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Mercia (pronounced /ˈmɜrsiə/, /ˈmɜrʃə/)[1] was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands. The name is a Latinisation of the Old English Mierce or Myrce, meaning "border people".

Mercia's neighbours included Northumbria, Powys, the kingdoms of southern Wales, Wessex, Sussex, Essex, and East Anglia.

The name Mercia is still in use today by a wide range of organisations, including military units, public, commercial and voluntary bodies.


Early history

Mercia's exact evolution from the Anglo-Saxon invasions is more obscure than that of Northumbria, Kent, or even Wessex. Also, Mercia developed an effective political structure and adopted Christianity later than the other kingdoms.[2] Archaeological surveys show that Angles settled the lands north of the River Thames by the sixth century. The name Mercia is Old English for "boundary folk" (see Welsh Marches), and the traditional interpretation is that the kingdom originated along the frontier between the native Welsh and the Anglo-Saxon invaders. However, P. Hunter Blair argued an alternative interpretation: that they emerged along the frontier of Northumbria and the inhabitants of the Trent river valley.

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