Biography of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria 645-685

Paternal Family Tree: Bernicia

641 Battle of Maserfield

655 Battle of the Winwaed

671 Battle of the Two Rivers

679 Battle of the Trent

680 Synod of Heathfield

685 Battle of Dun Nechtain

In or before 630 [his father] King Oswiu of Northumbria (age 18) and Rhiainfellt Rheged Queen Consort Bernicia were married. He the son of Æthelfrith King Northumbrians and Acha Queen Consort Northumbria.

Battle of Maserfield

On 05 Aug 641 (or 642 or 644 depending on the source) King Penda of Mercia Mercian and Welsh army defeated the Northumbrian army at the Battle of Maserfield. The battle is believed to have taken place at Oswestry, Shropshire. Northumbria was once again separated into two kingdoms.

[his uncle] King Oswald of Northumberland (age 37) was killed. His body was subsequently dismembered with his head and arms mounted on poles. His brother [his father] King Oswiu of Northumbria (age 29) succeeded King Bernicia. Rhiainfellt Rheged Queen Consort Bernicia by marriage Queen Consort Bernicia.

Osric King Deira was killed. His son King Oswine of Deira succeeded King Deira.

Eowa King Mercia was killed (probably).

Around 645 [his father] King Oswiu of Northumbria (age 33) and [his mother] Eanflæd Queen Consort Bernicia (age 18) were married. She by marriage Queen Consort Bernicia. She the daughter of King Edwin of Northumbria and Æthelburh Oiscingas Queen Consort Northumbria (age 40). He the son of Æthelfrith King Northumbrians and Acha Queen Consort Northumbria. They were half first cousins.

Around 645 King Ecgfrith of Northumbria was born to King Oswiu of Northumbria (age 33) and Eanflæd Queen Consort Bernicia (age 18). Coefficient of inbreeding 3.12%.

Around 652 Tondberct Gwyre and [his future wife] Æthelthryth Wuffingas Queen Consort Deira and Northumbria (age 16) were married. She the daughter of King Anna of East Anglia.

After 655 King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (age 10) and Æthelthryth Wuffingas Queen Consort Deira and Northumbria (age 19) were married. She the daughter of King Anna of East Anglia. He the son of King Oswiu of Northumbria (age 43) and Eanflæd Queen Consort Bernicia (age 28).

Battle of the Winwaed

Bede. 15 Nov 655. He then vowed, that if he should win the victory, he would dedicate his [his half-sister] daughter (age 1) to the Lord in holy virginity, and give twelve pieces of land whereon to build monasteries. After this he gave battle with a very small army: indeed, it is reported that the pagans had thirty times the number of men; for they had thirty legions, drawn up under most noted commanders.432 [his father] King Oswy (age 43) and his son [his half-brother] Alchfrid met them with a very small army, as has been said, but trusting in Christ as their Leader; his other son, Egfrid (age 10)433, was then kept as a hostage at the court of Queen Cynwise434, in the province of the Mercians. King Oswald's son Oidilwald435, who ought to have supported them, was on the enemy's side, and led them on to fight against his country and his uncle; though, during the battle, he withdrew, and awaited the event in a place of safety. The engagement began, the pagans were put to flight or killed, the thirty royal commanders, who had come to Penda's assistance, were almost all of them slain; among whom was Ethelhere436, brother and successor to Anna, king of the East Angles. He had been the occasion of the war, and was now killed, having lost his army and auxiliaries. The battle was fought near the river Winwaed437, which then, owing to the great rains, was in flood, and had overflowed its banks, so that many more were drowned in the flight than destroyed in battle by the sword.

Note 431. Oswald; v.s. c. 9.

Note 432. "Ealdormen," Green, "Making of England," p. 301. But they probably included many British chiefs (v. Nennius, and cf. infra "duces regii").

Note 433. Oswy's younger son. He succeeded his father in 670 or 671 (v. IV, 5, and for the events of his reign, IV, V, passim).

Note 434. The wife of Penda.

Note 435. Cc. 14 and 23. The reason for his conduct is not explained. Probably he had hoped to establish his claims on Northumbria through Penda's assistance, but shrank from actually fighting against his country.

Note 436. Cf. c. 22, ad fin., note. How he gave occasion for the war is not known.

Note 437. The river has not been identified, and there is great uncertainty even with regard to the district. Below, Bede says that Oswy concluded the war in the district of "Loidis," by which he must mean Leeds, as in II, 14, and most commentators adopt this view. In this case, the river may be the Aire, or more probably the Went, a tributary of the Don. Others believe the district to be the Lothians, following the account in Nennius, who describes Oswy as taking refuge before the battle in a city called Iudeu, supposed to be either Edinburgh or Carriden (cf. I, 12, note), and the river has been supposed to be the Avon in Linlithgow.

Bede. 660. King Egfrid (age 15) took to wife, [his wife] Etheldrida (age 24), the daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles, of whom mention has been often made; a man very religious, and in all respects renowned for his inward disposition and actions. She had before been given in marriage to another, viz. to Tonbert, chief of the Southern Girvii; but he died soon after he had received her, and she was given to the aforesaid king (age 15). Though she lived with him twelve years, yet she preserved the glory of perfect virginity, as I was informed by Bishop Wilfrid, of blessed memory, of whom I inquired, because some questioned the truth thereof; and he told me that he was an undoubted witness of her virginity, forasmuch as Egfrid (age 15) promised he would give many lands and much money, if he could persuade the queen to consent to pay the marriage duty, for he knew the queen loved no man so much as himself; and it is not to be doubted that the same might in one instance take place in our age, which true histories tell us happened several times in former ages, through the assistance of the same Lord who has promised to continue with us unto the end of the world; for the miraculous circumstance that her flesh, being buried, could not suffer corruption, is a token that she had not been defiled by familiarity with man.

Around 664 [his half-brother] Ealhfrith King Deira (age 34) died. His half brother King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (age 19) succeeded King Deira. [his wife] Æthelthryth Wuffingas Queen Consort Deira and Northumbria (age 28) by marriage Queen Consort Deira.

On 07 Jul 664 [his sister-in-law] Æthelburh Wuffingas died.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 670. This year died [his father] Oswy (age 58), King of Northumberland, on the fifteenth day before the calends of March; and Egferth (age 25) his son reigned after him. Lothere, the nephew of Bishop Egelbert (age 45), succeeded to the bishopric over the land of the West-Saxons, and held it seven years. He was consecrated by Archbishop Theodore (age 68). Oswy (age 58) was the son of Ethelfrith, Ethelfrith of Ethelric, Ethelric of Ida, Ida of Eoppa.

Bede. [his wife] She had long requested the king (age 25), that he would permit her to lay aside worldly cares, and to serve only the true King, Christ, in a monastery; and having at length with difficulty prevailed, she went as a nun into the monastery of the [his aunt] Abbess Ebba, who was aunt to King Egfrid (age 25), at the place called the city Coludi, having taken the veil from the hands of the aforesaid Bishop Wilfrid; but a year after she was herself made abbess in the country called Ely, where, having built a monastery [Map], she began, by works and examples of a heavenly life, to be the virgin mother of very many virgins dedicated to God. It is reported of her, that from the time of her entering into the monastery, she never wore any linen but only woollen garments, and would rarely wash in any hot bath, unless just before any of the great festivals, as Easter, Whitsuntide, and the Epiphany, and then she did it last of all, after having, with the assistance of those about her, first washed the other servants of God there present; besides, she seldom did eat above once a day, excepting on the great solemnities, or some other urgent occasion, unless some considerable distemper obliged her. From the time of matins she continued in the church at prayer till it was day; some also say, that by the spirit of prophecy, she, in the presence of all, not only foretold the pestilence of which she was to die, but also the number of those that should be then snatched away out of her monastery. She was taken to our Lord, in the midst of her flock, seven years after she had been made abbess; and, as she had ordered, was buried among them, in such manner as she had died, in a wooden coffin.

On 15 Feb 670 [his father] King Oswiu of Northumbria (age 58) died. He was buried at Whitby Abbey [Map] - see Bede. In 670 His son King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (age 25) succeeded King Northumbria. [his wife] Æthelthryth Wuffingas Queen Consort Deira and Northumbria (age 34) by marriage Queen Consort Northumbria.

Bede. 15 Feb 670. In the year of the incarnation of Death of our Lord 670, being the second year after Theodore (age 68) arrived in England, [his father] Oswy (age 58), king of the Northumbrians, fell sick, and died, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. He at that time bore so great affection to the Roman apostolical institution, that had he recovered of his sickness, he had designed to go to Rome, and there to end his days at the Holy Places, having entreated Bishop Wilfrid, by the promise of a considerable donation in money, to conduct him on his journey. He died on the 15th of February, leaving his son Egfrid (age 25) his successor in the kingdom. In the third year of his reign, Theodore (age 68) assembled a synod of bishops, and many other teachers of the church, who loved and were acquainted with the canonical statutes of the fathers. When they were met together, he began, as became a prelate, to enjoin the observation of such things as were agreeable to the unity of the peace of the church. The purport of which synodical proceedings is as follows:-

Battle of the Two Rivers

In 671 King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (age 26) and BeornhAeth Sub King Northern Northumbria aka Lothian defeated Drest VI King Picts at the Battle of the Two Rivers bringing to an end the Pictish rebellion. The location of the battle is not known. Stephen of Ripon described the account in his account of the battle from Vita Sancti Wilfrithi: He slew an enormous number of the people, filling two rivers with corpses, so that, marvellous to relate, the slayers, passing over the rivers dry foot, pursued and slew a crowd of fugitives.

In 674 King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (age 29) seized the Kingdom of Lindsey [Map] after he had repelled King Wulfhere of Mercia (age 34).

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 678. This year appeared the comet-star in August, and shone every morning, during three months, like a sunbeam. Bishop Wilfrid being driven from his bishopric by King Everth (age 33), two bishops were consecrated in his stead, Bosa over the Deirians, and Eata over the Bernicians. About the same time also Eadhed was consecrated bishop over the people of Lindsey, being the first in that division.

Bede. 678. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 678, which is the eighth of the reign of Egfrid (age 33), in the month of August, appeared a star, called a comet, which continued for three months, rising in the morning, and darting out, as it were, a pillar of radiant flame. The same year a dissension broke out between King Egfrid (age 33) and the most reverend prelate, Wilfrid, who was driven from his see, and two bishops substituted in his stead, to preside over the nation of the Northumbrians, namely, Bosa, to preside over the nation of the Deiri; and Eata over that of the Bernicians; the latter having his see in the city of York [Map], the former in the church of Hagulstad [Map], or else Lindisfarne [Map]; both of them promoted to the episcopal dignity from a society of monks. With them also was Edhed ordained bishop in the province of Lindsey, which King Egfrid (age 33) had but newly subdued, having overcome and vanquished Wulfhere; and this was the first bishop of its own which tliat province had; the second was Ethelwin; the third Eadgar; the fourth Cynebert, who is there at present. Before Edhed, Sexwulf was bishop as well of that province, as of the Mercians and Midland Angles; so that when expelled from Lindsey, he continued in the government of those provinces. Edhed, Bosa, and Eata, were ordained at York [Map] by Archbishop Theodore (age 76); who also, three years after the departure of Wilfrid, added two bishops to their number; Trumbert, in the church of Hagulstad [Map], Eata still continuing in that of Lindisfarne; and Trumwine in the province of the Picts, which at that time was subject to the English. Edhed returning from Lindsey, because Ethelred had recovered that province, was placed by him over the church of Ripon.

Battle of the Trent

Around 679 King Æthelred of Mercia defeated the Northumbrian army led by King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (age 34) at the Battle of the Trent somehere in Lindsey [Map]. [his half-brother] King Aelfwine of Deira was killed.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 679. This year [his half-brother] Elwin was slain, by the river Trent, on the spot where Everth (age 34) and Ethelred fought. This year also died [his wife] St. Etheldritha (age 43); and the monastery of Coldingiham was destroyed by fire from heaven.


In the ninth year of the reign of King Egfrid, a great battle was fought between him and Ethelred, king of the Mercians, near the river Trent, and [his half-brother] Elfwin, brother to King Egfrid, was slain, a youth about eighteen years of age, and much beloved by both provinces, for King Ethelred had married his sister [his sister] Osthrid. There was now reason to expect a more bloody war, and more lasting enmity between those kings and their fierce nations; but Theodore, the bishop beloved of God, relying on the Divine assistance, by his wholesome admonitions extinguished the dangerous fire that was breaking out; so that the kings and their people on both sides being appeased, no man was put to death, but only the usual mulct paid to the king for his brother that had been killed; and this peace continued long after between those kings and their kingdoms.

On 23 Jun 679 [his wife] Æthelthryth Wuffingas Queen Consort Deira and Northumbria (age 43) died. She was buried at Ely Abbey [Map].

680 Synod of Heathfield

Bede. 680. About this time, Theodore (age 78) being informed that the faith of the church at Constantinople was much perplexed by the heresy of Eutyches, and desiring to preserve the churches of the English, over which he presided, from that infection, an assembly of many venerable priests and doctors was convened, at which he diligently inquired into their doctrines, and found they all unanimously agreed in the Catholic faith. This he took care to have committed to writing by the authority of the synod, as a memorial, and for the instruction of succeeding generations; the beginning of which instrument is as follows:

"In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the tenth year of the reign of our most pious lord, Egfrid, king of the Northumbrians (age 35), the seventeenth of October, the eighth indiction; and in the sixth year of the reign of Ethelfrid, king of the Mercians, in the seventeenth year of the reign of Aldhulf, of the East Angles, in the seventh year of the reign of Lothair, king of Kent; Theodore (age 78), by the grace of God, archbishop of the island of Britain, and of the city of Canterbury, being president, and the other venerable bishops of the island of Britain sitting with him, the holy Gospels being laid before them, at the place which, in the Saxon tongue, is called Heathfield [Map], we conferred together, and expounded the true and orthodox faith, as our Lord Jesus in the flesh delivered the same to his disciples, who saw him present, and heard his words, and as it is delivered in the creed of the holy fathers, and by all holy and universal synods in general, and by the consent of all approved doctors of the Catholic church; we, therefore, following them jointly and orthodoxly, and professing accordance to their divinely inspired doctrine, do believe, and do, according to the holy fathers, firmly confess, properly and truly, the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, a trinity consubstantial in unity, and unity in trinity, that is, one God subsisting in three consubstantial persons, of equal honour and glory."

Bede. Among those who were present at this synod, was the venerable John, archchanter of the church of the holy Apostle Peter, and abbot of the monastery of St. Martin, who came lately from Rome, by order of Pope Agatho, together with the most reverend Abbot Biscop, surnamed Benedict, of whom mention has been made above, and this John, with the rest, signed the declaration of the Catholic faith. For the said Benedict, having built a monastery [Map] in Britain, in honour of the most blessed prince ot the apostles, at the mouth of the river Were went to Rome with Ceolfrid, his companion and fellow labourer in that work, who was after him abbot of the same monastery; he had been several times before at Rome, and was now honourably received by Pope Agatho of blessed memory; from whom he also obtained the confirmation of the immunities of this monastery, being a bull of privilege signed by apostolical authority, pursuant to what he knew to be the will and grant of King Egfrid, by whose consent and gift of land he had built that monastery.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 684. This year Everth (age 39) sent an army against the Scots, under the command of his alderman, Bright, who lamentably plundered and burned the churches of God.

Battle of Dun Nechtain

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 685. This year King Everth (age 40) commanded Cuthbert (age 51) to be consecrated a bishop; and Archbishop Theodore (age 83), on the first day of Easter, consecrated him at York Bishop of Hexham; for Trumbert had been deprived of that see. The same year Everth (age 40) was slain by the north sea, and a large army with him, on the thirteenth day before the calends of June. He continued king fifteen winters; and his brother [his half-brother] Elfrith succeeded him in the government. Everth (age 40) was the son of Oswy. Oswy of [his grandfather] Ethelferth, Ethelferth of Ethelric, Ethelric of Ida, Ida of Eoppa. About this time Ceadwall (age 26) began to struggle for a kingdom. Ceadwall (age 26) was the son of Kenbert, Kenbert of Chad (age 95), Chad of Cutha, Cutha of Ceawlin, Ceawlin of Cynric, Cynric of Cerdic. Mull, who was afterwards consigned to the flames in Kent, was the brother of Ceadwall (age 26). The same year died Lothhere, King of Kent; and John was consecrated Bishop of Hexham, where he remained till Wilferth was restored, when John was translated to York on the death of Bishop Bosa. Wilferth his priest was afterwards consecrated Bishop of York, and John retired to his monastery [Map]21 in the woods of Delta. This year there was in Britain a bloody rain, and milk and butter were turned to blood.

Note 21. Beverley-minster, in Yorkshire [Map].

On 20 May 685 Bridei III Picts (age 57) defeated the Northumbrian army at the Battle of Dun Nechtain.

King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (age 40) was killed at Dunnichen, Angus. His half brother [his half-brother] Aldfrith King Northumbria succeeded King Northumbria.

After 685 [his mother] Eanflæd Queen Consort Bernicia (age 58) died. She was buried at Whitby Abbey [Map] - see Bede.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 709. This year died Aldhelm (age 70), who was bishop by Westwood. The land of the West-Saxons was divided into two bishoprics in the first days of Bishop Daniel; who held one whilst Aldhelm (age 70) held the other. Before this it was only one. Forthere succeeded to Aldhelm; and Ceolred succeeded to the kingdom of Mercia. And Cenred went to Rome; and Offa with him. And Cenred was there to the end of his life. The same year died Bishop Wilferth, at Oundle [Map], but his body was carried to Ripon [Map]. He was the bishop whom King Everth compelled to go to Rome.

Bede. How Ethelwald successor to Cuthbert leading a hermit's life calmed a tempest by his prayers when the brethren were in danger at sea. [687 699 a.d.]

The venerable Ethelwald succeeded the man of God, Cuthbert, in the exercise of a solitary life, which he spent in the isle of Farne [Map] before he became a bishop. After he had received the priesthood, he consecrated his office by deeds worthy of that degree for many years in the monastery which is called Inhrypum. To the end that his merit and manner of life may be the more certainly made known, I will relate one miracle of his, which was told me by one of the brothers for and on whom the same was wrought; to wit, Guthfrid-, the venerable servant and priest of Christ, who also, afterwards, as abbot, presided over the brethren of the same church of Lindisfarne [Map], in which he was educated.

"I came," says he, "to the island of Farne [Map], with two others of the brethren, desiring to speak with the most reverend father, Ethelwald. Having been refreshed with his discourse, and asked for his blessing, as we were returning home, behold on a sudden, when we were in the midst of the sea, the fair weather in which we were sailing, was broken, and there arose so great and terrible a tempest, that neither sails nor oars were of any use to us, nor had we anything to expect but death. After long struggling with the wind and waves to no effect, at last we looked back to see whether it was possible by any means at least to return to the island whence we came, but we found that we were on all sides alike cut off by the storm, and that there was no hope of escape by our own efforts. But looking further, we perceived, on the island of Farne, our father Ethelwald, beloved of God, come out of his retreat to watch our course; for, hearing the noise of the tempest and raging sea, he had come forth to see what would become of us. When he beheld us in distress and despair, he bowed his knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in prayer for our life and safety; and as he finished his prayer, he calmed the swelling water, in such sort that the fierceness of the storm ceased on all sides, and fair winds attended us over a smooth sea to the very shore. When we had landed, and had pulled up our small vessel from the waves, the storm, which had ceased a short time for our sake, presently returned, and raged furiously during the whole day; so that it plainly appeared that the brief interval of calm had been granted by Heaven in answer to the prayers of the man of God, to the end that we might escape.".

The man of God remained in the isle of Farne [Map] twelve years, and died there; but was buried in the church of the blessed Apostle Peter [Map], in the isle of Lindisfarne, beside the bodies of the aforesaid bishops. These things happened in the days of [his half-brother] King Aldfrid, who, after his brother Egfrid, ruled the nation of the Northumbrians for nineteen years.

Bede. At this time, King Ethelwalch gave to the most reverend prelate, Wilfrid, land of eighty-seven families, to maintain his company who were in banishment, which place is called Seleseu [Map], that is, the Island of the Sea-Calf. That place is encompassed by the sea on all sides, except the west, where is an entrance about the cast of a sling in width; which sort of place is by the Latins called a peninsula, by the Greeks, a chersonesus. Bishop Wilfrid, having this place given him, founded therein a monastery, which his successors possess to this day, and established a regular course of life, chiefly of the brethren he had brought with him; for he both in word and actions performed the duties of a bishop in those parts during the space of five years, until the death of King Egfrid. And forasmuch as the aforesaid king, together with the said place, gave him all the goods that were therein, with the lands and men, he instructed them in the faith of Christ, and baptized them all. Among whom were two hundred and fifty men and women slaves, all of whom he, by baptism, not only rescued from the servitude of the Devil, but gave them their bodily liberty also, and exempted them from the yoke of human servitude.

King Ecgfrith of Northumbria 645-685 appears on the following Descendants Family Trees:

Ida King Bernicia 559

Yffe Deira

Octa King of Kent 500-543

Royal Ancestors of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria 645-685

Kings Bernicia: Great Grand Son of Æthelric King Bernicia

Kings Deira: Great Grand Son of Aella King Deira

Ancestors of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria 645-685

Great x 3 Grandfather: Eoppa Bernicia

Great x 2 Grandfather: Ida King Bernicia

Great x 1 Grandfather: Æthelric King Bernicia

GrandFather: Æthelfrith King Northumbrians

Father: King Oswiu of Northumbria

Great x 2 Grandfather: Yffe Deira

Great x 1 Grandfather: Aella King Deira

GrandMother: Acha Queen Consort Northumbria

King Ecgfrith of Northumbria

Great x 2 Grandfather: Yffe Deira

Great x 1 Grandfather: Aella King Deira

GrandFather: King Edwin of Northumbria

Mother: Eanflæd Queen Consort Bernicia

Great x 3 Grandfather: Octa King of Kent

Great x 2 Grandfather: Eormenric King of Kent

Great x 1 Grandfather: King Æthelberht of Kent

GrandMother: Æthelburh Oiscingas Queen Consort Northumbria

Great x 3 Grandfather: Clothar "The Old" I King Paris Merovingian King Franks

Great x 2 Grandfather: Charibert King Paris Merovingian

Great x 1 Grandmother: Bertha Merovingian Queen Consort Kent

Great x 2 Grandmother: Ingoberga Unknown Queen Consort Paris