Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


A Saxon invader who landed with his son Cynric near Southampton in 495 AD. He is claimed by the annalists as the first king of Wessex. Traditionally, a Saxon leader who fought against the Britons in the Arthurian period.

Most authorities maintain that he has a true place in history, though some consider him a fabrication. A.G. Brodeur, for example, argues that he was entirely fictitious, his name being taken from place names. He says that the West Saxons, of whom he was supposedly the leader, only began their campaign for conquering the Isle of Wight about AD 530. He is supposedly the founder of the kingdom of Wessex, but a problem exists in that his name is Celtic and not Teutonic.

This has led to various speculations: that he was a rebellious British king; that he was a one-time ally of King Arthur who later changed his allegiances; that he was the original of the King Carados of Arthurian legend; and, most surprising of all, G. Ashe has produced the most interesting surmise of all, that Cerdic was possibly a son of Arthur (whom he identifies as Riothamus) who had gathered a mixed Celto-Germanic following on the Continent.

J. Morris maintains that the pedigree which makes him an ancestor of the ruling house of Wessex is fabrication. Asser’s Life of Alfred the Great (ninth century unless, as has been contended, it is a forgery) claims that Cerdic and his son Cynric were Jutes.

Cerdic followed or allied with Hengist. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Cerdic came to Britain with OctaEbissa, and thousands of other warriors when King Vortigern was friendly to the Saxons.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle places his arrival in 495, with his son Cynric. They enjoyed victories over the Britons in 508, at which Natanleod (Nathaliodus), “King of the Britons”, was killed; in 519, at Chartford on the river Avene; and in 530 on the Isle of Wight. He died in 534, after giving the Isle of Wight to his cousins Stuf and Wihtgar. His father was named Elesa. There has been much debate and speculation over this character because his name is Celtic, not Germanic.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle | 9th century
Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138