Friday, 14 August 2009

Further Kings of Northumbria

Ceolwulf was king of Northumbria from 729 until 737, except for a short period in 731 or 732 when he was deposed, and quickly restored to power. Ceolwulf finally abdicated and entered the monastery at Lindisfarne. He was the "most glorious king" to whom Bede dedicated his history.
He was adopted as heir by his predecessor, and distant cousin, Osric. Ceolwulf was brother of Coenred and was the second of the Leodwaldings to rule Northumbria. With the extinction of the main line of the Eoppingas at the death of Osric (or, if Osric was not in fact of the direct line, even earlier, in 716, at the death of Osred son of Aldfrith), the kingdom of Northumbria entered into a long period of dynastic conflict and instability, which was only ended by the destruction of the kingdom by the Vikings in 867.
As with Aldfrith, the Irish annals give Ceolwulf an Irish name, "Eóchaid son of Cuidin", and if Cuidin is a calque of Cuthwine, Eóchaid is no more obviously related to Ceolwulf than Flann is to Aldfrith. For this reason, it has been suggested that Ceolwulf had spent time in Ireland, perhaps studying to enter into religion. Be that as it may, his reign appears to have met with the approval of clerics such as Bede and William of Malmesbury.
As said, Ceolwulf was deposed for a short period in the autumn of 731 or 732, but quickly restored. The details of the attempted coup are unclear. Bishop Acca of Hexham is said to have been driven from his seat, and Alric and Esc killed.
Ceolwulf was succeeded by his first cousin Eadberht. His death is recorded in the winter of 764–765.

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

Eadberht (died 20 August 768) was king of Northumbria from 737 or 738 to 758. He was the brother of Ecgbert, Archbishop of York. His reign is seen as a return to the imperial ambitions of seventh-century Northumbria and may represent a period of economic prosperity. He faced internal opposition from rival dynasties and at least two actual or potential rivals were killed during his reign. In 758 he abdicated in favour of his son Oswulf and became a monk at York. OriginsEadberht became ruler of Northumbria following the second abdication of his cousin Ceolwulf, who entered the monastery at Lindisfarne. Unlike Ceolwulf's first abdication, which clearly involved force, his second, in favour of Eadberht, may have been voluntary.
The genealogy in the Historia Brittonum makes Eadberht son of Eata a descendant of Ida of Bernicia through a son of Ida named Ocg. The branch of the family to which Eadberht belonged is called the Leodwaldings, after his and Ceolwulf's grandfather Leodwald son of Ecgwulf. The genealogy gives his father Eata the cognomen Glin Mawr.

Eadberht appears to have faced opposition from rival families throughout his reign. Eardwine, probably the son of King Eadwulf, and grandfather of the future king Eardwulf, was killed in 740. In 750 Offa, son of King Aldfrith was taken from the sanctuary of Lindisfarne and put to death after a siege, while Bishop Cynewulf of Lindisfarne, who had presumably supported Offa, was dethroned and detained in York. The importance of religious foundations in Northumbrian politic struggles and family feuds is apparent. Eardwine's family is associated with Ripon, Offa and Ceolwulf with Lindisfarne, and Hexham appears to have supported kings and noblemen opposed by the Lindisfarne community. Eadberht, however, as brother of the Archbishop of York, enjoyed the support of the greatest Northumbrian prelate.
Eadberht's reign saw major reforms to the Northumbrian coinage, and some coins name King Eadberht and Archbishop Ecgberht. Kirby concludes that "the indications are that Eadberht was bringing new prosperity to his kingdom." A letter sent by Pope Paul I to Eadberht and Ecgberht, ordering them to return lands taken from Abbot Fothred, and given to his brother Moll, presumed to be the same person as the later king Æthelwald Moll, suggests that Eadberht's reign saw attempts at reclaiming some of the vast lands which had been gifted to the church in earlier reigns.

Kirby suggests that "a revival of seventh-century northern imperial ambitions had evidently occurred among the Northumbrians at the court of Eadberht".
The first record of Eadberht's efforts to recreate this dominion appear in 740, the year of Earnwine's death. A war between the Picts and the Northumbrians is reported, during which Æthelbald, King of Mercia, took advantage of the absence of Eadberht to ravage his lands The reason for the war is unclear, but Woolf suggests that it was related to the killing of Earnwine. Earnwine's father had been an exile in the north after his defeat in the civil war of 705–706, and it may be that the Pictish king Óengus, or Æthelbald, or both, had tried to place him on the Northumbrian throne.
In 750, Eadberht conquered the plain of Kyle and in 756, he campaigned alongside King Óengus. The campaign is reported as follows:
In the year of the Lord's incarnation 756, king Eadberht in the eighteenth year of his reign, and Unust, king of Picts led armies to the town of Dumbarton. And hence the Britons accepted terms there, on the first day of the month of August. But on the tenth day of the same month perished almost the whole army which he led from Ouania to Niwanbirig.
That Ouania is Govan is now reasonably certain, but the location of Newanbirig is less so. Although there are many Newburghs, it is Newburgh-on-Tyne near Hexham that has been the preferred location. An alternative interpretation of the events of 756 has been advanced: it identifies Newanbirig with Newborough by Lichfield in the kingdom of Mercia. A defeat here for Eadberht and Óengus by Æthelbald's Mercians would correspond with the claim in the Saint Andrews foundation legends that a king named Óengus son of Fergus founded the church there as a thanksgiving to Saint Andrew for saving him after a defeat in Mercia.

Eadberht abdicated in 758, entering the monastery attached to the cathedral of York. His death there in 768 is recorded in Symeon of Durham's chronicle. Symeon's History of the Church of Durham records that Eadberht was buried in the porch of the cathedral, alongside his brother Ecgberht, who had died in 766.
His son Oswulf succeeded him, but was murdered within the year. However, his daughter Osgifu's husband Alhred became king, and Eadberht's descendants, such as Oswulf's son Ælfwald and Osgifu's son Osred contested for the Northumbrian throne until the end of the century. Eadberht's last known descendant is Osgifu's son Saint Alhmund, murdered in 800 on the orders of King Eardwulf, and reputed a martyr.

Campbell, James, The Anglo-Saxon State. London: Hambeldon, 2000. ISBN 1-85285-176-7 Forsyth, Katherine. "Evidence of a lost Pictish source in the Historia Regum Anglorum" in Simon Taylor (ed.) Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland, 500–1297: essays in honour of Marjorie Ogilvie Anderson on the occasion of her ninetieth birthday. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9
Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5
Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin Hyman, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445691-3 Marsden, J., Northanhymbre Saga: The History of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria. London: Cathie, 1992. ISBN 1-85626-055-0 (HB)
Morris, John (ed. & tr.), Nennius: British History and The Welsh Annals. London: Phillimore, 1980. ISBN 0-85033-297-4
Woolf, Alex, "Onuist son of Uurguist : tyrannus carnifex or a David for the Picts ?" in David Hill & Margaret Worthington (eds.) Aethelbald and Offa : two eighth-century kings of Mercia (British Archaeological Reports, British series, no. 383). Oxford: Archaeopress, 2005. ISBN 1-84171-687-1
Yorke, Barbara, Kings and Kingdoms in Early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-027-8
Yorke, Barbara. The Conversion of Britain: Religion, Politics and Society in Britain c. 600–800. London: Longman, 2006. ISBN 0-582-77292-3

Oswulf was king of Northumbria from 758 to 759. He succeeded his father Eadberht, who had abdicated and joined the monastery at York. Oswulf's uncle was Ecgbert, Archbishop of York.
In spite of his father's long reign, and his powerful uncle, Oswulf did not hold the throne for long. He was murdered within a year of coming to power, by members of his familia, that is by his servants or bodyguards, at Market Weighton, on 24 July 759.
The death of Oswulf's brother, Oswine, is recorded at "Eldunum near Mailros" in August 761, in battle against Æthelwald Moll, who had seized the throne on Oswulf's death.

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

Æthelwald Moll was King of Northumbria, the historic petty kingdom of Angles in medieval England, from 759 to 765. He seized power after the murder of Oswulf son of Eadberht; his ancestry and connection to the royal family of Northumbria is unknown. Æthelwald faced at least one rebellion, led by Oswine, perhaps a brother of Oswulf. In 765 a Witenagemot of Northumbrian notables deposed Æthelwald and replaced him with Alhred, a kinsman of his predecessor. After his removal from the throne Æthelwald became a monk, perhaps involuntarily.
Æthelwald's marriage with one Æthelthryth is recorded in 762 at Catterick by Symeon of Durham. He is known to have had at least one son, Æthelred, who later became king.
OriginsÆthelwald is not recorded in the extant genealogies of Northumbrian kings, perhaps because he was not a descendant of Ida and the Bernician kings. Whether he was a descendant of the Deiran dynasty of Ælle, or simply a member of a powerful noble family, is unknown.
It is likely that he is to be idenfified with the patrician Moll, recorded in the reign of King Eadberht, to whom Eadberht and his brother Ecgbert, Archbishop of York granted the monasteries of Stonegrave, Coxwold, and Donaemuthe, all in modern Yorkshire. These had belonged to Moll's brother, Abbot Forthred.

On 24 July 759, King Oswulf was murdered by members of his own household. The regicide was "a crime in which Æthelwald may very well have been involved." Æthelwald was crowned King of Northumbria on 5 August 759.
His reign was not unopposed. The continuator of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum reports the death of a certain Oswine in 761. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Symeon of Durham's Historia Regum supply more details, recording that Oswine, "a most noble ætheling", was killed fighting against Æthelwald on 6 August 761 in the Eildon Hills.
Æthelwald was deposed on 30 October 765, apparently by a council of noblemen and prelates held at Pincanheale, an important site used for two later Northumbrian church councils. According to the Irish Annals of Tigernach, Æthelwald was tonsured.
He was succeeded as king by Eadberht's son-in-law Alhred.

Æthelwald's marriage with one Æthelthryth is recorded in 762 at Catterick by Symeon of Durham. He is known to have had at least one son, Æthelred, who later became king. It is presumed, on onomastic grounds, that the Moll "slain by the urgent command of King Eardwulf" circa 799 was a kinsman of Æthelwald Mol

Anonymous; Whitley Stokes editor (1895-1897). "The Annals of Tigernach". Revue Celtique 16-18. Retrieved on 2007-01-27.
D.P. Kirby, The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin Hyman, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445691-3
John Marsden, Northanhymbre Saga: The History of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria. London: Cathie, 1992. ISBN 1-85626-055-0
Symeon of Durham; J. Stevenson translator (1855). "The Historical Works of Simeon of Durham". Church Historians of England, volume III, part II. Seeley's. Retrieved on 2007-01-27.
Ann Williams, Kingship and Government in Pre-Conquest England, c. 500–1066. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999. ISBN 0-333-56798-6
Barbara Yorke, Kings and Kingdoms in Early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-027-8

Alhred or Alchred was king of Northumbria from 765 to 774. He had married Osgifu, either the daughter of Oswulf, granddaughter of Eadberht Eating, or Eadberht's daughter, and was thus related by marriage to Ecgbert, Archbishop of York. A genealogy survives which makes Alhred a descendant of Ida of Bernicia through a son named Eadric.
Æthelwald Moll was deposed in 765 and Alhred became king. Little is said of his reign in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle other than the bare facts that he became king, and was then deposed and exiled in 774. Symeon of Durham's Historia Regum Anglorum reports that he fled to the kingdom of the Picts, where he was received by King Ciniod.
Frank Stenton notes Ahlred's connection to the English missions on the continent. The mission of Saint Willehad, which led to the founding of the Archbishopric of Bremen, was authorised by a religious assembly called by Alhred. A letter from Alhred to Saint Lull, Archbishop of Mainz, a native of Wessex, also survives.
He was succeeded by Æthelred, son of Æthelwald Moll. Alhred's son Osred would later be king. A second son, Alhmund would be killed in the reign of Eardwulf and develop a cult as Alcmund of Derby.

Further reading
Anderson, Alan Orr, Scottish Annals from English Chroniclers A.D. 500 to 1286. David Nutt, London, 1908.
Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5
Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445692-1
Marsden, J., Northanhymbre Saga: The History of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria. London: Cathie, 1992. ISBN 1-85626-055-0
Stenton, Sir Frank M., Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1971 (3rd edn.) ISBN 0-19-280139-2
Yorke, Barbara, Kings and Kingdoms of early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-027-8

Æthelred I of NorthumbriaFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, searchÆthelred (died April 18, 796) was king of Northumbria from 774 to 779 and again from 788 or 789 until his murder in 796. He became king after Alhred was deposed. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to him as "Æthelwald Moll's son", rather by his own name, which has led Higham to suppose that he was a child.
If he was indeed no more than a straw man for his father, then Æthelwald Moll's second attempt at ruling Northumbria lasted no longer than his first. Æthelred was deposed in 779 and the throne passed back to the Eatingas in the person of Ælfwald I, probably a grandson of Eadberht Eating.
Æthelred lived in exile during the reign of Ælfwald and his successor Osred II. Osred was deposed, forcibly tonsured and exiled in 788 or 789, and Æthelred was restored to the throne. His second reign saw considerable trouble. The ealdorman Eardwulf was ordered killed by Æthelred in 790, but survived and later became king. Ælfwald's sons Ælf and Ælfwine were killed, probably on Æthelred's orders, in 791. The next year Osred attempted to regain the throne, but was defeated, captured and killed on 14 September 792. A year after, Lindisfarne was sacked, and Alcuin's letters to Æthelred blame the sack on the sins of Æthelred and his nobility. Also in 792, he married Ælfflæd, daughter of Offa of Mercia, at Catterick.
Æthelred is thought to have had strong backing in Deira, and received assistance from Charlemagne, but this did not prevent his murder on 18 April 796 by a group of conspirators led by the earldormen Ealdred and Wada. In the resulting confusion, Osbald, probably a veteran ealdorman, became king.

Further reading
Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0862997305
Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445692-1
Yorke, Barbara, Kings and Kingdoms of early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-027-8

Ælfwald (died 23 September 788) was king of Northumbria from 778 to 788. He is thought to have been a son of Oswulf, and thus a grandson of Eadberht Eating.
Ælfwald became king after Æthelred son of Æthelwald Moll was deposed in 778. He was murdered, probably at Chesters, by the patricius (ealdorman) Sicga.
He was succeeded by his first cousin Osred, son of Alhred and Osgifu daughter of Eadberht Eating. Ælfwald's sons Ælf and Ælfwine were killed in 791 on the orders of King Æthelred.
Ælfwald was buried at Hexham Abbey where he was considered a saint.

Further reading
Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0862997305

Osred was king of Northumbria from 789 to 790. He was the son of Alhred and Osgifu, daughter of Eadberht.
He succeeded Ælfwald, son of his mother's brother Oswulf, who was murdered by the patricius (ealdorman) Sicga.
Osred, even though he united two of the competing factions in Northumbria, was king for only a year before being deposed in favour of the previously deposed Æthelred son of Æthelwald Moll. Osred was then exiled, apparently to the Isle of Man.
He returned from exile in 792, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that he was "apprehended and slain on the eighteenth day before the calends of October. His body is deposited at Tynemouth." It is presumed that this killing was done by or for King Æthelred, who had had Ælf and Ælfwine, sons of Ælfwald, killed the previous year, and had attempted to kill Eardwulf in 790.

Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5
Yorke, Barbara, Kings and Kingdoms of early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-027-8

Æthelred again

Osbald was a king of Northumbria during 796. He was a friend of Alcuin, a monk from York who often sent him letters of advice.
Osbald was a violent man and most likely a murderer as modern records suggest. On the 9th January AD 780, he killed Bearn, the son of King Ælfwald by burning him to death at Selectune (possibly Silton, North Yorkshire). In 793 Alcuin wrote two letters to Osbald urging him to give up his extravagant way of life. He criticised his greedy behaviour, luxurious dress and his pagan hair style. He warned him to devote himself to God because “Luxury in princes means poverty for the people”.
Osbald became king of Northumbria in 796 at a time when it was dissolving into anarchy. He ruled for 27 days before being abandoned by the royal household and deserted by the people. He went into exile in Lindisfarne. Here Alcuin wrote Osbald a letter urging him to become a monk. After Osbald’s refusal Alcuin sent another letter. It read:
“My dear friend Osbald … I am disappointed in you for not taking my advice. I urged you in my letter that you should give up this way of life. Do not add sin to sin by ruining your country and shedding blood. Think how much blood of kings, princes, and people has been shed through you and your family.” Shortly afterwards, Osbald sailed to Pictland with his companions, where he was given refuge by Caustantín, King of the Picts.
Osbald gave his name to two places in and around the area of Northumbria:
Osbaldeston, Blackburn
Osbaldwick, York
Osbald died in AD 799 and was buried in an unmarked grave in York Minster.

Eardwulf (fl. 790 – c. 830) was king of Northumbria from 796 to 806, when he was deposed and went into exile. He may have had a second reign from 808 until perhaps 811 or 830. Northumbria in the last years of the eighth century was the scene of dynastic strife between several noble families, and, in 790, the then-king Æthelred I attempted to have Eardwulf assassinated. Eardwulf's survival may have been viewed as a sign of divine favour. A group of nobles conspired to assassinate Æthelred in April 796, and he was succeeded by Osbald; Osbald's reign lasted only twenty-seven days before he was deposed, and Eardwulf became king on 14 May 796.
Little is recorded of Eardwulf's family, though his father, also named Eardwulf, is known to have been a nobleman. Eardwulf was married by the time he became king, though his wife's name is not recorded. It is possible he later wed an illegitimate daughter of Charlemagne. In 798, early in his reign, Eardwulf fought a battle at Billington Moor against a nobleman named Wada, who had been one of those who killed King Æthelred. Wada was defeated and driven into exile. In 801 Eardwulf led an army against Coenwulf of Mercia, perhaps because of Coenwulf's support for other claimants to the Northumbrian throne.
He was deposed in 806, and according to a Frankish record, returned to his kingdom in 808. No record has survived of his death or the end of his reign, and dates from 811 to 830 have been suggested. He is possibly buried at the Mercian royal monastery of Breedon on the Hill which carries a dedication to Saint Mary and Saint Hardulph, with whom Eardwulf is identified by several historians.

The kingdoms of Britain c. 800During the latter half of the eighth century, the Northumbrian succession included a long series of murdered and deposed kings, as several royal lines contended for the throne. The main lines were those of Eadberht, Æthelwald Moll, and Alhred. In the eight years before Eardwulf's accession all three of these dynastic lines were involved in the struggle for kingship: on 23 September 788, King Ælfwald I, grandson of Eadberht, was murdered by the patricius Sicga near Hexham, and Ælfwald's cousin Osred became king. Osred, who was of Alhred's line, was deposed after a year, and Æthelred, son of Æthelwald Moll, who had been deposed in 778 at a young age, was restored to the kingship, resuming the title Æthelred I.
Some Anglo-Saxon kings are known to have been killed by their households or in open warfare against rivals, but overall the record is very sparse. The evidence as regards the deposition of kings is equally limited. Only two eighth-century depositions offer any context, those of Æthelwald Moll in Northumbria and Sigeberht of Wessex. In both cases the decision is presented as that of some form of council.
Ælfwald is said to have been king of Northumbria following the deposition of Eardwulf in 806. This information is only reported in the anonymous tract De Primo Saxonum Adventu (printed in the collected works of Symeon of Durham) and the Flores Historiarum of Roger of Wendover. Roger states that Ælfwald had overthrown Eardwulf.
Ælfwald is said to have reigned for two years and probably succeeded by Eardwulf, restored to power with the aid of the Emperor Charlemagne and Pope Leo III, although he may instead have been followed by Eardwulf's son Eanred rather than by Eardwulf.
While written sources for Ælfwald's reign are late and exiguous, coins minted in his reign have survived in modest numbers. Minted at York, these were produced by a moneyer named Cuthheard, who also produced all known coins of Eardwulf's reign.
Lakeland author W. G. Collingwood 1917 book The Likeness of King Elfwald: A Study of Iona and Northumbria imagined the life of Ælfwald. The work, based on Collingwood's long study of Northumbria which led to his 1919 work Northumbrian Crosses of the pre-Norman Age, was well regarded and has been reprinted.

Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin Hyman, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445691-3 Rollason, David (2004). "Eardwulf (fl. 796–c.830), king of Northumbria". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved on 2007-10-03.
Yorke, Barbara, Kings and Kingdoms of early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-027-8

This record of disputed succession was by no means unique to Northumbria, and the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex experienced similar troubles during the eighth and ninth centuries. In Wessex, from the death of Centwine in 685 to Egbert's seizure of power in 802 the relationships between successive kings are far from clear, and few kings are known have been close kinsmen of their predecessors or successors. The same may be true of Mercia from the death of Ceolred in 716 until the disappearance of the Mercian kingdom in the late ninth century.
Kings did not rule alone, but governed together with the leading churchmen and nobles. While Northumbria lacks the body of charters which shed light on the institutions of the southern Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, sufficient evidence survives for historians to reconstruct some aspects of Northumbrian political life. The evidence for Northumbria survives largely in Latin documents, and these use the words dux and patricius to describe the leading noblemen of the kingdom. The word dux is usually translated by the Old English word ealdorman. Historian Alan Thacker estimates that there were about eight men holding the title of dux in late Northumbria. The title patricius is usually translated as patrician, which ultimately means noble, but in the latter days of the Roman Empire represented a high ranking position, second only to the emperor. The meaning of the title in Northumbria is unclear, but it appears that there was only one patricius. While it may be simply an alternative to dux, it might represent a position approximating to that of the mayor of the palace in late Merovingian Francia.
The church in Northumbria was one of the major landowners, perhaps second only to the king. At the head of the Northumbrian church was the Archbishop of York, an office held by Eanbald I to 796, Eanbald II until some time after 808, and then by Wulfsige to around 830. Immediately below the archbishop were three bishops: the bishop of Lindisfarne, the bishop of Hexham, and the bishop of Whithorn. The typically long term of office of senior clerics meant that kings often had to work with men appointed by their predecessors, with whom their relations might be difficult.

Relations with other states
Northumbria's southern neighbour Mercia was, under the rule of kings Æthelbald, Offa, and Coenwulf, the dominant kingdom in Anglo-Saxon England. Offa, the greatest of the three, ruled Mercia until 796, followed soon after by Coenwulf. Offa's dominance was secured in part by marriage alliances with the other major kingdoms: Beorhtric of Wessex and Æthelred of Northumbria were married to his daughters. Further afield, Charlemagne, the preeminent ruler in the Christian West, appears to have taken an active interest in Northumbrian affairs. Charlemagne initially ruled Francia and parts of Italy, but by 796 had become master of an empire which stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Hungarian Plain. He was a staunch defender of the Papacy, and in the popes and the church hierarchy he had allies whose influence extended to Northumbria and beyond. Events in southern Britain to 796 have sometimes been portrayed as a struggle between Offa and Charlemagne, but the disparity in their power was enormous, and Offa and then Coenwulf were clearly minor figures by comparison.
Early evidence of friendly relations between Charlemagne and Offa is tempered by signs of strain. Charlemagne sheltered two exiles from England at his court: Odberht of Kent (probably Eadberht Praen) and Egbert of Wessex. Eadberht Praen ruled the Kingdom of Kent for a short time after Offa's death, but was deposed by Coenwulf. Egbert, however, was more successful, taking and holding the throne of Wessex in 802. It is clear that Mercian and Frankish interests could not always be reconciled, and Frankish policy then moved towards support for Offa's opponents. To Charlemagne this primarily meant Northumbria: according to Patrick Wormald, "Charlemagne … saw England as if it were ruled by two kings only: Æthelred ruling Northumbria and Offa ruling everything to the south". Frankish support for Northumbria thus appears to have been driven by a desire to counter Mercian influence in southern Britain, an area with long-standing ties to Francia. However, it has also been suggested that Charlemagne's interest in Northumbria was motivated by a desire for co-operation against Viking raiders, who had first appeared in Northumbria in the early 790s. Alternatively it may be that Charlemagne's conception of the sphere of his authority included Britain, which had once been part of the Roman Empire.
Initially, however, both Charlemagne and Offa appear to have shared a common interest in supporting King Æthelred, Offa's son-in-law. Shortly before Æthelred was murdered in 796 an embassy from Francia delivered gifts for the king and his bishops. When Charlemagne learned of Æthelred's killing he was enraged, called the Northumbrians "that treacherous, perverse people...who murder their own lords", and threatened retribution. His ambassadors, who had travelled on to Ireland and were then returning home, were ordered back to Northumbria to recover the presents. Charlemagne in time became a supporter of Eardwulf. Eardwulf is said to have married to one of Charlemagne's daughters, but if this is correct she must have been illegitimate as the marriages of all the legitimate daughters are known. Coenwulf, on the other hand, who became king of Mercia shortly after Eardwulf's accession, is recorded as having fought with Eardwulf in 801.

Early life and accession
Eardwulf was not, so far as is known, connected to any of the factions that had been warring for the throne up to the mid-790s. Nothing is definitely known of his background, though Symeon of Durham's History of the Kings, an early twelfth-century work based on the lost late tenth-century chronicle of Byrhtferth, records that his father's name was also Eardwulf, and both father and son are given the title dux. Historian Barbara Yorke has proposed that he was a descendant of one Eanwine who (according to Symeon of Durham) was killed in 740 on the orders of King Eadberht. This Eanwine may be identified with King Eadwulf's son of the same name. Eardwulf's father may have been one of the two Eardwulfs whose deaths are recorded by Symeon of Durham in 774 and 775.
Eardwulf appears to have been an enemy of Æthelred I. He first appears in the historical record circa 790, when Symeon of Durham reports that:
Eardulf was taken prisoner, and conveyed to Ripon, and there ordered by the aforesaid king [Æthelred] to be put to death without the gate of the monastery. The brethren carried his body into the church with Gregorian chanting, and placed it out of doors in a tent; after midnight he was found alive in the church.
A letter from Alcuin to Eardwulf suggests that this fortunate recovery was seen as being miraculous.
Eardwulf's whereabouts after his recovery are not known. In surviving King Æthelred's anger he was more fortunate than Ælfwald's sons, who were drowned on Æthelred's orders in 791. Osred returned from exile but was betrayed, and killed by Æthelred's command on 14 September 792. Æthelred himself was assassinated on 18 April 796, perhaps at Corbridge, by conspirators led by the dux Ealdred. Æthelred was followed as king by Osbald, whose antecedents are unknown; he was deposed after twenty-seven days and fled to the land of the Picts with a few supporters. King Northumbria in Eardwulf's reignEardwulf became king on 14 May 796. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that he was consecrated by Eanbald I, Archbishop of York, and Bishops Æthelberht, Beadwulf, and Hygebald, at York Minster on 26 May 796.
Eardwulf was evidently married before he became king as Alcuin reproached him for abandoning his wife for a concubine soon after his coronation. This strained relations with the new Archbishop Eanbald II—Eanbald I had died in the year of Eardwulf's coronation. Alcuin, while condemning secular oppression of the church, affected surprise that the Archbishop Eanbald was accompanied by a large retinue, including soldiers, while travelling, and that he received and protected the king's enemies. Eanbald was presumably in conflict with Eardwulf over property, but it is likely that he also supported rivals for Eardwulf's throne.
Although Æthelred had been Eardwulf's enemy, Æthelred's killers proved to be equally hostile to Eardwulf. In 798 a dux named Wada, who was one of those who had killed King Æthelred, fought with Eardwulf on Billington Moor, near Whalley, Lancashire. Wada was put to flight and may have gone into exile in Mercia. Wada may have hoped to restore Osbald to the throne. The evidence for Osbald's continued ambition is a letter Alcuin wrote to him, probably in 798, in which Alcuin attempts to dissuade Osbald from further interventions in Northumbrian affairs. Alcuin's arguments appear to have succeeded, since Osbald is known to have become an abbot by 799 (when his death is recorded), implying that he had given up his ambitions.
Two further challenges to Eardwulf are recorded within the next two years, both apparently from among the noble lines that had been fighting for the throne over the previous decades. In 799, a dux named Moll was killed by Eardwulf's "urgent command". Moll's name has suggested that he was a kinsman of the late King Æthelred, whose father was Æthelwald Moll. The following year, Ealhmund, "the son of King Alhred, as some say", was killed by Eardwulf's men. Ealhmund was remembered at Derby, in the neighbouring kingdom of Mercia, as a saint.
King Coenwulf of Mercia may have supported the unfortunate Ealhmund, and Symeon of Durham writes that in 801:
Eardwulf, king of the Northumbrians, led an army against Coenwulf, king of Mercians, because he had given asylum to his enemies. He also, collecting an army, obtained very many auxiliaries from other provinces, having made a long expedition among them. At length, with the advice of the bishops and chiefs of the Angles on either side, they made peace through the kindness of the king of the Angles.
This settlement ended open warfare, but Eardwulf was deposed in 806, in unknown circumstances. Letters between Charlemagne and Pope Leo III suggest that Coenwulf had a hand in Eardwulf's removal. According to the thirteenth-century chronicler Roger of Wendover, Eardwulf was replaced by King Ælfwald II, about whom nothing else is known from the written sources, although coins issued in his reign have survived.
As the case of Ælfwald shows, while the written sources for later Northumbria are few and often written down centuries after the events they describe, archaeological evidence from coinage is independent of the surviving annals. Coins in the Anglo-Saxon period usually name the king on whose orders they were issued, and may name the mint where they were struck—Northumbrian coinage names York as the place of issue—and the moneyer who produced them. Their weight and silver content can be compared with other reigns, providing a hint of the prevailing economic conditions, and the style and size may also throw light on cultural influences when the coins are compared with those of neighbouring kingdoms and with other forms of art. The evidence of Northumbrian coinage is particularly valuable in the ninth century when contemporary written evidence all but disappears.
From the 740s until the end of the Northumbrian kingdom, coins were issued by most kings, although in variable quantities. Until recently no coins from Eardwulf's reign were known, which suggested that it may have been a time of instability, or perhaps that the kingdom was impoverished by the payment of tribute to the Mercian kings Offa and Coenwulf. It is now known that the issue of new coins did not stop during Eardwulf's reign as two of his coins were identified in the 1990s. However, issues of new currency appear to have been limited under Eardwulf and significant numbers of Northumbrian coins are not again attested until the reign of Eardwulf's son Eanred.

Exile and return
Like many of his predecessors, Eardwulf took to exile when he was deposed. Unlike kings with ties to Lindisfarne, who appear to have chosen exile among the Picts, Eardwulf was linked to Ripon, and chose a southerly exile. The next reports of Eardwulf are in Frankish sources:
Meanwhile the king of the Northumbrians from the island of Britain, Eardwulf by name, being expelled from his kingdom and native land, came to the emperor while he was still at Nijmegen, and after he had made know the reason for his coming, he set out for Rome; and on his return from Rome he was escorted by envoys of the Roman pontiff and of the lord emperor back into his kingdom. At that time Leo III ruled over the Roman church, and his messenger, the deacon Ealdwulf from that same Britain, a Saxon by race, was sent to Britain, and with him two abbots, Hruotfrid the notary and Nantharius of St. Omer, sent by the emperor.
A surviving letter of Leo III to Charlemagne confirms that Eardwulf visited Rome and stayed at Charlemagne's court.
The Frankish source is clear that Eardwulf was "returned to his kingdom", but surviving Anglo-Saxon sources have no record of a second reign. Historians disagree as to whether Ælfwald was replaced by Eardwulf, who would thus have reigned a second time from 808 to 811 or 812, or whether the reign of Eardwulf's son Eanred began in 808.
Recent studies, based on the discovery of a penny of Eanred for which a date no earlier than c. 850 is proposed, suggest a very different dating for ninth-century Northumbrian kings. From this, it is argued that Eardwulf's second reign ended circa 830, rather than in the years soon after 810, and that the reigns of subsequent kings should be re-dated accordingly: Eanred from 830 to 854, Æthelred II from 854 to 862, Rædwulf in 858, and Osberht from 862 to 867.

The church of Saint Mary and Saint Hardulph, Breedon on the Hill
Eardwulf is identified by historians with the Saint Hardulph or Hardulf to whom the Mercian royal church of Saint Mary and Saint Hardulph at Breedon on the Hill is dedicated. The connection, though unproven, has been made by several historians and is uncontroversial. Supporting evidence comes from a twelfth-century list of the burial places of saints compiled at Peterborough. This calls the Saint Hardulph to whom Breedon was dedicated "Hardulfus rex"—King Eardwulf—and states that he was buried at Breedon.
A panelled stone structure in the church, carved with processions of bearded and robed figures under arches, seems to reproduce details found in the Book of Cerne, a work associated with Bishop Æthelwold of Lichfield (818–830). The panels, which may originally have been the outer part of a sarcophagus built to hold the remains of a high status person such as Saint Hardulph, are dated by their similarity to the illustrations in the Book of Cerne to the first third of the eighth century. According to a medieval calendar of saints, the Benedictine monks at Breedon celebrated Hardulph's feast day on 21 August.
The death of Eardwulf is not recorded. Although he had faced considerable opposition, and had been driven into exile, he succeeded in founding a dynasty. His son Eanred and grandson Æthelred (II) ruled Northumbria for most of its remaining existence as an independent kingdom.

Primary sources
Swanton, Michael (1996), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-92129-5
"Eardwulf 4 (Male)", Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England,, retrieved on 2007-04-25
Symeon of Durham (1855), J. Stevenson, ed., The Historical Works of Simeon of Durham, Church Historians of England,, III, part II, London: Seeley's,, retrieved on 2007-01-27

Secondary sources
Blackburn, Mark & Grierson, Philip, Medieval European Coinage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, reprinted with corrections 2006. ISBN 0-521-03177-X
Brown, Michelle P.; Farr, Carol Ann, eds. (2001), Mercia, an Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe, New York: Leicester University Press, ISBN 0-8264-7765-8
Campbell, James (2000), "Elements in the Background to the Life of Saint Cuthbert and his early cult", The Anglo-Saxon State, London: Hambledon, pp. 85–106, ISBN 1-85285-176-7 Campbell, John; John, Eric; Wormald, Patrick (1982), The Anglo-Saxons, London: Phaidon, ISBN 0-14-014395-5
Forsman, Deanna (2003), "An Appeal to Rome: Anglo-Saxon Dispute Settlement, 800-810", The Heroic Age (6),, retrieved on 2007-04-25
Higham, Nick J. (1993), The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350–1100, Stroud: Sutton, ISBN ISBN 0-86299-730-5
Lapidge, Michael, ed. (1999), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, ISBN 0-631-22492-0
Kendrick, T.D. (1972) [1938], Anglo-Saxon Art to A.D. 900, London: Methuen, ISBN 0-06-480457-7
Kirby, D.P. (1991), The Earliest English Kings, London: Unwin Hyman, ISBN 0-04-445691-3 Nelson, Janet (2001), "Carolingian Contacts", in Brown, Michelle; Farr, Carole, New York: Leicester University Press, pp. 126–143, ISBN 0-8264-7765-8 Plunkett, Steven J. (1998), "The Mercian Perspective", in Foster, Sally M., The St Andrews Sarcophagus: A Pictish masterpiece and its international connections, Dublin: Four Courts, pp. 202–226, ISBN 1-85182-414-6
Riché, Pierre (1983) (in French), Les Carolingiens: Une famille qui fit l'Europe, Paris: Hachette, ISBN 2-01-278851-3
Rollason, David (2004), "Eardwulf (fl. 796–c.830), king of Northumbria", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press,, retrieved on 2007-10-03
Stenton, Frank M. (1971), Anglo-Saxon England (3rd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280139-2
Story, Joanna (2003), Carolingian Connections: Anglo-Saxon England and Carolingian Francia, c. 750–870, Aldershot: Ashgate, ISBN 0-7546-0124-2
Webster, Leslie; Backhouse, Janet (1991), The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600–900, London: British Museum Press, ISBN 0-7141-0555-4
Williams, Ann; Smyth, Alfred; Kirby, D.P. (1991), A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain, London: Seaby, ISBN 1-85264-047-2
Wormald, Francis (1939), English Benedictine Kalendars after A.D. 1100, volume 1: Abbotsbury–Durham, Henry Bradshaw Society, 77, London: Harrison & Sons, OCLC 689488 Wormald, Patrick (1982), "The Age of Offa and Alcuin", in James Campbell et al., The Anglo-Saxons, London: Phaidon, pp. 101–131, ISBN 0-14-014395-5
Yorke, Barbara (1990). Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby. ISBN 1-85264-027-8.

Eardwulf again

Eanred was king of Northumbria in the early ninth century.
Very little is known for certain about Eanred. The only reference made by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to the Northumbrians in this period is the statement that in 829 Egbert of Wessex
led an army against the Northumbrians as far as Dore, where they met him, and offered terms of obedience and subjection, on the acceptance of which they returned home. thereby, at least temporarily, extending Egbert's hegemony to the entirety of Anglo-Saxon Britain. However, Roger of Wendover states that Eanred reigned from 810 until 840, whilst the twelfth century Historia Ecclesia Dunelmensis records a reign of 33 years, and, given the turbulence of Northumbrian history in this period, a reign of this length suggests a figure of some significance. Within a generation of Eanred's death, Anglian monarchy in Northumbria had collapsed.
Eanred was the son of King Eardwulf, who was deposed by an otherwise unknown Ælfwald in 806. According to the Historia Ecclesia Dunelmensis, Ælfwald ruled for two years before Eanred succeeded. However, Frankish sources claim that, after being expelled from England, Eardwulf was received by Charlemagne and then the pope, and that their envoys escorted him back to Northumbria and secured his restoration to power. The recent discovery of a coin of Eanred, which has been dated to c.850 on stylistic grounds, suggests that Eardwulf's second reign may have lasted considerably longer than previously thought. Therefore, the precise nature of the succession of Eanred is unclear. All sources agree that Eanred was eventually succeeded by his son, Æthelred.
Eanred's reign sees the appearance of the styca, a new style of small coin which replaced the earlier sceat. These stycas were of low silver content, later coins being effectively brass. Produced in York, large numbers have survived and several moneyers are named on the surviving coins, suggesting that they were minted in significant quantities. Higham estimates that hundreds of thousands of stycas were in circulation. The distribution of the coin finds suggests that their principal use was in external trade and that, apart from the payment of taxes, coins were little used by the great majority of Northumbrians in daily life.

Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5
Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin Hyman, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445691-3 Rollason, David (2004). "Eardwulf (fl. 796–c.830), king of Northumbria". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved on 2007-10-03.

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