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heptarchy

heptarchy (hĕp´tärkē) [Gr.,=seven-kingdom], name traditionally applied to the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England in the period prior to the Danish conquests of the 9th cent. The term was probably first used by 16th-century writers who believed that in those early years England was divided into seven kingdoms—Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia, Essex, Sussex, Wessex, and Kent. Actually the political and geographical divisions were neither so orderly nor permanent. At one time (c.600) there appear to have been as many as 12 independent states, but the number of kingdoms, their boundaries, and their political status shifted constantly throughout this period.

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heptarchy

heptarchy. The description of 7th-cent. England as a ‘heptarchy’ probably derives, ultimately, from the historian Henry of Huntingdon, writing in the earlier 12th cent. It came into printed prominence in the works of historians of the late 16th and early 17th cents., beginning, probably, in Lambarde's work on Kent (1576). The idea was that there were seven kingdoms, Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex. Reality was more complicated. But the formulation was a useful one and had a long life as a term of art.

James Campbell

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"heptarchy." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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heptarchy

heptarchy the seven kingdoms of the Angles and the Saxons believed to have been established in Britain in the 7th–8th century.

The term appears to have been introduced by 16th century historians, in accordance with their notion that there were seven Angle and Saxon kingdoms so related that one of their rulers had always the supreme position of King of the Angles.

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