Ancient History Encyclopedia. This same paradigm could hold true for the original name of the kingdom before it was known as "The Kingdom of the West Saxons" and then shortened to "Wessex". Other scholars have also suggested a strong link with Arthur, some claiming Cerdic was Arthur's son or nephew and others claiming they were adversaries. This version of his life is based on the entries in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which read: This account is straightforward enough but lacks the details from which to create a complete story; this is why later writers felt the need to supply their own details. There are numerous question marks surrounding his life, so let us have a look at some of them. (The Figure of Arthur, 112), Cerdic, according to these claims, was an influential earl who could speak the Saxon tongue and who also commanded an impressive military force. 508: This year Cerdic and Cynric slew a British king, whose name was Natanleod, and five thousand men with him. The problems with the reliability of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles have been noted by many historians over the centuries and, chief among these difficulties is that the entries (recorded in one or two lines per event per year) provide little detail of the events and often repeat themselves in different years. Regarding Cerdic's founding of Wessex and his subsequent rule, and the claim that Arthur ruled the same territory at the same time, they write: There is no good solution to the problem of Arthur presiding over the territory and time of the founding of the Saxon kingdom of Wessex - unless he presided over it! A further difficulty is in understanding exactly which year is being referenced since the practice of dating the beginning of the year to January 1st had not yet been implemented. License. In 519, Cerdic is described as ‘obtaining the kingdom of the West Saxons’, so this year, supposedly, marks the start of the West Saxon kingdom. An even more incredible theory is that Cerdic of Wessex was actually Arthur himself. Additionally, although the chronology and pattern of events do not perfectly line up between the HRB and the ASC, Cheldric is nonetheless described as gaining control of Dorset and Wiltshire, which would place him very close to where the ASC places Cerdic. Mark, Joshua J. "Cerdic." That film (in which he is played by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard), which presented itself as historically accurate and claimed to draw on original sources, portrays Cerdic as a Saxon warlord who is defeated by Arthur at the Battle of Badon; Cerdic is never mentioned in any account of Badon, even though it seems he was well-known enough that he would have been, had he been engaged there.
The primary source for Cerdic of Wessex is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC). This indicates that Cerdic’s apparently British name is not a coincidence.
After this was the land named Netley, from him, as far as Charford. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... King, a supreme ruler, sovereign over a nation or a territory, of higher rank than any other secular ruler except an emperor, to whom a king may be subject. In contrast, Cheldric was said to have died in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Badon, which is generally placed in the first quarter of the sixth century. And this is regardless of whether Cerdic was originally British or not. An entry, then, for 519 CE, might actually have taken place in 520 or 518 CE. While this name is not identical to ‘Cerdic’, it is very similar, and it must be viewed in light of some of the other changes in spelling that Geoffrey made (such as turning the Welsh ‘Arawn’ into ‘Augusel’). Announcing our NEW encyclopedia for Kids! The truth behind the original name of the kingdom, like much of Cerdic's life, may never be known and is still debated in the present day. The historian Nennius, who is thought to have written his History of the Britons in 828 CE, claims Arthur never lost a single one of his famous twelve battles which would have taken place in the 6th century CE. England, the "land of the Angles", embraced this early king as their founder, anglicized him through genealogies, and made him one of their own. Their story is that the kingdom of Wessex owed its origin to Cerdic, who was in command of a number of separate Saxon forces under named leaders, at a date that was originally set at about 480. Perhaps the Battle of Badon did take place much later than commonly believed, or maybe Cerdic’s life should actually be pushed backwards instead of forwards. Provided that he was real, which most scholars accept him as being, we can say that if he had never come to Britain, the history of the country would likely have looked very different – at least the period up until William the Conqueror. Much of the information relating to the early phase is of a distinctly `folkloric' or rationalizing character: for example, Cerdic and Cynric land at a place called Cerdicesora; they kill a 'Welsh' king called Natanleod, and subsequently that district is called Natanleod (Netley near Southampton), and so on. Given that Cerdic fought against the Britons and was active very close to where Arthur was based, it is very likely that the two men would have crossed swords. (2014, December 30). 534: This year died Cerdic, the first king of the West-Saxons.
Yet, in 514 (exactly 19 years later), the ASC states that ‘this year the West-Saxons arrived in Britain’. This is really an extension of the previous theory, for it is based on perceived similarities between Arthur and Caradoc Vreichvras. He is recognized as the ancestor of the later kings of Gwent in Welsh legend, and as a Welsh noble, but not as king of the Britons. This was also in Hampshire, quite near the coast, so apparently they had not yet progressed very far through the country by this point. 514: This year came the West-Saxons into Britain, with three ships, at the place that is called Cerdic's-ore. And Stuf and Whitgar fought with the Britons and put them to flight.
Cerdic (r. 519-534 CE) was King of the West Saxons and the founder of Wessex. Saxon Square-Headed Bow Broochby Metropolitan Museum of Art (Copyright). Other explanations for Wessex being originally known as The Kingdom of Gewisse make far less sense, such as the claim that it was named for Cerdic's mother. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Historians (including the Rudmins) point to the original name of the region of Wessex, "Gewisse", as further proof that Cerdic and his followers were already known in the land prior to 495 CE, as they interpret the place-name "Gewisse" as linked to the German word "gewiss" ("certainly" or "sure"), which was the same word in Old Saxon and had the same meaning.
Cerdic, (died 534), founder of the West Saxon kingdom, or Wessex.
The easier ambiguities of the Kent and Sussex annals are the consequences of fading memory and of tradition ill-understood; but the Wessex entries are the deliberate contrivance of ninth-century scholars, devised to serve the political needs of their own day. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. While they may have ruled fairly close to each other, their territories were definitely distinct. It might also be true that Cerdic was, in fact, known in the region and had already established himself there firmly prior to his departure, for whatever reason, to Brittany; or it may not be. https://www.ancient.eu/Cerdic/. His narrative, therefore, needs to be read in light of those motives and traditions, not as an objective history. When this situation is understood, there is really no reason to think it peculiar that Cerdic, this supposedly Saxon leader, had a British name. If, in the year 500, the ruler of south-central Britain was Arthur, and the ruler of south-central Britain was Cerdic, then Arthur was Cerdic. The historians John C. and Joseph W. Rudmin claim that the difficulty of reconciling the ancient sources on Cerdic with those of Arthur is easily solved once one recognizes that they were the same person. The two theorists liked to emphasize the supposed fact that Arthur and Cerdic are both said to have ruled the area of Wessex at the same time, but this is not where the earliest information places Arthur. The fact that so many later writers felt the need to do so is testimony to how important Cerdic was in English history.
[The later Saxon king] Ceawlin's relationship to Cerdic and Cynric is never specified in the Chronicle, though he is said in the entry for the year 560 to have succeeded to the kingdom of Wessex that they created" (178). The migration of Saxons to Britain had already been taking place for many decades before Cerdic appears in the ASC, so he could easily have been from a Saxon family that had intermarried with the locals one or more generations previously. 527: This year Cerdic and Cynric fought with Britons in the place that is called Cerdic's-ley.
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