Ælla of Deira

Ælla (Ella, Ille) (died 588), is the first certain king of Deira. One of his sons was Edwin of Northumbria and his daughter Acha married Æthelfrith of Bernicia.


There is archaeological evidence for the settlement of Germanic people in eastern Yorkshire by the late fifth century.[1]

The Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies found in the Anglian Collection and Historia Brittonum make him son of Yffe, but differ somewhat in the remainder of pedigrees tracing back to Woden. Historia Brittonum highlights the role of Soemil who "first separated Deira from Bernicia"[1] (presumably the British kingdom Bryneich was meant), as Ælla's great-great-great-grandfather. Bede claims that Ælla was one of the kings reigning at the time of the Gregorian mission in 597.

Nothing more is known of Ælla, but he appears to be mentioned in the legendary saga Gautreks saga, where he is visited by the peasant hero, Ref. He is also one of the main characters in Chaucer's "Man of Law's Tale" in the Canterbury Tales.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he became king the same year as Ceawlin of Wessex (560) on the death of Ida of Bernicia, and ruled 30 years. However, the Chronicle records that Ælla died in the year 588, and was succeeded by Aethelric. Possibly this is the reason John of Worcester offered the date Ælla came to the throne as 559, which would harmonize with a reign of thirty years.


Preceded by
King of Deira
Succeeded by
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