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Possible depiction of Æthelbald
Possible depiction
of Æthelbald

Æthelbald was the King of Mercia, in what is now the Midlands of England, from 716 until he was killed in 757. He came to the throne after the death of his cousin, King Ceolred, who had driven him into exile. During his long reign, Mercia became the dominant kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons, and recovered the position of pre-eminence it had enjoyed during the strong reigns of Mercian kings Penda and Wulfhere between about 628 and 675. When Æthelbald came to the throne, both Wessex and Kent were ruled by stronger kings, but within fifteen years Æthelbald was ruling all England south of the river Humber, according to the contemporary chronicler Bede. Æthelbald was killed in 757 by his bodyguards. He was succeeded briefly by Beornred, of whom little is known. Within a year, Offa, the grandson of Æthelbald's cousin Eanwulf, had seized the throne, possibly after a brief civil war. Under Offa, Mercia entered its most prosperous and influential period. (Full article...)

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