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History (Penda Dies)

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This timeline is originally by Theophilus.

The Battles of Maserfield and Winwaed

At the POD the pagan king Penda of Mercia was killed by Oswald of Northumbria, instead of the latter being killed and dismembered by the former at the Battle of Maserfield on August 5, 642. Oswald never became a martyr. Northumbria became lead kingdom of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy thirteen years earlier. Oswald appointed his brother Oswiu as ruler of northern Mercia, but allowed Peada, son of Penda, to rule southern Mercia.

On November 15, 655 Peada and his brothers attempted to reclaim their patrimony at the Battle of the Winwaed. They were killed by the forces of Oswiu and his relative Talorcan, king of the Picts. Oswiu, who had succeeded his brother in Northumbria, now controlled northern and central England and had inimicable foes in the Welsh prince, allies of Penda and Peada. In 661 the Northumbrians and Mercians raided Wessex.

In 664, the Pope sent Wilfrid as the representative of the Roman church to the Synod of Whitby in order to combat the Northumbrian spreading of the Celtic rite. Oswiu accepted the Roman calculation of Easter and succeeded in receiving a Papal endorsement of the rule of all of England similar to that which the newly Catholic Franks had once received. Oswiu died in 670, but his son Ecgfrith defeated and killed Aescwine of Wessex in 675.

The Alliance of Kent and the Formation of Southtames

This conquest left Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex under Ecgfrith, with the subkingdom of Lindsey and the kingdom of East Anglia as Northumbrian vassals. The earls of Wessex who did not shift their loyalties to Ecgfrith fled to the still pagan Kingdom of Sussex or to the Christian kingdom of Kent. The kings of Kent, the king of Sussex, the king of Essex, the king of Sussex, the king of the Isle of Wight, and the remaining nobility of Wessex formed a military alliance called the Alliance of Kent, over which the king of Kent presided as anti-Bretwalda to Ecgfrith's role as Bretwalda. The Alliance of Kent felt that they were not sufficiently powerful to oppose Ecgfrith. The Alliance of Kent, therefore, negotiated with the Franks for military aid.

The newly united Frankish kingdoms were willing to provide aid, but insisted that the South Saxons and the Wight Islanders convert or be dropped from the Alliance of Kent. The king of Sussex refused and slaughtered many of the resident West Saxons. The remaining West Saxons fled to Kent, from which a joint Kentish, West Saxon, and Frankish force, devastated Sussex, which was declared territory of the king of Kent. Some of the Frankish nobles were granted lands in Sussex. Christian Kentish noblemen settled on Wight and on the adjacent coast as advisors and supporters of the king of Wight. The combined army then recovered Wessex, although Wessex was now subordinate to Hlothere, King of Kent. The territory which King Hlothere dominated (Kent, Sussex, Essex, Wessex, and Wight) was called Southtames. King Hlothere of Kent received Papal acknowledgement of his overlordship of Southtames.

The Solidification of Southtames

At first, the kingdom of Southtames was threatened by its northern neighbor. Since the Northumbrian expansion south had suffered a reversal, in 684 Ecgfrith sent a nobleman by the name of Berht on an expedition to Ireland. Berht succeeded in carving out a small Northumbrian territory in Ireland. In 685, Ecgfrith attempted a northern expansion in person, but was ambushed and slain by the Picts at Nechtansmere. Ecgfrith's death left the Northumbrian house without legitimate heirs. Berht established an officially independent (if small) kingdom in Ireland. Although the Northumbrians accepted Ecgfrith's illegitimate half-brother Aldfrith as king, this recognition came at the cost of recognizing the formal division of England at the Severn and the Thames valleys.

At the same time, the noblemen of Southtames lost an opportunity to expand northward due to their own internal quarrels. In early 685, Eadric, killed his own father Hlothere and became King of Kent. In 686, Mul, brother of Caedwalla, the Warrior Bishop of Winchester, killed Eadric and seized the throne of Kent for himself.

Wihtred and Ine

In 687 Theuderic, King of the Franks, who had previously been a mere puppet of Pepin II, Mayor of the Palace, opposed Pepin II. Mul, the West Saxon King of Kent, supported Pepin, but Wihtred, son of Hlothere, supported Theuderic. Pepin decisively defeated Theuderic. This battle was the last time the Merovingians challenged the Mayors of the Palace, the true rulers of the Franks. Neustria became a hereditary possession of the family of Pepin, but Austrasia and Burgundy remained nominally under the rule of the Merovingians.

Wihtred survived the battle, but when he returned home, he discovered that Aldfrith, King of Northumbria, had taken advantage of the absence of so many Anglo-Saxon nobles and installed his own candidate, Oswine, as king of Kent. Wihtred thereupon retreated to Wight, where he had lived while his father was alive. Wihtred befriended the West Saxon nobleman Ine, who won the throne of Kent for Wihtred in 690. The partnership of Ine and Wihtred lasted from 690 until the latter's death in 725.

In 710 Ine defeated King Geraint of Dumnonia, thus initiating the decline of the remaining British kingdom south of the Severn. From this date forward, Wihtred began to depend more on West Saxon might to support the Kingdom of Southtames.

Aethelbert of Mercia and Charles Martel

In 716 a new ambitious King of Mercia, Aethelbert, achieved power. For the first decade of his rule, the forces of the Kingdom of Southtames led by Ine and Wihtred prevented southward expansion. After Wihtred died in 725 Ine, who had never been baptized, decided to abdicate and make a pilgrimage to Rome. He abdicated in 726 and achieved his goal shortly before dying of battle wounds. The abdication of Ine left a power vacuum of which Aethelbert was ready to take advantage. In 733, Aethelbald defeated Aethelheard of Wessex, who had succeeded Ine, and conquered the country up to the West Saxon borders with the other kingdoms and earldoms of Southtames.

Charles Martel, who had won the Battle of Tours against a Muslim raiding party in 732, offered to aid Southtames against Aethelbald. The king of Kent, who felt uncertain of his grasp,was inclined to agree, but the Frankish nobles of Sussex, who preferred that the effective ruler of the Franks remain as far away as possible, objected. When they failed to convince the nobles of Kent, Isle of Wight, and Essex, the Franks of Sussex paid homage to Aethelbald. Aethelbald, in return, restored the title of king of Sussex to one of the Frankish nobles.

By 734 Aethelbert controlled Wessex and the Hampshire coast, but the Isle of Wight remained under Kentish control. Aethelbert also controlled most of Sussex, but the descendants of the South Saxons who had hid in the woods when the Franks arrived now allied themselves with Kent against the Franks who supported Aethelbert. Maintenance of Southtames now depended on a defensive combination of forts and a primitive fleet. The King of Kent was compelled to formalize an alliance with the Frankish Kingdom of Austrasia, the hereditary possession of Charles Martel, rather than the Kingdom of Neustria, which was nominally ruled by the Merovingians. This alliance required the promise of lands in Wessex to yet another set of Frankish nobles.

In 740 political instability in Northumbria encouraged Aethelbert to capture York and declare himself King of Northumbria. The assumption of the kingship of Northumbria drove Southtames even deeper into alliance with the Continental Franks.

In 743 since the Frankish-Southtamesian alliance prevented conquest of more of southern England, Aethelbert, his West Saxon subordinate Cuthred, and the Frankish king of Sussex campaigned against the Welsh with little profit. In the same year, Pepin III appointed Dagobert III, a Merovingian of unknown parentage, as King of the Franks.

In 748 Cynric, son of Cuthred, made an alliance with Southtames and the Continental Franks and rebelled unsuccessfully against his father and Aethelbert. Aethelbert harbored suspicions that Cuthred might be using his son as a front for rebellion while he maintained plausible deniability and avoided oath breaking.

In 751, Pepin III, son of Charles Martel, deposed the last of the Merovingian kings and declared himself king of the Franks. He cut the hair of the last king, Dagobert III, and sent him to a monastery. He did the same to Dagobert III's son and presumptive successor, Theuderic. In exchange for Papal endorsement, Pepin was required to defeat Aistulf of Lombardy. This was accomplished swiftly, but in Pepin's absence Aethelbert sent men into the Frankish realm to declare Pepin III as a disloyal subject of Dagobert and rescue Theuderic, son of Dagobert.

OTL

In 752, Cuthred of Wessex successfully rebelled against Aethelbert.

In 756, Cuthred died. Wessex once more fell under the power of Mercia.

In 757, Offa of Mercia came to power. He was descended from Eowa, brother of Penda, who had also died at Maserfield.

In 759, Pepin III captured Narbonne from the Muslims and added Aquitaine to the Kingdom of the Franks.

In 768, Pepin III died. His sons Charles and Carloman became joint rulers.

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