|King of Northumbria|
|Died||20 May 685|
Battle of Nechtansmere
Ecgfrith ( // ; Old English :Ecgfrið [ˈedʒfrið] ; c. 645 –20 May 685) was the King of Deira from 664 until 670, and then King of Northumbria from 670 until his death in 685. He ruled over Northumbria when it was at the height of its power, but his reign ended with a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Nechtansmere in which he lost his life.
Ecgfrith was born in 645 to king Oswiu and Eanflæd his queen. At about the age of 10 Ecgfrith was held as a hostage at the court of Queen Cynewise after her husband king Penda of Mercia invaded Northumbria in 655.Penda was eventually defeated and killed in the Battle of the Winwaed by Oswiu, a victory which greatly enhanced Northumbrian power. To secure his hegemony over other English kingdoms Oswiu arranged a marriage between Ecgfrith and Æthelthryth, a daughter of Anna of East Anglia. He was possibly as young as 15 at the time. Ecgfrith was then made king of Deira in 664 after his half-brother Alhfrith had rebelled against Oswiu earlier that year.
In 671, at the Battle of Two Rivers, Ecgfrith put down an opportunistic rebellion by the Picts, which resulted in the Northumbrians taking control of the land between the Firth of Forth and the Tweed for the next fourteen years. Around the same time, Æthelthryth wished to leave Ecgfrith to become a nun. Eventually, in about 672, Æthelthryth persuaded Ecgfrith to allow her to become a nun, and she entered the monastery of the Abbess Æbbe, who was aunt to King Ecgfrith, at Coldingham. A year later Æthelthryth became founding abbess of Ely. Her taking the veil may have led to a long quarrel with Wilfrid, Bishop of York, which ended with Wilfrid's expulsion from his Episcopal see.
In 674, Ecgfrith repelled the Mercian king Wulfhere, which enabled him to seize the Kingdom of Lindsey.In 679, he fought the Mercians again, now under Wulfhere's brother Æthelred who was married to Ecgfrith's sister Osthryth, at the Battle of the Trent. Ecgfrith's own brother Ælfwine was killed in the battle and following intervention by Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lindsey was returned to the Mercians.
In June 684,Ecgfrith sent a raiding party to Brega in Ireland under his general Berht, which resulted in the seizing of a large number of slaves and the sacking of many churches and monasteries. The reasons for this raid are unclear, though it is known that Ecgfrith acted against the warnings of Ecgberht of Ripon and that the raid was condemned by Bede and other churchmen.
In 685, against the advice of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, Ecgfrith led a force against the Picts of Fortriu, who were led by his cousin Bridei mac Bili. On 20 May, Ecgfrith was slain at the age of 40, having been lured by a feigned flight to the mountains, at what is now called the Battle of Dun Nechtain, located at either Dunnichen in Angus or Dunachton in Badenoch.This defeat, in which most of Ecgfrith's army was lost, severely weakened Northumbrian power in the north and Bede dates the beginning of the decline of the kingdom of Northumbria from Ecgfrith's death and wrote that following Ecgfrith's death, "the hopes and strengths of the English realm began 'to waver and to slip backward ever lower'". The Northumbrians never regained the dominance of central Britain lost in 679; nor of northern Britain lost in 685. Nevertheless, Northumbria remained one of the most powerful states of Britain and Ireland well into the Viking Age. Ecgfrith was buried on Iona and succeeded by his illegitimate half-brother, Aldfrith.
Like his father before him, Ecgfrith supported the religious work of Benedict Biscop in the kingdom and gave him 70 hides of land near the mouth of the River Wear in 674 to undertake the building of a monastery dedicated to St. Peter. About ten years later, he made a second gift of land, 40 hides on the River Tyne at Jarrow, for the establishment of a sister house dedicated to St. Paul. These two houses came to be known as the Monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow,an establishment made famous by the scholar Bede, who, at the age of seven, was put into the care of Benedict Biscop at Wearmouth and remained for the rest of his life as a monk. His Ecclesiastical History of the English People was completed there in 731.
Ecgfrith appears to have been the earliest Northumbrian king, and perhaps the earliest of the Anglo-Saxon rulers, to have issued the silver penny, which became the mainstay of English coinage for centuries afterwards. Coins had been produced by the Anglo-Saxons since the late 6th century, modelled on the coins being produced by the Merovingians in Francia, but these were rare, the most common being gold scillingas (shillings) or thrymsas . Ecgfrith's pennies, also known as sceattas , were thick and cast in moulds, and were issued on a large scale.
Northumbria was an early medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is now Northern England and south-east Scotland.
Oswiu, also known as Oswy or Oswig, was King of Bernicia from 642 and of Northumbria from 654 until his death. He is notable for his role at the Synod of Whitby in 664, which ultimately brought the church in Northumbria into conformity with the wider Catholic Church.
Wilfrid was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul, and at Rome; he returned to Northumbria in about 660, and became the abbot of a newly founded monastery at Ripon. In 664 Wilfrid acted as spokesman for the Roman position at the Synod of Whitby, and became famous for his speech advocating that the Roman method for calculating the date of Easter should be adopted. His success prompted the king's son, Alhfrith, to appoint him Bishop of Northumbria. Wilfrid chose to be consecrated in Gaul because of the lack of what he considered to be validly consecrated bishops in England at that time. During Wilfrid's absence Alhfrith seems to have led an unsuccessful revolt against his father, Oswiu, leaving a question mark over Wilfrid's appointment as bishop. Before Wilfrid's return Oswiu had appointed Ceadda in his place, resulting in Wilfrid's retirement to Ripon for a few years following his arrival back in Northumbria.
Benedict Biscop, also known as Biscop Baducing, was an Anglo-Saxon abbot and founder of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory and was considered a saint after his death.
Æthelred was king of Mercia from 675 until 704. He was the son of Penda of Mercia and came to the throne in 675, when his brother, Wulfhere of Mercia, died from an illness. Within a year of his accession he invaded Kent, where his armies destroyed the city of Rochester. In 679 he defeated his brother-in-law, Ecgfrith of Northumbria, at the Battle of the Trent: the battle was a major setback for the Northumbrians, and effectively ended their military involvement in English affairs south of the Humber. It also permanently returned the kingdom of Lindsey to Mercia's possession. However, Æthelred was unable to re-establish his predecessors' domination of southern Britain.
Wulfhere or Wulfar was King of Mercia from 658 until 675 AD. He was the first Christian king of all of Mercia, though it is not known when or how he converted from Anglo-Saxon paganism. His accession marked the end of Oswiu of Northumbria's overlordship of southern England, and Wulfhere extended his influence over much of that region. His campaigns against the West Saxons led to Mercian control of much of the Thames valley. He conquered the Isle of Wight and the Meon valley and gave them to King Æthelwealh of the South Saxons. He also had influence in Surrey, Essex, and Kent. He married Eormenhild, the daughter of King Eorcenberht of Kent.
Penda was a 7th-century King of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633.
The Battle of the Winwaed was fought on 15 November 655 between King Penda of Mercia and Oswiu of Bernicia, ending in the Mercians' defeat and Penda's death. According to Bede, the battle marked the effective demise of Anglo-Saxon paganism.
The Battle of Maserfield was fought on 5 August 641 or 642 between the Anglo-Saxon kings Oswald of Northumbria and Penda of Mercia, ending in Oswald's defeat, death, and dismemberment. The location was also known as Cogwy in Welsh, with Welshmen from Pengwern participating in the battle, probably as allies of the Mercians. Bede reports the commonly accepted date given above; the Welsh Annales Cambriae is generally considered incorrect in giving the year of the battle as 644. The site of the battle is traditionally identified with Oswestry; arguments have been made for and against the accuracy of this identification.
The Battle of Dun Nechtain or Battle of Nechtansmere was fought between the Picts, led by King Bridei Mac Bili, and the Northumbrians, led by King Ecgfrith, on 20 May 685.
Chad was a prominent 7th-century Anglo-Saxon churchman, who became abbot of several monasteries, Bishop of the Northumbrians and subsequently Bishop of the Mercians and Lindsey People. He was later canonised as a saint. He was the brother of Cedd, also a saint. He features strongly in the work of the Venerable Bede and is credited, together with Cedd, with introducing Christianity to the Mercian kingdom.
Æthelhere was King of East Anglia from 653 or 654 until his death. He was a member of the ruling Wuffingas dynasty and one of three sons of Eni to rule East Anglia as Christian kings. He was a nephew of Rædwald, who was the first of the Wuffingas of which more than a name is known.
Aldfrith was king of Northumbria from 685 until his death. He is described by early writers such as Bede, Alcuin and Stephen of Ripon as a man of great learning. Some of his works and some letters written to him survive. His reign was relatively peaceful, marred only by disputes with Bishop Wilfrid, a major figure in the early Northumbrian church.
Cearl was an early king of Mercia who ruled during the early part of the 7th century, until about 626. He is the first Mercian king mentioned by Bede in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. Bede was a Northumbrian who was hostile to Mercia, and historian Robin Fleming speculates that as "ceorl" means "rustic" in Old English, his name may have been a joke.
Æbbe, also called Tabbs, was an Anglian abbess and noblewoman. She was the daughter of Æthelfrith, king of Bernicia from c. 593 to 616. She founded monasteries at Ebchester and St Abb's Head near Coldingham in Scotland.
Cedd was an Anglo-Saxon monk and bishop from the Kingdom of Northumbria. He was an evangelist of the Middle Angles and East Saxons in England and a significant participant in the Synod of Whitby, a meeting which resolved important differences within the Church in England. He is venerated in the Catholic Church, Anglicanism, and the Orthodox Church.
Alhfrith or Ealhfrith was King of Deira under his father Oswiu, King of Bernicia, from 655 until sometime after 664. Appointed by Oswiu as a subordinate ruler, Alhfrith apparently clashed with his father over religious policy, which came to a head at the Synod of Whitby in 664. After this, Alhfrith disappears from the historical record.
Æthelwold, also known as Æthelwald or Æþelwald, was a 7th-century king of East Anglia, the long-lived Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. He was a member of the Wuffingas dynasty, which ruled East Anglia from their regio at Rendlesham. The two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Sutton Hoo, the monastery at Iken, the East Anglian see at Dommoc and the emerging port of Ipswich were all in the vicinity of Rendlesham.
Events from the 7th century in England.
Urbs Iudeu was a city besieged in 655 AD by Penda, King of Mercia, and Cadafael, King of Gwynedd. The siege was an important episode in a long-running war between Mercia and Northumbria in the years 616–679. This war was fought in the area north of the River Trent, in particular in and around the Peak District (Wirksworth) also around Heathfield (Doncaster), Elmet (Aberford) and Lindsey (Lincoln), as these were provinces of Northumbria at the time.