England’s earliest kings 1 : The Sutton Hoo King and the Bretwaldas

Course Dates: 09/10/21 - 16/10/21
Time: 11:00 - 13:30
Location: Online
After the Romans left in the C5th AD Britain was slowly conquered by Germanic tribes dividing the country up into about a dozen small kingdoms. The strongest king was known as the Bretwalda or Britain Ruler. Was the man buried at Sutton Hoo one of them?
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £30.00

This course has now finished

Course Code: HBH54

Finished Sat, day, 09 Oct - 16 Oct '21

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

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What is the course about?

An exploration of how Roman Britain was transformed into Anglo-Saxon Britain.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

We will examine what happened after the Romans left and which tribes settled where. The Jutes founded the kingdoms of Kent and Wight first but the Saxons then dominated setting up Sussex, Wessex and Essex and some minor kingdoms followed by the Angles in the Midlands and North with Bernicia, Deira, Lindsey, East Anglia, Mercia and others. We will look at the sources of this early history including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the History of Britain by the Venerable Bede as well as archaeological evidence. The first Germans to come to Britain to stay were the brothers Hengist and Horsa of the Jutes, invited by the British king Vortigern but he got more than he bargained for when they decided to set up a new kingdom in Kent. The most famous king of Kent was the third Bretwalda, Ethelbert who became the first English king to accept Christianity after St Augustine came to his kingdom in 597. Sussex provided the first Bretwalda in the form of King Aelle but it was one of the last to accept Christianity and much of its history is lost. The kingdom of Wessex was founded by King Cerdic who is a direct ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II. His grandson Ceawlin was the second Bretwalda and a powerful ruler by the standards of the time. East Anglia provided the third Bretwalda, Raedwald, and the most likely candidate for the Sutton Hoo king. Like Raedwald the fourth to sixth Bretwaldas were Angles, Edwin of Deira and the brothers Oswald and Oswiu of Bernicia. They had powerful rivals in Mercia especially Penda but as a pagan he was exclude from the list by the Christian chroniclers.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify key stages in the early history of England
- Demonstrate understanding of the roles of the king in the C5-7th AD
- Contribute to discussions on how Roman Britain transformed into Anglo-Saxon England.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an `introductory` course and does not assume previous study or reading although you will need a good grasp of English to keep up with the course. As with most of our history and current affairs courses, an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Illustrated zoom lectures, discussions, questions and answers but no work outside the class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?


When I've finished, what course can I do next?

HBH31 England's earliest kings 2: Offa and the Mercian Supremacy.

William Sterling Tutor Website

After a BA in History & Geography at Keele with Music, Education and Greek Studies as subsidiaries, William Sterling taught History full-time before becoming a Civil Servant working for the Departments of Transport and Education. This allowed him to study part-time for his MA from Birkbeck and PhD from King’s College, London. From 1992, he lectured in Adult Education at a number of colleges before joining the City Lit in 2008. Since 1994 he has been an official Gallery Guide at the British Museum, covering the whole museum but specialising in the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Etruscans, the Medieval & Modern European and Enlightenment Galleries. As a lecturer, he specialises in those same areas as well as Royal History (especially British Monarchs from 1603 to 1910), Composers’ Lives and other Cultural, especially interdisciplinary, topics. He also lectures on Cruise Ships on subjects ranging from Vikings to Shakespeare. He runs a website offering free resources on the subjects he teaches.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.