Raedwald of East Anglia

From Academic Kids

Rędwald (d. c. 627) was King of East Anglia from about 599 until his death and Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda from about the year 616. He was the son of Tytila. During Raedwald's reign, East Anglia reached the height of its power, and he was the only East Anglian king to be recognized as Bretwalda.

The exiled prince Edwin of Deira took refuge in East Anglia around the year 615, seeking protection from his rival, the Northumbrian king Aethelfrith. Aethelfrith attempted to bribe Raedwald into having Edwin killed, and it is said that at first Raedwald meant to accept, but later refused after he was admonished by his wife that it would be dishonorable to murder a guest. It may be that Raedwald's actual reasoning was more pragmatic, but in any case, he then assembled an army and marched against Northumbria, and a battle was fought by the river Idle. The Northumbrian army was apparently the smaller force, and it seems that this was because Raedwald's attack had taken Aethelfrith by surprise and not allowed him enough time to assemble a great force. Although Raedwald's son Raegenhere was killed, the battle was a great East Anglian victory: Aethelfrith was killed, his sons fled to the north, and Edwin became king of Northumbria. It was from this point that Raedwald was considered Bretwalda.

Raedwald converted to Christianity at the urging of King Ethelbert of Kent, but he is thought to have vacillated between the new religion and the old pagan beliefs. According to Bede, after his conversion "he was seduced by his wife and certain perverse teachers, and turned back from the sincerity of the faith; and thus his latter state was worse than the former; so that, like the ancient Samaritans, he seemed at the same time to serve Christ and the gods whom he had served before". Furthermore, at his temple in Rendlesham, he is said to have had both a Christian shrine and a pagan shrine side by side. This juxtaposition was not an uncommon occurrence during the early years of Christianity in Britain.

He is thought to be the most likely candidate to be the principal of the Sutton Hoo ship burial, although no bodily remains were ever retrieved from this site.


Preceded by:
King of East Anglia
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Ethelbert of Kent
Succeeded by:
Edwin of Northumbria

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no:Raedwald av East Anglia


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