The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: A Brief Guide
Updated: 4 days ago
In Anglo-Saxon England, prior to invasion by the Vikings, the land was divided into 7 main Kingdoms. Here’s a crash course on each of them.
Northumbria was a large kingdom in the North of England. During the 7th Century Northumbria was the place to be and certainly the most powerful of the 7 Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In the 8th Century things went really wrong. Out of 14 kings, 4 were murdered, 6 were overthrown and 2 threw down their crowns and went to be monks. The Vikings put Northumbria out of its misery and took over the kingdom.
2. East Anglia
The kingdom of East Anglia could be found over on the ‘pig’s rump’. If that means nothing to you, then have a look at a map of the UK: where Norfolk and Suffolk are is where East Anglia used to be. The kingdom is most famous for leaving us ‘Sutton Hoo’ an ancient burial site filled with fabulous treasure.
Mercia sat between the kingdoms of Northumbria and Wessex; slap bang in the middle of England. Rather than being one kingdom, it was confusingly made up of many smaller ones. Mercia’s standout king was called ‘Offal’, he was a terrifying man who enjoyed scaring everything and everyone. Mercia came to an end when it was conquered by the Vikings.
Wessex was famously the ‘last kingdom’ and, unlike the other kingdoms, saw off Viking invasion on several occasions. The kingdom was in the South West of England. Alfred the Great is likely the Kingdom's most famous king, as he became the first king of the unified Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, at least those that were left.
Sussex, sat south of London, didn’t last nearly as long as the other Kingdoms, being conquered by Wessex in the 7th Century. Sussex was likely first established by Germanic Tribes rocking up on the coastline in the 5th Century. Sussex was amongst the last of the Kingdoms to convert to Christianity.
Nothing to do with the home of Clank Kent – that’s the fortress of solitude – Kent was founded by the Jutes tribe. As the story goes it was the warlord Vortigern who invited the Jutes to help defend his kingdom against the Picts and in return gave them the land of Kent – either that or they just took it. The Christianisation of the Anglo-Saxons began in Kent, when the Monk Augustine arrived on a mission to spread Christianity.
The last kingdom in our list, Essex contained two Roman cities; London and Colchester. Not much is known about the Kingdom until it was given to the Vikings under the terms of Danelaw in the 9th Century. Essex couldn’t make its mind up regards Christianity, they recanted and returned to being pagans on three separate occasions!