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Contested loyalties : regional and national identities in the midland kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, c. 700-c. 900

Capper, Morn Diana Theresa (2008) Contested loyalties : regional and national identities in the midland kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, c. 700-c. 900. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The Mercian supremacy has a relatively fixed place in the thought of contemporary Anglo- Saxon historians, who have focused primarily on documentary evidence for the rivalry of Mercian kings and Kentish archbishops. Less attention has been devoted to the shape of the Mercian realm; a kingdom with a midland focus extending its reach permanently over neighbouring kingdoms from the late seventh century onwards. Regional communities absorbed within the new Mercian sphere played an active role in its construction, influencing both Mercian development and their own futures, whilst the succession of each new king offered opportunities for renegotiation of the terms of hegemony. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this thesis uses an essentially chronological structure to question varied political aims and pressures, defensive needs, and cultural, economic and religious interests across the midland kingdoms, then to assess these as motivating factors in the relationships of resistance and accommodation which formed the Mercian hegemony. In chapter one it considers the diverse backgrounds of the independent midland kingdoms during early Mercian expansion. In chapter two the specific case study of the takeover of London is tackled, with its consequences for the East Saxons. The absorption of local rights and delegation of Mercian influence and protection under Aethelbald is analysed in chapter three as a key factor in regional power-relations amongst the Lindisse, Maagonsaete and Hwicce. As Mercian hegemony expanded under Aethelbald and Offa, chapter four considers strategies of accommodation and resistance within the kingdom of East Anglia. In chapters five and six, the formation of a supra-regional Mercian community under Offa and Coenwulf is considered, with the internal impact of key Mercian developments, such as common defensive burdens and economic currency, the establishment and dissolution of the Lichfield archbishopric, conquest and rebellion in East Anglia and Kent and external relations with the Welsh, West Saxons and Franks. Local attempts made to stabilise and augment the authority of their own lineages are discussed and how regional lineages responded to the loss of royal power explored. The final chapter asks if forces of Mercian regional interest and dynastic politics elicited multiple crises in the 820s, causing the Mercian disintegration and allowing West Saxon invasion in 829 and the re-emergence of disparate destinies for the midland kingdoms. This thesis argues that choices at a regional level for unity or independence conditioned not only Mercian hegemony, but also responses in each region to subsequent West Saxon and Scandinavian overlordship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.517724
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2016 14:25
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2016 14:38
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10341

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