Oswald Northumbrijský


August 14, 2022

Saint Oswald (also Oswold, Osuald, Osualdus, Osuuald, * ca. 604 in Northumbria, † 5 Aug 642 near Oswestry) was king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria from 634–642. He is revered as a saint.



Oswald was the son of the Bernician king Æthelfrith, who temporarily united the two kingdoms after the capture of Deira in 604. He was descended from Æthelfrith's second marriage to Acha, daughter of the former king of Deir, Ælla. Acha was a cousin of Oswald's predecessor on the throne of Deira, King Osric (633–634). King Eanfrith, Oswald's predecessor in Bernicia, was his half-brother. Oswald's son Œthelwald, who was viceroy at Deira from about 651–655, probably descended from his marriage to an unknown Irish woman. Around 635, King Oswald married Cyneburga, daughter of Cynegils, King of Wessex.

Youth and Exile in Scotland

Oswald's father King Æthelfrith was originally King of Bernicia, who after the capture of Deira around 604 united the two kingdoms to form the new Kingdom of Northumbria. King Æthelfrith legitimized his rule by marrying Acha from the royal family of Deir, who became Oswald's mother. Around 616, however, the heir to the throne of Deir, Edwin, who was driven into exile by King Æthelfrith, managed to conquer Northumbria thanks to the help of the East Anglian king Rædwald, who won the battle at of the river Idle, in which King Æthelfrith was slain. Now King Edwin sent Æthelfrith's sons into exile as possible pretenders. Princes Oswald and Oswiu and their sister Æbbe and possibly other siblings went to King Eochaid Buide (608–629) in the Gaelic realm of Dál Riata. Oswald's half-brother Eanfrith went with other siblings to the Picts. King Oswald was raised and baptized by monks from a monastery on the Isle of Iona. During his exile, Prince Oswald and probably his brothers took part in the military campaigns of the forces of the Kingdom of Dál Riata in Ireland. His son Œthelwald, who was viceroy at Deira from about 651–655, probably descended from Oswald's marriage to an Irish woman. In 633, the Gwynedd king Cadwallon ap Cadfan allied with the Mercian king Penda and rebelled against the Northumbrian king Edwin. Together they destroyed the Northumbrian army on 12 October 633 at the Battle of Hatfield Chase near Doncaster. Edwin fell in battle, as did his son Osfrith. His son Eadfrith had to surrender and was later murdered by King Penda. The immediate result of Edwin's defeat was a renewed division of Northumbria: while King Osric was able to hold on to the southern kingdom (Deira), the northern kingdom (Bernicia) fell to Eanfrith, Æthelfrit's son and Oswald's half-brother, who had returned from exile. In his person, the rule over Bernicia temporarily returned to the hands of the original Bernician dynasty. According to Bede the Venerable, kings Osric and Eanfrith were supposed to have been baptized Christians who returned to their original Anglo-Saxon paganism after their accession to the throne. King Osric continued to fight against King Cadwallon, who closed and besieged him in 634 at (probably) York. In one of Cadwallon's raids, Osric fell and his army was destroyed. King Cadwallon plundered Northumbria and murdered King Eanfrith, who was ready to make peace with him.


Return from exile, reunification of Northumbria

In 634 Prince Oswald returned from exile and defeated King Cadwallon at the Battle of Heavenfield near Hexham. The victory of Oswald's numerically weaker Christian army was seen as God's judgment. King Cadwallon was killed in battle. It was probably this victory that led to Oswald's recognition as a bretwald, at least in the north of England. The Dalriat king Domnall Brecc and the Pictish ruler Gartn could have helped him in taking power