Skip to main content
Select Source:

Sussex, kingdom of

Sussex, kingdom of. Sussex was ruled by its own kings from the time of Ælle (c.477), who is said by Bede to have been the first overlord (bretwalda) of the southern English, to the end of the 8th cent., but for most of that period the kings (sometimes referred to not under a royal title but as duces or ealdormen) were subordinate to other rulers. In spite of its relatively small size and compact geographical location from the south coast to the weald, Sussex was a complex political unit. Its earliest charters show that it was divided among a number of kings at times with a marked division between East Sussex, probably centred at Lewes, and West Sussex with a centre in the Chichester area. Hastings and its immediate surroundings always preserved individual characteristics, closer to Kent and even as late as 771 referred to specifically as the land of the gens Hastingorum. Socially Sussex developed in some isolation. It was the last substantial kingdom to receive Christianity, owing its conversion to St Wilfrid during his exile from Northumbria in the early 680s. Wilfrid was granted an extensive estate at Selsey by Æthelwalh, who was himself a Christian, and from 709 Selsey became the centre for a bishopric, ultimately transferred to Chichester in 1075. In the 8th cent. Sussex was tributary to the Mercian kings, but after 825 the West Saxon dynasty under Egbert and his successors took control, treating it, together with Surrey and Kent, as a suitable subkingdom for West Saxon princes. Alfred established an important burh at Chichester, and Sussex was easily absorbed into the shire system of later Anglo-Saxon England.

Henry Loyn

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sussex, kingdom of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sussex, kingdom of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sussex-kingdom

"Sussex, kingdom of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved November 12, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sussex-kingdom

Sussex, kingdom of

kingdom of Sussex, one of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy (seven kingdoms) in England, located S of the Weald. It was settled in the late 5th cent. (according to tradition in 477) by Saxons under Ælle, who defeated the Celts in several battles and established a brief military supremacy. Little is known of the kingdom's history for almost two centuries. The South Saxons remained heathen until St. Wilfrid, bishop of York, led (681–86) the Christian conversion of the people. Conquered (685–88) by Cædwalla of Wessex, Sussex remained subject to his successor, Ine (688–726). By 771, Offa of Mercia had conquered all the marginal kingdoms (including Sussex) into which the South Saxons were divided. They remained under Mercia until joined with other eastern states in submitting to Egbert of Wessex in 825.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sussex, kingdom of." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sussex, kingdom of." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sussex-kingdom

"Sussex, kingdom of." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 12, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sussex-kingdom