undertaken if the county were a republic! The US government has criticised

the cost to the Brazilian people of maintaining their president.

Even Royal Families which are not reigning are dedicated to the service

of their people, and continue to be regarded as the symbol of the nation's

continuity. Prominent examples are H.R.H. the Duke of Braganza in Portugal

and H.R.H. the County of Paris in France. Royal Families forced to live in

exile, such as the Yugoslav and Romanian, are often promoters of charities

formed to help their countries.


The history of the English Crown up to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 is

long and varied. The concept of a single ruler unifying different tribes

based in England developed in the eighth and ninth centuries in figures

such as Offa and Alfred the Great, who began to create centralised systems

of government. Following the Norman Conquest, the machinery of government

developed further, producing long-lived national institutions including


The Middle Ages saw several fierce contests for the Crown, culminating in

the Wars of the Roses, which lasted for nearly a century. The conflict was

finally ended with the advent of the Tudors, the dynasty which produced

some of England's most successful rulers and a flourishing cultural

Renaissance. The end of the Tudor line with the death of the 'Virgin Queen'

in 1603 brought about the Union of the Crowns with Scotland.


In the Dark Ages during the fifth and sixth centuries, communities of

peoples in Britain inhabited homelands with ill-defined borders. Such

communities were organised and led by chieftains or kings. Following the

final withdrawal of the Roman legions from the provinces of Britannia in

around 408 AD these small kingdoms were left to preserve their own order

and to deal with invaders and waves of migrant peoples such as the Picts

from beyond Hadrian's Wall, the Scots from Ireland and Germanic tribes from

the continent. (King Arthur, a larger-than-life figure, has often been

cited as a leader of one or more of these kingdoms during this period,

although his name now tends to be used as a symbol of British resistance

against invasion.)

The invading communities overwhelmed or adapted existing kingdoms and

created new ones - for example, the Angles in Mercia and Northumbria. Some

British kingdoms initially survived the onslaught, such as Strathclyde,

which was wedged in the north between Pictland and the new Anglo-Saxon

kingdom of Northumbria.

By 650 AD, the British Isles were a patchwork of many kingdoms founded

from native or immigrant communities and led by powerful chieftains or

kings. In their personal feuds and struggles between communities for

control and supremacy, a small number of kingdoms became dominant: Bernicia

and Deira (which merged to form Northumbria in 651 AD), Lindsey, East

Anglia, Mercia, Wessex and Kent. Until the late seventh century, a series

of warrior-kings in turn established their own personal authority over

other kings, usually won by force or through alliances and often cemented

by dynastic marriages.

According to the later chronicler Bede, the most famous of these kings

was Ethelberht, king of Kent (reigned c.560-616), who married Bertha, the

Christian daughter of the king of Paris, and who became the first English

king to be converted to Christianity (St Augustine's mission from the Pope

to Britain in 597 during Ethelberht's reign prompted thousands of such

conversions). Ethelberht's law code was the first to be written in any

Germanic language and included 90 laws. His influence extended both north

and south of the river Humber: his nephew became king of the East Saxons

and his daughter married king Edwin of Northumbria (died 633).

In the eighth century, smaller kingdoms in the British Isles continued to

fall to more powerful kingdoms, which claimed rights over whole areas and

established temporary primacies: Dalriada in Scotland, Munster and Ulster

in Ireland. In England, Mercia and later Wessex came to dominate, giving

rise to the start of the monarchy.

Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the succession was frequently

contested, by both the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and leaders of the settling

Scandinavian communities. The Scandinavian influence was to prove strong in

the early years. It was the threat of invading Vikings which galvanised

English leaders into unifying their forces, and, centuries later, the

Normans who successfully invaded in 1066 were themselves the descendants of

Scandinavian 'Northmen'.


802 – 1066

EGBERT = Redburga


ETHELWULF = Osburga dau. of Oslac of Isle of




the Great = Ealhswith

ETHELBALD (860–866)

ETHELRED (871–899)



Ecgwyn =





Elgiva = EDMUND I




EDWY Ethelfleda = EDGAR = Elfrida,

dau. of Ordgar, Ealdorman of East Anglia

(955–959) dau. of (959–975)









(deposed 1013/14)





Godwin = Gytha

EDWARD THE = Eadgyth





EGBERT (802-39 AD)


Known as the first King of All England, he was forced into exile at the

court of Charlemagne, by the powerful Offa, King of Mercia. Egbert returned

to England in 802 and was recognized as king of Wessex. He defeated the

rival Mercians at the battle of Ellendun in 825. In 829, the Northumbrians

accepted his overlordship and he was proclaimed "Bretwalda" or sole ruler

of Britain.


[pic]Жthelwulf was the son of Egbert and a sub-king of Kent. He assumed

the throne of Wessex upon his father's death in 839. His reign is

characterized by the usual Viking invasions and repulsions common to all

English rulers of the time, but the making of war was not his chief claim

to fame. Жthelwulf is remembered, however dimly, as a highly religious man

who cared about the establishment and preservation of the church. He was

also a wealthy man and controlled vast resources. Out of these resources,

he gave generously, to Rome and to religious houses that were in need.

He was an only child, but had fathered five sons, by his first wife,

Osburga. He recognized that there could be difficulties with contention

over the succession. He devised a scheme which would guarantee (insofar as

it was possible to do so) that each child would have his turn on the throne

without having to worry about rival claims from his siblings. Жthelwulf

provided that the oldest living child would succeed to the throne and would

control all the resources of the crown, without having them divided among

the others, so that he would have adequate resources to rule. That he was

able to provide for the continuation of his dynasty is a matter of record,

but he was not able to guarantee familial harmony with his plan. This is

proved by what we know of the foul plottings of his son, Жthelbald, while

Жthelwulf was on pilgrimage to Rome in 855.

Жthelwulf was a wise and capable ruler, whose vision made possible the

beneficial reign of his youngest son, Alfred the Great.

ЖTHELBALD (855-8 (subking), 858-60)

While his father, Жthelwulf, was on pilgrimage to Rome in 855, Жthelbald

plotted with the Bishop of Sherbourne and the ealdorman of Somerset against

him. The specific details of the plot are unknown, but upon his return from

Rome, Жthelwulf found his direct authority limited to the sub-kingdom of

Kent, while Жthelbald controlled Wessex.

Жthelwulf died in 858, and full control passed to Жthelbald. Perhaps

Жthelbald's premature power grab was occasioned by impatience, or greed, or

lack of confidence in his father's succession plans. Whatever the case, he

did not live long to enjoy it. He died in 860, passing the throne to his

brother, Жthelbert, just as Жthelwulf had planned.


[pic]Very little is known about Жthelbert, who took his rightful place in

the line of succession to the throne of Wessex at around 30 years of age.

Like all other rulers of his day, he had to contend with Viking raids on

his territories and even had to battle them in his capital city of

Winchester. Apparently, his military leadership was adequate, since, on

this occasion, the Vikings were cut off on their retreat to the coast and

were slaughtered, according to a contemporary source, in a "bloody battle."

ЖTHELRED I (866-71 AD)

Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex, and son of King Жthelwulf, who ruled England

during a time of great pressure from the invading Danes. He was an affable

man, a devoutly religious man and the older brother of Alfred the Great,

his second-in-command in the resistance against the invaders. Together,

they defeated the Danish kings Bagseg and Halfdan at the battle of Ashdown

in 870.

ALFRED «THE GREAT» (871-899)

Born at Wantage, Berkshire, in 849, Alfred was the fifth son of

Aethelwulf, king of the West Saxons. At their father's behest and by mutual

agreement, Alfred's elder brothers succeeded to the kingship in turn,

rather than endanger the kingdom by passing it to under-age children at a

time when the country was threatened by worsening Viking raids from


Since the 790s, the Vikings had been using fast mobile armies, numbering

thousands of men embarked in shallow-draught longships, to raid the coasts

and inland waters of England for plunder. Such raids were evolving into

permanent Danish settlements; in 867, the Vikings seized York and

established their own kingdom in the southern part of Northumbria. The

Vikings overcame two other major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, East Anglia and

Mercia, and their kings were either tortured to death or fled. Finally, in

870 the Danes attacked the only remaining independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom,

Wessex, whose forces were commanded by King Aethelred and his younger

brother Alfred. At the battle of Ashdown in 871, Alfred routed the Viking

army in a fiercely fought uphill assault. However, further defeats followed

for Wessex and Alfred's brother died.

As king of Wessex at the age of 21, Alfred (reigned 871-99) was a

strongminded but highly strung battle veteran at the head of remaining

resistance to the Vikings in southern England. In early 878, the Danes led

by King Guthrum seized Chippenham in Wiltshire in a lightning strike and

used it as a secure base from which to devastate Wessex. Local people

either surrendered or escaped (Hampshire people fled to the Isle of Wight),

and the West Saxons were reduced to hit and run attacks seizing provisions

when they could. With only his royal bodyguard, a small army of thegns (the

king's followers) and Aethelnoth ealdorman of Somerset as his ally, Alfred

withdrew to the Somerset tidal marshes in which he had probably hunted as a

youth. (It was during this time that Alfred, in his preoccupation with the

defence of his kingdom, allegedly burned some cakes which he had been asked

to look after; the incident was a legend dating from early twelfth century


A resourceful fighter, Alfred reassessed his strategy and adopted the

Danes' tactics by building a fortified base at Athelney in the Somerset

marshes and summoning a mobile army of men from Wiltshire, Somerset and

part of Hampshire to pursue guerrilla warfare against the Danes. In May

878, Alfred's army defeated the Danes at the battle of Edington. According

to his contemporary biographer Bishop Asser, 'Alfred attacked the whole

pagan army fighting ferociously in dense order, and by divine will

eventually won the victory, made great slaughter among them, and pursued

them to their fortress (Chippenham) ... After fourteen days the pagans were

brought to the extreme depths of despair by hunger, cold and fear, and they

sought peace'. This unexpected victory proved to be the turning point in

Wessex's battle for survival.

Realising that he could not drive the Danes out of the rest of England,

Alfred concluded peace with them in the treaty of Wedmore. King Guthrum was

converted to Christianity with Alfred as godfather and many of the Danes

returned to East Anglia where they settled as farmers. In 886, Alfred

negotiated a partition treaty with the Danes, in which a frontier was

demarcated along the Roman Watling Street and northern and eastern England

came under the jurisdiction of the Danes - an area known as 'Danelaw'.

Alfred therefore gained control of areas of West Mercia and Kent which had

been beyond the boundaries of Wessex. To consolidate alliances against the

Danes, Alfred married one of his daughters, Aethelflaed, to the ealdorman

of Mercia -Alfred himself had married Eahlswith, a Mercian noblewoman - and

another daughter, Aelfthryth, to the count of Flanders, a strong naval

power at a time when the Vikings were settling in eastern England.

The Danish threat remained, and Alfred reorganised the Wessex defences in

recognition that efficient defence and economic prosperity were

interdependent. First, he organised his army (the thegns, and the existing

militia known as the fyrd) on a rota basis, so he could raise a 'rapid

reaction force' to deal with raiders whilst still enabling his thegns and

peasants to tend their farms.

Second, Alfred started a building programme of well-defended settlements

across southern England. These were fortified market places ('borough'

comes from the Old English burh, meaning fortress); by deliberate royal

planning, settlers received plots and in return manned the defences in

times of war. (Such plots in London under Alfred's rule in the 880s shaped

the streetplan which still exists today between Cheapside and the Thames.)

This obligation required careful recording in what became known as 'the

Burghal Hidage', which gave details of the building and manning of Wessex

and Mercian burhs according to their size, the length of their ramparts and

the number of men needed to garrison them. Centred round Alfred's royal

palace in Winchester, this network of burhs with strongpoints on the main

river routes was such that no part of Wessex was more than 20 miles from

the refuge of one of these settlements. Together with a navy of new fast

ships built on Alfred's orders, southern England now had a defence in depth

against Danish raiders.

Alfred's concept of kingship extended beyond the administration of the

tribal kingdom of Wessex into a broader context. A religiously devout and

pragmatic man who learnt Latin in his late thirties, he recognised that the

general deterioration in learning and religion caused by the Vikings'

destruction of monasteries (the centres of the rudimentary education

network) had serious implications for rulership. For example, the poor

standards in Latin had led to a decline in the use of the charter as an

instrument of royal government to disseminate the king's instructions and

legislation. In one of his prefaces, Alfred wrote 'so general was its

[Latin] decay in England that there were very few on this side of the

Humber who could understand their rituals in English or translate a letter

from Latin into English ... so few that I cannot remember a single one

south of the Thames when I came to the throne.'

To improve literacy, Alfred arranged, and took part in, the translation

(by scholars from Mercia) from Latin into Anglo-Saxon of a handful of books

he thought it 'most needful for men to know, and to bring it to pass ... if

we have the peace, that all the youth now in England ... may be devoted to

learning'. These books covered history, philosophy and Gregory the Great's

'Pastoral Care' (a handbook for bishops), and copies of these books were

Страницы: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

2012 © Все права защищены
При использовании материалов активная ссылка на источник обязательна.