List of monarchs of Sussex

The list of monarchs of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Sussex (or South Saxons) contains substantial gaps, and many of the dates from this time are unreliable. No authentic South Saxon king list or genealogy exists, unlike what can be found for other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Most kings are known only from Anglo-Saxon charters, some of which are forgeries, which makes it difficult to date the reigns of each king. The monarchs were either known as kings or ealdormen.

According to the charters, most kings did not govern alone: Nothhelm reigned with two or three colleagues and Oslac with four. The locations of the lands granted in their charters indicate that they reigned jointly and that there was no division of territory. Such joint reigns can also be demonstrated for the Hwicce, the East Saxons, and the West Saxons. Indeed, “[t]here is nothing remarkable in the existence of two or even more contemporary kings in the same people in the seventh century. The ancient idea that royal dignity was a matter of birth rather than of territorial rule still survived at this date.”[1]

The traditional residence of the South Saxon kings was at Kingsham, once outside the southern walls of Chichester although within its modern boundaries.[2]

Kings and Ealdormen of the South Saxons

Reign Incumbent Style Notes
477 – after 491 Ælle First holder of imperium according to Bede.
First bretwalda according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, who gives the date of his landing in Sussex and battles against the Britons in 485 and 491.
after 491 ? Cissa Son of Ælle according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Legendary eponym of the town of Chichester.
There is no information on the kings of Sussex for more than a century and a half.
before 674 – c.682 Æthelwealh First Christian king of Sussex.
Killed by Cædwalla of Wessex.
fl. c. 683? ?Eadric Ealdulfus dux Suthsax Listed according to William of Malmesbury. Possibly the same who reigned as king of Kent. Also appears as witness to a possibly spurious charter, S 232, of Caedwalla endowing Wilfrid's monastery at Selsey c.683. Probably represents Ealdwulf, who lived one century later.
fl. c. 683c.685? Ecgwald Ecguald subregulus Mentioned in possibly spurious charters, S 230 and S 232, of Caedwalla endowing Wilfrid's monastery at Selsey between c.683 to 685.
fl.685 Berthun and Andhun According to Bede, these two ealdormen drove Cædwalla out of Sussex.
Berthun was later killed by Cædwalla c.685.
fl.692 – after 714 Nothhelm (Nunna) Nothelmus rex Suthsax’
Nunna rex Sussax’
Nunna rex Suthsax’
A kinsman of King Ine of Wessex.
fl.692 – c.700 Watt Wattus rex Attests charters of King Nothhelm.
fl. c.700 Bryni Bruny dux Suthsax' Ealdorman under Nothhelm and Watt.
fl. c.710 ?Osric Osricus Unknown rank, may not have been king.
fl.714 Æthelstan Athelstan rex Attests charters of King Nothhelm.
fl. c.740 Æthelberht Ethelbertus rex Sussaxonum A contemporary of King Æthelbald of Mercia and Bishop Sigeferth.
Offa of Mercia gained control of Sussex in the early 770s.
fl.772 Oswald Osuualdus dux Suðsax' One of four South Saxon duces appearing on a charter of King Offa of Mercia (S 108).
He may have been king at some point before that.
fl.760 – 772 Osmund Osmundus rex
Osmund dux
King in the 760s, maybe with Oslac, Ealdwulf and Ælfwald.
One of four South Saxon duces appearing on a charter of King Offa of Mercia (S 108).
fl. c.765 to 780 Oslac Osiac rex
Oslac dux
King in the 760s with Ealdwulf and Ælfwald.
One of four South Saxon duces appearing on a charter of King Offa of Mercia (S 108).
fl. c.765 – 772 Ælfwald Ælhuuald rex
Ælbuuald dux
King in the 760s with Oslac and Eadwulf.
One of four South Saxon duces appearing on a charter of King Offa of Mercia (S 108).
fl. c.765 to c.791 Ealdwulf Alduulf rex
Aldwlfus dux Suthsaxonum
Aldwlf dux
Aldwlfus dux Suthsaxonum
King in the 760s with Oslac and Ælfwald.
Styled dux after 772.
Around 827 the South Saxons submitted to Egbert of Wessex.[3]
died 982 Eadwine Eaduuine dux Ealdorman under Æthelred the Unready.

See also


  1. ^ Mawer, A.; Stenton, F. M. (1929). The place-names of Sussex.
  2. ^ Alec Hamilton-Barr. In Saxon Sussex. The Arundel Press, Bognor Regis. p 29
  3. ^ Edwards, Heather (2004). "Ecgberht [Egbert] (d. 839), king of the West Saxons in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 June 2014.


  • Kelly, S. E. (1998). Charters of Selsey. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-726175-2.
  • Kelly, S. E. (2004). "Kings of the South Saxons (act. 477–772)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  • Keynes, Simon (2014). "Appendix I: Rulers of the English, c.450–1066". In Lapidge, Michael (ed.). The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-65632-7.

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