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King of Northumbria (867)

Sometimes known as Aelle II, by virtue of the fact that there was previously a sixth century king of Deira also known as Aelle

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle he had no natural claim to the throne of Northumbria but simply seems to have been chosen to rule after the Northumbrians threw out Osberht in the year 867.

Later that year the Viking 'Great Army' led by Ragnarr Lothbrok's sons Ivarr the Boneless and Halfdan crossed the Humber and occupied York. Faced with this common enemy Aelle and Osberht put aside their differences and gathering their forces sought to retake York. As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles relates,

having collected a vast force, with which they fought the army at York; and breaking open the town, some of them entered in. Then was there an immense slaughter of the Northumbrians , some within and some without; and both the kings were slain on the spot.

The survivors made peace with the Viking army, who proceeded to rule Northumbria through the medium of a sequence of puppet kings until the year 878 when they ended the pretence and established their direct rule with the formation of the kingdom of Jorvik.

Sic transit gloria mundi. So ended the kingdom of Northumbria.


A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain by Ann Williams, Alfred P. Smyth and D. P. Kirby (Seaby 1991)

Historia regum Anglorum et Danorum by Simeon of Durham

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

King of the South Saxons and Bretwalda

Some thirty years after the arrival of Hengist and Horsa in Britain, who were the first of the Anglo-Saxons to lay claim to the island, came a great chieftain of the Saxon tribe named Aelle to these shores.

As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle relates, in the year of our Lord 477, Aelle came with his three sons Cymen, Wlencing and Cissa in three ships and landed at Cymenesora where they killed many Britons and drove them into the wood named Andredsley. Having thus established his kingdom some eight years later Aella fought with the Britons once more at Meacredesburna and once five more years were past he and son Cissa besieged the city of Andred, which the Romans called Anderita and which we now call Pevensey, and took that city, killing all those who opposed him within.

From these beginnings Aelle made the kingdom of the South Saxons known as Sussex whose name lives down to the present, and was the first to be called by the great Bede as Bretwalda; the greatest of and noblest of his time.

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