Old World: The Saxons

(My family in history/Old world: The Saxons)

More than a thousand years before the birth of Christ, Phoenician seamen were enduring a four month, coast hugging voyage, in return to their lands with valued tin ingots, from the remote Cassiteridees Islands—islands which were located somewhere near Spain.
Over the centuries, commerce continued and increased between southern Europe and these islands, as navigators returned with tin, lead, slaves, skins, a superior bred of hunting dog, some gold and silver and an inferior grade of pearls.
To the Greeks, this distant land and its metals became an object of scientific inquiry. Aristotle, the first Greek historian to mention the British Isle by name, said they consisted of Albion and Ierne (Ireland).

The people of the ancient British Isle belonged to the same great national family as those found in Gaul and Belgium, all were Celts. The Franks and Britons were tied together intellectually by the common religion of Druidism.

On 26 August 55 BC, as part of an expansion of the Roman Empire, Caius Julius Caesar landed in Britain with infantry of the 7th and 10th Legions. After several close battles and the subsequent submission of the British tribes, the Roman Legions withdrew.
A hundred years passed during which time British imports and exports passing through Gaul, had a small tax levied on them by Rome; however, the islands were not occupied by the Roman military.
In 43 AD, the Roman Emperor, Claudia sent four legions to Britain which thoroughly subdued the tribes and began a military occupation that was to last nearly four centuries.
Just prior to 406 AD, the Roman legions withdrew from Britain to reinforce garrisons in Gaul. With the occupying force gone, Britain suffered increased invasions from Picts (Scotland) and (Scots) Ireland.
[At left: Concept drawing of a Saxon village ca 400AD]

The beleaguered Britons appealed to the Consul commanding the Roman forces in Gaul, for protection, but none was forthcoming; whereupon, the Britons defended themselves and drove the invaders from their territory. After their victory, the Britons fell upon one another in a civil war.

The civil war was followed by a pestilence and yet another series of barbarian raids. Pict and German raiding was occurring all along the east coast and Saxon piracy was spreading into the English Channel.
Before the end of the 4th Century, irregular units of German soldiers and probably their communities were being given licensed settlements along the east coast as protection against northern invaders.
[At left: Archaeological concept drawing of a Saxon village ca 4th-5th Century AD]
Between 446 and 454, a British tyrant extended an invitation to the Saxons to settle in the south of the country and form a coastal defense of the land. Three ships companies of Saxons came and were soon followed by a larger force. Eventually a dispute over their relations developed and the Saxons revolted, their militia ravaged the island to the western sea. Towns of the provinces they raided, were destroyed, and life in southern Britain became utterly unbearable, finally the mercenaries returned to their own country.
East of Britain, across the North Sea was Jutland (now known as Denmark). The northern portion of Jutland was occupied by a people known as the Jutes, while in the southern portion of the peninsula lived the Angles.

Below the Angles, along the neck of the peninsula lived the Saxons. By the 3rd Century AD the expanding Saxon territory in Europe extended southwest to the Weser River. Further south, extending from the Ems River to as far down the coast as the Rhine, were a people known as the Frisians.
The Frisians and Saxons shared a common form of language, so that when either appeared in Britain, they were commonly described under the wider and vaguer name—Saxon.
The Saxon, Angles and Jutes were a confederation of people collectively caller Suevi. The Suevi were associated with six other small nations in a cult that worshipped the Mother Earth Goddess Nerthus, whose sanctuary was on an island neighboring Jutland.
During the early part of the 6th Century, the Suevi began a migration to Britain where they encountered other people from their confederation and religion, people who had previously been invited to settle in Britain to form a coastal defense. Among those who came was a Saxon earldorman (Chieftain) named Serdic. Cerdic is an ancestor on the Saxon line of this family tree and a key figure in bringing Anglo-Saxon rule to the British Isle.
What follows then is part of our family heritage. [1]

Traditional forefathers of the Gewissae Race  And Saxon Ancestry of the Kings of Wessex, England
Woden Whose son was
Baeldaeg  “
Elesa Whose son was
Cerdic, The Saxon

Cerdic, The Saxon
In the year 495 AD, the Saxon ealdorman Cerdic and his son Cynric, landed with five ships on the southern coast of Hampshire, England. Reaching land, Cerdic posted his Saxons in a close order of battle before the ships, where they maintained their ground against repeated attacks by the islanders, until the approach of night. Having secured a position on land, Cerdic founded a settlement and went on to fight the Britons at Sharford.
It is most probable that through war or negotiation, Cerdic made himself Lord of the West Saxon settlements and distributed his followers among the existing settlers.
In 508 Cerdic and Cynric killed the British King Natauleod along with 5000 of his soldiers.
In 519 Cerdic became the first recorded King of the West Saxons and ancestor to the royal English line. Cerdic ruled for fifteen years until his death in 534 AD.

Cynric, son of Cerdic ascended to the throne upon his father’s death in 534. During the year 552 AD, Cynric fought the Britons at Old Sarum and put them to flight. Thus began the westward expansion of the kingdom of Wessex.
Cynric had four known children, of which this branch of the family tree descended from Ceawlin.
Having ruled for twenty six years, Cynric died in the year 560 AD – sixty five years after landing in Britain with his father.

Ceawlin ascended to the throne upon the death of his father in 560. Ceawlin had one known son, Cuthwine.
In 577, Ceawlin and son Cuthwine captured the cities of Gloucester, Cireucester and Bath which brought West Saxon rule to the western sea.
The center of the powerful West Saxon kingdom of the late 6th Century laid in a region immediately south and west of the Middle Thames River.
In his day, the Holy Pope Gregory sent them baptism and Columba the Mass Priest came to them”.
In 591 the Saxons slaughtered a great number of Britons at Wanborough. Soon afterwards, Ceawlin was driven from his kingdom where he died in 593 AD.

Continued pedigree by generation:

Cuthwine Father of Cutha. “AD 577. This year Cuthwine and Ceawlin fought with the Britons, and slew three kings…and took from them three cities, Gloucester,   Cireucester, and Bath.”  Cuthwine did not rule and was killed in battle during the year 584.
Cutha Cutha did not rule,he was the father of Ceowald.
Ceowald Father of Cenred. His brother King Cynegis was baptized in 635 by Bishop Birinus at Dorchester. Ceowald visited Romein 688. He did not rule.
Cenred Father of King Ina and Ingild. Was Under King of Sussexin 692.
Ingild Father of Eoppa and brother of King Ina of the West Saxons. Ingild died during the year 718AD.
Eoppa Eoppa   did not rule, he was father of Eafa.
Eafa Eafa   did not rule, he was father of Eahlmund.
Eahlmund “AD 784. At this time reigned Elmund,   King of Kent,   the father of Egbert…” Eahlmund   granted land inKent   to the Abbot of Reculver.
Egbert Egbert   was the representative of an ancient dynasty whose line had passed through a couple centuries of relative obscurity. The story of Egbert and his   descendants follow, below.

Egbert was born in the year 775AD.
King Offa of Mercia, with the approval of Charlemagne, exiled Egbert for three years (beginning in 789) in Frankish territory.
Egbert married Lady Raedburga. Their union produced two children. Of which we are descended from Aethelwulf. The male line of kings, from Egbert to Edward the Confessor and the female line has persisted to present time.
Egbert united the Seven English kingdoms by annexing Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Essex and Merciato the already expanded Wessex. He also formed the basis of English resistance to further Danish invasion. Egbert was king of Wessex from 802-827 and the first king of all ofEngland from 827-836. He died after19 November 839.
[Image at left. King Egert grandfather of Alfred the great.]



                                          Eahlmund Oslac,  Royal Cup Bearer to Aethelwulf
                                                Egbert           + Lady Raedburga

Aethelwulf [2]  married Lady Osburh, their son and heir was Alfred (The Great). Lady Osburh was described as a “most pious woman, noble in mind and noble in race”. She was daughter of Oslac, a great nobleman of Jute descent, and Royal Cup Bearer to Aethelwulf. Lady Osburh’s line of descent reached back to Cerdic The Saxon’s nephews.
Aethelwulf reigned as Under King of Kent for several years prior to his father’s death in 839, then ascended to the kingship of the chief kingdom. He seemed to have been a religious and unambitious man for whom politics were an unwelcome consequence of his rank. In 855, after reigning for 16 years, he undertook a pilgrimage to Rome where he spent 12 months. On the return trip to England, he stayed at the court of Charles the Bald, King of the West Franks, from early summer to autumn 856. Aethelwulf died 13 January 858. [Image standing at right, Aethelwulf)

Alfred The Great

Egbert   +    Lady Raedburh Oslac,   Royal Cup Bearer
Aethelwulf                                 + Lady Osburh
                                      Alfred The Great

Alfred was born at Wantage, Berkshirein 849 AD.
He had a natural intellectual curiosity stimulated by the experience of two journeys to Rome before he was seven years old. He was surrounded in his youth by the influences of a cultivated home where he learnt to know and value the national treasure of folk song. This developed in him the appreciation, love and taste for beauty, but he was never satisfied with the life of a  young West Saxon noble.
In 868 at age 19, he married Lady Ealhswith (Alswitha), daughter of Earl Aethelred. Their marriage produced five children, of which my family descended from both Edward and daughter Aelfthryth. Son, Edward, became the next King of England in this line.
Daughter, Aelfthryth, married Baldwin II, Count of Flanders. Aelfthryth and Baldwin were ancestors of Matilda of Flanders, wife of William The Conqueror.
Alfred’s son-in-law, Baldwin II, was a descendant of Charles, Duke of Ingelheim, a son of Charlemagne and his wife, Lady Juliana. Alfred ascended to the throne ”after Easter in 871” and was crowned in Winchesterat age 23 years.
Much of Alfred’s reign was spent fighting the invading Norsemen or Danes. Out of necessity, he built a small number of large, 60 oar ships with high sides. There vessels, which were twice the size as the enemies, were used to engage and defeat the Danes while they were still at sea.
He was a scholar- and kept a notebook “in his bosom” in which he jotted down prayers, genealogy and other information ‘he may need for future use’. He invented the lantern for his personal use to offset the problem of candles blowing out while he was trying to read.

Alfred wrote or compiled the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which was the first written history in any modern language. During his reign, he founded the British navy, organized the militia, compiled a code of laws, built schools and monasteries and invited scholars to live at his court. He was a good scholar and translated many books.

No other king of the Dark Ages explored the literature of Christian antiquity to explain;
•  The problem of fate and free will.
•  The ordering of the world.
•  The ways in which a man comes to knowledge
He was an ambitious man and for all his idealism he was determined to leave some material traces of his passage through the world. Alfred wrote, “It has ever been my will to live worthily while I lived, and after my death to leave them that should come after me my memory in good works.”
His mind seems to have been more constructive than creative. His scientific spirit and intense desire for knowledge, combined with the instinct, for applying knowledge to practical ends.

Alfred wrote, “No man can prove his full powers, his ‘craft’, nor ‘direct and steer’ authority without tools and materials…These are a king’s materials and the tool with which he governs: he must have a well peopled land; he must have men of prayer, “bedesmen” and men of war and men of work…without these tools no king can prove his full powers (craft). For his materials also, he must have sustenance for the three orders, his tools…land to dwell in, and gifts, and weapons, and meat, and ale, and clothes and what ever else the three orders need. Without these he cannot keep the tools, and without these tools he cannot do any of those things which he has been bidden to do.”

All to him was symbolical—the sea and the shipping, the starry sky at night. The common incidents of rural life and the routine at court. His imagination was quick and vivid, but his intellectual powers were, probably richer and fuller than his emotional capacity. He speaks much of friendship, but little of earthly love. He touches highly on passion only when he faced and contemplated the mysteries of the spiritual world.

He believed that a life without knowledge and reflection was unworthy of respect.
After thirty years of rule, Alfred died on 28 October 901, his wife Ealhswith died about 905AD.

Edward The Elder

Aethelwulf   +   Lady Osburh Earl   Aethelred
                         Alfred   (The Great)       + Lady   Ealhswith
                                                Edward   (The Elder)

Edward was born in 875 [3]. He was married three times producing fifteen children. In 919, he was married to (3) Lady Eadyifu (Elgiva), daughter of Sigehelm, Earl of Kent. We are descended from their son, Edmund I and their daughter, Egiva, who married Charles III of France.

Edward conquered and annexed Danish colonies on the island, thereby enlarging the English kingdom to twice the size it had been under his father, Alfred.
He died at Fardon on Dee,17 July 924, after putting down an uprising of Meracins and Welsh. Lady Eadgifu died many years later in 961. [Image at right Edward the 1st, The Elder]

Edmund The Magnificent

Alfred   + Lady Ealhswith Sigehelm,   Earl ofKent
                                 Edward   (The Elder)      + Lady   Eadgifu
                                                     Edmund (The Magnificent)

Edmund was born during the year 920 AD. He married Lady St. Alfgifu, a union which produced two children of which we are descended from their son Edgar.
Edmund succeeded his brother to the throne in the autumn of 939, at age 18. During his short reign he proved to be both warlike and politically effective.
Edmund was killed in May 946 at age 26, having been on the throne only seven years. His death occurred while he was defending his steward against a criminal who had returned from banishment. [Black and white image at right, Edmund the Magnificent]

Edgar  The Peaceful

Edward   +   Lady Eadgifu Sigehelm,   Earl ofKent
                       Edmund (The Magnificent)      + Lady   St. Alfgifu
                                                   Edgar (The Peaceful)

Edgar was born in the year 943. He was married three times and produced four children. His second marriage in 965 was to Lady Ealfthyth (Elfrida) who was born in 945, daughter of Ordgar, Earl of Devon. Their union produced a son named Aethelred, whom we are descended from.
Edgar did not rule until 959. During his reign he maintained a state of peace which had been established in England by earlier kings.
He ruled that the kingdoms coinage bear the name of the moneyer responsible for its quality and the name of the place it was struck.
Edgar gave unreserved support to the men that were creating the environment of a new English culture, by transformation of English monastic life.
He deferred coronation until 873, when he was thirty years old in order to reach the full maturity of mind and conduct. He used prominent churchmen in the Coronation ceremony and for the solemn anointing, thus began the continuous history of the English Coronation. The coronation and anointing by religious leaders created in the kingship a corporate body with certain rights and privileges, which were to have continuity throughout the monarchy.
After Coronation, Edgar sailed to Chester where six kings promised to serve him by sea and land. As a symbol of their fealty, the six kings and five princes rowed him on the DeeRiver from his palace to the Church of St. Johns and back again while he held the rudder.
Edgar-The Peaceful died two years later on 8 July 975, His second wife Ealfthryth survived him and died in 1000 AD.

Aethelred II – The Redeless

Edmund   I   +   Lady St. Alfgifu Ordgar, Earl ofDevon
                            Edgar   (The Peaceful     + Lady   Ealfthryth
                                            Aethelred II-The Redeless

Beginning with Aethelred’s generation, this old West Saxon royal line was to experience problems, which would continue until the male line expired.
King Edgar had two sons. His eldest son and heir to the throne, Edward was born to his first wife, Aethelflaed, in 962. His next surviving son, Aethelred II, my ancient ancestor, was born to his second wife Ealfthryth in 968. When King Edgar died on 8 July 975, his eldest son Edward, then thirteen years old, ascended to the throne.
Almost three years later, on 16 march 978, at age 16, the young King Edward rode to his younger brother’s home for a visit. The household servants came into the courtyard to greet him, but as he dismounted they fell upon him and stabbed him to death. Aethelred II was only ten years old at the time of his brothers murder and it is not believed that he had any knowledge of, or a hand in the conspiracy.
Aethelred II ascended to the throne, was crowned a month later and began his reign in an atmosphere of suspicion which destroyed the prestige of the crown for his entire life.
In 985 he married Lady Alflaed, daughter of Thored. We are descended from their son Edmund Ironside  as well as from Aethelred’s daughter Elgiva.
Aethelred II behaved like a man who was never quite sure of himself, he was ineffective in war, his acts of spasmodic violence and air of mistrust from his nobles suggest a weak king.

On one St. Brice Day (November 13), he ordered all the Danish men in England to be killed. This was clearly an impossible order to carry out because in over a third of England, most of the towns were primarily peopled by Danes, there were also many Danes living throughout the rest of the country. However, in some towns the slaughter was carried out, this fratricide was not to be soon forgotten by the English Danes. During the purge, Gunwhild, the sister of King Swein of Denmark, and a hostage in England, was put to death.
King Swein launched an attack against England to revenge his sister’s death. The English Danes backed King Swein and the English nobles would not rally to Aethelred II because of mistrust.
In 992, the English land and sea forces were assembled in hopes of engaging the Danish invasion. However, the English earldorman to whom the militia was entrusted, sent word to the Danes then absconded from the army the night before the battle should have been fought.
King Swein kept attacking without pause.
By 1010AD, there was not an English leader who was willing to assemble an army, but each fled as best he could.
The rein of Aethelred II—The Redeless (Redelss meaning, the Unwisely Counseled) was an age of degeneracy marked by feebleness and treachery among its leaders.
Aethelred II died 23 April 1016 in London as the Danish army and navy closed in on the city.

Edmund Ironside

Edgar   +    Lady Ealfthryth Thored
                        Aethelred   II                 + Lady   Alfflaed
                                                Edmund Ironside

Edmund was born during the year 989.
He married Ealdyth, widow of Sigeferth of Denmark. They produced two sons, we are descended from their son Edward.
Edmund was in London with his father when the harried King died. Edmund succeeded to the English throne at age 27, on 23 April 1016. As the Danish army and navy put London to siege. After a time, the Danes began to run out of the necessary supplies required for a siege, where with they began to withdraw from London. With the Danes ranks broken, Edmund swept out of the city and defeated the siege army.
A short while later, in another battle, not far from London his army was defeated and Edmund became a fugitive. Unlike his father, Edmund was a popular person, the people backed him and he was able to put together another army.
After a successful campaign against nobles who were giving allegiance to the Danes, he was given the subkingdom of Wessex, while the rest of the country was to be under Danish control.
On St. Andrews Day (30 November), Edmund was murdered by an assassin.

Edward – the Exile

Aethelred   II    +    Lady Alfflaed Thored
                     Edmund Ironside             + Lady Sigeferth
                                              Edward the Exile

Edward was born during the year 1016, the same year that his grandfather died and his father was assassinated. Upon Edmund’s death, Cnut the Dane began eliminating the royal family. Baby Edward and his brother were whisked away to hide in Hungary where Cnut’s agents could not reach them.

Edward-The Exile, Prince of England lived essentially his entire life in favor at the Royal Court of Hungary, where he married Agatha daughter of Henry II, King of Hungary. They produced three children, 1) Edgar the Aetheling, 2) Margaret (my ancestor) and 3) Christia, who became a nun.

In 1054 King Edward the Confessor sat on the throne of England, he was old and his life of asceticism had left him no children as heirs to the throne. During this same year Edward the Exile was cleared for his return to England to assume the throne. Prince Edward remained in Hungary for two more years with his life long friends and relatives before returning in 1056. Soon after returning, in 1057, but before he had come to the royal court, Edward the Exile died. His son Edgar- The Aetheling, was too young to be considered as a possible successor to King Edward the Confessor.
Meanwhile, when King Edward the Confessors health failed, Harold Hardrada, who conceived himself heir to Cnut’s Kingdom became governor of England.
On 5 January 1066, Edward the Confessor died. The next day, Harold was crowned King of England. Harold ruled England from 6 January until his death at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, when the English army was defeated by the Norman’s—led by William I – The Conqueror.


Edgar, King of England  ↓ Richard I- Duke of Normandy, whose children were Emma and Richard II ↓
1) Lady Afflead + Aethelred II-The Redeless +↙                               ↘ 2)   Emma Richard II, Duke of Normandy  ↓
Edmund Ironside Edward the Confessor Robert I- The Magnificent ↓
Edward the Exile (no heirs) William I- The Conqueror   ↓ + Matilda of Flanders
        Margaret   + ↓   Malcolm III-King of Scotts ↙          Henry   I-King of England  (age 32)
          Matilda of Scotland (age 21) +  Henry I

* Matilda of Scotland married Henry I- King of England–this pedigree descends through the Norman line as follows below.

Margaret was born in 1045 AD.
In 1068-69, at about age 23, Margaret married Malcolm III Canmore, King of Scotts. Malcolm was born in 1031 and was King for 35 years, from 1058 to 1093. Their union produced a daughter, Matilda of Scotland .
Malcolm III was killed 13 November 1093. His wife Margaret, a very religious woman dies three days later on 16 November 1093.
[Color image at right, St. Margaret, daughter of Edward the Exile and wife of Malcom III King of Scotts.

Matilda of Scotland
Matilda of Scotland, grew and married Henry I- Beauclerk, King of England and son of William I-The Conqueror. Their marriage tied the Norman and English lines together and from this we are descended.
[At left, Matilda daughter of Margaret and Malcolm III, wife of Henry I.] This genealogy is continued in (My family in history/Old World: The Normans)

[1] References:
•  A History of England Under the Anglo Saxon Kings, first pub. 1845 by J. M. Lappenburg, Kennikat Press, NY. In two volumes.
•  Anglo-Saxon England by F. M. Stenton, 3rd Edition, © 1971, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
•  An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England by Peter Hunt Blair © 1959, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
•  Alfred the Great: Maker of England by B. A. Lees © 1915, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, NY
[2] Ancient English names prefixed with “Ethel”, signified the honorary title of “noble.”
[3] The fashion of keeping birthdays does not appear to have been observed in the 9th Century. It mattered little when or where a ruler was born, on the other hand it mattered a great deal who his father was and if he came from royal stock.

Leave a comment

Filed under My family in history, __Old World: The Saxons

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s