Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eadbert (d.768)

EADBERT or EADBERHT (d. 768), king of the Northumbrians, son of Eata, a member of the royal house, came to the throne in 738 on the retirement of his cousin Ceolwulf. His brother Ecgberht [see Egbert] had been appointed to the see of York, probably in 732, and the two brothers worked together with one mind, each helping the other, the archbishop ruling the church and the king the state (Carmen de Pontiff. 1273–86). An evidence of their perfect accord and almost co-ordinate authority is afforded by the coins (sceattæ) which bear the names both of the king and of the archbishop (Kenyon). The glories of the church and school at York were equalled by the military glories of the reign. In 740 Eadberht was warring against the Picts. During his absence Æthelbald, the powerful king of Mercia, treacherously ravaged part of his kingdom (Bæda, Hist. Eccl. ap. p. 288). In 750 he took Kyle in Ayrshire from the Strathclyde Welsh and added it and other districts to his own dominions. All neighbouring kings, it is said, whether of the English, Picts, Britons, or Scots, were glad to be at peace with him and to do him honour. His fame was so great that Pippin, king of the Franks, made alliance with him and sent him gifts (Symeon of Durham). Cynewulf, bishop of Lindisfarne, grievously offended him, for one of his kinsmen named Offa, who had fled to the shrine of St. Cuthberht for shelter from his enemies, was left without food until he nearly perished with hunger, and was then taken from sanctuary and put to death. Eadberht caught the bishop, kept him prisoner for some time at Bamborough, and further ordered that Lindisfarne should be besieged. In 756 he was again at war with the Strathclyde Welsh, and in alliance with the Pictish king compelled the surrender of Alcluyd or Dumbarton on 1 Aug. of that year. This was the last of his achievements, for ten days later his army was utterly destroyed. In 757 or 758 he received a letter from Pope Paul I exhorting him to restore three monasteries that he had taken away from a certain abbot named Forthred. He was evidently deeply afflicted by the loss of his army, for in 758 he resigned his crown in favour of his son Oswulf, voluntarily received the tonsure, and entered the monastery of St. Peter's at York. There he dwelt with his brother until Ecgberht's death in 766. He survived him about two years, died 19 Aug. 768, and was buried by his brother's side in one of the porches of the minster at York.

[Appendix to Bæda, pp. 288–9, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Anglo-Saxon Chron. sub ann. 737 sq.; Symeon of Durham's Hist. Eccles. Dun. p. 11, Gesta Regum, col. 106, Twysden; Carmen de Pontificibus 1273–86, Historians of York, i. 386–7 (Rolls Ser.); Dict. of Christian Biog. art. ‘Eadbert,’ by Rev. J. Raine; Hawkins's Silver Coins, ed. Kenyon, 66, 67; Haddan and Stubbs's Councils and Eccles. Docs. iii. 394 sq.; Green's Making of England, p. 405 sq.]

W. H.