THE NOTHGYTH QUEST HYPOTHESIS
For the Lineage of South Saxon Rulers. Entries which contain, or are influenced by, conjectural genealogy are indicated thus: BERHTUN (conjecture), unless the conjecture is otherwise clarified in the text.
Firstly, about the Royal Legend of the South Saxons, and secondly, how the aim has been pursued to establish this hypothesis.
Tradition has held that Aelle landed from Gaul at Cymen’s Shore in 477, with his three sons Cymen, Wlencing and Cissa, with three keel-loads of warriors.There was a battle between the Saxons and the Welsh at Mearcred’s Burn (unidentified) in 485, and six years later, in 491, Aelle conquered the coastal strip and captured the Roman fort at Pevensey with the aid of his youngest son Cissa.It was told that Aelle was the first Bretwalda, and it was also claimed that he was the first king of the South Saxons. After Aelle’s death in 514, his son Cissa followed him as king, making Noviomagum Regnorum his royal centre, renaming the Roman town Cissan Ceaster. His son Wincheling was said to have founded Winchelsea, and tradition also held that Cissa was still king 72 years after his reign began (perhaps referring originally to the death of an heir), and that he eventually died in 590, after reigning for 76 years. Presumably in a later period, Cissa was believed to have died at about the same age as the biblical Adam. On Cissa’s death, it was told, the kingdom of the South Saxons passed to Ceawlin, King of the West Saxons. This royal legend has only survived in fragments and, as it stands, has a number of difficulties. It is also not feasible in terms of time scale. However, the remains of this oral legend undoubtedly hide the historical truth, and surely it can be argued that some of its content is feasible.
It is known, because of the evidence found in Sussex place names, that the coast of the sub-Roman region formerly held by the Regni, sometimes referred to as Rhegin, was settled in the late fifth century by some forty chieftains, most of whom were likely to have risen from the ranks of the aristocratic warriors of the Warlord Aelle and his uncle,Wlenca (see the reconstruction hypothesis below). By comparing patronymic place names in Sussex in terms of Anglo-Saxon naming patterns, evidence might be found that a few warriors could have been kinsmen.The usurpation of sub-Roman Rhegin, and turning it into a Germanican Sussex appears to have been an organised enterprise. It was during this period, near Mount Cayburn where the local British warriors made their last stand after the destruction of Pevensey, that South Malling was founded by a cheiftain called Mealla, a name easily compounded over time with Aelle (Malla>Ella). In line with Anglo-Saxon naming patterns amongst kinsman such as Nunna and Ine, and taking account of campaigning brothers like Ceawlin and Cutha, there would appear to be the circumstantial evidence here to propose the idea that Aelle was Mealla’s elder bother. In which case, in terms of this hypothesis, it seems feasible that Mealla would have been one of the four alderman who landed near Selsey in 477.
An attempt has been made here to reconstruct hypothetically the royal history of the South Saxons, starting at its genesis through to its demise at the hand of the Mercians in 772, and concluding with the period of the last South Saxon dukes.The endeavour has been to do this by using history as a framework for informed conjecture to establish a genealogical hypothesis. The main reference material which was employed to assist this process is listed in the bibliography at the end of the article. Further, as has been clarified below, it would seem reasonable to believe that the kingdom of the South Saxons became extinct under the military power of Wessex, during the late sixth century, and not that the South Saxon kingdom was lost to the Britons in the decades that followed the decisive British victory over Aelle, and the Kentish Aesc, at Mount Badon in 493 (the date given by Bede,uncertain). Nevertheless, the defeat of Aelle’s Saxons halted any advance they might have intended to make for westward settlement.
THE RECONSTRUCTION HYPOTHESIS IN SIX PARTS
Part 1 - THE AELLEAN WARLORDSHIP & THE CISSAN
KINGDOM of THE SOUTH SAXONS
Note: the elevation of Cissa to co-warlord, below, is conjectural.
WLENCA (conjecture), born late 420’s? The name of his father is not known. A Saxon chieftain who fathered the alderman known eventually as Cymen Wlencing. The assumption here is that Wlenca was the consanguine maternal uncle of the royal brothers Aelle and Mealla,and that he was the eldest of the four alderman who landed near Selsey in 477, bringing with him the experience of his years, although of lower hierarchical standing than his nephews. He probably founded his settlement at Lancing in the same year. This Wlencing chieftainship was inherited eventually by his son Cymen.
AELLE , born early 450’s? Probably the eldest son of a Saxon king claiming patrilineal descent from the god Woden, who perhaps died around 476 . Aelle, who perhaps sailed with his three keel-loads of aristocratic warriors from the Rhine delta, might have made a first landing with his fellow aldermen and blood relatives on the island which became his tribal settlement of Hayling Island. Here, maybe, he would have been recognised as the local king . He landed with his warriors and senior ranking male relatives near Selsey in 477. From his bravest and most trusted warriors, Aelle would have made the chieftains who were to settle the new territories to be gained from the Britons. Eventually, enough of the coastal strip had been taken over to enable Aelle to capture and destroy Pevensey in 491. There must have been setbacks, most notably the indecisive battle of Mearcred’s Burn in 485. He made his eldest son, Cissa, his co-warlord of the South Saxons after the destruction of Pevensey. Not only was Aelle the royal warlord of the South Saxons, but in spite of his decisive defeat by the Britons at Mount Baden, he was also recognised as the first Bretwalda. It is likely that this military status would have been accepted by all Jutes and Saxons south of the Thames. Aelle died in 514 , leaving the warlordship of the South Saxons to his eldest son, and co-warlord , Cissa. According to tradition the first Bretwalda had three sons, but the names of the younger two were not remembered, overshadowed as they were by Cissa, born in 477, and confused with the founding fathers who landed near Selsey in the same year. It is improbable that Aelle was ever king of the all South Saxons, but royal lineage would have helped to assert his authority over them.
MEALLA (conjecture), b. late 450’s? Presumed here to have been a royal alderman and Aelle’s younger brother, he would also have been the leading warrior in the warlord’s retinue until Cissa Aelling reached his majority at the age of fourteen. Mealla landed with Aelle near Selsey in 477, and is likely to have campaigned with him during the nascent years of Sussex. In 491, Aelle having destroyed the Roman fort of Pevensey, it was probably Mealla who defeated the local Britons making their last stand on Mount Cayburn (Old Welsh, Caerbryn). After the British defeat, Mealla founded his own settlement, not far from the Cayburn battle site, at South Malling .
CYMEN WLENCING (conjecture), b. early 450’s? Wlenca’s son and heir, and taken here as the maternal first cousin of the royal brothers Aelle and Maella, and landing with them near Selsey in 477, at a place which became known as Cymen’s Shore, but lost to the sea many generations later. The site is now refered to as The Owers. On Wlenca’s death, Cymen would have inherited his father’s settlement at Lancing. Cymen then held two aldermanries, and it appears that he was referred to as Cymen Wlencing, because of his separated estates.
*CISSA b. 477and died in 567 - the eldest of Aelle’s three sons. The names of the other two are not known. He might have been born in his father’s vil on Hayling Island. When Cissa reached his majority, at the age of fourteen in 491, he was elevated by his father to be the co-warlord, perhaps after the fall of Pevensey. On Aelle’s death in 514, Cissa inherited the warlordship as his own, and presumedly was able to use the influence of his royal ancestry to found the kingdom of the South Saxons. He made the old Roman town of Noviomagum Regnorum his royal centre, renaming it Cissan Ceaster, today’s Chichester . He reigned from 514-567, and like Claudia Crysis of Roman Lincoln, Cissa died aged ninety. Wine, his son and heir, had probably already predeceased him (see below). After Cissa’s death, the kingship of the South Saxons passed to Ceawlin, by then king of the West Saxons , who had married a granddaughter of Cissa (see the conjecture in the entry for Wine Cissing below). However, a separate kingdom of the South Saxons became irrelevant , in a warrior age , when armed men from Sussex could avenge the defeat of their forefathers at Mount Baden fighting for Ceawlin, King and Second Bretwalda, as he advanced against the Britons .
*Note: pronounced as ‘chissa.’
*WINE CISSING (wrongly,Wincheling), ?born in the late 500’s and died about 563, predeceasing his father King Cissa. He founded the earliest settlement at Winchelsea, perhaps Winesceseley, the Gwent-chesel-ey of the later mediaeval period , which was finally lost to the sea in the great storm of 1287. Wine probably had his vil at Winchelsea from where, as his father’s heir (?or Atheling) he would have represented royal authority on the East March of the kingdom. Here he would have been known as Wine Cissing, the king’s son and co-ruler. The hypothesis conjectures here that he had a daughter , maybe his eldest surviving child, who was wedded to Ceawlin of Wessex (see below), sometime in the early 550’s, and that this union was to prove extinctive to the survival of a South Saxon kingdom. This would explain why the Cissan kingdom devolved the on the powerful Ceawlin in 567.
*Note : Wine Cissing should be pronounced like ‘winna chissing’.
CUTHWINE (conjecture), born circa 560? The eldest son of Ceawlin king of the West Saxons and second Bretwalda , by the (?eldest) daughter of Wine Cissing (see the entry for Wine Cissing above). Cuthwine, a successful warrior, was evidently destined to inherit his father’s kingship over both West and South Saxons. The choice of giving him the old English name, Cuthwine, reflected the ties of Ceawlin’s son to both peoples. Cutha was Cuthwine’s paternal uncle , and Wine of Sussex his maternal grandfather. However King Ceawlin was deposed by his nephews, Ceol and Ceolwulf, and power in Wessex shifted to the descendants of King Ceol. If Cuthwine lived to see the endemic strife between Sussex and Wessex during the reign of Ceolwulf (597- 611), because his family had been deprived of power, it seems feasible that he would have lent his support to the South Saxon insurgency. The date 607, given as the year of insurrection in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, is rhetoric based on forty rhetorical years from the death of King Cissa, taken here to have been in 567. According to the traditional royal line of succession (followed by the Nothgyth Quest Hypothesis), Cuthwine’s youngest son was Cuthwulf, from whom many later kings of the South Saxons were descended (see the Dynasty of Ecgwald Cuthwulfing below).
Part 2 THE (CONJECTURED) DYNASTY of ECGWALD
ECGWALD (conjecture), born late 620’s? The son of Cuthwulf and younger brother of Ceowald. All the descendants of Cuthwine, who fathered the three brothers, Cadda, Cynebald and Cuthwulf, would have had a blood claim on the kingdom of the South Saxons, including Ecgwald. After his conquest of Sussex in 686, Caedwalla King of the West Saxons appointed Ecgwald to be his under-king in Sussex. This choice might have been because Ecgwald was based in Sussex, or because of the union of Nothhelm, Ecgwald’s son, to Aethelthryth of Sussex in circa 685, Aethelthryth being the daughter of King Aethelwalh by Queen Eafa (see the hypothesis below). Ecgwald probably remained Cadwalla’s under-king over the South Saxons till the latter’s abdication in 688.
NOTHGYTH (conjecture, except that she was Nothhelm’s sister), born circa 655? The daughter of Ecgwald and elder sister of Nothhelm in whose affections she was closely held. In 692 she became a patron of the church in Sussex, which had been established by Bishop Wilfrid’s conversion of the South Saxons from their pagan gods, during the years 681-686. Wilfrid was the Bishop of York and later canonised. He received thirty three hides at Lidsey, Aldingbourne, ?Westergate and Mundham from Nothgyth, an estate which had been granted to her previously by her brother King Nothhelm .
NOTHHELM (also called Nunna, the name by which he would have been known by his kinsfolk and those aldermen at his court). Born in the late 650’s? and the younger brother of the Lady Nothgyth, to whom Nothhelm was greatly endeared. They were both children of the under-king Ecgwald (re: Ecgwald’s entry above). Nothhelm took Aethelthryth of Sussex, the daughter of King Aethelwalh and Queen Eafe, as his wife in about 865 (see Aethelwalh’s entry below). At least, that is the conjecture here. The union would have been at the root of a royal house comprising two dynasties in Sussex, and it is likely that it would have saved the lives of Aethelthryth’s family when Caedwalla crushed the South Saxons after the death of her illegitimate half brother Berhthun, in 686 (see Berhthun’s entry below). Nothhelm was appointed by Ine, king of the West Saxons, to be the dominant king of the South Saxons in 688. Aethelthryth’s illegitimate half brother, Watt, was appointed the co-ruling king (see his entry below). Later Aethelthryth’s full brother, Aethelstan, became her husband’s co-ruler (see the hypothesis on Aethelstan below). Nothhelm and his cousin, King Ine, were allied against King Geraint of Dumnonia in the campaign of 710 . The British king was defeated and killed by the combined forces of the South and West Saxons. Nothhelm died in 722, without naming his successor, since that decision was in the hands of king Ine, the West Saxon ruler, who continued to exercise his supremacy over the South Saxons.
OSRIC (conjecture), born late 680’s? The eldest son of King Nothhelm, by his queen, Aethelthryth of Sussex, whom he married in about 685. Osric was introduced to the duties expected of a royal alderman, while still in his teenage years, following the death of his uncle, the co-ruling King Watt, when he was required to witness a charter granted by Nothhelm. However, it appears that he was never elevated to kingship by Ine, who held supremacy over the Saxons of Sussex. Osric probably had four sons, Osmund, Oswald, Aelfwald and Oslac, three of whom were destined to become South Saxon kings.
OSA (or Oswald). The conjecture here is that he was born circa 705? the youngest child of King Nothhelm and Queen Aethelthryth, and destined from his earliest years for a priestly career. In the course of time, he became the fifth bishop of Selsey, the diocese of the South Saxons, and held office from before 765 to before 780 . After the Mercian conquest of Sussex in 772, Bishop Osa was granted an estate at Bexhill by King Offa, on the 15th of August in the same year. The charter was witnessed by his nephews , Osmund the former dominant king,Oswald the first duke of the South Saxons, and Aelfwald and Oslac (re: the hypothesis on Osric above).
OSMUND (conjecture), born early 710’s? The eldest of Osric’s four sons. During the last years of Aethelberht’s reign as unitary king of the South Saxons, Osmund made moves to secure power for his grandfather’s dynasty, but his main obstacle was the high royal standing of the Ealdwulf, King Aethelberht’s heir (see the fourth part of this hypothesis). By Aethelberht’s death in 758, Osmund was in a strong enough position to outrival his much younger second cousin, Ealdwulf , and assert himself as the dominant king of the South Saxons. However, he needed the support of his two youngest brothers as co-ruling kings to contain the authority of Ealdwulf (see below). However, Osmund had to recognise Ealdwulf as the senior co-ruler. The instability of this regime enabled Offa King of the Mercians to conquer Sussex in 772, after which he deposed and demoted all the ruling Cerdicingas of Sussex from their royal status.
OSWALD (conjecture), born circa 715? and the second son of Osric. He did not participate in Osmund’s regime, most likely because he would not support the new plural kingship that his brother was determined to set in place. After King Offa’s conquest in Sussex, early in 772, Oswald was appointed as the first Duke of the South Saxons .
AELFWALD(conjecture),born early 720’s? The third son of Osric and second ranking co-ruling king during Osmund’s reign (on charter evidence). He was deposed by Offa in 772 , and never chosen to hold ducal office. Perhaps he might have declined such an appointment.
OSLAC (conjecture), born circa 725? The fourth son of Osric and the third ranking co-ruling king under Osmund (on charter evidence). He was deposed by Offa , who appointed him later as the second duke of the South Saxons, probably after the death of Oswald.
THE CHARTER of OSLAC. Dated 780, and drawn up as a land grant to a certain St. Paul’s church, and later confirmed by Offa King of the Mercians, between 787 and 796. Please to note that the discussion in this entry concerns genealogical conjecture.
The only original South Saxon charter to have survived. It was granted by Oslac , the second Duke of the South Saxons. Besides a number of other alderman, this ducal document was witnessed by several of Oslac’s kinsmen. Aelfwald, his surviving elder brother, Ealdwulf, his second cousin, who was to succeed him as the next duke, and also his nephews Waermund (born late 730’s?), and Waerfrith (born early 740’s?), the sons of his eldest brother King Osmund (re: above).Finally there was Oslac’s grand-nephew Aethelmund (born early 760’s?), the son of Waermund. Notice the South Saxon naming pattern, from one generation to the next, Osmund, Waermund, Aethelmund. Compare with Aethelwalh, Aethelstan, Aethelberht. It appears from his position towards the end of the witness list that Aethelmund’s former royal rank, he must have been born before the Mercian conquest of Sussex, was of no account when it came to the social precedence of aldermen of his generation by the 780‘s.
Part 3 THE (CONJECTURED) RULE OF SOUTH SAXON CHIEFTAINS UNDER WEST SAXON OVERLORDS~~~~~
WHEN Cissa died in 567, the second Bretwalda, King Ceawlin of
the West Saxons, whose heir was the grandson of Wine, became overlord in Sussex.With the military victories of Ceawlin’s reign in an age of warriors, as he advanced against the Britons, the kingdom founded by Cissa became irrelevant. With its extinction, the chieftains in Sussex became the ultimate authority, instead of the regnality of a native king.They were the patrilinear descendants of Aelle, Mealla and Wlenca, and of aristocratic warriors who had fought for Aelle’s cause. The most powerful of these chieftains would have formed a shared leadership that replaced the focus of a South Saxon king. Under this leadership (probably supported by Cuthwine, a senior-ranking kinsman) the South Saxons were in endemic revolt against their third overlord, King Ceowulf, and the beligerent policies noted by the chroniclers. The Saxon chieftains in Sussex were usually loyal to an overlord to whom they could look for the protection of their estates and status and when Cynegils became King of the West Saxons, in 611, it appears that peace was restored. Cenwalh, the last overlord, divorced his Queen in 645. She was the sister of Penda, King of the Mercians. In revenge, her brother invaded Wessex and Cenwalh fled to the court of King Anna, in East Anglia. Meanwhile, Penda appointed Aethelwalh as unitary king of the South Saxons. This action gave the Mercians an ally on the English Channel coast, re-established a South Saxon monarchy after seventy-eight years and deprived Cenwalh of his status as overlord in Sussex, while giving his brother Aethelwalh (see below) his own kingdom.
With the end of the regnality of South Saxon chieftains, the Sussex of Arthur’s Britain (477-645) passed into history The new era of Cerdicing Sussex (645-c796) and its two royal families, descending from Ecgwald and Cynegils respectively, replaced the regime of the chieftains. Royal naming patterns in Sussex were to reflect the descent of both dynasties from Queen Eafe and their ties with the House of Hwicce (re: Nothhelm above). It may be that this policy was adopted to give the Cerdicingas of Sussex their own royal identity amongst the South Saxons aldermen.
Part 4 THE (CONJECTURED) SOUTH SAXON DYNASTY of
AETHELWALCH (conjecture, except for his having married Eanfrith’s daughter, Eafe), born early 620’s? The second eldest of the four surviving sons of Cynegils, king of the West Saxons, and appointed by Penda, the king of the Mercians, as the unitary king of the South Saxons in 645. Thus the kingdom founded by Cissa in 514 was re-established in 645. It appears that rather than take a concubine, Aethelwalch cohabited with a number of women who were probably connected to royal estates before and during the early years of his reign, by whom he had his four illegitimate sons (see the hypothesis below), whose names were not dynastic. Later he married Eafe of Hwicce (born early 640‘s?), the daughter of King Eanfrith, by whom he had a son (born early 660’s?), Aethelthryth (born circa 665?), and Aethelstan (born late 660’s?). This union almost certainly took place in 661, at the insistance of Wulfhere, king of the Mercians, who in the same year had gained supremacy over Sussex. In 675, in return for his having become a christian, Aethelwalh gained the Mercians territories of the Jutish Meonware and the Isle of Wight.These were ceded to him by Wulfhere, he having been godfather at Aethelwalh’s baptism. The new possessions had previously formed part of Wessex.As a result of this development, King Arwald of the Isle of Wight , had a new overlord, and the borders of the South Saxon kingdom reached their greatest extent. Aethelwalh was assassinated by the exiled West Saxon atheling Caedwalla, at Shalcombe on the Isle of Wight in 685. Aethelwalh’s eldest son by Queen Eafe was killed in the same
attack, while defending his elderly father. The name of the young prince is unknown, but ‘Aethelric’ is a possibility, since his sister
called her eldest son Osric (re: Nothhem above and Anglo-Saxon naming patterns).
WATT(conjecture), born early 640’s? The eldest of Aethelwalh’s four illegitimate sons. He appears not to have taken part during the turbulent months that followed his father’s assassination. He became a co-ruling king of the South Saxons, presumably appointed by Ine of Wessex in 688, sharing power with King Nothhelm, the dominant ruler, in the early years of the latter’s reign. Aethelthryth, Queen of the South Saxons, was the half sister of King Watt.
BERHTHUN and ANDHUN (conjecture) ,born circa 645? They were almost certainly twin brothers and illegitimate sons of Aethelwalh, who entered their father’s service as his personal royal aldermen. After Aethelwalh’s assassination, they drove out Caedwalla, who had invaded the territories ceded to Sussex by Wulfhere, and ruled over the South Saxons from 685-686. Berhthun was killed in 686 while invading Kent. The recorded cause for his invasion went back to the death of the Kentish King Hlothere, who died in February 685 fighting a force of South Saxons lead by his nephew Eadric. Eadric then shared the Kentish throne with Suaebhard of Essex, supported by the South Saxons. On Berhthun’s death, Caedwalla, by now king of the West Saxons, again invaded the territories of Sussex and crushed the South Saxons. Bede’s account of this military campaign suggests that little mercy was shown to the people of Sussex by Caedwalla.
BRYNI (conjecture), born early 650’s? The youngest of King Aethelwalh’s four illegitimate sons . Evidently he did not take any part in the events of 685 and 686, but he was later recorded in his
charter of circa 700, witnessed by King Nothhelm and King Watt, as Duke of the South Saxons. He seems to have been the first royal alderman to hold this title. In his charter, Bryni granted four hides at Highleigh in Sussex to Eadberht, the Abbot of Selsey.
AETHELSTAN (conjecture), born in the late 660’s? and the eldest surviving son of King Aethelwalh and Queen Eafe. On the death of his illegitimate half brother, the co-ruling King Watt (re: the hypothesis above), at the beginning of the eighth century, Aethelstan was appointed to succeed Watt by Ine of Wessex. Aethelstan was to witness a charter granted by King Nothhelm in 717 in the presence of his full sister Queen Aethelthryth, but in the absence of the dominant ruler. On the death of his senior partner King Nothhelm, in 722, Aethelstan’s eldest son, Aethelberht, was appointed by Ine of Wessex as the dominant king of the South Saxons, and to be the unitary king on Aethelstan’s death.Aethelstan’s younger son, Ealdberht, (see below) then rebelled, aggrieved that he had not been elevated to kingship. Aethelstan, who had seen so much bloodshed in his youth, was able to stay the hand of Ealdberht, after the latter had been defeated by Ine (in 722 ). When Aethelstan died in 725, Ealdberht
gathered another force of South Saxons and again prepared for battle. Ine defeated Ealdberht for a second time, the latter losing his life.
AETHELBERHT (conjecture), born late 690’s? and the eldest son of the co-ruling King Athelstan. He was appointed the dominant king of the South Saxons on the death of Nothhelm, his uncle-in-law, in 722. His younger brother Ealdberht, rebelled against King Ine because he had not been elevated to kingship as well. Ealdberht was then driven out of Wessex and forced to find sanctuary on the Sussex-Surrey border, with the South Saxons. Defeated by Ine on the Sussex border in 722, Ealdberht was again defeated and killed by Ine in a second battle in 725. On the death of Athelstan in the same year, King Aethelberht became the unitary king of the South Saxons. During the middle years of his reign, possibly after 730, when King Aethelheard of the West Saxons lost Berkshire to the Mercians, Aethelberht was able to take advantage of a less powerful Wessex, and throw off the West Saxon yoke. In Aethelberht, the South Saxons experienced a last,strong, native king, and his eldest son, Ealdwulf, was destined to have succeeded to the unitary kingship. However, Osmund, the eldest grandson of Nothhelm had clearly made plans to outmanoeuvre the young heir. When Aethelberht died in 758, Ealdwulf, found himself opposed by his much older and politically adroit second cousin, Osmund, who then established a new regime of plural kingship.
EALDBERHT (conjecture), born early 700’s? The second son of Athelstan,he voiced his grievances at not being elevated to kingship, with his elder brother, when King Nothhelm died in 722. This dissent challenged the authority of King Ine, who decided to exile Ealdberht. The penalised prince took refuge in the fortress at Taunton, which had been built as a defence against the West Britons. Queen Aethelburh , Ine’s consort, destroyed the fortress, and Ealdberht escaped to the Sussex-Surrey border. Evidently, he had supporters there who were ready to give him sanctuary. Ealdberht then raised a fighting force of South Saxon warriors, and prepared for battle. In the ensuing contest of arms, against and the West Saxons, Ealdberht was defeated. It was probably Athelstan, who had witnessed times of murder and bloodshed in his youth, who managed to stay the hand of his rebellious son and broker some kind of peace, following Ine’s victory. However, on Athelstan’s death in 725, Ealdberht gathered another force of South Saxons and again prepared for battle. Once again King Ine defeated Ealdberht’s warriors and the young prince lost his life in combat.
EALDWULF (conjecture). Born early 730’s? The eldest son of King Aethelberht and destined to succeed his father as the unitary king of the West Saxons. However,on King Aethelberht’s death in 758, Ealdwulf’s second cousin, Osmund Osricing, was able to assert himself as the dominant ruler in Sussex. Osmund would have been some two decades older than Ealdwulf and politically far more experienced. Ealdwulf was recognised as the senoir ranking co-ruler, but his power was curtailed by being obliged to co-operate with Osmund’s two co-ruling brothers, both of whom were older than Ealdwulf. The Osmundian regime weakened regnal standing in Sussex, a development that proved fatal to the South Saxon monarchy. Ealdwulf was deposed by Offa king of the Mercians in772, but was appointed later by Offa to be the third and last duke of the South Saxons.
AETHLWULF (conjecture), born circa 735? Ealdwulf’s younger brother. He held no royal office under the dominant King Osmund and he held no share of power during the earlier years of King Offa’s ducal deputies in Sussex. However,it appears that Aethelwulf was allowed some share in authority during his brother’s tenure as the third duke of the South Saxons, since he was the only witness to Ealdwulf’s ducal charter of 791.
PART 5 THE (CONJECTURED) CENSORING of HISTORY
It would seem most unlikely that there are any missing pages of South Saxon history, but there might well have been a need for as much as possible of that history to be forgotten. Perhaps, because of the threat of dynastic claims, little mention is made of Sussex in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. The suggestion, here, is that the patrilinear lineage of Alderman Aethelmund of Sussex matched that of King Ecgberht of Wessex, making the direct male descendants of both noblemen high-born Cerdicingas. Added to which, the patrilinear lineage of Ealdberht Aethelberhting , and his direct male descendants, might have been the only line whose family could trace their patrilinear descent back to King Cynegils. If, as this hypothesis has argued, Alfred the Great had an ancestor in Cissa Aelling, and that ancestry had been recorded, it could have raised the profile of the South Saxons in a way that was not favourable for Wessex. It was also expedient not to chronicle that the Cerdicingas in Sussex had been deposed by a Mercian king, none other than the great Offa. It was prudent to keep the royal history of the South Saxons suppressed and largely undocumented. The long passage of time between the death of King Cissa in 567 and the appointment of King Aethelwalh in 645 would have made this kind of censorship easier to implement. The intermittent sub-kingdom of Sussex, between 825 and 860, had been relegated already to the past. It would have been imperative that there was no return to a tribal South Saxon kingdom caused by a Sussex claimant to royal power, and to avoid the instability in the South East that such an outcome might have brought about.
PART 6 THE SUSSEX KING LIST & REGNAL DATES Please note: much of the content here is inevitably conjectural.
The Aellean Warlordship 477-5149 (Held by Aelle and his kindred)
Aelle 477-491, Warlord
Aelle and Cissa 491-514, Warlord & Co-Warlord
The Cissan Kingdom 514-567 (Held by the kindred of King Cissa)
Cissa 514-567, Unitary King
Wine after 520-563, Co-ruling Royal Alderman
The Rule of the South Saxon Chieftains, 567-645
The Re-established Kingdom 645-772
(Held by the Cerdicingas of Sussex)
Aethelwalh 645-685, Unitary King
Berhtun and Andhun 685-686, Co-ruling Royal Aldermen
Ecgwald 686-688, Caedwalla’s Under-King
Nothhelm and Watt 688-c.700, Dominant & Co-ruling King
Nothhelm and Aethelstan c.700-722, Dominant & Co-ruling King
Aethelberht and Aethelstan 722-725, Dominant & Co-ruling King
Aethelberht 725-758, Unitary King
Osmund and Ealdwulf, 758-772, Dominant King with three
With Aelfwald and Oslac Co-ruling Kings
The Dukes of the South Saxons, under King Offa of the Mercians who died in 796. It appears that Offa would appoint a succeeding duke after the death of his predecessor.
Oswald First Duke (?for life)
Oslac Second Duke ditto
Ealdwulf Third Duke ditto
TO THE READER
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you wish to study the material employed in developing the Nothgyth Quest Hypothesis, please go to those entries asterisked in the General Bibliography & Other Sources, given below, for essential reference. This will help to separate the conjecture here from the tradition and recorded history used as a framework. It is hoped that you will find enough of interest in this article to make another visit.
GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY & OTHER SOURCES The main reference material employed for this hypothesis
A.Primary Reading and Reference (in alphabetical order).
Anglo-Saxon Chronicles: begun c. 890.*
Anglo-Saxon Genealogical Tables.
Anglo-Saxon Isle of Wight 400-900 AD: BBCh 2g2.*
Charters of Selsey : S. E. Kelly, 1998.*
Flowers of History : Roger of Wendover, 1237.*
Kings (and Aldermen ) of Hwicce : Wikipedia.
Kings and Queens : Lambert and Gray, 1991*
Kelly’s Post Office Directory (Sussex), 1867.*
Old English at the University of Calgary.
Place-names of Sudsexe, Domesday book, 1086.
B. Secondary Reading and Reference (in date order)
Y Gododdin: Aneirin, c.595.
Beowulf : anonymous, c.725.
Ecclesiastical History of the English People : Bede, 731.
Hanes y Brythoniaid : Nennius, 810.
Cyfraith Hywel Dda ( North European Tribal Law): completed 949.
Brut y Tywysogion ( from 680 ), 14th Century.
Old English Dictionary: Bosworth & Toller , 1898/1921.
The Place Names of England & Wales : J.B. Johnston, 1915.
A History of France, New & Revised Edition, Book 1: W.H. Jervis,
(with additional chapters by W.J.N. Griffith) 1926.
Arthur’s Britain : Lesley Alcock, 1978.
Regia Anglorum : the society’s website.
C. Further Reading & Reference ( in date order ).
Murray’s Classical Atlas for Schools : edited by G.B.Grundy, Second Edition reprint, 1963.
The Medieval Traveller : Norbert Ohler, 1995.
The Times Atlas of World History : edited by Geoffrey Barraclough, the Fourth Edition ( edited by Geoffrey Parker ), reprinted 1997.
Roman Britain, a New History : Guy de la Bédoyè
D. Recommended reading, for those visitors able to read Welsh:
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, J.B. Smith. Wales University Press.
About Llywelyn II, a powerful prince who established a recognised Welsh state, based on an alliance of princes. The book gives an insight into the kingdom building abilities that must have been required of Saxon rulers like Ceawlin of Wessex, even if set in the thirteenth century rather than the sixth.
The Nothgyth Quest Hypothesis of this article has been written and presented by David Slaughter, BA(hons), ATC(Sussex), Blue Robe
Order of the Welsh Gorsedd.