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Penda (died 15 November 655)<ref>Manuscript A of the ''[[Wikipedia:Anglo-Saxon Chronicle|Anglo-Saxon Chronicle]]'' gives the year as 655. Bede also gives the year as 655 and specifies a date, 15 November. R. L. Poole (''Studies in Chronology and History'', 1934) put forward the theory that Bede began his year in September, and consequently November 655 would actually fall in 654; Frank Stenton also dated events accordingly in his ''Anglo-Saxon England'' (1943).<sup>[[Wikipedia:#References|1]]</sup> Others have accepted Bede's given dates as meaning what they appear to mean, considering Bede's year to have begun on 25 December or 1 January (see S. Wood, 1983: "Bede's Northumbrian dates again"<!--''The English Historical Review'', Vol. 98, No. 387, April 1983, pages 280–296-->). The historian D. P. Kirby suggested the year 656 as a possibility, alongside 655, in case the dates given by Bede are off by one year (see Kirby's "Bede and Northumbrian Chronology", 1963<!--''The English Historical Review'', Vol. 78, No. 308, July 1963, pages 514–27.-->). The ''[[Wikipedia:Annales Cambriae|Annales Cambriae]]'' gives the year as 657. [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/annalescambriae.html Annales Cambriae at Fordham University]</ref> was a 7th-century King of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633.
Nine years later, he defeated and killed Edwin's eventual successor, Oswald, at the Battle of Maserfield; from this point he was probably the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon rulers of the time, laying the foundations for the Mercian supremacy over the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. He repeatedly defeated the East Angles and drove Cenwalh the king of Wessex into exile for three years. He continued to wage war against the Bernicians of Northumbria. Thirteen years after Maserfield, he suffered a crushing defeat by Oswald's successor and brother Oswiu, and was killed at the Battle of the Winwaed in the course of a final campaign against the Bernicians.