Wessex


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Wessex

(wĕs`ĭks), one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. It may have been settled as early as 495 by Saxons under CerdicCerdic
, d. 534, traditional founder of the kingdom of Wessex. A Saxon, he and his son Cynric landed on the southern coast of England in 495. Little is certain about him except that later West Saxon kings traced their descent from him through his son Cynric and his grandson Ceawlin.
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, who is reputed to have landed in Hampshire. Cerdic's grandson, Ceawlin (560–93), annexed scattered Saxon settlements in the Chiltern Hills and drove the Celts from the region between the upper Thames valley and the lower Severn. But Ceawlin himself was finally expelled from Wessex, and until the end of the 8th cent. the country was overshadowed successively by Kent, Northumbria, and Mercia. King Cædwalla (reigned 685–88) conducted several successful campaigns; and his successor IneIne
, king of Wessex (688–726). In 694 he forced the people of Kent to pay compensation for the murder of a kinsman, and he extended his sway over Sussex and Surrey and probably over Devon.
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 consolidated the western expansion through Somerset and exacted tribute from Kent. After Ine's death, however, the kingdom relapsed into anarchy. 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).
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 (802–39) became overlord of all England, but his successors were forced to relinquish many of his gains and to concentrate on defending their lands against the invading Danes. With the reign of 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.
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 (871–99) and the halting of the Danes, the history of Wessex becomes that of England. In the 10th cent., Edward the Elder, Athelstan, Edmund, and Edred gradually acquired firm control over all England, including the Danelaw. This unity ended, however, after the quiet reign of Edgar (959–75), for ÆthelredÆthelred,
965?–1016, king of England (978–1016), called Æthelred the Unready [Old Eng. unrœd=without counsel]. He was the son of Edgar and the half-brother of Edward the Martyr, whom he succeeded.
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 (978–1016) could offer no effective resistance to the invading Vikings. Canute established Danish rule in 1016. The end of his line caused the recall of Edward the Confessor (1042–66), last of the Wessex line of Alfred. In the novels of Thomas Hardy, Wessex is used to mean the SW counties of England, mainly Dorsetshire.

Wessex

 

an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by the Saxons at the beginning of the sixth century, during the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain. In 740, Wessex came under the dominance of Mercia. In 825, Egbert, the king of Wessex, defeated the Mercians and united under his rule an extensive area of the land thereafter known as England. At the end of the ninth century, however, King Alfred the Great, after a fierce struggle with the Scandinavians, was forced to conclude a treaty dividing the country; the southwest, including Wessex, remained under his rule. In historical literature, Alfred’s reign marks the end of the history of Wessex and the beginning of English history.

Wessex

1
Earl of. See Edward (sense 2)

Wessex

2
1. an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in S and SW England that became the most powerful English kingdom by the 10th century ad
2. 
a. (in Thomas Hardy's works) the southwestern counties of England, esp Dorset
b. (as modifier): Wessex Poems
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