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OSWALD (c. 605—642)

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 364 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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OSWALD (c. 605—642), king of Northumbria, was one of the sons of IEthelfrith and was expelled from Northumbria on the accession of Edwin, though he himself was a son of Edwin's sister Acha. He appears to have spent some of his exile in Iona, where he was instructed in the principles of Christianity. In 634 he defeated and slew the British king Ceadwalla at a place called by Bede Denisesburn, near Hefenfelth, which has been identified with St Oswald's Cocklaw, near Chollerford, Northumberland. By this he avenged his brother Eanfrith, who had succeeded Edwin in Bernicia, and became king of Northumbria. Oswald reunited Deira and Bernicia, and soon raised his kingdom to a position equal to that which it had occupied in the time of Edwin, with whom he is classed by Bede as one of the seven great Anglo-Saxon kings. His close alliance with the Celtic church is the characteristic feature of his reign. In 635 he sent to the elders of the Scots for a bishop. On the arrival of Aidan in answer to this request he assigned to him the island of Lindisfarne as his see, near the royal city of Barn-borough. He also completed the minster of St Peter at York which had been begun by Paulinus under Edwin. Bede declares that Oswald ruled over " all the peoples and provinces of Britain, which includes four languages, those of the Britons, Picts, Scots and Angles." His relationship to Edwin may have helped him to consolidate Deira and Bernicia. Early in his reign he was sponsor to the West Saxon king Cynegils, whose daughter he married. In 642 he was defeated and slain at a place called Maserfeld, probably Oswestry in Shropshire, by Penda of Mercia. See Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, ed. C. Plummer (Oxford, 1896), ii. 5, 14, 20; iii. 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9-14; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. J. Earle and C. Plummer (Oxford, 1899), s.a., 617, 634, 635, 642, 654.
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