Nothelm of Sussex

Noðhelm, or Nunna for short, was King of Sussex, apparently reigning jointly with Watt, Osric, and Æðelstan.

In 692 Noðhelm granted land to his sister Noðgyð. He was styled Nothelmus rex Suthsax’ in the body of the charter, but he signed it as Nunna rex Sussax’ . Noðhelm’s last surviving charter, in which he was called Nunna rex Suthsax’, is dated 714, probably in error for 717 , so his reign began in or before 692 and ended in or after 717.

He is mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as fighting for his kinsman Ine, King of Wessex, against Geraint, King of the Britons, in the year 710.

Two of his charters were witnessed by signed by Cœnred, King of Wessex. Concerning one of these, strangely dated 775, Barker (1947) commented: "20. Cœnred was the father of Ini. He is not mentioned in ASC. as having ever been king of Wessex; but ASC. says that Ini succeeded in 688 and abdicated in 728, while insisting on the length of his reign as 37 years. Cœnred appears for the last time in 692 (No. IV) and Ini was certainly sole king by 604, when then men of Kent compounded with him for the death of his relative Mul. The AS. conception of family as the basis of law was so strict that they would not have done so if his father had been alive. Therefore Cœnred must have died before 694, and this proves conclusively that this charter must bear date in 689. In fact, to allow for a reign of 37 years (or nearly 37) by Ini, he must have died in 692. 21. The signature of Ini here and in No. IV without the title rex bears out the statement of n. 20 about the reign of Cœnred". But Kelly (1998) concluded that this charter "is without doubt a forgery, and not an innocent tenth-century copy of a genuine eight-century charter. The incarnation date is impossible for the donor and beneficiary, and for the witnesses to the charter. Birch's suggested emendation to 725 is still unsatisfactory, since it is too late for Bishop Eadberht and does not agree with the indication". Hence it is wrong to extend Noðhelm's reign to 725 on the authority of this charter.

References:

  • Barker, E. 1947. Sussex Anglo-Saxon Charters, part 1. Sussex Archælogical Collections 86: 42-101.
  • Kelly, S. E. 1998. Charters of Selsey. Anglo-Saxon Charters 6.

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