Ceolred (DNB00)

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CEOLRED (d. 716), king of the Mercians, was the son of Æthelred by his wife Osthryth of Northumbria. On Æthelred's retirement to a monastery in 704 he was succeeded by his nephew, Coenred, and Ceolred did not come to the throne until 709. He then sent two abbots to Wilfrith to beg him to come to him, promising to order his life in accordance with the bishop's instructions. Wilfrith accepted the invitation, but died soon after his coming into Mercia, and, as it seems, without meeting the king. The revival of the West-Saxon power under Ceadwalla and Ine had caused the loss of the Mercian territory beyond the Thames, together probably with Essex and London. Ceolred made a vigorous attempt to win back the supremacy of the south, and in 715 led his army into Wessex. He was met by Ine at Wodnesbeorg, probably Wanborough, where a battle was fought so fiercely that none could tell which side suffered the greater loss (Hen. Hunt. 724); it is evident, however, that the invasion failed. Ceolred was jealous of his cousin Æthelbald, and persecuted him so that he was forced to flee from the kingdom. The good intentions Ceolred had when he sent for Wilfrith seem by this time to have disappeared, for he greatly oppressed the church and did much evil to monasteries and nunneries. In 716, as he was feasting with his nobles, he was suddenly seized with madness, and so died, his end, according to St. Boniface, being the work of the evil spirit that possessed him. His widow, Werburh, is said to have lived until 782. Ceolred was buried at Lichfield. On his death Æthelbald was chosen king.

[Bæda's Historia Eccles. v. 19 (Eng. Hist. Soc.); Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 704, 715, 716; Eddius's Vita Wilfridi, cap. 63, ap. Historians of York, p. 96 (Rolls Series); Florence of Worcester (Eng. Hist. Soc.); Henry of Huntingdon, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Haddan and Stubbs's Councils and Eccles. Docs. iii. 281, 355, and 356, with letter of St. Boniface from Jaffé, No. 59, given in a shortened form by William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, i. 80 (Eng. Hist. Soc.); Vita S. Guthlaci, Mabillon Acta SS. sæc. iii. 1. 271; Kemble's Codex Dipl. i. 72; Green's Making of England, 392.]

W. H.