Æthelbald’s Wars (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: At issue: Supremacy among the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Result: The Mercian dynasty emerged dominant among the Anglo-Saxons.
Since their establishment in Britain in the fifth century, the various Germanic tribes known as Anglo-Saxons (Angles in East Anglia, Jutes in Kent, and Saxons in south and central England) had been engaged in incessant small-scale warfare among themselves and with the native Celts. They also experienced internal feuds, intrigues, and dynastic struggles within kingdoms. About a dozen independent kingdoms had been established by the seventh century, though no single monarchy had achieved a decisive hegemony for long. In the eighth century, this pattern began to change when Mercia emerged as a dominant power because of the aggressive leadership of its kings and the internal problems of neighboring kingdoms. Æthelbald ascended to the Mercian throne in 716, returning from a long period of exile (the result of intrigues to seize the throne) imposed by his predecessor, Ceolred. Æthelbald continued the aggressive policy of Mercian hegemony initiated by his predecessors, taking advantage of internal problems within neighboring kingdoms. By 731, Æthelbald controlled Essex, including London.
The innumerable battles fought in the Anglo-Saxon wars were small by most standards, the average military unit or thegn being 300-500 men, and...
(The entire section is 641 words.)
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