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By Chris Peers

In England within the 8th century, in the middle of the so-called darkish a long time, Offa governed Mercia, one of many most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. For over 30 years he used to be the dominant warlord within the territory south of the Humber and the driver at the back of the growth of Mercia’s strength. in the course of that turbulent interval he commanded Mercian armies of their fight opposed to the neighboring kingdoms of Northumbria and Wessex and opposed to the Welsh tribes. but the real tale of Offa’s lengthy reign and of the increase and fall of Mercia are little identified even if this can be probably the most exciting episodes during this little-recorded part of England’s previous. it's Chris Peers’s job during this new research to discover the proof approximately Offa and the opposite Mercian kings and to set them within the context of English background earlier than the arriving of the Danes.

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In 917 the occupiers of Leicester and Northampton attacked a brand new burgh which have been equipped by means of King Edward at Towcester, approximately 8 miles south-west of Northampton. The garrison held out in the course of an afternoon of fierce combating till reinforcements arrived, besides the fact that, and the attackers withdrew. within the similar yr the East Anglians complex west from Cambridge and outfitted a fortress at Tempsford, at the River nice Ouse downstream from Bedford, believing that from there they can extra simply raid into important Mercia. although, the lads of Bedford repulsed their assault, and shortly afterwards Edward got here up with a wide military and stormed the Viking stronghold, killing or taking pictures the whole garrison. Aethelflaed, in the meantime, ‘took ownership’ of Derby, even though in this social gathering the Chronicle’s short observe tricks at a few critical resistance, on account that 4 of her favorite thegns have been killed. Henry of Huntingdon says that even supposing the city was once held by way of ‘a quite a few garrison’ the Vikings didn't dare to return out and face the Mercians within the open, so lots of the battling happened round the major gate within the partitions, the place the 4 thegns met their deaths. Early in 918 Aethelflaed’s armies closed in on Leicester, yet via this time Viking resistance was once crumbling through the state. the city surrendered with no struggle, and soon afterwards Aethelflaed bought a delegation from the Danes in York, the centre in their energy in Northumbria, providing her allegiance. What extra conquests she may need accomplished we will in basic terms speculate, simply because at this second of triumph she died at Tamworth, ‘twelve days sooner than midsummer’ within the 12 months 918. She used to be buried beside her husband Aethelred at Saint Peter’s Church in Gloucester. Her dying marks the tip of the historical past of the Mercian Wars, simply because she used to be the final ruler of even a semi-independent Mercian kingdom. the one candidate to prevail her used to be her daughter Aelfwynn, yet she didn't own the adventure and skill which had made her mom appropriate as a pacesetter of warriors. She used to be quietly deposed through her uncle King Edward, who took her into Wessex the place she disappears from background, most likely right into a nunnery. in accordance with the Chronicle, ‘all the kingdom of the land of Mercia which used to be previously topic to Aethelflaed grew to become to him,’ and from then on Mercia was once to be governed without delay by way of the kings of Wessex, quickly to be universally acknowledged as kings of britain. Pro-Wessex even though it truly is, there isn't any cause to think that the Chronicle used to be improper to indicate that the move of strength used to be peaceable. the belief of nationhood had not often been formulated at the moment, and such a lot males definitely considered their fundamental loyalty as being to a person instead of a ‘country’. with out local Mercian dynasty surviving, Edward used to be the most obvious selection for his or her allegiance. less than his management and that of his much more illustrious successor Athelstan, who reigned from 924 to 939, the rulers of Wessex have been to unite the total English humans for the 1st time lower than a unmarried king.

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