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Royalty
Index

Kings of Great Britain


Ina,

King of the West Saxons, a valiant prince and an able legislator, succeeded Ceadwalla, in 688. Having obtained advantages over the people of Kent in 694, he wrested Somersetshire and other parts of the west of England from the Britons. He afterwards made war upon the Mercians; but the latter part of his reign was spent in works of peace, and having resigned his crown in 728, he went to Rome, founded an Anglo-Saxon colony or school, and died there the same year. Ina's school at Rome was further endowed with the Romescot, by Offa of Mercia, about 794, and disappears from history in the 10th century. The laws of Ina served as the foundation of those of Alfred, and some of them are still extant.

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Stephen,

King of England, the son of Stephen, Count of Blois, by Adela, fourth daughter of William the Conqueror, was born in circa 1096. On the death of Henry I. he immediately came over from Normandy to England; and laid claim to the crown, although he had been one of the most zealous in taking the oath for securing the succession to Henry's daughter, the Empress Matilda. By the aid of his brother who was bishop of Winchester, he possessed himself of the royal treasure, and was enabled to bribe some of the most restive of his opponents while he sought the support of the people at large by promising to restore the laws of Edward the Confessor. After a war with the Scots, who were finally defeated at the famous battle of the Standard, the Empress Matilda landed in England with her brother, the Earl of Gloucester; and being joined by several powerful barons, a civil war ensued, which for cruelty and devastation proved one of the most calamitous in the annals of the country. After various turns of fortune, Matilda retired to Normandy, and the contest was carried on by her son, Henry Plantagenet, who in 1153 landed an army in England. Being joined by the barons of his mother's party, the competitors met at the head of their respective forces at Wallingford ; but an armistice took place instead of a battle ; by which it was agreed that Stephen should reign during his lifetime, and that Henry should succeed him. In the following year Stephen died, aged 49.

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Offa,

King of Mercia, succeeded Ethelbald in 755. He made war on Kent in 771, five years later repulsed the Welsh, who sought to recover the border-land, and pitilessly ravaged their territory. In 777 he defeated Cynewulf, King of Wessex; and in 779 annexed to Mercia the Welsh March-land, and had the great dike made between his kingdom and Wales, reaching from the Dee to the Wye. In 792 he murdered Ethelbert, King of the East Angles, and took possession of his kingdom. Died, 794.

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Oswald, King of Northumbria,

was obliged, after the death of Ethelfrith, his father, in 617, to take refuge in Ireland, his uncle, Edwin, having usurped the throne. He became a Christian in his retreat, and returning to his own country, after Edwin's death, defeated and slew the two usurpers of his kingdom. Oswald reunited the two kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia; but was slain in a battle with Penda, King of Mercia, in 642.

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Penda, King of Mercia,

surnamed the Strenuous, was the son of Pybba (or Wybba), and at the age of fifty succeeded Ceorl, A.D. 626 according to the Saxon chronicles, but 633 according to Bede. His descent was traced to Woden, and he is distinguished as the last powerful supporter of paganism among the Anglo-Saxons. He displayed the greatest energy and extreme cruelty throughout his long reign in numerous successful enterprises against the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Penda met his equal in Cynegils of Wessex, at the battle of Cirencester, which was bloody and indecisive, and was followed by a peace; in alliance with the great British prince Caedwalla, he made war on Edwin of Northumbria, and defeated and slew him, with his son Osfrith, at the battle of Heathfield, in 633; defeated and slew Oswald of Northumbria at Maserfeld in 642, ravaged the kingdom, and burnt Bamborough; about 645 drove Cenwealh of Wessex from his kingdom; and then made war on Anna, king of East Anglia, who had given shelter to Cenwealh. Anna was killed, and Penda compelled his brother and successor, Aethelhere, to join him in a campaign against the Bretwalda Oswin. The decisive battle was fought (655) at Winwidfield, where Penda and Aethelhere, with most of their allied chiefs, were slain. The victor Oswin fulfilled the vows which he had made, and founded twelve monasteries; and the Christian faith was established in Mercia.

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The above information was gleaned from
various sources and then put together
by Colin Hinson 1996.


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