Hwicce, kingdom of the

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Hwicce, kingdom of the. An Anglo-Saxon kingdom conterminous with the diocese of Worcester. Archaeology suggests both Anglian and Saxon settlement in the region and there seems to have been competition between Mercia and Wessex to control it in the early 7th cent., settled by Penda of Mercia's victory at the battle of Cirencester in 628. The royal house of the Hwicce, whose earliest recorded kings Eanhere and his brother Eanfrid belong to the second half of the 7th cent., may have been established with Mercian help. Five generations of rulers are known, with several instances of joint rule by brothers. The Hwicce seem to have come increasingly under Mercian domination and the last independent Hwiccian rulers appear as subordinates in the charters of Æthelbald and Offa of Mercia. By the end of the 8th cent. the province was controlled by Mercian ealdormen and seems to have been closely associated with the family of Cenwulf, who became king of Mercia in 796.

Barbara Yorke

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