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Bretwalda

(ruler of Britain ). The chief of the kings of the heptarchy who exercised a certain undefined power over the other rulers; something like that of Hugues Capet over his peers.

“The office of Bretwalda, a kind of elective chieftainship, of all Britain, was held by several Northumbrian kings, in succession.” —Earle: English Tongue, p. 26.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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