Hephaestus's Blog

Word of the Month: Heptarchy
May 28, 2015, 16:15
Filed under: Words of the Months

Definition: The political state, traditionally consisting of seven kingdoms, that what is now England was in until Wessex took over (possibly in 829 A.D., no one seems to agree on when the period ended.)

Etymology:  Greek ἑπτά hepta, seven and ἄρχω arkho, to rule. Analagous to monarchy.

The Heptarchy consisted of the kingdoms of East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex and Wessex. However, some of these, notably Northumbria, contained sub-kingdoms with some degree of autonomy. Additionally, at several points in history, one or another of the kings achieved dominion over part or all of the island.

Today, shades of the Heptarchic kingdoms remain in the names of some English counties, such as Essex and Kent.

Please let me know if there are any words you would like featured by posting a comment on this post.

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