House of Wessex
Golden Wyvern of Wessex
Golden Wyvern of Wessex[1]
Country Kingdom of Gewisse
Kingdom of West Saxon
Kingdom of Wessex,
Kingdom of England
Titles * King of Wessex
Founder Cerdic of Wessex
Final ruler Edward the Confessor
Founding year 519
Dissolution 1126
Ethnicity English(see details)

Map of 6th Century England including Wessex which was formerly known as Gewisse.

British seventh century kingdoms

The kingdoms of Great Britain in the late 7th century.

The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic (Cerdicingas in Old English[2]), refers to the family that initially ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex, from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex until the unification of the Kingdoms of England by Alfred the Great and his successors. Alfred and his successors would also be part of this dynasty, which would continue ruling in the main line all the way until Alfred's descendant, Ethelred the Unready, whose reign in the late 10th century and early 11th century saw a brief period of Danish occupation and following his and his son Edmund Ironside's death, kingship by the Danish Cnut the Great and his successors to 1042. The House of Wessex then briefly regained its power for 24 years, but after the deposition of its last scion, Ethelred's great-grandson Edgar Ætheling, it faded into the annals of history. Edgar himself died after a long and adventurous life sometime after 1125.


The House became rulers of a unified English nation after the descendants of Alfred the Great (871–899) down to Edward the Confessor in 1066. Edward the Elder Alfred's son united under his rule, by conquering the Viking occupied areas, Mercia and East Anglia with Wessex. Then his son, Æthelstan, extended his authority into the north, Northumbria, above the Mersey and Humber, but this was not fully consolidated until after his nephew Edgar succeeded to the throne. This period of the English monarchy is known as the Anglo-Saxon period, because the two main branches of settlers were Angles (in Mercia and East Anglia) or Saxon (in Wessex, Essex, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex and Northumbria); a smaller group of settlers, the Jutes in Kent, Wight and in parts of east Sussex, merged with the Saxons.

Their rule was often contested, notably by the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard who invaded in 995 and occupied the united English throne from 1013 to 1014, during the reign of Æthelred the Unready and his son Edmund Ironside. Sweyn, his son Canute and his successors ruled until 1042. After Harthacanute, there was a brief Anglo-Saxon restoration between 1042 and 1066 under Edward the Confessor a son of Æthelred, who was succeeded by Harold Godwinson, who was a member of the House of Godwin, possibly a side branch of the Cerdicings (see Ancestry of the Godwins). After the Battle of Hastings, a decisive point in English history, William of Normandy became king of England. Anglo-Saxon attempts to restore native rule in the person of Edgar the Ætheling, a grandson of Edmund Ironside who had originally been passed over in favour of Harold, were unsuccessful and William's descendants secured their rule. Edgar's niece Matilda of Scotland later married William's son Henry I, forming a link between the two dynasties. Henry II was a descendant of the House of Wessex in the female line, something that contemporary English commentators noted with approval.[3]

Ancestry of Wessex Rulers[]

The grandchildren of the earliest Saxon invador, [[Cerdic of Wessex (-534), would fight each other for control of the Kingdom of Wessex (AKA: Gewisse) for several generalgioins.

At first in the 6th Century the area of Wessex is first referred to in early charters and records as Gewisse and is really not much more than a small tribe. In about 686 is the first references to West Saxon. Later it is referred to as Wessex and then England.

Caewelin Line[]

Descendants of Caewlin of Wessex (-593) which include Alfred the Great and most all other British rulers to the modern ages.

# Name Spouse Birth Death occupation ancestry / descendants
CW-01 Cerdic of Wessex (-534)
King of Gewisse (Wessex)
unknown? 495, Leader of 1st Saxon Invasion of England Was Cerdic the Saxon invader that fought against the legendary King Arthur for control of 6th Century England?
CW-02 Cynric of Wessex (-560)
King of Gewisse
unknown? Ongoing - Saxon Invasion of England
CW-03 Caewlin of Wessex (-593)
King of Gewisse
unknown? c540 Saxony 593 Wessex Leader of great Saxon invasion of England (556-584) Starting in 592, this family fight their cousins of Ceoline Line for control of the throne of Wessex (Gewisse) in a number of battles that would last several generations.
CW-04 Cuthwine of Wessex (c565-)
King of Gewisse
unknown? 565 Wessex c592 Wessex Ongoing battles with the Ceoline Line for control of the throne of Wessex (Gewisse)
CW-05 Cutha Cathwulf (592-) unknown? 592 Wessex ?? Wessex Ongoing battles with the Ceoline Line for control of the throne of Wessex (Gewisse).
CW-06 Ceolwald of Wessex (c622-688)
King of West Saxons (Wessex)
unknown? c622 Wessex 688 Rome Died one week after visiting Pope in Rome.
CW-07 Cenred of Wessex (c644-c694)
King of Wessex
unknown? c644 Wessex c694 Wessex
CW-08 Ingild of Wessex (-718)
King of Wessex
unknown? c680 Wessex c718 Wessex
cW-09 Eoppa of Wessex (c706-781)
King of Wessex
unknown? c706 Wessex 781 Wessex
CW-10 Eafa of Wessex
King of Wessex
unknown? c730 Wessex c784 Wessex Killed in Battle in 784
cW-11 Ealhmund of Kent
King of Wessex
unknown? ?? 784 England Killed in battle with killed by King Sigeberht
CW-12 Egbert of Wessex (c769-839)
King of Wessex
unknown? c769 Wessex 839 Wessex
CW-13 Æthelwulf of Wessex (c795-858)
King of Wessex
Osburga (-bef856) c844 Wessex 870 Wessex
CW-14 Alfred the Great (849-899)
King of Wessex
King of Anglo-Saxons
Ealhswith (c852-905) c849 Wessex 899 Wessex Alfred is most noted for the 886 resettlement of the ancient Roman city of London, defeating Viking invaders and unification of the several Anglo-Saxon tribes. Alfred the Great Family Ancestry. The only English monarch to be given the epithet "the Great".

The Ceolian line[]

Ceol of Wessex (-597) was the founding member of a sub-house of the House of Wessex which would rule Wessex from 591 – 645, 648 – 674 and from 676 – 685, comprising Ceol of Wessex (-597), Ceolwulf of Wessex (-611), Cynegils, Cenwalh, Seaxburh and Centwine. Coenwulf and Ceolwulf I of Mercia are also believed to be descendants of Ceol, meaning that the Ceolian line flourished for at least three centuries after its founder's death, and possibly longer. (See House of Wessex family tree.)

# Name Spouse Birth Death occupation ancestry / descendants
CL-01 Cerdic of Wessex (-534)
King of Gewisse
unknown? 495, Leader of 1st Saxon Invasion of England Was Cerdic the Saxon invader that fought against the legendary King Arthur for control of 6th Century England?
CL-02 Cynric of Wessex (-560)
King of Gewisse
unknown? Ongoing - Saxon Invasion of England
CL-03 Cutha of Wessex (c540-584)
CL-04 Ceol of Wessex (-597)
King of Gewisse
unknown? Led revolt against his uncle Caewlin of Wessex (-593) (CW-03) and cousin Cuthwine of Wessex (c565-) (CW-04) above for control of the Kingdom of Wessex. Battle would continue for several generations.
CL-05 Cynegils of Wessex (c596-642)
King of Gewisse
unknown? Ongoing ware with cousins for control of Wessex.
CL-06 Centwine of Wessex (619-c686)
King of Gewisse
unknown? Reportedly abdicated to become a monk and to seek pennance with Christ. No futher records for this line.
CL-xx unverified descedants of Centwine.

Timeline of Wessex and England rulers[]

Edgar the ÆthelingHarold GodwinsonSaint Edward the ConfessorHarthacanuteHarold HarefootCanute the GreatEdmund IronsideEthelred the UnreadySweyn ForkbeardEthelred the UnreadySaint Edward the MartyrEdgar the PeaceableEadwigEadredEdmund I of EnglandAthelstanÆlfweard of WessexEdward the ElderAlfred the GreatÆthelred of WessexÆthelberht of WessexÆthelbald of WessexÆthelwulf of WessexEgbert of WessexHouse of Denmark

Monarchs of Wessex[]

Reign Kingdom Incombent Family Notes
519-534 Cerdic Gewisse Caewelin Probable Saxon invader
534-560 Cynric Gewisse Caewelin Son of Cerdic
560-591 Caewlin Gewisse Caewelin Son of Cynric
591-597 Ceol Gewisse Ceolian Nephew of Caewlin, usurper of throne
597-611 Ceolwulf Gewisse Ceolian Brother of Ceol
611-643 Cynegils Gewisse Ceolian Son of Ceol
c626-636 Cwichelm Gewisse Ceolian Son of / Co-ruler with Cynegils
643-645 Cenwealh Gewisse Ceolian Son of Cynegils / deposed by Mercians
645-648 Penda of Mercia Gewisse Mercian King of Mercia, expelled Cenwalh.
648-672 Cenwealh Gewisse Ceolian Restored; reigned jointly with his wife Queen Seaxburh 672 to 674.
672-674 Seaxburh Gewisse Ceolian Wife of Cenwealh, ruled as queen.
674-676 Aescwin ??? Gewisse ?? Son of Cenfus?
676-685 Centwine Gewisse Ceolian son of Cynegils, Deposed by Cædwalla
685-688 Ceolwald (Caedwalla) West Saxon Caewelin Supposed son of Cutha Cathwulf (592-), usurped line of Ceolian.
688-694 Cenred West Saxon Caewelin Supposed son of Ceolwald
694-726 Ine West Saxon Caewelin Descendant of Ceawlin. Abdicated
726-740 Æthelheard West Saxon Caewelin Perhaps brother-in-law of Ine.
740-756 Cuthred West Saxon Caewelin Relative, possibly brother, of Æthelheard.
756-757 Sigeberht West Saxon Caewelin Distant relative of Cuthred. Deposed (and killed?) by Cynewulf
757-786 Cynewulf West Saxon Caewelin Assassinated by Cyneheard, brother of Sigeberht
786-802 Beorhtric West Saxon Caewelin Reigned 786 to 802
802-839 Ecgberht West Saxon Caewelin Descendant of Ine's brother.
839-858 Æthelwulf West Saxon Caewelin Son of Ecgberht.
858-860 Æthelbald West Saxon Caewelin Son of Æthelwulf.
860-865 Æthelberht West Saxon Caewelin Son of Æthelwulf.
865-871 Æthelred I West Saxon Caewelin Son of Æthelwulf.
871-886 Alfred the Great West Saxon Caewelin


For a family tree of the House of Wessex from Cerdic down to the children of King Alfred the Great, see:

A continuation into the 10th and 11th centuries can be found at

Attributed coat of arms[]

Royal Arms of Edward the Confessor

A coat of arms was attributed by medieval heralds to the Kings of Wessex. These arms appear in a manuscript of the thirteenth century, and are blazoned as Azure, a cross patonce (sometimes a cross fleury or cross moline) between four martlets Or.[4] The assigning of arms to the West Saxon kings is prochronistic as heraldry did not develop until the twelfth century. These arms continued to be used to represent the kingdom for centuries after their invention. They have been incorporated into heraldic charges of institutions that associate themselves with Wessex, especially Edward the Confessor, where they are used at Westminster Abbey and in the arms of the City of Westminster.[5]

See also[]


  1. ^ Friar, Basic Heraldry, 12.
  2. ^ Millennium, Tom Holland (p 192)
  3. ^ Harper-Hill, C. and Vincent, N. (2007) Henry II: New Interpretations, Boydell Press, p. 382.
  4. ^ College of Arms MS L.14, dating from the reign of Henry III
  5. ^ For example in Divi Britannici by Winston Churchill, published in 1675, and Britannia Saxona by G W Collen, published in 1833.
  • Stephen Friar and John Ferguson (1993), Basic Heraldry, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 978-0-393-03463-9
  • Naismith, Rory (2011). "The Origins of the Line of Egbert, King of the West Saxons, 802–839". English Historical Review 76 (518): 1–16. DOI:10.1093/ehr/ceq377. 
Royal house
House of Wessex
New title
England united under Wessex
Ruling house of England
Succeeded by
House of Denmark
Preceded by
House of Denmark
Ruling house of England
Ruling house of England
Succeeded by
House of Godwin

Template:Kingdom of England

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