From Academic Kids

Missing image
A map showing the general locations of the Anglo-Saxon peoples around the year 600.
History of England
Missing image

Heptarchy (Greek: ἑπτά; "seven" and ἀρχία; "sovereignty") is the name applied by historians to the period in English history after the Anglo-Saxon conquest of the southern portion of the island of Great Britain, named Angleland (England) by them (Scotland and Wales each had several kingdoms of their own), up to the time when the Vikings started their predations into parts of Britain, establishing notably a danelaw and Norse kingdoms at York and on the isle of Man.

This period is generally intended as covering the timespan from AD 500 to 850.

The word heptarchy refers to the existence (as was thought) of the seven kingdoms which eventually merged to become the Kingdom of England during the early 10th century, and comprising Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex.

The term itself dates back to the twelfth century, and the English historian Henry of Huntingdon, and has been in common use since the sixteenth century.

More recent research has revealed that some of these kingdoms (notably Essex and Sussex) did not achieve the same status as did the others.

Conversely there also existed at the time a number of other political divisions which played a far more important role than was previously considered the case. Such were the kingdoms (or sub-kingdoms) of Lindsey (in present-day Lincolnshire), the Hwicce, the Magonsaete or Magonset (in present-day Surrey; a sub-kingdom within Mercia), the Wihtware (from whence the Isle of Wight), the Middle Angles, the Haestingas (from whence Hastings in Sussex) and the Gewissae (which became the kingdom of Wessex).

Certainly the term Heptarchy has been considered unsatisfactory since the early twentieth century, and many historians have ceased using it, feeling it does not adequately describe the period to which it refers. However it remains in general use as a label of convenience for that period of English history.


Anglo-Saxon England heptarchy

The separate kingdoms which made up Anglo-Saxon England were:

Subkingdoms of Northumbria

Other minor kingdoms

Sources and References

See also

The Heptarchy
East Anglia | Essex | Kent | Mercia | Northumbria | Sussex | Wessex

fr:Heptarchie nl:Heptarchie ja:七王国 no:Heptarkiet pl:Heptarchia anglosaska zh:七国时代


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools