Saturday, July 25, 2009

Eadwine's Supremacy

Eadwine's immediate kingship did not reach further south than the Humber and the Dee. But before 625 he had brought the East Angles and the kingdoms of central England to submit to his over-lordship, and he hoped to make himself over-lord of the south as well, and thus to reduce all England to dependence on himself. In 625 he planned an attack upon the West Saxons, and with the object of winning Kent to his side, he married Æthelburh, a sister of the Kentish king. Kent was still the only Christian kingdom, and Eadwine was obliged to promise to his wife protection for her Christian worship. He was now free to attack the West Saxons. In 626, before he set out, ambassadors arrived from their king. As Eadwine was listening to them, one of their number rushed forward to stab him. His life was saved by the devotion of Lilla, one of his thegns, who threw his body in the way of the assassin, and was slain by the stroke intended for his lord. After this Eadwine marched against the West Saxons. He defeated them in battle and forced them to acknowledge him as their over-lord. He was now over-lord of all the English states except Kent, and Kent had become his ally in consequence of his marriage.

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