Offa of Angel

Uffe den Spake, by Peter Nicolai Arbo.

Offa (also Uffo or Uffe) (late 400's) was the 4th-great-grandfather of Creoda of Mercia, and was reputed to be a great-grandson of Woden, English god of war and poetry and creator of Middle-Earth, the realm of man. Offa was the son of Wermund, and the father of Angeltheow. The author 'Swaffington' translates the name Angeltheow as "Angle-Servant", or in the modern context "Englisc-Warrior".

He is the most famous hero of the ethnic English people, those descended from the Anglo-Saxons, Angles (Anglii in Latin). It was Offa's descendants who migrated to Britain in the early 5th century and helped forge the New Ængla lande, better know today as England. He is said by the Old English poem Widsith to have ruled over Angel. The poem refers briefly to his victorious single combat, a story which is related at length by the Danish historians Saxo and Svend Aagesen. A modern novel on Offa the First, entitled: "Offa: Rise of the Englisc Warrior" by S. A. Swaffington is also available.

Offa also successfully conquered the Myrgings, a clan of Saxon origin by slaying two Myrging princes in combat and installing himself as their king. The Myrgings were then absorbed by the Angles within a century though this new title as 'King' was soon abolished by Angeltheow a son of Offa.


Single combat

Offa is said to have been dumb or silent during his early years. His aged and blind father, King Wermund believed him to be a simpleton and in order to preserve his son's position as king had him marry the daughter of Freawine (a neighbouring warlord/king) so that Freawine would assist Offa when he became king. However, the plans did not come to pass, as Freawine was killed by a marauding Viking warlord (a Swede called Atisl). Wermund subsequently raised Freawine's sons Ket and Wig as his own. The two would eventually cause great dishonour to the Angles when they ambushed Atisl in a forest as he walked alone and slew him. The surrounding peoples began to mock the Angles, accusing them of cowardice and dishonour. Eventually the neighbouring Saxons decided that Wermund was too weak to resist their requests for him to surrender his kingdom, and they sent their emissaries to Wermund's court. There they proceeded to mock the blind man, prompting Wermund to challenge their king to a duel — but the king stated that he would not fight a blind man. It was then that Offa regained his speech, and revealed that his silence had been caused by the great dishonour involved in Atisl's death. He promptly challenged the prince of the Saxons and one of his champions to a duel in order to regain the honour of the Angles.

Offa's combat took place at Rendsburg on an island in the Eider River at Fifeldore/Monster-Gate, and Offa succeeded in killing both his opponents. According to Widsith, Offa's opponents belonged to a tribe or dynasty called Myrgingas, but both accounts state that he won a great kingdom as the result of his victory. A somewhat corrupt version of the same story is preserved in the Vitae duorum Offarum, where, however, the scene is transferred to England.

Other Offas

It is very probable that the Offa whose marriage with Modþryð, a lady of murderous disposition, is mentioned in Beowulf (lines 1949 and 1957), is the same person.[1] This story also appears in the Vitae duorum Offarum, though it is erroneously told of the later Offa of Mercia, a descendant of Offa of Angel.



  1. ^ Klaeber, Friedrich (2008). "1931b-62: Digression on Fremu and Offa". In R.D. Fulk, Robert E. Bjork, John D. Niles. Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. U of Toronto P. pp. 222–24. ISBN 9780802095671. 

Secondary literature

  • For a novel on Offa the First, see "Offa: Rise of the Englisc Warrior" by S. A. Swaffington (2011)
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  See H. M. Chadwick, Origin of the English Nation (Cambridge, 1907), for references to the original authorities.
  • Grüner, Hans. Matthei Parisiensis Vitae duorum Offarum (saec. XIII med.) in ihrer Manuskript und Textgeschichte. Munich, 1907.
  • Grüner, Hans. Die Riganus-Schlacht in den Vitae duorum Offarum des Mathaeus Parisiensis (saec. XIII): ein Beitrag zur Bibel- und Legendenkunde des Mittelalters wie zur Geschichte der altenglichen Heldensage. Hamburg, 1914.
  • Hahn, C. "The Limits of Text and Image? Matthew Paris's final project, the Vitae duorum Offarum, as a historical romance." In Excavating the Medieval Image. Manuscripts, artists, audiences. Essays In Honor Of Sandra Hindman, ed. David S. Areford and Nina A. Rowe. Aldershot, 2004. 37-58. ISBN 9780754631439
  • Luard, Henry Richard (ed.). Matthei Parisiensis, monachi Sancti Albani, Chronica Majora. Rerum britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 57. 7 vols: vol 6. London, 1872-1883. pp. 1–8.
  • Rickert, Edith. "The Old English Offa Saga." Modern Philology 2 (1904-5): 29-77 (part 1), 321-76 (part 2). PDF available from Internet Archive
  • Rigg, A.G. A History of Anglo-Latin Literature. 1066-1422. Cambridge, 1992. p. 198.
  • Shippey, Tom. "Wicked Queens and Cousin Strategies in Beowulf and Elsewhere." The Heroic Age 5 (2001). Available online
  • Vaughan, R. Chronicles of Matthew Paris: Monastic Life in the Thirteenth Century. Gloucester et al., 1986.
  • Vaughan, R. Matthew Paris. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought 6. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958.

External links

Preceded by
Legendary king of the Angles Succeeded by
Preceded by
Saxo's kings of Denmark Succeeded by
Dan II of Denmark
Preceded by
King of the Myrgings Succeeded by
Abolished by Angeltheow

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Offa of Angel — ▪ Anglian ruler flourished 4th century AD?       continental Anglian ruler from whom the royal house of Anglo Saxon Mercia claimed descent.       According to the Old English poem “ Widsith,” Offa saved his aged father, King Wermund, from falling …   Universalium

  • Offa (disambiguation) — Offa may refer to: Two kings of the Angles, who are often confused: Offa of Angel (died c. 456), on the continent Offa of Mercia (died 796), in Great Britain A king of Essex: Offa of Essex (around 700) A town in Nigeria: Offa, Nigeria A UK… …   Wikipedia

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  • Freawine — Freawine, Frowin or Frowinus figures as a governor of Schleswig in Gesta Danorum and in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as an ancestor of the kings of Wessex, but the latter source only tells that he was the son of Frithugar and the father of Wig.In… …   Wikipedia

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