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Magonsaete, kingdom of the

Magonsaete, kingdom of the. Although the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which was conterminous with the diocese of Hereford is usually referred to as the kingdom of the Magonsaete, the name is not recorded until the 9th cent. The people of the province may originally have been known as the West Angles and be the ‘Westerna’ of the Tribal Hidage. The first element of ‘Magonsaete’ is possibly derived from Magnis, the Roman town of Kentchester, and the royal family, recorded for the late 7th and early 8th cents., seems to have been based in its vicinity. The earliest recorded king is Merewalh, who is described in a late 11th-cent. source as a son of Penda of Mercia. Other evidence supports the idea of kinship with the Mercian royal house, including the burial of Merewalh at Repton. Merewalh is said to have married Eormenburga, a Kentish princess, and sources connected with their daughter St Mildburga, for whom the monastery of Much Wenlock was founded, provide information for the family and the early history of the province. The last known ruler Mildfrith, son of Merewalh, died c.735 and it would appear that the province became a Mercian ealdormanry after that date.

Barbara Yorke

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