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Cerdicingas and Oiscingas in Wessex

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  • Cerdicingas and Oiscingas in Wessex

    So this is a bit like the other Saint Eanswythe thread only we know she was specifically Kentish and she predates the questions regarding what happened later.

    First you have to understand a little about what is meant by 'Cerdicingas' etc... Well Cerdic is the legendary forefather of the royal house of Wessex - Alfred and all those who came before and after him upto Edward the Confessor and including Henry ll and the Plantagenet's who followed to the modern day in theory. Cerdicingas thus means something like the ancestors of Cerdic. Cerdic and Wessex, Sussex, Essex and Middlesex were all colonised by Saxons whereas East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria (north of the Humber) were Anglian colonies, although some Frisians settled there too. Kent however, which in legend was the first 'English' Kingdom, was a Jutish colony. In legend the first king of Kent was Hengist (perhaps the same 'Hengest' as mentioned in Beowulf at the 'Battle of Finnsburg').

    Click image for larger version

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    An estimation of the first 'English' migration.

    Though these different groups probably had different 'kings' as Beowulf says they could probably understand each others dialects which stemmed from a common proto Germanic.

    However the ancestors of Hengist are not known as 'Hengistingas' but named Oiscingas after Hengist's son/successor.

    So here is the trouble - or my trouble as I have started a book about a later period but still this matters. So in 784 we have a King of Kent called Ealhmund. This is when Offa of Mercia ruled the Anglian Kingdom of Mercia which it seems from later evidence included London (which was Roman) at this time. There were traditionally two Kings of Kent (one for East of the Medway and one for West so that even today a person born in Kent is either 'Man/Maid of Kent' or a 'Kentish Man/Maid' depending on which side of the river you are born) and we know that Offa was giving away land in Kent in 774. There was also a battle at Otford (just outside Sevenoaks today) in 776 against the Mercians. Ealmund as King of Kent gets only a mention in 784 and then Offa returns in the charters until his death in 796.

    So the crux of the problem is a guy called Ecgberht (775-839AD), was King of Wessex from 802 to 839 and Alfred 'The Great's' Grandfather. His Father is apparently this Ealhmund of Kent (who's Father was probably another Ecgberht). So the crux of the problem is whether the later Kings of Wessex - including Alfred are Cerdicingas or Oiscingas or both? It may be that two royal families intermarried but Wessex did not have 'Queens' or 'Princesses' - not even Alfred's the Great's wife ever witnessed a charter. Kent and the Anglia Kingdoms did have a greater place for women as the story of Saint Eanswythe in Kent indicates and Alfred's daughter ruled Mercia as Queen in her own right after her husband died. So if Ealhmund had married a daughter of the Wessex royal family to produce it seems unlikely that his Mother's origin would have given him rights to the Kingdom of Wessex.

    What happen to Ecgberht in his early life however throws some light back onto what occurred in Kent during Offa's time. It seems he was at Charlemagne's (the first Frankish Holy Roman Emperor) court in the 780s and this makes sense since Kent is nearest English land to the continent and so likely to have the most contact with events on the continent. Whether Ealhmund sent his son there or went with him nobody knows. Ealhmund just vanishes apart from the references to him being the Father of Ecgberht, who's name is I am told by those who know more about the languages of those times indeed Jutish rather than Saxon. In 786 the then King of Wessex Cynewulf was murdered. Cynewulf too had fought with Offa and Ecgberht seemingly disputed the Kingship with another guy called Beorhtric (who was married to Offa's daughter). Beorhtric won and most agree that Ecgberht was forced abroad around 789. But Beorhtric died in 802 and Offa now being dead Ecgberht returns (perhaps with help from Charlemagne). In 825 he fought the Battle of Ellandun against the Mercian King Beornwulf and ended the Mercian supremacy. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle says that after this battle "Then he sent his son Ęthelwulf from the army, and Ealhstan, his bishop, and Wulfheard, his ealdorman, to Kent with a great troop. Ęthelwulf drove Baldred, the king of Kent, north over the Thames, and according to the Chronicle, the men of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex then all submitted to Ęthelwulf because earlier they were wrongly forced away from his relatives." The last bit is especially telling as it again speaks of his Kentish heritage as is the fact that his son - who must also be Oiscingas in some way especially to Kent rather than Sussex or Essex. In 829 Ecgberht invaded Mercia itself and drove it's King Wiglaf out. In doing so he acquired London and minted coins of himself as 'King of Mercia' also taking the title "Bretwalda" (wide ruler).

    It is a minor point I know and doesn't really bear on the story I am writing which starts long after in 1014 where it only really matters that the Cerdicingas and Oiscingas are seen as the same but as I was thinking of calling the story "Cerdicingas" but am myself more inclined to Kent as I went to school and grew up there I am wondering if perhaps be wronging the ancestors of Hengist if they were indeed the Kings of Wessex after Ecgberht or how else I might contrive to this evidently scion of the Kentish Kings having a right to claim Wessex? Can it be that Cerdicingas died out? As I have said there are real problems with matrilineal descent in those days counted for nothing. It's an interesting and lesser known bit of history which I found researching my story so thought I'd share it.

    This video explains a bit of what happened after;

    Here again you will note the special reference to Kent and the adoption of the originally Kentish tradition of dual Kingship.

    This map below is wrongly posted but I can't be bothered to work out how to get rid of it.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by snapper; 13 May 20,, 13:08.