Redwald: East Anglia's Most Famous King

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The most famous king of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia was Redwald, whom many historians think is the focus of the Sutton Hoo burial site.

Redwald was King of East Anglia for the first 24 years of the 7th Century, until his death in 624. He is said by the Venerable Bede to have been descended from Wuffa, the founder of the dynasty that began the Kingdom of East Anglia.

For the last eight years of his reign, Redwald was the most powerful king south of the Humber River. He is referred to by many historians as bretwalda.

He is listed in multiple sources as having been at the head of an East Anglia force that defeated the Northumbrians at the Battle of the River Idle in 616.

Redwald would certainly have visited the court of King Æthelbert of Kent, the first Christian Anglo-Saxon king; and Redwald is thought to have converted to Christianity in Kent in the first few years of the 7th Century. Redwald's wife was a follower of the Germanic religion, however, and Redwald was very careful to allow worship of both religions within his kingdom.

In a more modern context, Redwald is thought by many historians to have been the person for whom the Sutton Hoo burial ship was created. The 20th Century archaeological find, in Suffolk (who would have been part of Redwald's kingdom in his time), is in a burial mound that also included a large scepter, a large amount of jewelry, and other grave goods.

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