By Chris Peers
In England within the 8th century, in the middle of the so-called darkish a while, Offa governed Mercia, one of many most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. For over 30 years he was once the dominant warlord within the territory south of the Humber and the driver in the back of the growth of Mercia’s strength. in the course of that turbulent interval he commanded Mercian armies of their fight opposed to the neighboring kingdoms of Northumbria and Wessex and opposed to the Welsh tribes. but the genuine tale of Offa’s lengthy reign and of the increase and fall of Mercia are little identified even supposing this can be probably the most fascinating episodes during this little-recorded section of England’s earlier. it truly is Chris Peers’s activity during this new examine to discover the proof approximately Offa and the opposite Mercian kings and to set them within the context of English background ahead of the arrival of the Danes.
"an first-class examine existence in Anglo-Saxon occasions, and at an missed yet extremely important ruler"
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Additional info for Offa and the Mercian Wars: The Rise and Fall of the First Great English Kingdom
Within the 440s they wrote to the Roman consul Aetius in Gaul, begging for support: ‘The barbarians force us into the ocean, and the ocean drives us again to the barbarians. among those, lethal choices confront us, drowning or slaughter. ’ yet Aetius was once already absolutely eager about the battle opposed to Attila and his Huns, and no aid will be despatched. in the meantime the Britons had rallied and quickly pushed off the invaders, yet famine, by way of a poor plague, triggered many deaths and weakened them nonetheless extra. Fearing that their enemies might quickly go back, they the recommendation of 1 in their kings, Vortigern, and employed German-speaking Saxon mercenaries from the Continent to guard them. This, says Bede, occurred through the reign of the Roman emperor Martianus, who got here to the throne within the yr 449. Vortigern introduced over 3 shiploads of Saxon warriors, they usually got land within the jap a part of the rustic in go back for army carrier. They fast proved their worthy through defeating a Pictish invasion from the north, then despatched again to Saxony for extra recruits, including, in Bede’s phrases, ‘that the rustic was once fertile and the Britons cowardly’. This sparked off a land rush which introduced immigrants from the territories of 3 of the main warlike pagan tribes of Germany – the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes. quickly they have been settling in such numbers that the Britons turned afraid. Bede doesn't in particular say that the Germans introduced their households with them, however it is obvious that he looked this as a large-scale payment of peoples instead of only a number of pillaging struggle bands. He is going directly to country that a few of the English peoples of his day have been all descended from those beginners: the occupants of Kent, and the Isle of Wight and the mainland contrary, from the Jutes; these of Essex, Sussex and Wessex from the Saxons; and the East and center Angles, the Northumbrians, the Mercians and ‘other English peoples’ from the Angles. It used to be the latter who brought on the disaster which was once to crush the local Britons, after they made an alliance with the Picts and tried to extort extra land and provisions from their British employers. whether they have been profitable during this we aren't informed, yet ultimately they broke out of the enclave the place that they had settled and commenced to ravage the rustic ‘from the japanese to the western shores’. there has been no organised competition and the Anglian conflict bands inflicted poor harm, destroying constructions, murdering bishops and monks in addition to laymen and forcing the survivors to escape in another country or take shelter within the hills. Bede’s language implies a planned genocide: ‘A few wretched survivors captured within the hills have been butchered wholesale, and others, determined with starvation, got here out and surrendered to the enemy for foodstuff, even though they have been doomed to lifelong slavery no matter if they escaped rapid bloodbath. ’ After this devastating raid the invaders back to their settlements, and the surviving Britons steadily rallied.