- List of monarchs of Mercia
Lists of the kings of Anglo-Saxon England
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The Kingdom of Mercia was an important state in the English Midlands from the 6th century to the 10th. For some two hundred years from the mid-7th century onwards it was the dominant member of the Heptarchy and consequently the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. During this period its rulers became the very first English monarchs to assume such wide ranging titles as King of Britain and King of the English.
Spellings varied widely in this period, even within a single document, and a number of variants exist for the names given below. For example, the sound th was usually represented with the Old English letters ð or þ.
Kings of the Mercians
The traditional rulers of Mercia were known as the Iclings, descendants of the kings of the Angles. When the Iclings became extinct in the male line, a number of other families, labelled B, C and W by historians, competed for the throne.
Iclings (Icel and his male-line descendants)
B-dynasty (so-called – a conjectural grouping based on names alone)
C-dynasty (apparently descended from a sister of Penda)
W-dynasty (Wiglaf and his descendants, later intermarried with C)
Unknown dynastic affiliation
Mercia under external occupation
Æthelred II and family (recognising West Saxon overlordship)
Ruler Reign Biographical notes Died Icel c.527 (or c.515)–? Son of Eomer, last King of the Angles in Angeln. Led his people across the North Sea to Britain. ? Cnebba ? Son of Icel. ? Cynewald ? Son of Cnebba. ? Creoda c.584–c.593 Son of Cynewald. Probable founder of the Mercian royal fortress at Tamworth. c.593 Pybba c.593–c.606 Son of Creoda. Extended Mercian control into the western Midlands. c.606 Cearl c.606–c.626 No known relation to his predecessors. Possibly a usurper or distant kinsman. c.626 Penda c.626–655 Son of Pybba. Raised Mercia to dominant status amongst the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Last pagan ruler of Mercia. Killed in battle by Oswiu of Northumbria. 15 Nov 655 Eowa c.635–642 Son of Pybba. Co-ruler. Killed in battle. 5 Aug 642 Peada c.653–656 Son of Penda. Co-ruler in the south-east Midlands. Murdered. 17 Apr 656 Oswiu of Northumbria 655–658 Briefly took direct control of Mercia after the death of Penda. Also King of Northumbria (655–670). 15 Feb 670 Wulfhere 658–675 Son of Penda. Restored Mercian dominance in England. First Christian king of all Mercia. 675 Æthelred I 675–704 Son of Penda. Abdicated and retired to a monastery at Bardney. 716 Cœnred 704–709 Son of Wulfhere. Abdicated and retired to Rome. ? Ceolred 709–716 Son of Æthelred I. Probably poisoned. 716 Ceolwald 716 Presumed son of Æthelred I (may not have existed). 716 Æthelbald 716–757 Grandson of Eowa. Proclaimed himself King of Britain in 736. Murdered by his bodyguards. 757 Beornred 757 No known relation to his predecessors. Deposed by Offa. Possibly burnt to death in 769 in Northumbria. 769 Offa 757–796 Great-great-grandson of Eowa. The greatest and most powerful of all Mercian kings, he proclaimed himself King of the English in 774, built Offa's Dyke, and introduced the silver penny. 26 or 29 Jul 796 Ecgfrith 787–796 Son of Offa. Co-ruler, died suddenly a few months after his father. 14 or 17 Dec 796 Cœnwulf 796–821 Seventh generation descendant of Pybba, probably through a sister of Penda. Assumed the title of 'emperor'. 821 Cynehelm c.798–812 Son of Cœnwulf. Co-ruler. Allegedly murdered, and later canonised (St Kenelm). 812 Ceolwulf I 821–823 Brother of Cœnwulf. Deposed by Beornwulf. ? Beornwulf 823–826 Conjectured kinsman of Beornred. Killed in battle against the East Anglians. 826 Ludeca 826–827 No known relation to his predecessors. Killed in battle against the East Anglians. 827 Wiglaf (1st reign) 827–829 No known relation to his predecessors. Deposed by Ecgberht of Wessex. 839 Ecgberht of Wessex 829–830 Briefly took direct control of Mercia after the deposition of Wiglaf. Also King of Wessex (802–839). 4 Feb 839 Wiglaf (2nd reign) 830–839 Restored. Although Mercia regained its independence, its dominance in England was lost. 839 Wigmund c.839–c.840 Son of Wiglaf and son-in-law of Ceolwulf I. Probably co-ruler. c.840 Wigstan 840 Son of Wigmund. Declined the kingship and was later murdered by Beorhtwulf. Canonised (St Wystan). 849 Ælfflæd (Queen) 840 Daughter of Ceolwulf I, wife of Wigmund and mother of Wigstan. Appointed regent by Wigstan. ? Beorhtwulf 840–852 Claimed to be a cousin of Wigstan. Usurped the kingship and forced Ælfflæd to marry his son, Beorhtfrith. 852 Burgred 852–874 Conjectured kinsman of Beorhtwulf. Fled to Rome in the face of a Danish invasion. ? Ceolwulf II 874–c.883 Possibly a son or grandson of Wigmund and Ælfflæd. Set up by the Danes as a puppet ruler in western Mercia. c.883 Æthelred II c.883–911 Recognised Alfred of Wessex as his overlord. Sometimes listed as 'ealdorman' rather than 'king'. 911 Æthelflæd (Lady) 911–918 Wife of Æthelred II, daughter of Alfred of Wessex and niece of Burgred. Reconquered eastern Mercia. 12 Jun 918 Ælfwynn (Lady) 918 Daughter of Æthelred II and Æthelflæd. Deposed by her uncle, Edward the Elder (4 Dec 918), who annexed Mercia to Wessex, creating the Kingdom of England. ?
Titular kings following Mercia's annexation
Ruler Reign Biographical notes Died Æthelstan 924 Son of Edward the Elder and nephew of Æthelflæd. Became King of Mercia on Edward's death (Jul 924), and King of Wessex about 16 days later. 27 Oct 939 Eadgar 957–959 Nephew of Æthelstan. Seized control of Mercia and Northumbria in May 957, before succeeding to the reunited English throne in Oct 959. 8 Jul 975
Ealdormen and Earls of the Mercians
Ealdormen of the Mercians (non-dynastic)
Earls of the Mercians (descendants of Leofwine)
Ruler Reign Biographical notes Died Ælfhere 957–983 Appointed ealdorman, or 'prince' of the Mercians in 957 by Eadgar, when the English kingdom was disunited. 983 Ælfric Cild 983–985 Brother-in-law of Ælfhere. Deposed by Æthelred the Unready in 985. Killed in battle against the Danes in 1016. 18 Oct 1016 Wulfric Spot ?–1004 Possibly ealdorman, or 'count' of the Mercians after the deposition of Ælfric Cild. 22 Oct 1004 Eadric Streona 1007–1017 Appointed by Æthelred. A notorious turncoat, he was later murdered by Cnut for his treachery. 25 Dec 1017 Leofwine 1017–1023/32 Possibly appointed by Cnut as ealdorman of the Mercians, he was also ealdorman of the Hwicce. 1023/32 Leofric 1023/32–1057 Son of Leofwine, appointed by Cnut as earl. Chiefly remembered for his famous wife, Godgifu (Lady Godiva). 31 Aug
or 30 Sep 1057
Ælfgar 1057–1062 Son of Leofric. Had previously been Earl of East Anglia until succeeding his father to Mercia. 1062 Eadwine 1062–1071 Son of Ælfgar. Submitted to William the Conqueror in 1066, but later rebelled, and was betrayed by his own men. Mercia was then broken up into smaller earldoms. 1071
Earls of March
The title Earl of March (etymologically identical to 'Earl of Mercia') was created in the western Midlands for Roger Mortimer in 1328. It has fallen extinct, and been recreated, three times since then, and exists today as a subsidiary title of the Duke of Richmond and Lennox.
Kings of Mercia family tree
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Monarchs of Mercia Kingdom of Mercia
527–918Icel • Cnebba • Cynewald • Creoda • Pybba • Cearl • Penda • Eowa • Peada • Oswiu of Northumbria • Wulfhere • Æthelred I • Coenred • Ceolred • Ceolwald • Æthelbald • Beornred • Offa1 • Ecgfrith • Coenwulf1 • Cynehelm • Ceolwulf I1 • Beornwulf2 • Ludeca • Wiglaf • Ecgberht of Wessex • Wigmund • Wigstan • Ælfflæd • Beorhtwulf • Burgred • Ceolwulf II • Æthelred II3 • Æthelflæd3 • Ælfwynn3
Later monarchsÆthelstan4 • Eadgar4 1Also King of Kent and East Anglia. 2Also King of East Anglia. 3Recognising West Saxon overlordship.
4Titular King of Mercia following the creation of the Kingdom of England.
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