0771 The Last Kings of Sussex

From 765 on, the Selsey charters show land grants in Sussex by four kings: Osmund, Oslac, Ælfwald and Ealdwulf. In 771, King Offa of Mercia who had expanded his power into Kent set his sights on Sussex. He fought and defeated the South Saxons at Hastings. He allowed the four Sussex kings to retain some authority, but stripped them of the title of king. Charters from 772 onwards show the four kings with the reduced rank of ealdorman.

There are no further references to South Saxon kings in the charters. However, it is interesting to note that Wulfnoth, father of Earl Godwine, was described as “Child of Sussex”, a term usually reserved for Saxon royalty. Given the limited evidence it is difficult to be certain, but it may be that Earl Godwine was descended from the Sussex line of kings.

And of course, it was Earl Godwine who fathered King Harold I of England. After a brief reign, King Harold met his fate at Hastings during the famous battle against William of Normandy. 

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