Oswald of Northumbria facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsSaint Oswald
A 12th-century painting of St Oswald in Durham Cathedral
|Died||5 August 641/642|
|Venerated in||Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodoxy|
|Major shrine||Bardney Abbey, Lincolnshire, England; relics later translated to St Oswald's Priory, Gloucester, England|
Oswald (c. 605–642) was a King of Northumbria and the first Christian monarch of that kingdom. Oswald brought St. Aidan from Iona to start a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne. Oswald was also venerated as a saint.
Oswald was born c. 605, the son of King Athelfrith of Bernicia and his second wife Acha of Deira. At age twelve his father was killed in battle by Edwin who became King of Northumbria. Along with his brothers Eanfrith and Oswiu and their sister Aebbe, he found safety with the Scots in Dál Riata. The monks of Iona baptized the children and raised them in the Celtic Christian faith. For all of Edwin's reign Oswald remained in Exile. Cadwallon ap Cadfan, the Christian king of Gwynedd, along with the pagan Penda of Mercia, attacked Northumbria in 632. In 633 the two invading armies met Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase. Edwin was killed and his army was destroyed. For the next year Cadwallon destroyed everything he could in Northumbria. At the same time Oswald was gathering a small army among the Scots and Picts. He attacked Cadwallon's larger army at a place called Hefenfelth ("heavenly field"). Cadwallon was killed and his army defeated.
King of Northumbria
Oswald claimed the crowns of both Bernicia and Deira. By doing this he reunited Northumbria to a single kingdom. Oswald was the first king of Northumbria to come to the throne already a Christian. As one of his first acts Oswald set up what would become the holy island of Lindisfarne. He asked for a bishop to come to Northumbria to convert his people to the Christian faith. They sent Bishop Aidan. Aidan built a monastery and created a Christian colony on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Bamburgh. Oswald, at least at first, had to translate for Aidan who did not speak English fluently. Oswald was considered a bretwalda by Bede, the fourth such overlord over the other Anglo-Saxon kings. In 635, Oswald married Cyneburh, the daughter of King Cynegils of Wessex. Oswald also became the godfather of Cynegils when he was baptized c. 639–40. Oswald created several similar alliances in an effort to contain Penda of Mercia. About 638 he won a battle against Owen Map Bili, the king of Strathclyde near Edinburgh. In 640 Oswald tried to recover Lindsey from Penda. The two armies met again in 642 at the Battle of Maserfield (probably in Shropshire). Oswald was killed in the battle. For a year after the battle his head and hands were fastened to stakes. His brother Oswiu finally recovered Oswald's relics. Oswiu succeeded Oswald as king of Northumbria.
Oswald married Cyneburh of Wessex. Their son, "the only son he possessed on earth", was:
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