Friday, 10 July 2009

Osric: Character in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series

Osric was king of Northumbria from the death of Coenred in 718 until his death on the 9th of May, 729. Symeon of Durham calls him a son of Aldfrith of Northumbria, which would make him a brother, or perhaps a half-brother, of Osred. Alternatively, he may have been a son of King Eahlfrith of Deira, and thus a first cousin of Osred.
Bede reports little of Osric's reign, but records that comets were seen at his death, a sign of ill omen. William of Malmesbury praises Osric for his decision to adopt Ceolwulf, brother of Coenred, as his heir.

Further reading
Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5
Marsden, J., Northanhymbre Saga: The History of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria. London: Cathie, 1992. ISBN 1-85626-055-0

Osric was possibly a King of Sussex, reigning jointly with Noðhelm.
There is an undated charter of Noðhelm that is witnessed by Osric, as Osricus, without indication of rank or territory, but listed before, and therefore ranked higher than, Eadberht, Bishop of Selsey, whose rank and see are also omitted. The charter can be approximately dated to some point between about 705 and 717.
"Charter S 44". Retrieved on 2007-03-30.

Osric was a king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the Hwicce, perhaps reigning jointly with his presumed brother Oshere.
Osric was probably a son of Eanhere, a previous King of the Hwicce, by Osthryth, daughter of Oswiu of Northumbria. The only marriage recorded for Osthryth is that to Æthelred of Mercia, but an earlier marriage to Eanhere would explain why Osric and his brother Oswald are described as Æthelred's nepotes — usually translated as nephews or grandsons, but here probably meaning stepsons.[1]
Osric is claimed as the founder of two monastic houses, one at Bath (now Bath Abbey) and the other at Gloucester (now Gloucester Cathedral). In 676 Osric granted lands to Abbess Bertana to found a convent at Bath. The charter attesting this grant S51 has been queried on several grounds, but probably has an authentic basis.
The foundation charter of Gloucester Abbey survives in a medieval register of the abbey.S70 It is not straightforward, but again is considered to have an authentic basis. The charter was apparently issued in the 670s by Æthelred, king of Mercia, and records his grant of lands at Gloucester and Pershore to two of his thegns, noblemen of the Hwicce, Osric and his brother Oswald. Osric's share was at Gloucester and he sought permission from Æthelred to found a monastery there.
The story of the abbey's foundation continues in the register with the claim that Osric granted the land for the abbey to his sister Kyneburge (Cyneburh), the first abbess. Finberg however speculates that the Cyneburh in question was the widow of Oswald of Northumbria. Oswald was the elder brother of Oswiu and therefore the uncle of Queen Osthryth, who is said to have encouraged her aunt Cyneburh to enter a nunnery many years after Oswald's death.
Cyneburgh would therefore be the great-aunt of Osric, rather than his sister.
Though the charter of Gloucester treats Osric as a subordinate of Æthelred, the charter of Bath describes him as king of the Hwicce. He is also so described by Bede.
He may possibly be the Osric who witnessed S 1165, a doubtful charter of Frithuwold, King of Surrey, dated 675.
Osric was buried at Gloucester Abbey beside Cyneburh, before the altar of St Petronilla; his remains now lie in a medieval tomb in the cathedral.
He seems to have been survived by his brother Oshere, and succeeded by a possible son Æthelmod (mentioned in charter S 1167

H.P.R.Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands (Leicester 1961), pp.158-61.
1. Historia et Cartularium Monasterii Sancte Petri Gloucestriae ed. W.H. Hunt (Rolls Series), vol.1 (1863), p.lxxii.

Hrotheweard (or Lodeward) was Archbishop of York starting sometime between 904 and 928 and ending with his death in 931

Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.

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