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The Saxon Heptarchy - the Kingdom of Sussex

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The shield of the History, Philosophy and Spirituality faculty of the h2g2 University.The Saxon Heptarchy - Overview
Kingdom Of Mercia (Mittel Angeln) | Kingdom Of Wessex | Kingdom Of East Anglia (Ost Angeln) | Kingdom Of Northumbria (Nord Angeln)
Kingdom Of Sussex | Kingdom Of Kent | Kingdom Of Essex (East Seaxe)

To see how the Kingdom of Sussex (Suth Sax) related to the other kingdoms of the Heptarchy, please read the introduction to the Saxon Heptarchy.

The Kingdom of Sussex: Principal Towns and Boundaries

The principal towns in the Kingdom were:

  • Chichester
  • Pevensey
  • Hastings

The Kingdom covered the area now encompassed by the modern county of Sussex. The kingdom was bordered:

  • To the north by the Kingdom of Wessex.
  • To the south by the coast and the English Channel.
  • To the east by the Kingdom of Wessex.
  • To the west by the Kingdom of Kent.

The Kingdom of Sussex: A History

The kingdom was established around the time of the Roman invasion in the area of the forest of Andred - a region which was, under the Romans, the territory of the Atrebates tribe. It was established by the Romans as a 'client kingdom1' and was one of the oldest of the kingdoms that made up the Heptarchy. The first king was the legendary Aelle who led a Saxon invasion of the area in 477 AD, and he established his base in Pevensey Castle (Anderitum). He reinforced his rule by the sword; it is recorded that he killed many of the Welsh (or British) and drove the rest into the Andersage forest.

The last independent kings of Sussex, who established a joint rule, were Atlfwald, Ealdwulf and Oslac. There is evidence that there may have been two more, Osmund and Oswald. These were succeeded by Eadwine who held the kingdom as an Ealdorman under Ethelred the Unready.

The Saxon peoples that were part of the Kingdom of Sussex were the South Saxons and the Haistingas.

The Kings of Sussex

  • Aelle: 477 - 491. He reigned until his death.
  • Cissa: Unrecorded. Though Cissa is believed to have been the next king, there are no records of the dates of his reign, nor who reigned between 491 and 660 AD.
  • Aethelwalh: 660 - 685. Was killed in battle when Caedwalla of Wessex invaded the kingdom.
  • Berhthun and Andhun: 685 AD to unknown date. They took control of the kingdom and expelled Caedwalla and the army of Wessex. In 686 AD, Caedwalla returned and took control of the kingdom.
  • From this point Kent is a sub-kingdom of Mercia.

The Wessex Kings of Sussex

Noohelm, Watt, Osric and Bryni: 692 - 717. Joint rulers of the kingdom. After the death of Watt in 700, Noohelm is recorded as supporting the king of Wessex in a war against King Geraint of the Britons. He reigned until his death.

The Mercian Kings of Sussex

Oswald, Oslac, Ealdwulf and Aelfwald: 772 - 791. There are sketchy details of their reign. It is known that as each died the others carried on, eventually leaving Ealdwulf as the last of the four.

In 825, the Kingdom of Sussex became part of the Kingdom of Wessex and was ruled by Egbert of Wessex.

The last recorded king of Sussex was Eadwine, 825 - 982. No records exist of his reign. He reigned until his death.

1One which agreed to become allies of Rome rather than be conquered by it.

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