The World of Grandpa Don

The Royal Line
Page Three
The House of Wessex

This page looks at our royal ancestors extending from King Edward the Exile back to Cerdic, 1st King of Wessex.


This line of ancestors was confirmed in May of 2011. It consists of ancestors of my 9th Great Grandfather Gen James Cudworth

This is their story, as I know it.

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For a detailed chart see:
Pedigree Chart Edward the Exile

 

The House of Wessex

Having ended Page Two with his daughter, Margaret of Scotland, we begin here with King Edward the Exile and work back in time and history. Links to encyclopedia articles are provided for detailed information. We end this page with Cerdic, first King of Wessex.

 

The House of Wessex

The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic, refers to the family that ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex. This House was in power from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex to the unification of the Kingdoms of England.

 

Click on the thumbnail at the right for an enlarged view of the family tree of Wessex.

Cerdic of Wessex ((519-534), the founder of the Wessex line, claimed a mythical descent from the great Woden himself. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic was a Saxon Ealdorman who landed in Hampshire in 495 with his son Cynric and fought with the Britons becoming the first King of Wessex.

Anglo-Saxons is the term often used to describe the invading Germanic tribes in the south and east of Great Britain from the early 5th century AD, and their creation of the English nation,
to the Norman conquest of 1066. The Benedictine monk, Bede, writing three centuries later, identified them as the descendants of three Germanic tribes:
The Angles, who may have come from Angeln (in modern Germany), and Bede wrote that their whole nation came to Britain, leaving their former land empty. The name England (Old English: Engla land or Ængla land) originates from this tribe]
The Saxons, from Lower Saxony (in modern Germany; German: Niedersachsen) and the Low Countries.
The Jutes, possibly from the Jutland peninsula (in modern Denmark; Danish: Jylland).

Their language, Old English, derives from "Ingvaeonic" West Germanic dialects and transformed into Middle English from the 11th century. Old English was divided into four main dialects: West Saxon, Mercian, Northumbrian and Kentish

Family tree - House of Wessex
 

 

Edward the Exile (1016 – Late August 1057), also called Edward Ætheling, son of King Edmund Ironside and of Ealdgyth. After the Danish conquest of England in 1016 Canute had him and his brother, Edmund, exiled to the Continent. Edward was only a few months old when he and his brother were brought to the court of Olof Skötkonung, (who was either Canute's half-brother or stepbrother), with instructions to have the children murdered. Instead, the two boys were secretly sent to Kiev, where Olof's daughter Ingigerd was the Queen. Later Edward made his way to Hungary, probably in the retinue of Ingigerd's son-in-law, András in 1046, who he supported in his successful bid for the Hungarian throne.

Edward's wife was a woman named Agatha, whose origins are disputed. Their children were Edgar Ætheling, Saint Margaret of Scotland and Cristina. Edgar was nominated as heir apparent, but was too young to count for much, and was eventually swept aside by Harold Godwinson. Edward's grandchild Edith of Scotland, also called Matilda, married King Henry I of England, continuing the Anglo-Saxon line into the post-Conquest English monarchy.

 

Edmund Ironside or Edmund II (Old English: Eadmund II Isen-Healf) (c. 988/993 – 30 November 1016), father of  Edward the Exile, was king of England from 23 April to 30 November 1016. His cognomen "Ironside" is not recorded until 1057, but may have been contemporary. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it was given to him "because of his valour" in resisting the Danish invasion led by Cnut the Great.

Edmund had two children by Ealdgyth, Edward the Exile and Edmund. According to John of Worcester, Cnut sent them to the king of Sweden to be murdered, but he sent them to Hungary, where Edmund died but Edward prospered. He returned to England in 1057 only to die within days of his arrival.

 

 

Æthelred the Unready, or Æthelred II (c. 968 – 23 April 1016), was king of England (978–1013 and 1014–1016). He was son of King Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth. Æthelred was only about 10 (no more than 13) when his half-brother Edward was murdered. Æthelred was not personally suspected of participation, but as the murder was committed at Corfe Castle by the attendants of Ælfthryth, it made it more difficult for the new king to rally the nation against the military raids by Danes, especially as the legend of St Edward the Martyr grew. Later, Æthelred ordered a massacre of Danish settlers in 1002 and also paid tribute, to Danish leaders from 991 onwards. His reign was much troubled by Danish Viking raiders. In 1013, Æthelred fled to Normandy and was replaced by Sweyn, who was also king of Denmark. However, Æthelred returned as king after Sweyn died in 1014.

"Unready" is a mistranslation of Old English unræd (meaning bad-counsel) – a twist on his name "Æthelred" (meaning noble-counsel). A better translation would be Redeless - without counsel (Rede).

Æthelred married first Ælfgifu, daughter of Thored, earl of Northumbria, in about 985.[15] Their known children are:
Æthelstan Ætheling (died 1014)
Ecgberht Ætheling (died c. 1005)[24]
Edmund Ironside (died 1016)
Eadred Ætheling (died before 1013)
Eadwig Ætheling (executed by Canute 1017)
Edgar Ætheling (died c. 1008)[24]
Edith (married Eadric Streona)
Ælfgifu (married Uchtred the Bold, ealdorman of Northumbria)
Wulfhilda (married Ulfcytel Snillingr)
Abbess of Wherwell

In 1002 Æthelred married Emma of Normandy, sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. Their children were:
Edward the Confessor (died 1066)
Ælfred Ætheling (died 1036–7)
Goda of England (married 1 Drogo of Mantes and 2 Eustace II, Count of Boulogne)

All of Æthelred's sons were named after predecessors of Æthelred on the throne.

 

Edgar the Peaceful (Old English: Ēadgār) (c. 7 August 943 – 8 July 975), also called the Peaceable, was a king of England (r. 959–75). Edgar was the younger son of Edmund I of England. His cognomen, "The Peaceable", was not necessarily a comment on the deeds of his life, for he was a strong leader, shown by his seizure of the Northumbrian and Mercian kingdoms from his older brother, Eadwig, in 958. A conclave of nobles held Edgar to be king north of the Thames, and Edgar aspired to succeed to the English throne.

Ælfthryth (c. 945-1000, was the second or third wife of King Edgar of England. Ælfthryth was the first king's wife known to have been crowned and anointed as Queen of the Kingdom of England. Mother of King Æthelred the Unready, she was a powerful political figure. She was linked to the murder of her stepson King Edward the Martyr and appeared as a stereotypical bad queen and evil stepmother in many medieval histories

 

Edmund I (922 – 26 May 946), called the Elder, the Deed-doer, the Just, or the Magnificent, was King of England from 939 until his death. He was a son of Edward the Elder and half-brother of Athelstan. Athelstan died on 27 October 939, and Edmund succeeded him as king.

Saint Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury (d. 944) was the first wife of Edmund I (r. 939-946), by whom she bore two future kings, Eadwig (r. 955-959) and Edgar (r. 959-975). Like her mother Wynflæd, she had a close and special if unknown connection with the royal nunnery of Shaftesbury (Dorset), founded by King Alfred, where she was buried and soon revered as a saint. According to a pre-Conquest tradition from Winchester, her feast day is 18 May.

 

Edward the Elder (c. 874 – 17 July 924) became king of the English in 899 upon the death of his father, Alfred the Great. His court was at Winchester, previously the capital of Wessex. He captured the eastern Midlands and East Anglia from the Danes in 917 and became ruler of Mercia in 918 upon the death of Æthelflæd, his sister.

Edward had four siblings, including Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, and Ælfthryth, Countess of Flanders.

King Edward had about fourteen children from three marriages (or according to some sources, an extramarital relationship and two marriages).

Edward first married Ecgwynn around 893. Conflicting information is given about her by different sources, none of which pre-date the Conquest. Their children were
The future King Athelstan (c.893 - 939)
A daughter, name unknown, who married Sihtric Cáech

In 899, Edward married Ælfflæd, a daughter of Æthelhelm, the ealdorman of Wiltshire. Their children were
Eadgifu (902 - after 955), who married Charles the Simple
Ælfweard of Wessex (904 - 924)
Eadgyth (910 - 946), who married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Eadhild, who married Hugh the Great, Duke of Paris
Ælfgifu who married "a prince near the Alps", sometimes identified with Conrad of Burgundy or Boleslaus II of Bohemia
Eadflæd, who became a nun
Eadhild, who also became a nun

Edward married for a third time, about 919, to Eadgifu, the daughter of Sigehelm, the ealdorman of Kent. Their children were
Edmund (922 - 946)
Eadred (died 955)
Saint Edburga of Winchester (died 960)
Eadgifu, married "Louis, Prince of Aquitaine", whose identity is disputed.

Edward also had a son, Edwin Ætheling (died 933), but it is unclear who his mother was.

Eadgifu outlived her husband and her sons, and was alive during the reign of her grandson, King Edgar. William of Malmsbury's history  claims that Edward's second wife, Ælfflæd, was also alive after Edward's death, but this is the only known source for that claim.

 

Alfred the Great (849 – 26 October 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.

Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". Details of his life are described in a work by the 10th century Welsh scholar and bishop Asser. Alfred was a learned man who encouraged education and improved his kingdom's legal system and military structure. He is regarded as a saint by some Catholics, but has never been officially canonized.The Anglican Communion venerates him as a Christian hero, with a feast day of 26 October, and he may often be found depicted in stained glass in Church of England parish churches.

In 868, Alfred married Ealhswith, daughter of Ealdorman of the Gaini (who is also known as Aethelred Mucil), who was from the Gainsborough region of Lincolnshire. She appears to have been the maternal granddaughter of a King of Mercia. They had five or six children together, including Edward the Elder, who succeeded his father as king, Æthelflæd, who would become Queen of Mercia in her own right, and Ælfthryth who married Baldwin II the Count of Flanders.

 

Æthelwulf, also spelled Aethelwulf or Ethelwulf; was King of Wessex from 839 to 856. He is the only son who can indisputably be accredited to King Egbert of Wessex. He conquered the kingdom of Kent on behalf of his father in 825, and was sometime later made King of Kent as a sub-king to Egbert. He succeeded his father as King of Wessex on Egbert's death in 839, at which time his kingdom stretched from the county of Kent in the east to Devon in the west. At the same time his eldest son or younger brother Æthelstan became sub-king of Kent as a subordinate ruler.

Æthelwulf was first married to Osburh, daughter of Oslac. They had six children, four of whom became kings of Wessex. Æthelwulf married a second time to 12-year-old Judith of Flanders, with whom he had no issue.

 

Egbert was King of Wessex from 802 until 839. His father was Ealhmund of Kent. In the 780s Egbert was forced into exile by Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, but on Beorhtric's death in 802 Egbert returned and took the throne.

Egbert is reported to have married Redburga. This seems consistent with Egbert's strong ties to the Frankish royal court and his exile there, but lacks contemporary support. The number of Egbert's children is uncertain. Æthelwulf, who succeeded Egbert, having governed as Subregulus of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex, was his son. Some versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (e.g. the Worcester and Laud Chronicles) call Æthelstan Egbert's son, but the Parker Chronicle shows Æthelstan as son of Æthelwulf and hence Egbert's grandson, and this reconstruction is generally preferred. A number of writers after the Norman Conquest make Saint Edith (Eadgyth) of Polesworth a daughter of Egbert, but this is doubtful.

 

Ealhmund was King of Kent in 784.

The only contemporary evidence of him is an abstract of a charter dated in that year, in which Ealhmund granted land to the Abbot of Reculver. By the following year Offa of Mercia seems to have been ruling directly, as he issued a charter without any mention of a local king.

There is a general consensus that he is identical to the Ealhmund found in two pedigrees in the Winchester (Parker) Chronicle, compiled during the reign of Alfred the Great. The genealogical preface to this manuscript, as well as the annual entry (covering years 855–859) describing the death of Æthelwulf, both make king Egbert of Wessex the son of an Ealhmund, who was son of Eafa, grandson of Eoppa, and great-grandson of Ingild, the brother of king Ine of Wessex, and descendant of founder Cerdic, and therefore a member of the House of Wessex (see House of Wessex family tree). A further entry has been added in a later hand to the 784 annal, reporting Ealhmund's reign in Kent.

Finally, in the Canterbury Bilingual Epitome, originally compiled after the Norman conquest of England, a later scribe has likewise added to the 784 annal not only Ealhmund's reign in Kent, but his explicit identification with the father Egbert. Based on this reconstruction, in which a Wessex scion became king of Kent, his own Kentish name and that of his son, Egbert, it has been suggested that his mother derived from the royal house of Kent, a connection dismissed by a recent critical review. It has likewise been suggested that Ealhmund might actually have been a Kentish royal scion, and that his pedigree was forged to give son Egbert the descent from Cerdic requisite to reigning in Wessex.

All this of course puts in doubt his ancestry but we will continue on the assumption that the Ancestry Chart of the House of Wessex is substantially correct.

 

Eafa ( see Ealhmund above)

 

Eoppa (  see Ealhmund above)

 

Ingild of Wessex was a member of the House of Wessex. Although a member of the direct male line from Cynric to Egbert, Coenred was never king due to usurpations by junior branches of the family. He was born c. 672 and died in 718. Ingild's father was Coenred, his brother Ine, and his sister Cuthburga. He had one son, Eoppa, born c. 706.

 

Cenred of Wessex was a member of the House of Wessex and a member of the direct male line from Cynric to Egbert. It is possible that Cenred ruled alongside his son Ine for a period. There is weak evidence for joint kingships, and stronger evidence of subkings reigning under a dominant ruler in Wessex, not long before his time. Ine acknowledges his father's help in his code of laws, and there is also a surviving land-grant that indicates Cenred was still reigning in Wessex after Ine's accession.

 

Ceolwald of Wessex was a member of the House of Wessex (see House of Wessex family tree). Although a member of the direct male line from Cynric to Egbert, Ceolwald was never king. His birth and death dates are unknown.

His father was Cutha Cathwulf and his child Coenred of Wessex. Nothing more of him is known.

 

Cutha Cathwulf was the third son of Cuthwine and consequently a member of the House of Wessex. Although a member of the direct male line from Cynric to Egbert, (see House of Wessex family tree), Cathwulf was never king. He is said to have been born in c. 592 and his death date is unknown.

His brothers were Cynebald and Cedda; his son was Ceolwald of Wessex; nothing more of his life is known.

 

Cuthwine, born c. 565, was a member of the House of Wessex, son of Ceawlin of Wessex. After the deposition of his father Ceawlin from the throne of Wessex in 592 he did not inherit the throne which passed to his cousin, Ceol. Instead he went into exile for many decades, remaining a strong leader of the Saxons and passing on the royal line through his three sons.

He was born in the fifth year of his father's long reign over the West Saxons. He was a grandson of Cynric, the son of Cerdic, the first of the Saxons to come across the sea from Germany; and he and his people were still relatively out of place in a world dominated by the Britons. Nothing is known of his early life.

 

Ceawlin (died ca. 593) was a King of Wessex. He may have been the son of Cynric of Wessex and the grandson of Cerdic of Wessex, whom the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents as the leader of the first group of Saxons to come to the land which later became Wessex. Ceawlin was active during the last years of the Anglo-Saxon invasion, with little of southern England remaining in the control of the native Britons by the time of his death.

 

Cynric was King of Wessex from 534 to 560. Everything known about him comes from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. There he is stated to have been the son of Cerdic, and also (in the regnal list in the preface) to have been the son of Cerdic's son, Creoda. During his reign it is said that he captured Searobyrig or Old Sarum, near Salisbury, in 552, and that in 556 he and his son Ceawlin won a battle against the Britons at Beranburh, now identified as Barbury Castle. If these dates are accurate, then it is unlikely that the earlier entries in the chronicle, starting with his arrival in Britain with his father Cerdic in 495, are correct. David Dumville has suggested that his true regnal dates are 554-581.

 

Cerdic (from the early British name represented by modern Welsh Caradog) was probably the first King of Anglo-Saxon Wessex from 519 to 534, cited by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the founder of the kingdom of Wessex and ancestor of all its subsequent kings. (See House of Wessex family tree).

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic landed in Hampshire in 495 with his son Cynric in three keels (ships). He is said to have fought a British king named Natanleod at Netley Marsh in Hampshire and killed him thirteen years later (in 508) and to have fought at Cerdicesleag (Charford, Cerdic's Ford) in 519, after which he became first king of Wessex. The conquest of the Isle of Wight is also mentioned among his campaigns, and it was later given to his kinsmen, Stuf and Wihtgar (who had supposedly arrived with the West Saxons in 514). Cerdic is said to have died in 534 and was succeeded by his son Cynric.

For the connection to our "common" and more recent ancestors in America see:
 Cudworth line and from there to join the Doolittle Family, then Thayer and finally Copeland Families.

The pages that cover our Royal Ancestors are:

Page One - Royal Heritage

Page Two -  Plantagenet Kings

Page Three - The House of Wessex

Page Four - William and the Normans

Page Five - Charlemagne and his Ancestors

Royal Research & Conclusion

 

© Grandpa Don Plefka
aka Harry Ronald Cecora
 May 17, 2011

 

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