© 2022 Provincial Grand Court of Wessex
TEMPLE PHOTO’S TEMPLE PHOTO’S
KING ECGBERT COURT o f WESSEX No. 98: Meeting at The Masonic Hall, 7 Reading Road Wokingham, RG41 1EG Regular meetings of the Court are held on the 2nd. Wednesday in November, (Instalation) 2nd Wednesday in February, & 3rd. Wednesday in July. CONTACT SECRETARY: W.Bro. BRIAN BERRY Address: 11 Stoates Mill, Watchet, TA23 0FG Mob: Phone / 07747 016807, E-mail: brian1berry@btinternet.com
ORATION: Presented at the Consecration of King Ecgbert Court of Wessex No. 98 By RW&Em. Bro. Mervyn S. Western GCAG, PJGW Eminent Provincial Prior (Wessex) 10th. November 2021 (ACTING AS GRAND EM’ PRIOR)
Ecgberht is not a name that immediately springs to mind when considering the Wessex or Anglo-Saxon monarchy and its impact on the early growth of England but this seems somewhat remiss and I suggest that King Ecgberht of Wessex was of stature such to justify a Court being consecrated in his name and dedicated to his honour. Prior to Ecgberht, the kingdom of Wessex although important was constantly in the shadow of Mercia that had been the predominant kingdom of the heptarchy in excess of three centuries. Ecgberht would break that dominance and, in the process, create a dynasty that would result in the growth of a very small country called England to one that, throughout the ages, has a history of remarkable beneficial effect for the peoples of the world that continues to the present day. No records exist of his early life. No details of his parents or date of birth. Whilst there are quotes claiming him as the only son of Ealhmund of Kent born around 771/775 they are disputed. The one defining factual moment of Ecgberht's reign, indeed perhaps his life, was the Battle of Ellandun that took place during September 825 when, assisted by his son Athelwulf, he fought and defeated Beornwulf and his Mercian army. The invasion may have been instigated and undertaken under the assumption that Ecgberht was too busy fighting the Dunmonians in the south to effectively defend the northern part of the realm. Historians are divided as to whether the battle site is present day Wroughton, near Swindon, or Wilton, near Salisbury but are united that this battle effectively ended the three hundred year dominance of Mercia over the remainder of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy. When Cynewulf was murdered in 786 without an heir the nobles of Wessex, as was the custom, selected his successor - Beolthric. Ecgberht strongly disputed the choice to no avail and, to escape the inevitable wrath and death threats of Beohtric, he was forced to flee to the Carolegian court led by Charlemagne king of the Franks who had united most of the nations of Europe either by force or diplomacy, He was a most powerful and valued ally whose friendship and/or patronage was sought by all. Ecgberht, being well received, remained at the Carolingian court for thirteen years, serving in its military and taking a Carolingian wife, name unknown although reputed to be a blood relation of Charlemagne. Following Beohtric death in 802, possibly according to Asser, accidentally poisoned by his wife Eadburh, Ecgberht returned to successfully claim the throne of Wessex. A kingdom he was destined to rule for 37 years and in so doing create a dynasty that would serve Wessex well and provide a solid foundation of England and the British Isles. There is a further dearth of knowledge of the early years of his reign but that could indicate that he was proving to be a successful and popular ruler satisfying the desires and needs of the Wessex people. The earliest edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in 815 he ravaged the last remaining British kingdom of Dunmonia whose territory at the end of his reign had been reduced to an area equated with the present Cornwall. Another similar reference to Dunmonia in 825 may refer to a known battle between the Wessex Anglo-Saxons of Devon and the West Welsh of Cornwall. The first recorded landing of Viking insurgents is during the reign of Beohtric but there is little mention of such in Ecgberht's time until, in 836, the Vikings attacked and defeated Wessex at the Battle of Carhampton (Somerset). The next reference being the battle of Hingston Down (Cornwall) during 838 when Ecgberht reversed that result by defeating the Vikings and their allies the Dunmonians. There can be no doubt that Ecgberht kept the Mercian hordes from similar success forcing them to attack the other nations of the heptarchy for spoils of war. In 825, came that event when Ecgberht defeated Beorwulf and his invading Mercian forces at Ellandun and ended the Mercian hegemony over the sub-kingdoms in the south-east. Control by Ecgberht was preferred and welcomed by the sub-rulers and their subjects. Later in 929, Ecgberht invaded Mercia driving Wiglaf into exile and, although Wiglaf later revenged that defeat and Mercia regained its independence, it was without the territories of Kent, Surrey and Sussex that were retained as a sub-kingdom to be ruled by Ecgberht's son Athelwulf. Ecgberht's later exploits gives me the impression that he defends Wessex in a manner differing to that of his predecessors with a preparedness to adopt greater aggression and taking the battles into the territories of his foes thereby ensuring that if diplomacy is later required, he negotiates from strength rather than insecurity. His dealings with the West Welsh of Dunmonia and, less often, the people of Devon indicate such. He set the border of Wessex and Dunmonia as the northern bank of the Tamar. A demarcation boundary later adopted by Athelstan to resolve his problems with Dunmonians. Seeking a reason, I am minded to consider that during his service in the Carolingian military it is not impossible that in considering its successes Ecgberht both appreciated and assimilated some of their prevailing political and military thoughts with the consequent obvious practices. Is it a coincidence that the Vikings attacked Wessex less often during his reign and, even then, when he was old and possibly past his peak. Whilst we have very little knowledge of Ecgberht's claims to recognition as a successful ruler of Wessex this would not apply to his successors and their subjects as his exploits would have been celebrated through the poems and songs of the travelling glee-men of their times. This assumption could explain the similar outlook and methods of his successors. Athelwulf, his son who graduated from sub-kingship of Kent to ruler of Wessex. Athelwulf's five sons especially the youngest and most successful Alfred whose son Edward and daughter Aelfraeda were both influential in the upbringing and tuition of Edward's eldest son Athelstan who continued the battles that had been forced upon the realm of Wessex. Following the death of Sihtric the Viking ruler of York and the north-east in 926, Athelstan drove Sihtric's successor, Guthrith, from York seizing, in the process, the kingdom of Northumbria bringing the whole of England under his control and justifying his claim to be "King of all the English" and even "Rex Totius Britanniae". RW&Em. Bro. Mervyn S. Western GCAG, PJGW Eminent Provincial Prior (Wessex) 10th. November 2021
© 2022 Provincial Grand Court of Wessex
HOME
KING ECGBERT COURT o f WESSEX No. 98: Meeting at The Masonic Hall, 7 Reading Road Wokingham, RG41 1EG Regular meetings of the Court are held on the 2nd. Wednesday in November, (Instalation) 2nd Wednesday in February, & 3rd. Wednesday in July. CONTACT SECRETARY: W.Bro. BRIAN BERRY Address: 11 Stoates Mill, Watchet, TA23 0FG Mob: Phone / 07747 016807, E-mail: brian1berry@btinternet.com
ORATION: Presented at the Consecration of King Ecgbert Court of Wessex No. 98 By RW&Em. Bro. Mervyn S. Western GCAG, PJGW Eminent Provincial Prior (Wessex) 10th. November 2021 (ACTING AS GRAND EM’ PRIOR)
TEMPLE PHOTO’S TEMPLE PHOTO’S OTHER PHOTO’S OTHER PHOTO’S
Ecgberht is not a name that immediately springs to mind when considering the Wessex or Anglo- Saxon monarchy and its impact on the early growth of England but this seems somewhat remiss and I suggest that King Ecgberht of Wessex was of stature such to justify a Court being consecrated in his name and dedicated to his honour. Prior to Ecgberht, the kingdom of Wessex although important was constantly in the shadow of Mercia that had been the predominant kingdom of the heptarchy in excess of three centuries. Ecgberht would break that dominance and, in the process, create a dynasty that would result in the growth of a very small country called England to one that, throughout the ages, has a history of remarkable beneficial effect for the peoples of the world that continues to the present day. No records exist of his early life. No details of his parents or date of birth. Whilst there are quotes claiming him as the only son of Ealhmund of Kent born around 771/775 they are disputed. The one defining factual moment of Ecgberht's reign, indeed perhaps his life, was the Battle of Ellandun that took place during September 825 when, assisted by his son Athelwulf, he fought and defeated Beornwulf and his Mercian army. The invasion may have been instigated and undertaken under the assumption that Ecgberht was too busy fighting the Dunmonians in the south to effectively defend the northern part of the realm. Historians are divided as to whether the battle site is present day Wroughton, near Swindon, or Wilton, near Salisbury but are united that this battle effectively ended the three hundred year dominance of Mercia over the remainder of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy. When Cynewulf was murdered in 786 without an heir the nobles of Wessex, as was the custom, selected his successor - Beolthric. Ecgberht strongly disputed the choice to no avail and, to escape the inevitable wrath and death threats of Beohtric, he was forced to flee to the Carolegian court led by Charlemagne king of the Franks who had united most of the nations of Europe either by force or diplomacy, He was a most powerful and valued ally whose friendship and/or patronage was sought by all. Ecgberht, being well received, remained at the Carolingian court for thirteen years, serving in its military and taking a Carolingian wife, name unknown although reputed to be a blood relation of Charlemagne. Following Beohtric death in 802, possibly according to Asser, accidentally poisoned by his wife Eadburh, Ecgberht returned to successfully claim the throne of Wessex. A kingdom he was destined to rule for 37 years and in so doing create a dynasty that would serve Wessex well and provide a solid foundation of England and the British Isles. There is a further dearth of knowledge of the early years of his reign but that could indicate that he was proving to be a successful and popular ruler satisfying the desires and needs of the Wessex people. The earliest edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in 815 he ravaged the last remaining British kingdom of Dunmonia whose territory at the end of his reign had been reduced to an area equated with the present Cornwall. Another similar reference to Dunmonia in 825 may refer to a known battle between the Wessex Anglo-Saxons of Devon and the West Welsh of Cornwall. The first recorded landing of Viking insurgents is during the reign of Beohtric but there is little mention of such in Ecgberht's time until, in 836, the Vikings attacked and defeated Wessex at the Battle of Carhampton (Somerset). The next reference being the battle of Hingston Down (Cornwall) during 838 when Ecgberht reversed that result by defeating the Vikings and their allies the Dunmonians. There can be no doubt that Ecgberht kept the Mercian hordes from similar success forcing them to attack the other nations of the heptarchy for spoils of war. In 825, came that event when Ecgberht defeated Beorwulf and his invading Mercian forces at Ellandun and ended the Mercian hegemony over the sub-kingdoms in the south-east. Control by Ecgberht was preferred and welcomed by the sub-rulers and their subjects. Later in 929, Ecgberht invaded Mercia driving Wiglaf into exile and, although Wiglaf later revenged that defeat and Mercia regained its independence, it was without the territories of Kent, Surrey and Sussex that were retained as a sub- kingdom to be ruled by Ecgberht's son Athelwulf. Ecgberht's later exploits gives me the impression that he defends Wessex in a manner differing to that of his predecessors with a preparedness to adopt greater aggression and taking the battles into the territories of his foes thereby ensuring that if diplomacy is later required, he negotiates from strength rather than insecurity. His dealings with the West Welsh of Dunmonia and, less often, the people of Devon indicate such. He set the border of Wessex and Dunmonia as the northern bank of the Tamar. A demarcation boundary later adopted by Athelstan to resolve his problems with Dunmonians. Seeking a reason, I am minded to consider that during his service in the Carolingian military it is not impossible that in considering its successes Ecgberht both appreciated and assimilated some of their prevailing political and military thoughts with the consequent obvious practices. Is it a coincidence that the Vikings attacked Wessex less often during his reign and, even then, when he was old and possibly past his peak. Whilst we have very little knowledge of Ecgberht's claims to recognition as a successful ruler of Wessex this would not apply to his successors and their subjects as his exploits would have been celebrated through the poems and songs of the travelling glee-men of their times. This assumption could explain the similar outlook and methods of his successors. Athelwulf, his son who graduated from sub-kingship of Kent to ruler of Wessex. Athelwulf's five sons especially the youngest and most successful Alfred whose son Edward and daughter Aelfraeda were both influential in the upbringing and tuition of Edward's eldest son Athelstan who continued the battles that had been forced upon the realm of Wessex. Following the death of Sihtric the Viking ruler of York and the north- east in 926, Athelstan drove Sihtric's successor, Guthrith, from York seizing, in the process, the kingdom of Northumbria bringing the whole of England under his control and justifying his claim to be "King of all the English" and even "Rex Totius Britanniae". RW&Em. Bro. Mervyn S. Western GCAG, PJGW Eminent Provincial Prior (Wessex) 10th. November 2021