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Oswy
Oswy
336

sent Ceadda [q. v.] or Chad to Kent for consecration, that he might take Wilfrith's place. With this step is doubtless to be connected the fact that Alchfrith rebelled against his father and attacked him (Bæda, u.s. iii. c. 14); he probably hoped to gain some political advantage by his ecclesiastical policy, and the appointment of Wilfrith as bishop of Deira may have been intended as a step towards separation from Bernicia and the erection of the southern kingdom into an independent state. It is evident that Oswy was too strong for him, and his downfall is marked by the substitution of Oswy's nominee Chad for Alchfrith's friend Wilfrith. The see of Canterbury having been vacant since the death of Archbishop Deusdedit in 664, Oswy took counsel with Ecgberht or Egbert, king of Kent, probably in 667, as to the appointment of a new archbishop, and a priest named Wighard having been elected by the church, the two kings sent him with a letter to Rome, requesting Pope Vitalian, to whom they made rich gifts of gold and silver vessels, to consecrate him. The pope in reply sent a letter to Oswy, informing him of Wighard's death, and of the pope's intention to appoint an archbishop, rejoicing in Oswy's adhesion to the Roman communion, and telling him of the gifts that he was sending to him and his queen (ib. c. 29). The part taken by Oswy in this matter illustrates his predominant influence in England and his growing attachment to the Roman church. When Archbishop Theodore came to Northumbria he placed Wilfrith at York in the room of Ceadda, and to this it is evident that Oswy made no opposition. The next year (669) Theodore requested him to allow Ceadda to accept the bishopric of Mercia and Lindsey, which he accordingly did. His health grew feeble, and so great had become his devotion to the Roman church that he was anxious, if he should regain sufficient strength, to journey to Rome and end his days there, and he promised Wilfrith a large sum if he would go with him. He died on 15 Feb. 670, in his fifty-eighth year, and was buried in St. Peter's Church, in his daughter's monastery at Whitby. (ib. iii. c. 24, iv. c. 5).

Although the murder of Oswin is a blot on Oswy's memory, he appears to have been a religious man, sincerely anxious for the spread of Christianity. He had to contend with many difficulties, and overcame them triumphantly. Northumbria, which at his accession seemed to lie at the mercy of its great enemy, Penda of Mercia, was raised by him to a position of supremacy equal to that which it had held under Eadwine. Besides the overthrow of Penda and the increase of Oswy's power consequent upon his victory, his reign presents three characteristics of special importance. It was the period of the triumph of Christianity over heathenism in central and eastern England, of the consolidation of Northumbria, and of the rejection of the Scottish in favour of the Roman church. With reference to each of these critical changes Oswy appears to have acted with no small amount of skill. The evangelisation of his heathen neighbours was not a matter only of religious concern; it had a strong political bearing; for his supremacy in England was largely due to his success as a missionary king. His adhesion to the Roman communion had also a political side, for ecclesiastical differences would have greatly endangered the union of the two Northumbrian provinces, and it seems fairly certain that the Roman party was strong in Deira, the special land of Eadwine and his house, while Bernicia was more inclined to hold to the Scottish teachers. Alchfrith evidently hoped to make the religious question a means of establishing himself as an independent king in Deira, and Oswy acted with much prudence in avoiding this danger by adopting the views of the part of his dominions that was the richer, more united, and, for dynastic reasons, less likely to be loyal to his throne; for he was thus better able to crush the obscure attempt that his son, after failing to gain anything by his ecclesiastical policy, seems to have made to assert his independence by force of arms. Oswy married, probably before he came to the throne, Riemmelth, the daughter of Royth, whose name suggests a Pictish origin; and, secondly, Eanflæd [q. v.] , the daughter of Eadwine. His sons were Alchfrith; Ecgfrith, who succeeded him, and died in battle against the Picts at Nectansmere in 685; Ælfwine, who was born about 661, and died in battle against Æthelred of Mercia in 679; the last two being by Eanflæd, and a bastard son, Aldfrith [q. v.] , who became king of Northumbria, and died in 705. His daughters by his first wife were Alchflæd, who married Peada, and was no doubt the wife referred to by Bæda as generally held to have murdered Peada at Easter-tide 656 (ib. iii. 24); and, by Eanflæd, Ostrith [q. v.], and Ælfæd, abbess of Whitby [see under Eanflæd].

[Bede's Hist. Eccles. (Engl. Hist. Soc.) is the chief authority for Oswy's life; Eddi's Vita Wilfridi, ap. Historians of York, vol. i. (Rolls Ser.), a contemporary book, contains an account of the council of Whitby inferior to that given by Bede; see a criticism of the Vita in Engl. Hist. Rev. (1891), vi. 535 seq.; A.-S. Chron. (Rolls Ser.); Flor. Wig. (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Henry of Hunt-