NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

East Anglia

Kingdom of East Anglia, Kingdom of the East Angles

East Anglia is a geographical region in the eastern part of England. The region comprises the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, parts of Cambridgeshire and Essex.

The invading Anglo-Saxons estabished this kingdom. They may even have been there before the reputed arrival of Hengist the Saxon.

East Anglia | 0 to the 9th century AD

Roman Period | 1st – 5th centuries
During the Roman occupation of Britain, 43-410 AD, East Anglia, like much of England, was part of the Roman province of Britannia. Roman influence is evident in archaeological remains such as roads, villas, and settlements.

Anglo-Saxon Settlement | 5th – 6th centuries
With the decline of the Roman rule and the withdrawal of Roman legions in the early fifth century, Anglo-Saxon settlers, composed by various Germanic tribes such as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, began arriving in Britain. East Anglia became one of the regions settled by these groups.

Kingdom of East Angles | 6th – 9th centuries
By the sixth century, the region had become part of the emerging Anglo-Saxon kingdom known as the Kingdom of the East Angles or the Kingdom of East Anglia. The kingdom was established under the rule of the Wuffinga dynasty. The Wuffingas were the royal family of the East Angles, and their most notable early king was Rædwald (also spelled Redwald).

By the early seventh century, Mercia, under rule of powerful kings like Penda, had become a dominant force in central England. The influence of Mercia extended over neighboring kingdoms, including East Anglia. The relationships between the East Anglian kings, such as Rædwald, and Mercia were indeed complex. There were times when East Anglia acknowledged the overlordship of Mercia, aligning itself with Mercian interests.

The East Anglian kings, including Rædwald, navigated a political landscape where they alternately showed subservience to Mercia, acknowledging its dominance, and asserted independence during other periods. Mercian influence over East Anglia was part of a broader pattern of Mercian hegemony over neighboring kingdoms in the Midlands and East Anglia during this period.

Anglo-Saxon politics in the seventh century were characterized by shifting alliances, and kings often made strategic choices to secure their kingdoms’ interests. This could involve forming alliances with or submitting to the influence of powerful neighbors like Mercia.

King Rædwald and Sutton Hoo
Rædwald was a powerful king in the seventh century. Some historians believe him to be the individual buried at Sutton Hoo – a significant archaeological find in Suffolk. The ship burial at Sutton Hoo is a rare and significant find, and ship burials were often reserved for individuals of high social status, such as kings or nobles. The burial site contained a grand ship and an array of richly furnished grave goods, providing valuable insights into early Anglo-Saxon culture and trade networks. Some of the artifacts, particularly the iconic Sutton Hoo helmet, feature imagery and iconography consistent with East Anglian and Scandinavian styles, aligning with the cultural context of Rædwald’s time.

Christianity in East Anglia
East Anglia experienced a gradual process of conversion to Christianity during this period. Saint Felix of Burgundy, a Christian missionary, played a vital role in spreading the Christian faith in the region. St. Felix was the first bishop of the kingdom of the East Angles. is credited with establishing a bishopric at Dommoc (possibly Dunwich) in the seventh century.

Viking Invasions | 9th century
The late eighth and ninth centuries saw Viking raids and invasions across England, including East Anglia’s exposed coastline. The Vikings, or Danes, targeted monastic centers and wealthy settlements. The East Anglian king, Edmund, met his death at the hands of the Vikings in 869. St. Edmund later became the patron saint of East Anglia. Following the Viking invasions, a treaty known as the Treaty of Wedmore in 878 established the Danelaw, a region in England where Danish law and customs were recognized. Parts of East Anglia fell under Danelaw influence.

Reassertion of English Rule | Late 9th century
King Alfred the Great of Wessex, a powerful Saxon kingdom, played a crucial role in resisting Viking invasions and reasserting English rule. By the late ninth century, East Anglia came back under English control.