The House of Wessex refers to the family that ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex. This House was in power from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex to the unification of the Kingdoms of England. The House, at this point, became rulers of all England (Bretwalda) from Alfred the Great in 871 to Edmund II in 1016. This period of the British monarchy is known as the Saxon period, though their rule was often contested, notably by the Danelaw and later by the Dane Sweyn Forkbeard who claimed the throne from 1013 to 1014, during Ethelred II's reign. Sweyn and his successors ruled until 1042. After Harthacanute, there was a brief Saxon Restoration between 1042 and 1066 under Edward the Confessor and Harold II. This was ended shortly after the Battle of Hastings, a decisive point in British history, when Edgar Atheling (grandson of Edmund II) was deposed by William the Conqueror.
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