Of·fa (ôʹfə), Died 796.
King of Mercia (757-796). With Charlemagne he signed the first recorded English commercial treaty (796).
* * *died July 796One of the most powerful kings in Anglo-Saxon England.He became king of Mercia (757–796) after seizing power during a civil war. He extended his rule over most of southern England and married his daughters to the rulers of Wessex and Northumbria. Eager to form European diplomatic ties, Offa signed a commercial treaty with Charlemagne (796) and allowed the pope to increase his control over the English church. He built Offa's Dyke to divide Mercia from Welsh lands.
* * *▪ Anglo-Saxon kingdied July 796one of the most powerful kings in early Anglo-Saxon England. As ruler of Mercia from 757 to 796, Offa brought southern England to the highest level of political unification it had yet achieved in the Anglo-Saxon period (5th–11th century AD). He also formed ties with rulers on the European continent.A member of an ancient Mercian ruling family, Offa seized power in the civil war that followed the murder of his cousin, King Aethelbald (reigned 716–757). By ruthlessly suppressing resistance from several small kingdoms in and around Mercia, he created a single state covering most of England south of modern Yorkshire. The lesser kings of this region paid him homage, and he married his daughters to the rulers of Wessex and Northumbria.Offa appears to have aspired to be accepted as an equal by continental monarchs. Charlemagne, king of the Franks, quarreled with Offa, but the two rulers concluded a commercial treaty in 796. In addition, Offa maintained a friendly relationship with Pope Adrian I, who was allowed to increase his control over the English church, while acceding to Offa's request for the creation of an archbishopric of Lichfield. This remarkable, if temporary, change in church organization freed the Mercian church from the authority of the archbishop of Canterbury, who was seated among Offa's enemies in the kingdom of Kent.An impressive memorial to Offa's power survives in the great earthwork known as Offa's Dyke (q.v.), which he had constructed between Mercia and the Welsh settlements to the west. Perhaps the most enduring achievement of his reign was the establishment of a new form of coinage (coin) bearing the king's name and title and the name of the moneyer responsible for the quality of the coins. The principles governing his coinage were employed in England for centuries afterward.▪ Nigeriatown, Kwara state, southwestern Nigeria. It lies along the railroad from Lagos and at the intersection of roads from Ilorin town, Lafiagi, and Ikirun. A traditional settlement of the Yoruba people in a savanna area, it now serves as a collecting point for the yams, cassava (manioc), corn (maize), sorghum, and shea nuts grown in the surrounding area. Cotton weaving and dyeing (with locally grown indigo) are important activities in the town. Offa is served by a hospital and by secondary schools. Pop. (2006) local government area, 89,674.
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