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Oswiu of Northumbria

Oswiu, also Oswio, Oswy, Osuiu (c. 612 - 670), king of Northumbria and Bretwalda, son of Æthelfrith and brother of Oswald, whom he succeeded in Bernicia in 642 after the battle of Maserfeld, was the seventh of the great English kings enumerated by Bede.

He succeeded in making the majority of the Britons, Picts and Scots tributary to him. At Gilling in 651 he caused the murder of Oswine, a relative of Edwin who had become king of Deira, and a few years later took possession of that kingdom. He appears to have consolidated his power by the aid of the Church and by a series of judicious matrimonial alliances. It was probably in 642 that he married Eanfled, daughter of Edwin, thus uniting the two rival dynasties of Northumbria. His daughter Alhfled he married to Peada, son of Penda, king of Mercia, while another daughter, Osthryth, became the wife of Æthelred, third son of the same king. Oswiu was chiefly responsible for the reconversion of the East Saxons. He is said to have convinced their king Sigeberht of the truth of Christianity by his arguments, and at his request sent Cedd, a brother of Ceadda (St. Chad), on a mission to Essex.

In 655 he was attacked by Penda, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to buy him off, defeated and slew the Mercian king at the Battle of Winwaed. He then took possession of part of Mercia, giving the rest to Peada. As a thank-offering he dedicated his daughter Rifled to the Church, and founded the monastery of Whitby. About this time he is thought by many to have obtained some footing in the kingdom of the Picts in succession to their king Talorcan, the son of his brother Eanfrid. In 660 he married his son Ecgfrith to Æthelthryth, daughter of the East Anglian king Anna. In 664 at the synod of Whitby, Oswiu accepted the usages of the Roman Church, which led to the departure of Colman and the appointment of Wilfrid as bishop of York. Oswiu died in 670 and was succeeded by his son Ecgfrith.

Preceded by:
Oswald of Bernicia
List of British monarchs Succeeded by:
Ethelbald of Mercia

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.