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Æthelheard, king of the West Saxons (726–40). Little is known of this king who succeeded to the throne of Wessex when Ine, described in some sources as his kinsman, abdicated to go on pilgrimage to Rome. His succession was challenged by Atheling Oswald, who claimed descent from King Ceawlin. Æthelheard suffered from the expansion of Mercian power; Æthelbald of Mercia is recorded as taking control of Somerton in 733 and seems to have been able to grant land in northern Somerset and Wiltshire. Æthelheard was probably married to Frithugyth whose departure to Rome with Bishop Forthhere is recorded for 737.

Barbara Yorke

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