By the early eighth century, England had become a much more sophisticated place than it had been a hundred years previously. The kingdom was still far from being united but the English were starting to recognize in themselves an ethnic and cultural identity. ‘The Mercian Supremacy’ considers when the English first started to feel themselves as a race of ‘English people’. Two factors were at play in the emergence of towns during this time: churches and fortresses. Another factor was trade (domestic and foreign) which developed rapidly from around the 670s onwards. The eighth and early ninth centuries were an unsettled time for the English Church, but the English were taking Christianity to their original homelands abroad.