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Cynegils (d. 643), king of the West Saxons (c.611–643). Cynegils extended his frontier by defeating the Britons at Beandun, probably Bindon, east Devon, but suffered set-backs. In 626, the failed assassination of the Northumbrian king Edwin, organized by Cynegils's son Cwichelm, was followed by a vengeful attack in which five Wessex princes were killed. The thrust of expansion was slowed by conflict with expanding Mercian neighbours, and although it is recorded that the battle of Cirencester in 628 was followed by an agreement, it seems likely that Wessex lost lands gained in 577, in the lower Severn valley, to Penda of Mercia. In 635, sponsored by the powerful Northumbrian king Oswald, Cynegils was baptized by the recently arrived missionary Birinus. He became the first Christian king of Wessex and Birinus was established in an episcopal see at Dorchester-on-Thames.

Audrey MacDonald

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