Sigebert of East Anglia (also spelled Sigeberht, also known as Saint Sigebert), (Old English: Sigebryht) was a saint and a king of East Anglia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the British counties of Norfolk and Suffolk in England. He was the first English king to receive a Christian baptism and education before his succession and the first to abdicate in order to enter the monastic life. The principal source for Sigebert is Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which was completed in the 730s.
Sigebert's origins are muddled. He was either the younger son or step-son of Rædwald of East Anglia. Nothing is known of his life before he was forced into exile in Gaul. After his step-brother Eorpwald's assassination in about 627, Sigebert returned to East Anglia and (perhaps in the aftermath of a military campaign) became king, ruling jointly with Ecgric, who may have been either Rædwald's son or his nephew.
Sigebert oversaw the strengthening of Christianity in East Anglia. He himself played an important part in the establishment of the Christian faith in his kingdom: Saint Felix arrived in East Anglia to assist him in establishing his episcopal see at Dommoc (which may be in modern Dunwich, England). He eventually abdicated and retired to his monastery at Beodricesworth, leaving Ecgric to rule alone. At an unknown date, East Anglia was attacked by the Mercians. Ecgric and the East Anglians appealed to Sigebert to lead them in battle, but he refused and had to be dragged from his monastery to the battlefield. He refused to bear arms during the battle. Consequently, he and Ecgric were both killed, and the East Anglian army was destroyed. Sigebert was declared a Christian martyr, and subsequently made a saint.
Sigebert in "Nine Drowned Churches"
Through his research into Dunwich, England, musician Alistair learned that St. Felix of Burgundy had restored Christianity in Dunwich in the 7th century, even crowning Sigebert as king of East Anglia. He also learned of the legend that three holy crowns were buried along the coast to ward off invasion, and that one of these crowns is supposed to be Sigebert's. While visiting a museum in Dunwich, Alistair noticed a small crucifix allegedly from the time of St. Felix with strange markings. When he inquired about the markings, the museum's owner, Silas Bishop suggested that they might be octopus tentacles to reference the fact that St. Felix came from the sea. Bishop pointed out other exhibits had the tentacle motif.
Later, while viewing the remains of the nine drowned churches in the North Sea, Alistair saw the largest octopus he had ever seen or imagined. Alistair thought he saw a crown atop the octopus's head before it retreated back out of sight.
- That is Not Dead, loc 3484, ebook.
- Ibid., loc., 3508-3520.
- Ibid., 3618-3630.
|King of East Anglia