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Middle Angles, kingdom of

Middle Angles, kingdom of. In Book 1 of his Ecclesiastical History Bede includes the Middle Angles among the major peoples of Anglo-Saxon England, but elsewhere in his work they appear only under Mercian control. The only known king of the whole Middle Angles is Peada of Mercia, who was appointed by his father Penda c.653. It was during his rulership that the Middle Angles were officially converted to Christianity through a mission from Northumbria, although the regular succession of bishops of the Middle Angles based at Leicester only began in 737. In the Tribal Hidage, which may be a Mercian tribute-list of the late 7th cent., the Middle Angles are not listed as such and seem to have been represented by a number of smaller units in the east and south midlands. These include the Faerpingas who may be identical with the Feppingas whom Bede identifies as a Middle Anglian district (regio) and whose territory seems to have included Charlbury in Oxfordshire. Another likely Middle Anglian group the South Gyrwe, probably based in the fenland around Ely, had their own ruler princeps Tondbert who married Princess Æthelthryth of the East Angles. The existence of these subgroups within Middle Anglian territory and the lack of any corporate history before their domination by Mercia had led some historians to doubt whether the Middle Angles had any prior political unity and to see them instead as a Mercian administrative creation. However, that does not seem to be what Bede believed and a similar substructure of regiones can be found in other 7th-cent. Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Barbara Yorke

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