Ælla (d.514?) (DNB00)

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ÆLLA (d. 514?), a Saxon ealdorman, landed in Britain with his three sons in 477. The place of his landing, Keynor, or Cymen's ora, preserves the name of his eldest son. Ælla defeated the Britons, and made them flee for shelter to the great forest of the Andredsweald. The invaders established themselves along the coast, and were called South Saxons. They made slow progress in the work of conquest. Many native princes combined together against them, and, in 485, fought with Ælla and his sons ‘near the bank of Mearcrædsburn.’ The battle was bloody and indecisive. Ælla found his forces so much weakened that he sent for help to his countrymen across the sea. His invitation was answered by a large Saxon immigration. With this reinforcement Ælla and his son Cissa, in 491, laid siege to the strong city of Anderida. The city was girt by Roman walls, of which large portions still remain. The defence was obstinate. Henry of Huntingdon records the traditional details of the siege. The population was thick, for Anderida stood in the midst of a mining district. When the city fell, Ælla ‘slew all that dwelt therein, so that not one Briton was left there.’ The overthrow of Anderida raised Ælla to the kingship of the South Saxons. He is said to have helped the West Saxons in 508 in their struggle with Natanleod. Ælla was looked on as the head of all the Teutonic settlers in Britain, and is reckoned as the first Bretwalda. He died about 514, and was succeeded by his third son, Cissa.

[Anglo-Saxon Chron.; Henry of Huntingdon, lib. ii.; Bede, Hist. Eccles. lib. ii. cap. 5.]

W. H.