Battle of Aclea

The Battle of Aclea occurred in 851 between the West Saxons led by Æthelwulf, King of Wessex and the Danish Vikings. It resulted in a West Saxon victory.

Little is known about the battle and the most important source of information comes from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which recorded that:

"350 [Viking] ships came into the Thames and stormed Canterbury and London and put to flight Beorhtwulf, King of Mercia with his army, and then went south over the Thames to Surrey and King Aethelwulf and his son Aethelbald with the West Saxon army fought against them at Oak Field [Aclea], and there made the greatest slaughter of a heathen raiding-army that we have heard tell of up to the present day, and there took the victory."[1]

Possible locations for the battle site include Ockley and Oakley Wood, near Merstham, both in Surrey.[2]

References

  1. ^ The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  2. ^ https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-379-1/dissemination/pdf/vol_25/surreyac025_136-138_anon.pdf
History of the Royal Navy

The official history of the Royal Navy began with the formal establishment of the Royal Navy as the national naval force of the Kingdom of England in 1660, following the Restoration of King Charles II to the throne. However, for more than a thousand years before that there had been English naval forces varying in type and organization. In 1707 it became the naval force of the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Union between England and Scotland which merged the English navy with the much smaller Royal Scots Navy, although the two had begun operating together from the time of the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

Before the creation of the Royal Navy, the English navy had no defined moment of formation; it started out as a motley assortment of "King's ships" during the Middle Ages assembled only as needed and then dispersed, began to take shape as a standing navy during the 16th century, and became a regular establishment during the tumults of the 17th century. The Navy grew considerably during the global struggle with France that started in 1690 and culminated in the Napoleonic Wars, a time when the practice of fighting under sail was developed to its highest point.

The ensuing century of general peace saw considerable technological development, with sail yielding to steam and cannon supplanted by large shell-firing guns, and ending with the race to construct bigger and better battleships. That race, however, was ultimately a dead end, as aircraft carriers and submarines came to the fore and, after the successes of World War II, the Royal Navy yielded its formerly preeminent place to the United States Navy. The Royal Navy has remained one of the world's most capable navies, however, and currently operates a fleet of modern ships.

Kingdom of Kent

The Kingdom of the Kentish (Old English: Cantaware Rīce; Latin: Regnum Cantuariorum), today referred to as the Kingdom of Kent, was an early medieval kingdom in what is now South East England. It existed from either the fifth or the sixth century CE until it was fully absorbed into the Kingdom of England in the tenth century.

Under the preceding Romano-British administration the area of Kent faced repeated attacks from seafaring raiders during the fourth century CE. It is likely that Germanic-speaking foederati were invited to settle in the area as mercenaries. Following the end of Roman administration, in 410, further linguistically Germanic tribal groups moved into the area, as testified by both archaeological evidence and Late Anglo-Saxon textual sources. The primary ethnic group to settle in the area appears to have been the Jutes: they established their Kingdom in East Kent and may initially have been under the dominion of the Kingdom of Francia. It has been argued that an East Saxon community initially settled in West Kent, but was conquered by the expanding kingdom of East Kent in the sixth century.

The earliest recorded King of Kent was Æthelberht, who, as Bretwalda, wielded significant influence over other Anglo-Saxon kings in the late sixth century. The Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons began in Kent during Æthelberht's reign with the arrival of the monk Augustine of Canterbury and his Gregorian mission in 597.

Kent was one of the seven kingdoms of the so-called Anglo-Saxon heptarchy, but it lost its independence in the 8th century when it became a sub-kingdom of Mercia. In the 9th century it became a sub-kingdom of Wessex, and in the 10th century it became part of the unified Kingdom of England that was created under the leadership of Wessex. Its name has been carried forward ever since as the county of Kent.

Knowledge of Anglo-Saxon Kent comes from scholarly study of Late Anglo-Saxon texts such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, as well as archaeological evidence such as that left by early medieval cemeteries and settlements, and toponymical (place-name) evidence.

List of battles (alphabetical)

Alphabetical list of historical battles (see also Military history, Lists of battles):

NOTE: Where a year has been used to disambiguate battles it is the year when the battle started. In some cases these may still have gone on for several years.

Merstham

Merstham is a village in the borough of Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, England. It is north of Redhill and is contiguous with it. Part of the North Downs Way runs along the northern boundary of the village. Merstham has community associations, an early medieval church, a football club and an art gallery.

Surrey

Surrey ( SURR-ee) is a county in South East England which borders Kent to the east, Sussex to the south, Hampshire to the west, Berkshire to the northwest, and Greater London to the northeast.

With about 1.2 million people, Surrey is the twelfth most populous English county, the third most populous home county, after Kent and Essex, and the third most populous in the South East, after Hampshire and Kent.

Guildford is the county town, although Surrey County Council is based extraterritorially at Kingston upon Thames.

Surrey is divided into eleven districts: Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley, and Woking.

The London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth, and parts of Lewisham and Bromley were in Surrey until 1889, as were Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Sutton and the part of Richmond upon Thames on the right bank of the River Thames until 1965, when they were absorbed into Greater London, and the county extended north of the Thames by the addition of Spelthorne, as a result of the dissolution of Middlesex.

Surrey is a wealthy county due to economic, aesthetic, conservation and logistical factors. It has the highest GDP per capita of any English county, some of the highest property values outside Inner London, and also the highest cost of living outside of the capital.

Surrey has the highest proportion of woodland in England. It has large protected green spaces (such as the North Downs, Greensand Ridge and related Surrey Hills AONB and royal landscapes adjoin it — Windsor Great Park and Bushy Park near the River Thames). It has four horse racing courses, and golf courses including international competition venue Wentworth.

Surrey is close to Heathrow and Gatwick airports and the M25, M3 and M23 motorways and has frequent rail services to central London.

Wessex

Wessex (; Old English: Westseaxna rīce [westsæɑksnɑ riːt͡ʃe], the "kingdom of the West Saxons") was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until England was unified by Æthelstan in the early 10th century.

The Anglo-Saxons believed that Wessex was founded by Cerdic and Cynric, but this may be a legend. The two main sources for the history of Wessex are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List, which sometimes conflict. Wessex became a Christian kingdom after Cenwalh was baptised and was expanded under his rule. Cædwalla later conquered Sussex, Kent and the Isle of Wight. His successor, Ine, issued one of the oldest surviving English law codes and established a second West Saxon bishopric. The throne subsequently passed to a series of kings with unknown genealogies.

During the 8th century, as the hegemony of Mercia grew, Wessex largely retained its independence. It was during this period that the system of shires was established. Under Egbert, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Essex, and Mercia, along with parts of Dumnonia, were conquered. He also obtained the overlordship of the Northumbrian king. However, Mercian independence was restored in 830. During the reign of his successor, Æthelwulf, a Danish army arrived in the Thames estuary, but was decisively defeated. When Æthelwulf's son, Æthelbald, usurped the throne, the kingdom was divided to avoid war. Æthelwulf was succeeded in turn by his four sons, the youngest being Alfred the Great.

Wessex was invaded by the Danes in 871, and Alfred was compelled to pay them to leave. They returned in 876, but were forced to withdraw. In 878 they forced Alfred to flee to the Somerset Levels, but were eventually defeated at the Battle of Edington. During his reign Alfred issued a new law code, gathered scholars to his court and was able to devote funds to building ships, organising an army and establishing a system of burhs. Alfred's son, Edward, captured the eastern Midlands and East Anglia from the Danes and became ruler of Mercia in 918 upon the death of his sister, Æthelflæd. Edward's son, Æthelstan, conquered Northumbria in 927, and England became a unified kingdom for the first time. Cnut the Great, who conquered England in 1016, created the wealthy and powerful earldom of Wessex, but in 1066 Harold Godwinson reunited the earldom with the crown and Wessex ceased to exist.

Æthelbald, King of Wessex

Æthelbald, King of Wessex (died 860) was the second of five sons of King Æthelwulf of Wessex. In 850 Æthelbald's elder brother Æthelstan defeated the Vikings in the first recorded sea battle in English history, but he is not recorded afterwards and probably died in the early 850s. The next year Æthelwulf and Æthelbald inflicted another defeat on the Vikings at the Battle of Aclea. In 855 Æthelwulf went on pilgrimage to Rome and he appointed Æthelbald king of Wessex, while Æthelberht, the next oldest son, became King of Kent, which had been conquered by Wessex thirty years earlier. When Æthelwulf returned to England in 856, Æthelbald refused to give up the crown. Most historians believe that Æthelbald continued to be king of Wessex while Æthelberht gave up Kent to his father, but some scholars think that Wessex itself was divided, with Æthelbald ruling the west and his father the east, while Æthelberht kept Kent. When Æthelwulf died, in 858 Æthelbald continued as (or became again) king of Wessex and his brother resumed (or carried on) his kingship of Kent.

On his way back from Rome, Æthelwulf stayed for several months with Charles the Bald, King of the Franks and married Charles' twelve-year-old daughter, Judith. After Æthelwulf's death Æthelbald married his stepmother, to the later horror of Asser, the biographer of his youngest brother, Alfred the Great. Asser denounced the union as being "against God's prohibition and Christian dignity, and also contrary to the practice of all pagans", but the marriage does not appear to have been condemned at the time. Æthelbald and Æthelberht appear to have been on good terms: when Æthelbald died in 860 Æthelberht became king of both Wessex and Kent, and they were never again divided.

Æthelberht, King of Wessex

Æthelberht ([ˈæðelbeo̯rˠxt]; also spelled Ethelbert or Aethelberht) was the King of Wessex from 860 until his death in 865. He was the third son of King Æthelwulf by his first wife, Osburh. Æthelberht was first recorded as a witness to a charter in 854. The following year Æthelwulf went on pilgrimage to Rome and appointed his oldest surviving son, Æthelbald, as king of Wessex while Æthelberht became king of the recently conquered territory of Kent. Æthelberht may have surrendered his position to his father when he returned from pilgrimage, but resumed (or kept) the south-eastern kingship when his father died in 858.

When Æthelbald died in 860, Æthelberht united both their territories under his rule. He did not appoint a sub-king and Wessex and Kent were fully united for the first time. He appears to have been on good terms with his younger brothers, the future kings Æthelred I and Alfred the Great. The kingdom came under attack from Viking raids during his reign, but these were minor compared with the invasions after his death. Æthelberht died in the autumn of 865 and was buried next to his brother Æthelbald at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset. He was succeeded by Æthelred.

Æthelwulf, King of Wessex

Æthelwulf (; Old English for "Noble Wolf"; died 13 January 858) was King of Wessex from 839 to 858. In 825, his father, King Egbert, defeated King Beornwulf of Mercia, ending a long Mercian dominance over Anglo-Saxon England south of the Humber. Egbert sent Æthelwulf with an army to Kent, where he expelled the Mercian sub-king and was himself appointed sub-king. After 830, Egbert maintained good relations with Mercia, and this was continued by Æthelwulf when he became king in 839, the first son to succeed his father as West Saxon king since 641.

The Vikings were not a major threat to Wessex during Æthelwulf's reign. In 843, he was defeated in a battle against the Vikings at Carhampton in Somerset, but he achieved a major victory at the Battle of Aclea in 851. In 853 he joined a successful Mercian expedition to Wales to restore the traditional Mercian hegemony, and in the same year his daughter Æthelswith married King Burgred of Mercia. In 855 Æthelwulf went on pilgrimage to Rome. In preparation he gave a "decimation", donating a tenth of his personal property to his subjects; he appointed his eldest surviving son Æthelbald to act as King of Wessex in his absence, and his next son Æthelberht to rule Kent and the south-east. Æthelwulf spent a year in Rome, and on his way back he married Judith, the daughter of the West Frankish King Charles the Bald.

When Æthelwulf returned to England, Æthelbald refused to surrender the West Saxon throne, and Æthelwulf agreed to divide the kingdom, taking the east and leaving the west in Æthelbald's hands. On Æthelwulf's death in 858 he left Wessex to Æthelbald and Kent to Æthelberht, but Æthelbald's death only two years later led to the reunification of the kingdom.

In the 20th century Æthelwulf's reputation among historians was poor: he was seen as excessively pious and impractical, and his pilgrimage was viewed as a desertion of his duties. Historians in the 21st century see him very differently, as a king who consolidated and extended the power of his dynasty, commanded respect on the continent, and dealt more effectively than most of his contemporaries with Viking attacks. He is regarded as one of the most successful West Saxon kings, who laid the foundations for the success of his son Alfred the Great.

Major Anglo-Saxon monarchs
Major Anglo-Saxon leaders
Major Danish monarchs
Major Viking leaders
Viking monarchs, client kings
Battles
Viking raids
Norse colonization
English petty kingdoms
See also

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