Penda of Mercia

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Penda (died November 15, 655)[1] was a 7th-century King of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633.[2]

Nine years later, he defeated and killed Edwin's eventual successor, Oswald, at the Battle of Maserfield; from this point he was probably the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon rulers of the time, laying the foundations for the Mercian supremacy over the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. He repeatedly defeated the East Angles and drove Cenwalh the king of Wessex into exile for three years. He continued to wage war against the Bernicians of Northumbria and just thirteen years after Maserfield, he suffered a crushing defeat by Oswald's successor Oswiu and was killed at the Battle of the Winwaed in the course of a final campaign against the Bernicians.

Contents

Descent, beginning of reign, and battle with the West Saxons

Penda was a son of Pybba and said to be a descendant of Icel, with a lineage purportedly extending back to Woden. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives his descent as follows:

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