East Anglia

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East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of the East Anglian princess Etheldreda, the Isle of Ely also became part of the kingdom. Formerly a standard statistical region, for administrative purposes East Anglia now forms part of the East of England government office region and is defined as a Level 2 Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics, comprising the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire including the city of Peterborough unitary authority area.[1]



The Kingdom of the East Angles, formed about the year 520 by the merging of the North and the South Folk (Angles who had settled in the former lands of the Iceni during the previous century) was one of the seven Anglo-Saxon heptarchy kingdoms (as defined in the 12th century writings of Henry of Huntingdon). For a brief period following a victory over the rival kingdom of Northumbria around the year 616, East Anglia was the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England, and its king Raedwald was Bretwalda (overlord of the Anglo-Saxons kingdoms). But this did not last: over the next forty years, East Anglia was defeated by the Mercians twice, and it continued to weaken relative to the other kingdoms until in 794, Offa of Mercia had its king Æthelberht killed and took control of the kingdom himself.

The independence of the East Anglians was restored by a successful rebellion against Mercia (825–827), in the course of which two Mercian kings were killed attempting to crush it. On 20 November 869 the Danes killed King Edmund and took the kingdom, which they named East Anglia (see Ivar the Boneless). The Anglo-Saxons retook the area in 920, only to lose it again in 1015–1017, when it was conquered by Canute the Great and given as a fiefdom to Thorkell the Tall, who was made Jarl of East Anglia in 1017.

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