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Mercia(mûr`shə), one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, consisting generally of the region of the Midlands. It was settled by Angles c.500, probably first along the Trent valley. Its history emerges from obscurity with the reign of PendaPenda,
d. 654, king of Mercia (c.632–654). A noble of the Mercian royal house, he fought (629) the king of Wessex for lands along the Severn River. He then allied himself with Cadwallon of Wales, defeated (632) Edwin of Northumbria, and made himself king of Mercia.
..... Click the link for more information. , who extended his power over Wessex (645) and East Anglia (650) to gain overlordship of England S of the Humber River. After his death Mercia suffered a three-year loss of ascendancy during which it was converted to Christianity by a Northumbrian mission. Penda's son, Wulfhere, then reestablished a Greater Mercia that finally, under ÆthelbaldÆthelbald
, d. 757, king of Mercia (716–57), grandson of a brother of Penda. He spent years in exile before he became king. A strong ruler, by 731 he controlled all England S of the Humber River and led expeditions into Northumbria (740) and against the Welsh (743).
..... Click the link for more information. in the 8th cent., extended over all S England. This hegemony was strengthened by OffaOffa
, d. 796, king of Mercia (757–96). He succeeded Æthelbald to the throne, but it was some years before he attained the power of his predecessor. Gradually he asserted his overlordship in Kent and then Sussex, and by 774 his charters styled him rex Anglorum
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 757–96), who controlled East Anglia, Kent, and Sussex and maintained superiority of a sort over Wessex and Northumbria. He had the great Offa's Dyke built to protect W Mercia from the Welsh. After his death, Mercian power gradually gave way before that of Wessex. The victories of EgbertEgbert,
d. 839, king of Wessex (802–39). His name also appears as Ecgberht. He was descended from Cerdic and was apparently an unsuccessful aspirant for the crown of Wessex against Beohtric (reigned 786–802).
..... Click the link for more information. of Wessex in Mercia established him briefly as overlord. In 874, Mercia weakly succumbed to the invading Danish army, and ultimately the eastern part became (886) a portion of the DanelawDanelaw
, originally the body of law that prevailed in the part of England occupied by the Danes after the treaty of King Alfred with Guthrum in 886. It soon came to mean also the area in which Danish law obtained; according to the treaty, the boundary between England and
..... Click the link for more information. , while the western part was controlled by AlfredAlfred,
849–99, king of Wessex (871–99), sometimes called Alfred the Great, b. Wantage, Berkshire. Early Life
The youngest son of King Æthelwulf, he was sent in 853 to Rome, where the pope gave him the title of Roman consul.
..... Click the link for more information. of Wessex. Thereafter Mercia had no independent history, although it had one more distinguished ruler in ÆthelflædÆthelflæd
, d. 918, daughter of King Alfred the Great of Wessex and wife of Æthelred, ealdorman [alderman or earl] of Mercia. After her husband's death in 911, she ruled the semi-independent Mercia alone.
..... Click the link for more information. , Lady of the Mercians.
See F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971).
one of the kingdoms that arose during the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain; founded by Angles in the late sixth century. At the height of its power Mercia occupied the area between the Humber River and the Thames River in central England. It achieved its greatest power in the eighth century, after subordinating other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It was captured in the 820’s by Wessex.