PENDA, king of Mercia (d. 654 or 655), son of Pybba, probably came to the throne in 626, but it is doubtful whether he actually became king of Mercia until 633, the year of the defeat and death of Edwin of Northumbria. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle he was eighty years old at his death, but the energy of his administration and the evidence with regard to the ages of his children and relatives render it almost impossible. In 628 the Chronicle records a battle between him and the West Saxons at Cirencester in that year. In 633 Penda and Ceadwalla ovei threw Edwin at Hatfield Chase; but after the defeat of the Welsh king at Oswald at " Hefenfelth " in 634, Mercia seems to have been for a time subject to Northumbria. In . 642 Penda slew Oswald at a place called Maerfeld. He was continually raiding Northumbria and once almost succeeded in reducing Bamborough. He drove Cenwalh of Wessex, who had divorced his sister, from his throne. In 654 he attacked the East Angles, and slew their king Anna (see EAST ANGLIA). In 654 or 655 he invaded Northumbria in spite of the attempts of Oswio to buy him off, and was defeated and slain on the banks of the " Winwaed." In the reign of Penda the districts corresponding to Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire were probably acquired, and he established his son Peada as a dependent prince in Middle Anglia. Although a pagan, he allowed his daughter Cyneburg to marry Alchfrith, the son of Oswio, and it was in his reign that Christianity was introduced into Middle Anglia by his son Peada.
See Bede, Hist. Eccl. (ed. C. Plummer, Oxford, 1896) ; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ed. Earle and Plummer, Oxford, 1899).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)