king of Mercia, can in many ways be seen as the anti‐hero of Bede's Ecclesiastical History—a resolute pagan, responsible for the deaths of many Christian kings in battle, including that of St Oswald at Maserfield (642). Penda first appears in recorded history in 626 battling with rulers of the West Saxons for control of the province of the Hwicce. The Northumbrians apparently first encountered him in alliance with Cadwallon of Gwynedd at the battle of Heathfield in 633 and he also fought at least two major battles with the East Angles. Penda's energetic campaigns from his midland base greatly increased the territory under Mercian control. It was Oswiu of Bernicia's challenge to his authority which led to Penda's death at the battle of Winwæd in 655.
Subjects: British History.