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Raedwald (early 7th cent.), king of the East Angles. Baptized under the influence of King Æthelbert of Kent, he compromised with his heathen wife and subjects, adding a Christian altar in his temple alongside those to pagan gods. Sheltering the Deiran royal exile Edwin, c.616, he was under pressure from the Northumbrian king Æthelfryth to kill him or hand him over. His wife persuaded him that to betray a guest was unworthy of so great a king. At this time, Raedwald was probably asserting his overlordship in the south. Pre-empting Æthelfryth's threats, he attacked, defeated, and killed him by the River Idle (Lincs.), securing the Northumbrian kingdom for Edwin. Raedwald's name is often linked with the famous ship-burial at Sutton Hoo. Whether or not it is his grave, it represents the wealth, contacts, and power of such a man.

Audrey MacDonald

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