Biography of King Burgred of Mercia -875

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 852. About this time Abbot Ceolred of Medhamsted, with the concurrence of the monks, let to hand the land of Sempringham [Map] to Wulfred, with the provision, that after his demise the said land should revert to the monastery; that Wulfred should give the land of Sleaford to Medhamsted, and should send each year into the monastery sixty loads of wood, twelve loads of coal, six loads of peat, two tuns full of fine ale, two neats' carcases, six hundred loaves, and ten kilderkins of Welsh ale; one horse also each year, and thirty shillings, and one night's entertainment. This agreement was made in the presence of King Burhred. Archbishop Ceolnoth, Bishops Tunbert, Kenred, Aldhun, and Bertred; Abbots Witred and Weftherd, Aldermen Ethelherd and Hunbert, and many others.

Battle of the Isle of Thanet

Assers Life of Alfred 853. 853. 9. Other Events of 853.24 That same year also, Ealdorman Ealhere with the men of Kent, and Huda with the men of Surrey, fought bravely and resolutely against an army of the heathen in the island which is called Tenet [Map]25 in the Saxon tongue, but Ruim in the Welsh language. At first the Christians were victorious. The battle lasted a long time; many fell on both sides, and were drowned in the water; and both the ealdormen were there slain. In the same year also, after Easter, [his future father-in-law] Æthelwulf, King of the West Saxons, gave his [his future wife] daughter (age 15) to Burgred, King of the Mercians, as his queen, and the marriage was celebrated in princely wise at the royal vill of Chippenham [Map].

Note 24. Based upon the Chronicle.

Note 25. Thanet [Map].

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 853. This year Burhred, King of Mercia, with his council, besought [his future father-in-law] King Ethelwulf to assist him to subdue North-Wales. He did so; and with an army marched over Mercia into North-Wales, and made all the inhabitants subject to him. The same year King Ethelwulf sent his son [his future brother-in-law] Alfred to Rome (age 4); and Leo, who was then pope, consecrated him king, and adopted him as his spiritual son. The same year also Elchere with the men of Kent, and Huda with the men of Surrey, fought in the Isle of Thanet [Map] with the heathen army, and soon obtained the victory; but there were many men slain and drowned on either hand, and both the aldermen killed. Burhred, the Mercian king, about this time received in marriage the [his future wife] daughter (age 15) of Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons.

Assers Life of Alfred 853. 853. 7. Æthelwulf assists Burgred.18 In the year of our Lord's incarnation 853, which was the fifth of King Alfred's life, Burgred, King of the Mercians, sent messengers to beseech [his future father-in-law] Æthelwulf, King of the West Saxons, to come and help him in reducing to his sway the inhabitants of Mid-Wales, who dwell between Mercia and the western sea, and who were struggling against him beyond measure. So without delay King Æthelwulf, on receipt of the embassy, moved his army, and advanced with King Burgred against Wales19; and immediately upon his entrance he ravaged it, and reduced it under subjection to Burgred. This being done, he returned home.

Note 18. Mainly from the Chronicle.

Note 19. The 'North Welsh' of the Chronicle.

Around May 853 King Burgred of Mercia and Æthelswith Wessex Queen Consort Mercia (age 15) were married at Chippenham, Wiltshire [Map]. She by marriage Queen Consort Mercia. She the daughter of King Æthelwulf of Wessex and Osburgh Queen Consort Wessex.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 868. This year the same army went into Mercia to Nottingham [Map], and there fixed their winter-quarters; and Burhred, king of the Mercians, with his council, besought [his brother-in-law] Ethered, king of the West-Saxons (age 21), and [his brother-in-law] Alfred (age 19), his brother; that they would assist them in fighting against the army. And they went with the West-Saxon army into Mercia as far as Nottingham, and there meeting the army on the works, they beset them within. But there was no heavy fight; for the Mercians made peace with the army.

Assers Life of Alfred 868. 868. 30. The Danes at Nottingham.71 In that same year the above-named army of heathen, leaving Northumbria, invaded Mercia, and advanced to Nottingham [Map], which is called in Welsh Tigguocobauc72, but in Latin 'The House of Caves,' and wintered there that same year. Immediately on their approach, Burgred, King of the Mercians, and all the nobles of that nation, sent messengers to [his brother-in-law] Æthelred (age 21)73, King of the West Saxons, and his brother [his brother-in-law] Alfred (age 19), entreating them to come and aid them in fighting against the aforesaid army. Their request was readily granted; for the brothers, as soon as promised, assembled an immense army from every part of their [realm], and, entering Mercia, came to Nottingham [Map], all eager for battle. When now the heathen, defended by the castle, refused to fight, and the Christians were unable to destroy the wall, peace was made between the Mercians and the heathen, and the two brothers, Æthelred (age 21) and Alfred, returned home with their troops.

Note 71. Largely from the Chronicle.

Note 72. 'A compound of tig (Modern Welsh tŷ, "house"), and guocobauc (Modern Welsh gogofawg), an adjective derived from gogof, "cave." ... The name ... is certainly applicable to Nottingham [Map], which has long been famous for the houses excavated out of the soft sandstone upon which it stands' (Stevenson). The word Nottingham itself, however, has not this meaning.

Note 73. Here and elsewhere in the text often spelled Æthered.

Assers Life of Alfred 874. 874. 46. The Danes in Mercia.99 In the year of our Lord's incarnation 874, being the twenty-sixth of King Alfred's life, the above-named army left Lindsey and marched to Mercia, where they wintered at Repton [Map].100 Also they compelled Burgred, King of Mercia, against his will to leave his kingdom and go beyond sea to Rome, in the twenty-second year of his reign. He did not live long after his arrival at Rome, but died there, and was honorably buried in the Colony of the Saxons101, in St. Mary's church102, where he awaits the Lord's coming and the first resurrection with the just. The heathen also, after his expulsion, subjected the whole kingdom of Mercia to their dominion; but, by a miserable arrangement, gave it into the custody of a certain foolish man, named Ceolwulf, one of the [king∮s] thanes, on condition that he should peaceably restore it to them on whatsoever day they should wish to have it again; and to bind this agreement he gave them hostages, and swore that he would not oppose their will in any way, but be obedient to them in every respect.

Note 99. Chiefly from the Chronicle.

Note 100. In Derbyshire.

Note 101. Among the Germans there were Colonies (Scholæ) of the Frisians, Franks, and Lombards, as well as of the Saxons.

Note 102. Now Santo Spirito in Sassia, near the Vatican.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 874. This year went the army from Lindsey to Repton [Map], and there took up their winter-quarters, drove the king, Burhred, over sea, when he had reigned about two and twenty winters, and subdued all that land. He then went to Rome, and there remained to the end of his life. And his body lies in the church of Sancta Maria, in the school of the English nation. And the same year they gave Ceolwulf, an unwise king's thane, the Mercian kingdom to hold; and he swore oaths to them, and gave hostages, that it should be ready for them on whatever day they would have it; and he would be ready with himself, and with all those that would remain with him, at the service of the army.

Around 875 King Burgred of Mercia died.

In 888 [his former wife] Æthelswith Wessex Queen Consort Mercia (age 50) died at Pavia.