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OSBURGA or OSBURH (fl. 861), mother of Alfred or Alfred (849–901) [q. v.], king of the West-Saxons, daughter of Oslac, cupbearer of King Ethelwulf [q. v.], of the house of the leaders of the Jutes, who settled in the Isle of Wight in the reigns of Cerdic and Cynric, married Ethelwulf [q. v.], king of the West-Saxons, and had by him, as it seems, five sons—Æthelstan (d. 852?) [see under Ethelwulf], Ethelbald (d. 860) [q. v.], Ethelbert (d. 860) [q. v.] Æthelred (d. 871) [q. v.], and Ælfred the Great, of whom the last four became kings of the West-Saxons—and a daughter, Ethelswith or Æthelswyth, who married Burhred [q. v.], under-king of Mercia. Osburga must have been alive in 856, when her husband, Ethelwulf, brought home his young bride Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald; for a notice of her occurs which must belong to the year 861, when her youngest son, Alfred, was in his twelfth year. Up to that time he had not been able to read, but then his mother showed him and his brothers a book of 'Saxon' poetry, promising to give it to him who should first be able to read it. Ælfred, delighted with the beauty of the illuminated initial letters, went to a master, who read the poems over to him until he knew them by heart. It is impossible to believe that this story refers to Judith, who was a mere girl in 861 [see under Ælfred, u.s.] Osburga is said by Asser to have been a noble-minded and deeply religious woman.

[Asser (Mon. Hist. Brit.), pp. 469, 474; Ethelwerd (Mon. Hist. Brit.), p. 611; Will. of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum, i. 132 (Rolls Ser.); Green's Conquest of England, p. 100; Giles's Alfred the Great, pp. 80–4.]

W. H.