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The answer to this question depends on how you define the word “king. It actually also depends on how you define the word “england” as well. After the Roman Empire’s decline, several Saxon clansmen and “kings,” as well as Scandinavian invaders ruled different regions of England and Britain. The kings who eventually evolved into the kings of the whole of England, were the kings of Wessex and were crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

first king of England

The First Kings in England

Both Egbert, king of Wessex and Offa, king of Mercia are sometimes called the first kings of England. Offa dominated a large part of southern England in the late eight century, but his descendants did not manage to keep the area as a kingdom. Egbert, king of Wessex, managed to conquer Mercia in 829, but he, too, lost control over this territory. Wessex was the largest Anglo-Saxon kingdom by the late ninth century and Alfred the Great was crowned as “King of the Angles and Saxons.” He ruled over western Mercia, but not rule northern or eastern England (Danelaw).

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First King of The Whole Of England

After Edward de Elder conquered eastern England (Danelaw), Athelstan had most of England under his control. He added Northumbria to his kingdom, which made him, properly, the first king of England.

First “King” of the United Kingdom of Great Britain

The first monarch that ruled Great Britain was a queen and not a king. Queen Anne was crowned as Queen of England, Ireland and Scotland in 1702 and in 1707 two of the kingdoms, England and Scotland became one state: the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

So, the question itself of who was the first King of England is rather simple. It is the answer that presents various layers and complications. Of course, the source has to always be considered as well. One historian could well define the various terms of “king” and “monarch” quite differently from another.



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"Who Was the First King of England? A Summary" History on the Net
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July 13, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/who-was-the-first-king-of-england>
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