Descendants of Oswy
Generation No. 1
1. OSWY1 OF NORTHUMBRIA1 was born Abt. 6112, and died Abt. 6703. He married (1) FINA4. She died Unknown. He married (2) RHIAINMELT VERCH RHOETH5 Abt. 6346, daughter of RHOETH AP RHUN. She died Unknown.
Notes for OSWY OF NORTHUMBRIA:
[Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pgs. 281-283.]
[L16] OSWY or OSWIU Northumbria, 5 August 642-15
Oswy fled with his brother OSWALD into exile in Dal Riata in 616 or 617 and was raised by the monks of Iona. Oswy was born aroung the year 611, and in his infancy was baptized into the Christian faith. It is likely that while he was in exile Oswy had a couple of romantic affairs. Around the year 634 he married Rhiainmelt or Riemmelth, the daughter of RHOETH of Rheged. This was a significant alliance between the English and a former major British kingdom, and may be seen as part of Oswald's strategy in the north, where he also seems to have reached an agreement with OWEN MAP BILI of Strathclyde. Oswy had at least on son by Rhiainmelt, ALFRITH, but his wife must have died within a few years, perhaps even in childbirth, as she is no longer mentioned. A year or two after her death Oswy took part in the Dal Riatan dynastic squabbles in Ireland and there he became involved with Fina, the daughter of the former high king Colman. It is not recorded that they married, yet no scandal seems to have been attached to the relationship even though Fin bore Oswy a son, the future king ALDFRITH.
We hear little of Oswy during the reign of Oswald, though there is little doubt that he would have assisted his brother in his campaigns, quite possibly in the north. It is possible that Oswy administered much of Bernicia on Oswald's behalf, while Oswald campaigned in the south. It is likely that Oswy was at the battle of Maserfield in 642, when Oswald was killed, as Oswy would almost certainly also have met his death. Although Oswy immediately inherited the kingdom of Bernicia, it seems that he had problems in keeping a hold on Deira, which may well have remained a disputed zone between PENDA and Oswy. It was a year before Oswy could recover his brother's remains from the battlefield and bury the body at Bardney in Lindsey. By this time Oswine, the son of Edwin's cousin OSRIC, had succeeded in installing himself as king of Deira. This may have been part of a special arrangement for in 642 or 643, Oswy married his cousin, Enfleda, the daughter of Edwin. Although Oswine recognized Oswy as his overlord the relationship between the two seems to have been severely strained, with Oswy the more intractable. By the year 651 the two kings were at loggerheads, and though both raised an army, Oswine refused to fight and instead sought refuge at Gilling. He was betrayed and killed on Oswy's orders. Enfleda was furious over this and insisted that Oswy build a monastery at Gilling in expiation. Oswy installed his nephew, ATHEWALD, as king of Deira, but he soon came under the influence of Penda, who was still seeking Oswy's downfall. Penda had been harrying Northumbria for several years since Maserfield, and around the year 644 had advanced as far as Bamburgh, but a change in the wind direction saved the town from the threatened conflagration. Evidently by the year 653 Penda and Oswy sought to make alliances through marriage. Oswy's son ALFRITH was married to Penda's daughter Cyneburh, while Penda's son PEADA, sought to marry Oswy's daughter Alflaed. A condition of Peada's marriage was that he be baptized into the Christian faith, which Peada accepted. Following this Oswy began to send Christian missionaries throughout Mercia. Penda may have seen this as a subversive infiltration of his people and, though he was not against Christianity, he clearly would not have supported its spread of it weakened his hold over his kingdom. Moreover in 653 Oswy's nephew TALORCEN became king of the Picts, possibly at Oswy's instigation. This, combined with his alliance with Dal Riata and Strathclyde gave Oswy a formidable strength in the north. To counter this Penda raised a mighty army with over thirty contingents and marched north, forcing Oswy to retreat perhaps as far as Stirling. A peace agreement was achieved, in November 655, and Penda took Oswy's son EGFRITH as hostage. As Penda was returning south, Oswy, and a smaller army, overtook him at the river Winwaed, near Leeds, where Oswy defeated and killed Penda and many of his allies, including his nephew Athelwald.
It was from 655 that Oswy coul lay claim to being "bretwalda", or overlord of the Saxons in England. He established Peada as king of the southern Mercians but a year later, possibly at Oswy's instigation, Peada was murdered. Oswy now ruled all of Mercia. He established his son ALFRITH as ruler of Deira and with his nephew as king of the Picts. Oswy could lay claim to being overlord of all of northern Britain and as far south as the Thames, and also held close alliances with CENWEALH of Wessex and EORCENBERHT of Kent. Even though WULFHERE succeeded in recovering Mercia in 658, Oswy's authority was still considerable, and it was this that enabled him to make one of the most significant decisions of his day.
Ever since his marriage to Enfleda, Oswy had become aware of the differences between the Celtic church, into which he had been baptized, and the Roman churchto which Enfleda belonged. Although both professed Christian teachings there was a clash over the calculation of Easter. Because this differed every year, Oswy could be celebrating Easter while his wife was still fasting in Lent. Oswy might have continued to suffer this, but matters became a problem when in 658 Alfrith became an ardent supporter of the Roman church, expelling Eata and Cuthbert from the monastery at Ripon and installing the Roman proponent Wilfrid. There was now a split within Oswy's own kingdom and he needed it resolved. In 664 he called a synod at Whitby, where he had recently established a new monastery. What factors influenced Oswy are unclear: whether he was won over by the silver tongue of Wilfrid, or whether he realised that he needed the support of Rome and the continent rather than the Picts and Scots, but Oswy found in favour of the Roman church. This decision was fundamental and resulted in a significant ecclesiastical reorganization over the next few years which, despite Oswy's probable intention, favoured the rulers of southern England more, especially Wulfhere and Cenwealh. It seems likely that by the time of Oswy's death, aged 58 according to Bede, his overlordship had already waned, and Northumbria would never again exert quite the same power. Nevertheless Oswy was one of the few kings of Northumbria to die naturally and not be killed or deposed. Bede records that he died of an illness. He was succeeded by his son Egfrith. His wife, Enfleda, retired to the monastery of Whitby, where her daughter Elfleda had been brought up and in 680, upon the death of the incumbent abbess Hilda, Enfleda and her daughter became joint abbesses. Enfleda died in about 704, aged about eighty.
Cause of Death: Died of an illness7
Reign: Bet. 05 Aug 642 - 15 Feb 669/70, Ruler of Northumbria8
More About OSWY OF NORTHUMBRIA and RHIAINMELT VERCH RHOETH:
Marriage: Abt. 6348
Child of OSWY OF NORTHUMBRIA and FINA is:
i. ALDFRITH2 AP OSWY8, d. Unknown.
1. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg. 96.
2. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg. 281.
3. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg. 283.
4. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg, 281.
5. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg. 96.
6. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg. 281.
7. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg. 283.
8. Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 1998), pg. 281.
[Oswy Family Tree]
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This page was last updated on 05/28/2006