishops on both sides negotiate a peace and the two Kings confirm this under oath.

Part 5: AD 802-848


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