List of monarchs of Wessex

This article is part of a series on
the kings of Anglo-Saxon England
British isles 802.jpg

This is a list of monarchs of Wessex until 927. For later monarchs, see the List of English monarchs. While the details of the later monarchs are confirmed by a number of sources, the earlier ones are in many cases obscure.

The names are given in modern English form followed by the names and titles (as far as is known) in contemporary Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and Latin, the prevalent "official" languages of the time in England.

This was a period in which spellings varied widely, even within a document. A number of variations of the details below exist. Among these are the preference between the runic character thorn (Þ, lower-case þ, from the rune of the same name) and the letter eth (Ð or ð), both of which are pronounced /th/ and were interchangeable. They were used indiscriminately for voiced and unvoiced /th/ sounds, unlike in modern Icelandic. Thorn tended to be more used in the south (Wessex) and eth in the North (Mercia and Northumbria). Separate letters th were preferred in the earliest period in Northern texts, and returned to dominate by the Middle English period onward.

The character ⁊ (Tironian et) was used as the ampersand (&) in contemporary Anglo-Saxon writings. The era pre-dates the emergence of some forms of writing accepted today; notably rare were lower case characters, and the letters W and U. W was occasionally rendered VV (later UU), but the runic character wynn (Ƿ or ƿ) was a common way of writing the /w/ sound. Again the West Saxons initially preferred the character derived from a rune, and the Angles/Engle preferred the Latin-derived lettering VV, consistent with the thorn versus eth usage pattern.

Except in manuscripts, runic letters were an Anglian phenomenon. The early Engle restricted the use of runes to monuments, whereas the Saxons adopted wynn and thorn for sounds which did not have a Latin equivalent. Otherwise they were not used in Wessex.

Monarchs of the West Saxons (Wessex)

Reign Incumbent Notes
The Kingdom of the Gewissae
Cerdicing dynasty
519 to 534 Cerdic Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name.
534 to 560 Cynric Son, or according to some sources grandson, of Cerdic.
560 to 591 Ceawlin Son of Cynric. Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name.
591 to 597 Ceol Nephew of Ceawlin, grandson of Cynric.
597 to 611 Ceolwulf Brother of Ceol, grandson of Cynric.
611 to 643 Cynegils Sources derive him from Cynric, but name different dynasty members as his father. Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name
c. 626 to 636 Cwichelm Co-ruler with Cynegils, perhaps his son of this name.
643 to 645 Cenwalh Son of Cynegils. Possibly Celtic, Brythonic, name; Deposed
Mercian dynasty
645 to 648 Penda King of Mercia, expelled Cenwalh.
Cerdicing dynasty
648 to 674 Cenwalh Restored; reigned jointly with his wife Queen Seaxburh 672 to 674.
672 to 674 Seaxburh Reigned jointly with her husband Cenwalh until his death 674
674 Cenfus (Disputed) Perhaps reigned between Seaxburh and his son Æscwine. Given a remote descent from Cynric.
674 to 676 Æscwine Son of Cenfus.
676 to 685 Centwine Traditionally son of Cynegils, but this is disputed. Deposed by Cædwalla
685 to 688 Cædwalla Perhaps descendant of Ceawlin. Usurper; abdicated, possibly of British origin.
688 to 726 Ine Descendant of Ceawlin. Abdicated
726 to 740 Æthelheard Perhaps brother-in-law of Ine.
740 to 756 Cuthred Relative, possibly brother, of Æthelheard.
756 to 757 Sigeberht Distant relative of Cuthred. Deposed (and killed?) by Cynewulf
757 to 786 Cynewulf Assassinated by Cyneheard, brother of Sigeberht
786 to 802 Beorhtric
802 to 839 Ecgberht Descendant of Ine's brother.
839 to 858 Æthelwulf Son of Ecgberht.
858 to 860 Æthelbald Son of Æthelwulf.
860 to 865 Æthelberht Son of Æthelwulf.
865 to 871 Æthelred Son of Æthelwulf.
871 to 899 Alfred the Great Son of Æthelwulf. The only Anglo-Saxon monarch to be given the epithet "the Great".
899 to 924 Edward the Elder Son of Alfred. Died 17 July 924
924 Ælfweard? Second son of Edward the Elder. Died 2 August 924, only 16 days after his father. Only referred to as king in late sources.
924 to 927 Æthelstan First son of Edward the Elder. Became King of the English in 927 when the Northumbrians accepted his lordship.[1]
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