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Offa (ŏfˈə), 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 [king of the English]. He restricted Cynewulf, king of Wessex, to the area S of the Thames and in 794 had Ethelbert, king of the East Angles, beheaded and thereafter ruled his kingdom. In time the rulers of Wessex and Northumbria became his sons-in-law. In 786 the pope sent two legates to him, and by 788 Offa had set up an independent archbishopric of Litchfield, thus wresting control of the churches in Mercia from the hostile archbishop of Canterbury. He introduced a new coinage in the form of the silver penny, which for centuries was to be the basis of the English currency. Offa had sufficient standing in Europe to negotiate with Charlemagne as an equal; and, although they quarreled over a proposed marriage of their children, they signed (796) a commercial treaty, the first recorded in English history. At some time between 784 and 796 the earthwork known as Offa's Dyke was built between Wales and Mercia. Offa's laws, now lost, were used by King Alfred in his codification. The Offa referred to in Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry was not the king of Mercia, but a king of the Angles on the Continent, probably at the end of the 4th cent.


See F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971).

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died 796 ad, king of Mercia (757--796), who constructed an earthwork (Offa's Dyke) between Wales and Mercia
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
All state-supported institutions will have to clear their fees with the Office for Fair Access, which can stop them charging more if they do not do enough to attract and retain pupils from deprived and poor backgrounds.
The monitoring report by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) reveals that universities paid out more than pounds 219m in 2007/08 in bursaries, scholarships, and outreach work.
Sir Martin, director of the Office for Fair Access to higher education, said universities had gone a long way towards achieving this.
Any universities which want to charge higher fees from 2006 must first reach an "access agreement" with Sir Martin Harris, director of the Office for Fair Access to higher education, and show that they will do their best to make sure poor students are not put off applying.
English university fee levels for 2013/14 were published by the Office for Fair Access today, as it released individual institutions' latest plans for ensuring that disadvantaged teenagers are not priced out of higher education.
In addition to the scholarships, we award nonrepayable bursaries which exceed the 2011-2012 minimum requirement of pounds 300 set by the Office for Fair Access. The university is awarding pounds 500 to eligible students."
In England, institutions wanting to charge more than pounds 6,000 a year, up to the pounds 9,000 maximum, would need to submit "Access Agreements" to a special purpose body, the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), outlining how they would "sustain or improve access and student retention" using some 15-30% of the fee income above pounds 6,000.
But it warns of "a substantial funding gap" for English universities which may lead to cuts in higher education or need more taxpayers' cash as the Office for Fair Access bids to encourage more students from poor backgrounds to apply for courses.
Universities planning to charge more than pounds 6,000 have until Tuesday to submit their proposals, including "access agreements" to the Office for Fair Access (Offa).
A spokesman for the university said it would now submit an "access agreement" to the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) in support of its proposal to charge the fee.
The Office for Fair Access says poorer students are often not pushed to take subjects demanded by the most selective degree courses.

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