Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Anglo-Saxon Kings of England: King Offa

King Offa (born 730) ruled Mercia from 757 until his death in July 796 and was the first known as 'King of the English'. When his cousin Aethelbard was assassinated he seized power during a period of civil war, after defeating Aethelbards' intial successor Beornred. Throughout his reign Mercia became  the most powerful Kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England, he ruled over  Kent, Sussex, East Anglia and the Midlands. Furthermore, he married his daughters to the Kings of Northumbria and Wessex. He led a successful campaign against the Hestingi. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle state he fought the inhabitants of Kent in 776 at Otford. Although, it does not state who won the battle it is presumably, the Mercians. There is no evidence for Offas's success over the Kentish until 785. Offa also lead a successful campaign against the West Saxons at Besington in Oxfordshire.

 During Offa's reign the English penny (silver) was introduced. Offa also had diplomatic relations with Charlemagne. The great European leader proposed that one of Offa's daughters marry one of Charlemagne's sons, However, diplomatic relations broke down when Offa also suggested that his son Ecgfrith should marry Charlemagne's daughter Bertha. Charlemagne, outraged, ended contact with Britain and forbid any English ships to dock at his ports. Eventually, diplomatic relations were restored, although they had not improved by the end of 790. Relations between Offa and Pope Adrian I were strong, in 792 he visited Rome itself to strengthen links with the Papacy. He granted the Pope more control over the church, while the Pope allowed the creation of the archbishopric of Lichfield, this temporary change freeing the Mercian Church from the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Offa was frequently in conflict with the various Welsh Kingdoms, a key result of this was the building of Offa's Dyke. It roughly follows the traditional boundary of England and Wales, running, although not continuously, from the Dee estuary in the north to the river Rye in the south. This frontier barrier (a ditch and bank) ran for 149 miles and is a legacy of the King who ruled a large portion of England..

                                                                         Offa's Dyke


The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Offa (Anglo-Saxon King)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

"King Offa." King Offa. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014

"Offa (r. 757-796)." The Official Website of the British Monarchy. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

"Offa's Dyke." Offa's Dyke. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014

Image credit goes to Wikipedia

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