Eardwulf, King of Northumbria

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Eardwulf, King of Northumbria

Birthplace: Northumberland, England (United Kingdom)
Death: 844 (35-36) (killed in Battle)
Immediate Family:

Son of Eadwulf II, King of Northumbria
Father of Eadwulf of Bamburgh
Half brother of King Eanred of Northumbria

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About Eardwulf, King of Northumbria

Eadwulf III was the son of Eardwulf II (fl. 790 – c. 808) who was king of Northumbria from 796 to 808, when he was deposed and went into exile. He may have had a second reign from 809 until perhaps 810. Northumbria in the last years of the eighth century was the scene of dynastic strife between several noble families: In 790, the then-king Æthelred I attempted to have Eardwulf assassinated. Eardwulf's survival may have been viewed as a sign of divine favour. A group of nobles conspired to assassinate Æthelred in April 796 and he was succeeded by Osbald: Osbald's reign lasted only twenty-seven days before he was deposed and Eardwulf II became king on 14 May 796.

Quote from Wikipedia article, from URL below: "Eardwulf was not, so far as is known, connected to any of the factions that had been warring for the throne up to the mid-790s. Nothing is definitely known of his background, though Symeon of Durham's History of the Kings, an early twelfth-century work based on the lost late tenth-century chronicle of Byrhtferth, records that his father's name was also Eardwulf,[23] and both father and son are given the title dux.[24] Historian Barbara Yorke has proposed that he was a descendant of one Earnwine who (according to Symeon of Durham) was killed in 740 on the orders of King Eadberht.[1] This Earnwine may be identified with King Eadwulf's son of the same name.[25] Eardwulf's father may have been one of the two Eardwulfs whose deaths are recorded by Symeon of Durham in 774 and 775.[26]

Eardwulf appears to have been an enemy of Æthelred I. He first appears in the historical record circa 790, when Symeon of Durham reports that:[27] Eardulf was taken prisoner, and conveyed to Ripon, and there ordered by the aforesaid king [Aethelred] to be put to death without the gate of the monastery. The brethren carried his body into the church with Gregorian chanting, and placed it out of doors in a tent; after midnight he was found alive in the church.

A letter from Alcuin to Eardwulf suggests that this fortunate recovery was seen as being miraculous."

Little is recorded of Eardwulf's family, though his father, also named Eardwulf, is known to have been a nobleman. Eardwulf II was married by the time he became king, though his wife's name is not recorded. It is possible he later wed an illegitimate daughter of Charlemagne (Source-Annales Lindisfarnenses 797MGH 58 XIX p 506). Early in his reign, in 798,,Eardwulf II fought a battle at Billington Moor against a nobleman named Wada, who had been one of those who killed King Æthelred. Wada was defeated and driven into exile. In 801, Eardwulf II led an army against Coenwulf of Mercia, perhaps because of Coenwulf's support for other claimants to the Northumbrian throne.

Eardwulf II was deposed in 808 and according to a Frankish record, returned to his kingdom in 809. No record has survived (?) of his death or the end of his reign in 810 He was possibly buried at the Mercian royal monastery of Breedon on the Hill which carries a dedication to Saint Mary and Saint Hardulph, with whom Eardwulf II is identified by several historians (i.e. Saint Hardulph was Eardwulf II).


According to the source in Medlands "ANNALES LINDISFARNENSES 797, MGH 58 XIX p. 506" the second wife of Eadwulf II was supposed to be a daughter of Emperor Charlemagne (filiam regis Karoli) because Eadwulf II fled for protection in 807-08 to the court of Charlemagne and was granted a papal delegation to return with Eadwulf and his new wife to Northumbria. With that being done, Eadwulf II was restored to his position as king and he had a son by his new wife named Eadwulf III born 808. However, Eadwulf's eldest son Eanred succeeded to the throne after 810 and ruled until his death in 840. Then Eanred's son Aethelred ruled until 844 when he was deposed by the thanes and Eadwulf III. By the end of 844 Eadwulf III was killed in battle by Aethelred who then ruled again until his death in 848.

From 848 another family ruled Northumberland with Osberht and then brother Aella being kings from 848-67. They were both killed in the Battle of York defeated by Ragnarsson, the Viking leader. See the overview for his father Eadwulf II for a broader history of the Eadwulf rulers of Northumberland through Earl Siward and his son Waltheof whose daughter became Queen of the Scots. Through Waltheof's daughter arose the House of Huntingdon which led to the powerful House of Bruce of Scotland and the Royal House of Stewart.

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Eardwulf, King of Northumbria's Timeline

Northumberland, England (United Kingdom)
Bamburgh, Northumberland, England
Age 36