Ecgberht, King of Wessex

Egbert - MS Royal 14 B V.jpg
Depiction of Ecgberht from the Genealogical Chronicle of the English Kings, a late 13th-century manuscript in the British Library
King of Wessex
Reign802 – 839
King of Kent
Reign825 – 839
Born771 or 775[1]
Died839 (aged 64 or 68)
IssueÆthelwulf, King of Wessex
FatherEalhmund of Kent

Ecgberht (771/775 – 839), also spelled Egbert, Ecgbert, or Ecgbriht, was King of Wessex from 802 until his death in 839. His father was Ealhmund of Kent. In the 780s Ecgberht was forced into exile by Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, but on Beorhtric's death in 802 Ecgberht returned and took the throne.

Little is known of the first 20 years of Ecgberht's reign, but it is thought that he was able to maintain the independence of Wessex against the kingdom of Mercia, which at that time dominated the other southern English kingdoms. In 825 Ecgberht defeated Beornwulf of Mercia, ended Mercia's supremacy at the Battle of Ellandun, and proceeded to take control of the Mercian dependencies in southeastern England. In 829 he defeated Wiglaf of Mercia and drove him out of his kingdom, temporarily ruling Mercia directly. Later that year Ecgberht received the submission of the Northumbrian king at Dore. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle subsequently described Ecgberht as a bretwalda or 'wide-ruler' of Anglo-Saxon lands.

Ecgberht was unable to maintain this dominant position, and within a year Wiglaf regained the throne of Mercia. However, Wessex did retain control of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey; these territories were given to Ecgberht's son Æthelwulf to rule as a subking under Ecgberht. When Ecgberht died in 839, Æthelwulf succeeded him; the southeastern kingdoms were finally absorbed into the kingdom of Wessex after Æthelwulf's death in 858.


Historians do not agree on Ecgberht's ancestry. The earliest version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Parker Chronicle, begins with a genealogical preface tracing the ancestry of Ecgberht's son Æthelwulf back through Ecgberht, Ealhmund (thought to be Ealhmund of Kent), and the otherwise unknown Eoppa and Eafa to Ingild, brother of King Ine of Wessex, who abdicated the throne in 726. It continues back to Cerdic, founder of the House of Wessex.[2] Ecgberht's descent from Ingild was accepted by Frank Stenton, but not the earlier genealogy back to Cerdic.[3] Heather Edwards in her Online Dictionary of National Biography article on Ecgberht argues that he was of Kentish origin, and that the West Saxon descent may have been manufactured during his reign to give him legitimacy,[4] whereas Rory Naismith considered a Kentish origin unlikely, and that it is more probable that "Ecgberht was born of good West Saxon royal stock".[5]

Ecgberht's wife's name is unknown. A fifteenth century chronicle now held by Oxford University names Ecgberht's wife as Redburga who was supposedly a relative of Charlemagne that he married when he was banished to Francia, but this is dismissed by academic historians in view of its late date.[6] He is reputed to have had a half-sister Alburga, later to be recognised as a saint for her founding of Wilton Abbey. She was married to Wulfstan, ealdorman of Wiltshire, and on his death in 802 she became a nun, Abbess of Wilton Abbey.[7]

Other Languages
Ænglisc: Ecgbryht
azərbaycanca: Eqbert
تۆرکجه: اقبرت (وسکس)
Bân-lâm-gú: Egbert (Wessex)
беларуская: Эгберт Уэсекскі
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Эгбэрт Ўэсэкскі
български: Егбърт Уесекски
català: Egbert
čeština: Egbert
español: Egberto
Esperanto: Egbert (Wessex)
français: Egbert de Wessex
한국어: 에그버트
Bahasa Indonesia: Egbert dari Wessex
latviešu: Egberts
Lëtzebuergesch: Egbert vu Wessex
lietuvių: Egbertas
Nederlands: Egbert van Wessex
Plattdüütsch: Egbert (Wessex)
português: Egberto de Wessex
Simple English: Egbert of Wessex
slovenčina: Egbert
српски / srpski: Егберт од Весекса
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Egbert od Wessexa
Türkçe: Egbert
Tiếng Việt: Egbert của Wessex