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Title: Dynastic strategies and regional loyalties : Wessex, Mercia and Kent, c.802-939
Author: Little, Geoffrey R.
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis explores the expansion of the Kingdom of Wessex between 802, when King Ecgberht ascended the West Saxon throne, through to the death of his great-greatgrandson, King Ethelstan in 939. It explores how, as a dynasty, these particular West Saxon kings managed to overcome the claims of rival branches of the West Saxon stirps regia. The term `dynastic strategies' has been coined to emphasise that these West Saxon kings introduced protracted policies of succession in order to maintain their supreme social position, and, where possible, to extend their political authority further afield. Family dynamics dictated much of these complex policies and these strategies resulted in intense rivalries between the different strands of the royal house which, at times, erupted into contested successions, rebellion and even civil war. However, a major part of the phenomenon of West Saxon expansion was shaped by external factors, particularly the associations their kings made with Mercia and with Kent. The presence of these external elements involved in the emergence of Wessex as the dominant `English' power will form a major component of this study. By situating the expansion of Wessex firmly into a family and dynastic context, this thesis forms a departure from previous works on this subject. It relegates the creation of any `imagined communities' to the periphery and concentrates upon the available source material produced for these West Saxon kings as texts written for the furtherance of one particular family, thereby allowing the pre-occupations of a dominant, but essentially insecure, dynastic regime to emerge more clearly. This thesis demonstrates that the primary intention of King Ecgberht and all of his successors was not the creation of a West Saxon-dominated United Kingdom; it was the retention and transmission of the throne of Wessex intact within one single dynastic bloodline.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available