Æthelbald of Mercia
Æthelbald was the King of Mercia from 716 until he was killed in 757. He came to the throne after the death of his cousin, King Ceolred, who had driven him into exile. During his long reign, Mercia became the dominant kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons.
About Æthelbald of Mercia in brief
Æthelbald was the King of Mercia from 716 until he was killed in 757. He was the son of Alweo and thus a grandson of King Eowa. He came to the throne after the death of his cousin, King Ceolred, who had driven him into exile. During his long reign, Mercia became the dominant kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons, and recovered the position of pre-eminence it had enjoyed during the strong reigns of Mercian kings Penda and Wulfhere between about 628 and 675. St. Boniface wrote to Æ thelbald in about 745, reproving him for various dissolute and irreligious acts. He and his men took refuge in the Fens in the area, and visited Guthlac, a Mercian nobleman who abandoned a career of violence to become first a monk at Repton Abbey, and later a hermit living in a barrow at Crowland, in the East Anglian fens. It is possible that a king named Ceolwald reigned for a short while between Ceol red and Æthe lbald, but this is not recorded in the Chronicle. After his death, ÆThelbald had a dream in which he had a prophesied greatness for him, and rewarded him with a shrine when he had become king. The king was succeeded briefly by Beornred, of whom little is known, but within a year, Offa seized the throne, possibly after a brief civil war.
Under Offa Mercia entered its most prosperous and influential period, and it is likely that Offa was the last king of the Mercians before the Norman invasion of England in 1066. The Anglo- Saxon Chronicle does not mention Eowa as king; though it does date Penda’s reign as the thirty years from 626 to 656, when Penda was killed at the battle of the Winwaed. If they did divide Mercia, it’s likely that Eowa ruled northern Mercia as Peada was established later as the king of southern Mercia by the Northumbrian Oswiu, who killed Penda in 656. The Annales Cambriae is the source for Eowa’s death in 644 at the fight of Maserfield, where Penda defeated Oswald of Northumbria. It may be possible that the brother of Penda, perhaps a brother of Ceol Red, reigned over northern Mercia and became ruler of the whole of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom from 709 to 716. After Offa’s death, it is possible a brother named Guthlac reigned for a short time between Ceolred and Offa, but it is also possible a brother of Ceol red became ruler of Mercia and reigned in 716.