Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wihtgar

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Regarded as "presumably mythic" in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"

WIHTGAR (d. 544), first king of the Isle of Wight, was the nephew of Cerdic [q. v.] He seems to have first come to Britain with his brother Stuf in 514 (A.-S. Chron., ap. Petrie, Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 301), and to have conquered the Britons in a battle picturesquely described by Henry of Huntingdon (Hist. Angl., ap. Petrie, l. c. p. 711). Nothing more is known of Wihtgar until 534, when Cerdic and Cynric [q. v.] handed over to him and to his brother the Isle of Wight (A.-S. Chron. l. c. p. 301), which they had conquered four years before (Ethelwerd, Chron., ap. Petrie, l. c. p. 503). Wihtgar himself was probably a Jute (Flor. Wig.; also Sym. Dunelm. and Asser, ap. Petrie, l. c. pp. 550, 674, 469). Green, who with Freeman (Norman Conquest, i. 10 n.) doubts the story of Wihtgar, thinks that Cerdic's conquest of the Isle of Wight was not in his own interest, but in that of his allies, for the new settlers of the island were undoubtedly Jutes (Making of England, p. 90). Wihtgar ruled honourably (Will. Malm. Gesta Reg. Angl. p. 27, Engl. Hist. Soc.) for ten years, and, dying in 544, was buried in Wihtgarabyrig, the modern Carisbrook (A.-S. Chron., ap. Petrie, l. c. p. 302).

The ascription by the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ (ib. p. 339) to Wihtgar of certain laws concerning the church, which were confirmed in 796, is an obvious slip, which Wilkins repeats (Concilia, i. 158), but the whole story of Wihtgar is open to doubt.

[Authorities quoted in the text.]

A. M. C.-e.