Rædwald of East Anglia

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Rædwald, son of Tytila, was King of the East Angles from c.600 until his death in c.625.[1] From c.616 he became the most powerful of the English rulers south of the river Humber and by military action installed a Northumbrian ruler acquiescent to his authority. He was the first East Anglian ruler to receive Christian teaching and baptism (from the Canterbury mission), and helped to ensure its survival during the apostasy of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Essex and Kent. He is the most favoured identification for the famous Sutton Hoo ship-burial. In the late 9th century he is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as being a Bretwalda.

Contents

Chronology

The earliest and fullest source for Rædwald is Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, which places his reign between the advent of the Augustinian mission to Kent (597) and the marriage and conversion of Edwin of Northumbria (625-26). A set of annals in late compilations (of uncertain authority) records Rædwald's death twice, in 599 and 624, so possibly the missing annal for 599 was for Tytila's death and Rædwald's accession.

The context of Rædwald's kingdom

During Rædwald's young life the ruling houses of other kingdoms were becoming strongly established. Æthelberht of Kent (ruled c.560-616) was married to Bercta, the Christian daughter of the Frankish ruler Charibert of Paris. Ceawlin of Wessex, the most powerful ruler south of the Humber, repulsed Æthelberht's inroads from Kent until c.584, when after fighting the Britons in Oxfordshire his power waned and Æthelberht obtained a similar authority. In Mercia the shadowy figure of Creoda, descendant of Icel, established his family's importance.

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