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Beorhtwulf (died 852) was King of the Mercians from 839 or 840 to 852. His ancestry is unknown, though he may have been connected to Beornwulf, who ruled Mercia in the 820s. Beorhtwulf restarted a Mercian coinage early in his reign, initially with strong similarities to the coins of Æthelwulf of Wessex, and later with independent designs. The Vikings attacked soon after Beorhtwulf's accession: the province of Lindsey was raided in 841, and London, a key centre of Mercian commerce, was attacked the following year. Another Viking assault on London in 851 "put Beorhtwulf to flight", according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; the Vikings were subsequently defeated by Æthelwulf. Berkshire appears to have passed from Mercian to West Saxon control during Beorhtwulf's reign. The Welsh are recorded to have rebelled against Beorhtwulf's successor, Burgred, shortly after Beorhtwulf's death, suggesting that Beorhtwulf had been their overlord. Charters from his reign show a strained relationship with the church, as he seized land and subsequently returned it. Beorhtwulf and his wife, Sæthryth, may have had two sons, Beorhtfrith and Beorhtric. Beorhtwulf's death is not recorded. (Full article...)

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The World Fantasy Award for Best Novel is given each year by the World Fantasy Convention to one or two fantasy novels published in English or translated into English during the previous calendar year. A work of fiction is defined by the organization as a novel if it is 40,000 words or longer; other World Fantasy Awards are given out for pieces of shorter lengths in the Short Story and Novella categories. The World Fantasy Award for Best Novel has been awarded annually since 1975. Nominees and winners are decided by attendees and judges at the convention. During the 39 nomination years, 135 authors have had works nominated; 39 of them have won, including ties. Only four authors have won twice: Gene Wolfe (pictured), out of seven nominations; Tim Powers, out of five; Jeffrey Ford, out of three; and James K. Morrow for both of his nominations. Wolfe has the most nominations for an author who has won at least once, while Stephen King has the most nominations without winning, at nine, followed by Charles L. Grant at six and Jonathan Carroll at five. (Full list...)

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Pietà

Pietà is a Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti housed in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. It depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother, a very young Mary, after the Crucifixion.

Statue: Michelangelo; photograph: Stanislav Traykov

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