Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cædwalla of Wessex

Cædwalla of Wessex (659–689) was the King of Wessex from about 685 until 688, when he abdicated. His name is derived from the British Cadwallon.

He was exiled as a youth, and during this time attacked the South Saxons, in what is now Sussex, killing their king, Æthelwealh, but he was unable to hold the territory and was driven out by Æthelwealh's ealdormen. In either 685 or 686 he became king of Wessex. He may have been involved in suppressing rival dynasties at this time, as an early source records that Wessex was ruled by underkings until Cædwalla.

After his accession Cædwalla returned to Sussex and won the territory again, and also conquered the Isle of Wight, extinguishing the ruling dynasty there. He gained control of Surrey and the kingdom of Kent, and in 686 he installed his brother, Mul, as king of Kent. Mul was burned in a Kentish revolt a year later, and Cædwalla returned, possibly ruling Kent directly for a period.

Cædwalla was wounded during the conquest of the Isle of Wight, and perhaps for this reason he abdicated in 688 to travel to Rome for baptism. He reached Rome in April of 689, and was baptised on the Saturday before Easter, dying ten days later on 20 April 689.

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