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Oswald (Oswald of Northumbria)

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Born: 604 AD
Died: 642 AD, at 38 years of age.

Nationality: English
Categories: King, Monarch

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604 - Oswald, was King of Northumbria until his death, and was subsequently venerated as a Christian saint. He was the son of Æthelfrith of Bernicia and came to rule after spending a period in exile; after defeating the British ruler Cadwallon ap Cadfan, Oswald brought the two Northumbrian kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira once again under a single ruler, and promoted the spread of Christianity in Northumbria.

616 -  His father, Æthelfrith, who was for years a successful war-leader, especially against the native British, was eventually killed in battle by Raedwald of East Anglia at the River Idle.

632 - The king of Gwynedd, in alliance with the pagan Penda of Mercia, killed Edwin of Deira in battle at Hatfield Chase, Northumbria was split between its constituent kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira.

633 - Oswald's brother Eanfrith became king of Bernicia, but he was killed by Cadwallon after attempting to negotiate peace. Subsequently, Oswald, at the head of a small army, met Cadwallon in battle at Heavenfield, near Hexham.

634 - The Mercians, who participated in Edwin's defeat, seem to have presented an obstacle to Oswald's authority south of the Humber, although it has been generally thought that Oswald dominated Mercia to some degree after Heavenfield.

638 - Conquered the Gododdin. Irish annals record the siege of Edinburgh, thought to have been the royal stronghold of the Gododdin, and this seems to mark the end of the kingdom; that this siege was undertaken by Oswald is suggested by the apparent control of the area by his brother Oswiu.

642 - Was killed by the Mercians at the Battle of Maserfield, at a place generally identified with Oswestry and his body was dismembered on the 5th of August. Bede mentions the story that Oswald "ended his life in prayer": he prayed for the souls of his soldiers when he saw that he was about to die. Oswald's head and limbs were placed on stakes.


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Page last updated: 9:33am, 02nd Mar '07