East Anglia

East Anglia (ăngˈglēə) [key], kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, comprising the modern counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. It was settled in the late 5th cent. by so-called Angles from northern Germany and Scandinavia. Little is known of its early history, but its large size and the fact that it was protected by fens probably made it one of the most powerful English kingdoms in the late 6th cent. Raedwald of East Anglia (d. 627?) followed Æthelbert of Kent as king of S England. He helped Edwin defeat Æthelfrith of Northumbria and seize the Northumbrian throne. This brief ascendancy was eclipsed by the rise of the kingdom of Mercia, of which East Anglia was a dependency for long periods after 650. In 825 the East Anglians rebelled against Mercia, with the help of Egbert of Wessex, but thereafter their kingdom was a dependency of Wessex. The great Danish invading army was quartered (865–66) in East Anglia and returned (869) to conquer the kingdom completely, to destroy its monasteries, and to murder its young ruler, St. Edmund. When King Alfred of Wessex first defeated the Danes in the 870s, they retired under Guthrum to an area that included East Anglia, and the treaty of 886 confirmed the region as part of the Danelaw. Its Danes gave aid to later Viking invaders and continued to harass Wessex until Edward the Elder finally defeated their army in 917. After that time, East Anglia was an earldom of England.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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