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Wulfhere (d. 675), king of Mercia (658–75). Wulfhere was in hiding after his father Penda's defeat and death until a successful rising in 658 expelled the Northumbrians and made him king. He was a Christian: how he became one is unknown. Events in his reign illuminate the relationship between a king's role and his faith. Wulfhere had authority over Essex; his ecclesiastical interventions there were both edifying, and less so. He sent a mission to reconvert part of Essex which had apostacized (c.664). He sold the see of London to Wine in the first known English act of simony (666). His relations with Sussex interweave power and piety. Its king, Æthelwalh, became converted, no doubt because Wulfhere was his overlord. When he was baptized at the Mercian court Wulfhere ‘adopted him’ (presumably stood as his godfather) and, as ‘a sign of adoption’ gave him the Isle of Wight and adjacent lands. Wulfhere's power flagged at the end of his life: he was defeated c.674 by the Northumbrians and lost control of Lindsey.

James Campbell

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