A History of the British Isles by Jeremy Black (auth.)

By Jeremy Black (auth.)

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Wessex rejected Mercian protection in 802; Mercia was weakened in the 820s by conflict in Wales and dynastic feuds; and in 825, after defeating the Mercians at Wroughton, Egbert of Wessex conquered Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex. Mercia followed in 829 but was soon independent again. Thus, there was little sign of political unification. There were faint indications of a sense of national identity: the canons of the Synod of Hertford (672) were issued for and applied to the whole English Church, and Bede, a Northumbrian monk, wrote his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 731.

Despite these limitations, settlement spread during the period. In Norfolk, for example, the seventh and eighth centuries saw a fleshing out of the earlier settlement pattern. It was to be a relatively prosperous society that attracted the attention of the Vikings. VIKING ATTACKS Much of Europe suffered a second wave of 'barbarian' attacks in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries: Magyars from the east, Arabs from the south and Vikings from Scandinavia. The Vikings, traders, colonisers and fighters, spread east to Russia, and west to Iceland, Greenland and the coast of North America.

An older culture, or at least language, had survived both Rome and the Anglo-Saxon invaders. Nevertheless no one, not the people who lived in what is now Wales, not the Angles, nor the Saxons, nor the Romans, had any consciousness of Wales or for that matter of England as such until the sixth century or later. Surviving Welsh poetry is claimed to begin in the sixth century with Taliesin and Aneirin. Taliesin composed a series of poems in praise of Urien of Rheged and his son Owain. Rheged was in the Carlisle area.

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