Manage episode 347815866 series 3348972
Following Ine’s abdication in 726, the rest of the eighth century was a time of uncertainty for Wessex. It is a period that is not well served by the primary evidence, and we don’t really get detailed accounts of the kingdom’s history again until the rise of Ecgberht in 802. It is a period in which Wessex was often threatened by the ascendant power of Mercia to the north and by internal instability as new dynasties vied for the throne. I have called it the ‘dark’ eighth century and that is a deliberate play on the dual meanings of the word dark. Traditional historiography has tended to see this period as one of West Saxon decline sandwiched between the revolutionary reigns of Ine and Ecgberht, in that sense it could be seen as a dark age for Wessex, although as I will argue in this episode that traditional narrative is overly simplistic and underplays the achievements of the kings who ruled in these decades. The other meaning of dark is of course referring to something mysterious and that certainly describes these decades quite well. The kings and their undertakings are mysterious to us and that makes these decades into a puzzle that must be solved. I will attempt to do so here.
Music: 'Wælheall' by Hrōðmund Wōdening
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