Offa (Hero) - Encyclopedia

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OFFA, the most famous hero of the early Angli. He is said by the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith to have ruled over Angel, and the poem refers briefly to his victorious single combat, a story which is related at length by the Danish historians Saxo and Svend Aagesen. Offa (Uffo) is said to have been dumb or silent during his early years, and to have only recovered his speech when his aged father Wermund was threatened by the Saxons, who insolently demanded the cession of his kingdom. Offa undertook to fight against both the Saxon king 's son and a chosen champion at once. The combat took place at Rendsburg on an island in the Eider, 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 ditiorum Offarum, where, however, the scene is transferred to England. It is very probable that the Offa whose marriage with a lady of murderous disposition is mentioned in Beowulf is the same person; and this story also appears in the Vitae duorum Offarum, though it is erroneously told of a later Offa, the famous king of Mercia. Offa of Mercia, however, was a descendant in the 12th generation of Offa, king of Angel. It is probable from this and other considerations that the early Offa lived in the latter part of the 4th century.

See H. M. Chadwick, Origin of the English Nation (Cambridge, 1907), where references to the original authorities will be found.

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