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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/340

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Oswy
Oswy
334


richer than Bernicia (Bæda, u.s.) With the view, no doubt, of gaining a party in Deira, Oswy sent a priest named Utta to fetch Eanflæd, the daughter of Eadwine and his queen Æthelburh from Kent, and married her on her arrival in Northumbria. The causes of quarrel between him and Oswin became serious, and in 651 he invaded Deira with a large army. Oswin, who gathered a force to meet him, found himself too weak to venture a battle; he dismissed his men, and took refuge with a single follower in the house of a noble named Hunvald, one of his friends. Oswy persuaded Hunvald to betray him, and sent one of his officers, named Ædiluine, or Æthelwine, who slew both Oswin and his retainer at Gilling, near Richmond, in the present Yorkshire, on 20 Aug. This deed rid Oswy of a troublesome rival, and enabled him to unite under himself both the Northumbrian kingdoms, but he conciliated the people of Deira, and perhaps also endeavoured to satisfy a dangerous malcontent, by giving the province a dependent ruler of its own in the person of his nephew, Oswald's son Oidilvald (ib. c. 23). At the request of his queen, and as an atonement for the murder of Oswin, he gave Eanflaed land at Gilling for the erection of a monastery, where prayers were offered for both kings, the slayer and the slain (ib. cc. 14, 24) [see under Oswin].

About 653 Oswy received at his court Peada [q. v.], the son of Penda, who had been given the kingship of the Middle Angles by his father. He requested Oswy to give him his daughter Alchflæd to wife. Oswy replied that he would not do so unless he received Christianity. Peada assented to this, for he was convinced of the truth of the gospel by the preachers at the Northumbrian court, and was further persuaded by Oswy's son Alchfrith [q. v.], who had already married Penda's daughter Cyneburga, or Cyneburh. Accordingly he and his lords and attendants received baptism from Finan [q. v.], the successor of Aidan in the bishopric of Lindisfarne, at a place called Wall, close to the Roman wall, perhaps Walbottle, near Newcastle. Oswy supplied him with four priests to evangelise and baptise his people, and with them he returned to his own land. It was through Oswy's means too that the East-Saxons, who had relapsed into paganism in 616, again accepted the gospel; for he was on terms of intimate friendship with their king Sigberct, and often received visits from him, and on these occasions he used to exhort his guest with brotherly affection to forsake idolatry. After taking counsel with his friends and his lords, Sigberct was baptised by Finan at Wall, and obtained teachers from Oswy for the instruction of his people (ib. c. 22).

It seems probable that Oswy was at this time carrying on a successful war against the Picts and Scots, which led to an extension of his power in the north, while the influence that he had over the East-Saxon kingdom may have suggested an intention on his part of renewing the old strife with Mercia for the over-lordship of East Anglia (Green, Making of England, p. 299). Penda's jealousy was roused, and, in spite of the connection between their families, he again made war upon Oswy, and pressed him hardly, forcing him to deliver his second son Ecgfrith as a hostage to the Mercian queen Cynuise, or Cyneswythe. In 655 Æthelhere of East Anglia, in some unexplained way, caused war between them. Oswy, whose land had already suffered grievously from Mercian invasions, offered Penda gifts so many and so rich as, Bæda says, to surpass belief, to induce him to retire from his kingdom. They were rejected, and when he found that Penda had resolved to destroy and drive away his whole people, great and small, he said, 'Since the heathen will have none of our gifts, let us offer them to the Lord our God who knoweth all things,' and vowed that if he should gain the victory he would devote his daughter as a consecrated virgin to God, and give twelve estates for the foundation of monasteries. He then set out against the enemy with a small force, and accompanied by his son Alchfrith. The Mercian host was, it was believed, thirty times as large as his; it was composed of thirty divisions, some of them of British allies, each under the command of a royal leader or under-king, and it was guided in its march by Oidilvald, who joined the enemies of his nation. The armies met on 15 Nov. by the river Winwaed, in the district of 'Loidis,' supposed to be either the Avon which flows into the Firth of Forth, or the Aire which flows by Leeds in Yorkshire.

The first theory is maintained by Skene (Celtic Scotland, i. 255-7), who suggests that the place of battle was near Manuel in Stirlingshire, and takes 'Loidis' to be the northern province of Lothian; this would tally with the account given by the continuator of Nennius, in the 'Chronicle of the Picts and Scots,' p. 13, who says that the battle took place on the plain of Gai, apparently in the Pictish district of Manaw). The second theory, which accepts the river Aire, is supported by the fact that in the only other passage in which the name 'Loidis' is used by Bæda, 'Historia Ecclesiastica,' ii. c. 14, it signifies the district of Leeds, while Oidilvald would certainly have