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Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in southern England. In 494, Cedric landed on Southampton Water, and after years of warfare became king of the West Saxons, of Wessex. In 577, after the Battle of Deorham, the West Saxons secured access to the Bristol Channel and won Cirencester, Gloucester, and Bath.

From 613 to 825, Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex struggled for supremacy. It was not until the reign of Egbert (802-839) that the supremacy of Wessex over the other kingdoms was assured. However, the union of England under Egbert was premature, and it required the Danish invasions to force the men of Northumbria and Mercia to recognize the overlordship of Wessex. It was not until after the treaty of Wedmore that Alfred was able to begin the work of reconquering England from the Danes.