Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


The Hwicce were a people and territorial kingdom in Anglo-Saxon England during the early medieval period. The Hwicce inhabited an area that roughly corresponds to the modern counties of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and parts of Warwickshire and Herefordshire in present-day England.

The Kingdom of Hwicce was situated in the fertile lands of the Severn Valley, with its heartland around the modern city of Worcester. The kingdom’s boundaries changed over time, and it was known for its agricultural productivity.

Early Period
The Hwicce are believed to have emerged as a distinct group in the Anglo-Saxon period, which began in the fifth century. Their name, Hwicce, is of Old English origin. The exact circumstances of their formation and early history are not well-documented, but it is likely that they were part of the larger Anglo-Saxon migrations and settlements in England.

Integration into Mercia
The Hwicce were located in the region between the larger Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia to the north and west and Wessex to the south. They were considered a sub-kingdom within the Mercian overkingdom. Over time, the political dynamics in the region changed, and the Hwicce may have become more closely integrated into the Kingdom of Mercia.

While part of Mercia, the Hwicce maintained some degree of autonomy. The relationship between the Hwicce and the Mercian kings could vary over time, and the Hwicce rulers likely had to balance local interests with obligations to the Mercian monarchy.

Ecclesiastical Importance
Worcester, located within the Hwicce territory, emerged as a significant ecclesiastical center. The establishment of a monastery and later a cathedral in Worcester marked its significance within the kingdom. The establishment of the diocese of Worcester in the seventh century contributed to the region’s importance in the religious life of Anglo-Saxon England. Monastic communities in the Hwicce territory played a role in the Christianization of the region.

Viking Invasions and Decline | 8th – 9th centuries
Like other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and territories, the Hwicce likely faced challenges during the Viking Age, with raids and invasions affecting the region. The Vikings targeted monasteries and settlements along rivers, including Worcester. The decline of the Hwicce as a distinct political entity is not well-documented, but it is part of the broader pattern of political changes and territorial shifts during the Viking Age.

In response to Viking raids, King Alfred the Great implemented defensive measures, including the construction of fortified settlements known as burhs. Worcester was one of the burhs established during this time.

Integration into Mercia
Over time, the Hwicce became more closely integrated into the Kingdom of Mercia. By the ninth century, the distinctions between the Hwicce and Mercia proper became less pronounced.

Norman Conquest and Later Period
The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 marked a significant turning point in English history. The Hwicce, like other regions, came under Norman rule. The medieval and post-medieval history of the region, including Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, is characterized by developments such as the growth of towns, changes in land ownership, and social transformations.

Hwicce is pronounced as [hwit-chay] or [wee-che].