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Penda, Mercia's First King (ePub)

The Last Great Heathen Warlord of Anglo-Saxon England

Military > By Century Military > Reference World History

By Paul Barrett
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 2.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781036102586
Published: 23rd May 2024


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Since the Venerable Bede wrote his iconic Ecclesiastic History of England in the eighth century, King Penda has been relegated to the role of villain and treated as a barrier to advancement in a battle between new ideas and a new culture. Paul Barrett outlines the background to the Anglo-Saxon takeover in England and explores the broad concepts of the Angles’ traditional culture, before delving into the life of Penda (605 – 655). Penda’s life spanned the first half of the seventh century, the era which gave birth to national identities which still form the central components of modern Britain; Wales, Scotland, and England all take shape through this period. Penda’s seemingly impossible ascent to prominence starts on the very periphery of power and ends with the dominance of Britain. He is at the centre of Mercia’s birth, expansion and rise. Throughout his reign his kingdom becomes a bastion of stability in a period of endemic warfare, climate change challenges, cultural competition, and unstable nation-to nation relationships. Throughout his life Penda challenges the status quo and shows the value of cultural pluralism in a time when the growing power of a new faith, Christianity, was pushing all others into extinction. Guided by his loyalty to an ancient culture, service to his family, and his powerful Queen Cynewise, Penda launched Mercia towards eventual supremacy, which would last for over 200 years. He was the last of the great Anglo-Saxon heathen warlords.

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About Paul Barrett

Paul Barrett has been researching Penda’s life for many years. For the past 25 years he has also taken part in the modern revival of the heathen faith practised by Penda. He is a Coast Guard Officer and lives in British Columbia, Canada. Paul Barrett has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Sustainable Maritime Operations from the University of Plymouth.

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