Sexred (DNB00)

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SEXRED or SEXRÆD (d. 626), king of the East-Saxons, was the son of Sebert (d 616?) [q. v.] the first Christian king of the East-Saxons. He refused to accept Christianity, and when he succeeded his father in 616, reigning conjointly with his two brothers, Sæward and another, said on no good authority to have been named Sigebert (Bromton, ap. Decem SS. col. 743), openly practised paganism and gave permission to his subjects to worship their idols. When he and his brothers saw Mellitus (d. 624) [q. v.], bishop of London, giving the eucharist to the people in church, they said to him, so it was commonly believed in Bede's time, ‘Why do you not offer us the white bread that you used to give to our father Saba, for so they called him, and which you still give to the people?’ Mellitus answered that if they would be washed in the font they should have it, but that otherwise it would do them no good. But they said that they would not enter the font, for they did not need washing but refreshment. The matter was often explained to them by the bishop, who persisted in refusing their request. At last they grew angry and banished him from their kingdom. Not long afterwards they went out to fight with the West-Saxons, and were slain, their army being almost wholly destroyed (Bede, Hist. Eccl. ii. c. 5). This battle was fought against Ceawlin [q. v.] and Cwichelm, the West-Saxon kings who invaded their territory with a larger force than the East-Saxons could muster in or about 626. They were succeeded by Sæward's son Sigebert the Little.

[Mon. Hist. Brit. pp. 629, 637; Henry of Huntingdon, sect. 31, p. 57 (Rolls Ser.); Dict. Chr. Biogr. art. ‘Sexred,’ by Bishop Stubbs.]

W. H.