Facts and Events
Cædwalla (c. 659 – 20 April 689) was the King of Wessex from approximately 685 until he abdicated in 688. His name is derived from the British Cadwallon. He was exiled from Wessex as a youth and during his exile gathered forces and attacked the South Saxons, killing their king, Æthelwealh, in what is now Sussex. Cædwalla was unable to hold the South Saxon territory, however, and was driven out by Æthelwealh's ealdormen. In either 685 or 686 he became King of Wessex. He may have been involved in suppressing rival dynasties at this time, as an early source records that Wessex was ruled by underkings until Cædwalla.
After his accession Cædwalla returned to Sussex and won the territory again, and also conquered the Isle of Wight, engaging in genocide and extinguishing the ruling dynasty there and forcing the population of the island at sword point to renounce their pagan beliefs for Christian beliefs. He gained control of Surrey and the kingdom of Kent, and in 686 he installed his brother, Mul, as king of Kent. Mul was burned in a Kentish revolt a year later, and Cædwalla returned, possibly ruling Kent directly for a period.
Cædwalla was wounded during the conquest of the Isle of Wight, and perhaps for this reason he abdicated in 688 to travel to Rome for baptism. He reached Rome in April 689, and was baptised by Pope Sergius I on the Saturday before Easter, dying ten days later on 20 April 689. He was succeeded by Ine.