Cædwalla of Wessex - West Saxon Territory in The 680s

West Saxon Territory in The 680s

In the late 7th century, the West Saxons occupied an area in the west of southern England, though the exact boundaries are difficult to define. To their west was the native British kingdom of Dumnonia, in what is now Devon and Cornwall. To the north were the Mercians, whose king, Wulfhere, had dominated southern England during his reign. In 674 he was succeeded by his brother, Æthelred, who was less militarily active than Wulfhere had been along the frontier with Wessex, though the West Saxons did not recover the territorial gains Wulfhere had made. To the southeast was the kingdom of the South Saxons, in what is now Sussex; and to the east were the East Saxons, who controlled London.

Not all the locations named in the Chronicle can be identified, but it is apparent that the West Saxons were fighting in north Somerset, south Gloucestershire, and north Wiltshire, against both British and Mercian opposition. To the west and south, evidence of the extent of West Saxon influence is provided by the fact that Cenwalh, who reigned from 642 to 673, is remembered as the first Saxon patron of Sherborne Abbey, in Dorset; similarly, Centwine (676–685) is the first Saxon patron of Glastonbury, in Somerset. Evidently these monasteries were in West Saxon territory by then. Exeter, to the west, in Devon, was under West Saxon control by 680, since Boniface was educated there at about that time.

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