Wessex is a traditional English kingdom and one of the members of the English Heptarchy in Anglo-Saxon times. Along with Mercia, it is one of the two kingdoms which could be seen as the direct ancestor of the English state, and its culture, kings and language dominated England at that time.
Much later, in Victorian times, the novelist Thomas Hardy revived the concept of Wessex in his fiction, though his final understanding of the area was wider than today's state of Wessex.
In the New Elizabethan Era, Alexander Flynn, the seventh Marquess of Bath, founded the Wessex Regionalist Party. At the end of the Era, this party published the Statute of Wessex, setting out its demands for the region. This led in the Caroline Era to the Wessex Charter, which set out six principles codifying the aims of the party for the region. During the second Healey government, the Wessex Regionalists formed the inspiration for a number of other federalist movements throughout England, which copied these principles with reference to their own regions and ultimately formed the Federalist Alliance with the six nationalist parties. In 1993, after an agreement with Labour, the United Kingdom was broken up and England became a federal state.
Wessex underwent quite some transformation at this time. Acting on the precedent established by the renaming of the former village of Westward Ho! after Charles Kingsley's Victorian novel, the state recognised that tourism was likely to be a major source of income and also acknowledged the sense of identity bestowed upon the region by Thomas Hardy's works. Consequently, it underwent a major renaming and restructuring, so that it now officially consists of six "shires": Lower, Upper, Mid, North