802 On the same day that Ecgbert acceded to the kingdom of Wessex (after an exile for 3 or 13yrs at Charlemagne’s court, scribal error, though sources confirm 3), the Mercians continued to oppose Egbert: the day of his accession, the Hwicce (who had originally formed a separate kingdom, but by that time were part of Mercia) attacked, under the leadership of their ealdorman, Æthelmund.
The Hwicce were defeated in the ensuing battle, though Weohstan was killed as well as Æthelmund. This battle probably influenced that the river Avon would be the boundary between Western Wessex and
Charlemagne(who died in 814) and his Frankish troops and money almost certainly helped Ecgbert achieve his aims.
803 - The Synod of Clofeshoh (possibly Brixworth) is held, at which the Archbishopric of Lichfield is demoted to an ordinary Bishopric, with Papal permission obtained by King Coenwulf I of
815 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Egbert ravaged the whole of the territories of the remaining British kingdom, Dumnonia, known to the author of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the West Welsh; their territory was about equivalent to what is now Cornwall.
818 - King Coenwulf of
823 Galford A charter dated 19 August this year indicates that Egbert was campaigning in Dumnonia again; this may have been related to a battle recorded in the Chronicle, between the men of
Powys, The Mercians invade but are beaten back by King Cyngen. They also destroy the Gwynedd capital, Degannwy. Death of King Ceolwulf I of
Mercian chief Beornwulf had gained power from a coup in 824 and in an attempt to defeat
Ecgbert had been building his own huge army during the past 20yrs, for his own defence, but was busy campaigning in Cornwall (crushing revolts against his neighbouring power), just as he had been recently and in 815, when he brutally crushed a huge revolt there.
Beornwulf marched his huge, but smaller, army to the border and along the ridgeway, observed Wessex from Silbury Hill and sent a decoy to try to deceive Ecgbert’s border scouts whilst he feinted his main force towards Wansdyke and further dangerously steep and uneven earthworks.
Informed by his spies within the Mercian camp close to their leader, Ecgbert- back from having crushed the Cornish Britons, marches his honed army from the downs in the summer heat into the low ground near
Here, he met Beornwulf’s army below him.
A contemporary Chronicler said that Ecgbert’s men of
The battle began with Ecgbert’s advance upon Beornwulf- shieldwall to shieldwall- into the flanking slopes and deceptive hollows, and a hard, vicious battle raged.
“more soldiers were blinded by sweat than blood”.
But finally, after hours of fighting uphill into a barbed wall of spears and fierce missiles, the Mercians broke into a vicious rout and slaughter.
Ecgbert quickly expanded upon this great victory by sending his son Athelwulf, earldorman Wulfherd and Bishop of Sherborne with a huge
826 Beornwulf’s power was seriously weakened, but he turned his attention to E.Anglia, where a revolt had arisen against fading Mercian rule there, under Athelstan ‘half-king’ (Ecgbert’s son? Which may explain his near-autonomy here). Appealing to his father for aid, a West Saxon and E.Anglian army crushed Beornwulf’s army, and he himself was slain.
A Mercian earldorman, Ludeca, took command of
829 During the vacuum left by the deaths of Beornwulf and Ludeca, another Mercian nobleman in his 40’s called Wiglaf took charge.
In a pre-emptive strike, the all-powerful Ecgbert now invaded the crisis-hit
According to a later chronicler, Roger of Wendover, Egbert invaded
830 This year Egbert led a successful expedition against the Welsh, almost certainly with the intent of extending West Saxon influence into the Welsh lands previously within the Mercian orbit. This marked the
Ecgbert failed to hold onto
He also did so effectively with Essex and thus
Charters indicate Wiglaf had authority in Middlesex and Berkshire, and in a charter of 836 Wiglaf uses the phrase "my bishops, duces, and magistrates" to describe a group that included eleven bishops from the episcopate of
It is significant that Wiglaf was still able to call together such a group of notables; the
836 Carhampton Ecgbert gathered an army and faced the “25 ships” of raiding Danes here (25x maybe 30 men in each= 750 vikings).
It was a long and bitter battle and Ecgbert almost won, but at dusk the Danes held the field.
838 Battle of Hingston Down “A great pirate host” came to
But Ecgbert was not only re-armed, but ready for the allies- he had spent time studying their tactics and ways.. He advanced to the River Tamar at the Cornish-Devon border and gave battle, defeating them in a hard-fought struggle. As Ecgbert was now in his 60’s, he probably didn’t fight directly, but led his men and inspired them, maybe giving field command to son Aethelwolf?
In a brutal display of superior power, Ecgbert subdued the unstable area viciously until he had sapped their will to resist so much so that, even in Alfred’s reign, they were reluctant to fight the Saxons.