from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Government by seven persons.
- n. A state governed by seven persons.
- n. The informal confederation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the fifth to the ninth century, consisting of Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. government by seven people
- n. A state governed by seven people, or an association of seven states (as in Anglo-Saxon Britain)
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A government by seven persons; also, a country under seven rulers.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A government by seven persons; also, a group of seven kingdoms or governments: in the latter sense used only in English history, of the seven principal Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia.
By the term heptarchy is understood that complexus of seven kingdoms, into which, roughly speaking, Anglo-Saxon Britain was divided for nearly three centuries, until at last the supremacy, about the year
Egbert established the "heptarchy";  that is, became overlord of all the lesser kings.
After the Germanic conquest of Britannia, the Anglo-Saxon invaders established a heptarchy of kingdoms across the island, pushing the Celtic Britons into modern Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and Brittany.
The kingdom of Kent having enjoyed a continued peace for about a hundred years, was arrived at a degree of power and riches which gave it a pre-eminence in the Saxon heptarchy in Britain, and so great a superiority and influence over the rest, that Ethelbert is said by Bede to have ruled as far as the Humber, and Ethelbert is often styled king of the English.
Kent, Sussex, Essex, and the counties of the Saxon heptarchy.
Norman Conquest, being 547 years, and ended in 1066, having been governed by 17 monarchs, during the heptarchy, of whom five were
'Doubtless,' says Risdon, 'in the Saxons' heptarchy, it was a town of some note, that felt the furious rage of the merciless Danes. '
The kingdoms of the heptarchy, or octarchy, had been united under the dominion of Egbert, the King of Wessex, in the year 827, and thus formed the kingdom of
One objection made against it is that, upon the analogy of other similar compounds, heptarchy ought strictly to mean a ruling body composed of seven persons.
They are not all equal in rank, and even in the work of that heptarchy of genius, there were trivial things to be found ....