England has a long history that is complex and filled with more plot twists than an episode of EastEnders – the Royal history of England is certainly no exception to this rule and going back into the past, one of the Royals that stands out is the Anglo-Saxon King of England – King Offa. He may not be as well known as some other infamous monarchs of later periods – King Henry VIII for example is a King that we are all familiar with due to his many marriages, as well as his reformation of the Church and the changes he made to life in England. We also hear about the exciting story of King Charles II who managed to evade capture and hide himself in an oak tree before escaping to France where he lay in wait to come back and take his throne.
King Offa however is also a King that was powerful and had a reign full of change and big events. In 757 he became the King of Mercia (this was a time when England was split into many separate Kingdoms). However, Offa was a King of great ambition – Mercia was not enough for him, and he wanted to become the King of the whole of England.
His approach was very different to previous Kings – what had happened before when a King conquered a kingdom was that the previous king would be kept on as a sub-king, but Offa demoted his rivals so that he alone was the ruler. He took the kingdom of Kent and despite the resistance from the nobles of the Kingdom not only did he keep it as his own but in fact Kent never went back to being a separate Kingdom from Mercia – although a lot of his other work was undone after he died.
However, another thing which remained a huge part of King Offa’s legacy, is the introduction of the use of money. Before this, there was no official system, and goods were traded, but King Offa did oversee the first English pennies minted – they bore his name and were the first coins to be used in the British Isles. If you think that you have come across some of these very old coins, it is worth taking them to a professional like these coin valuers UK based GM coins www.gmcoins.co.uk/ who will be able to give you more information on them and confirm if they are indeed coins from King Offa’s rule.
As well as the coins, there is something else that King Offa introduced to the Royal family – the coronation. The first recorded coronation of an English monarch is that of Offa’s son, Ecgfrith in the year 787! Sadly, he died very young, and had no children of his own, so the Kingdom of Wessex eventually became more powerful than Mercia – although the legacy of Mercia remains to this day.