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Æthelfryth (d. c.616), king of Northumbria (c.593–c.616), was said by Bede to be the cruellest enemy of the Britons, slaughtering, enslaving, and opening the way for further Anglo-Saxon settlement. It was probably Æthelfryth who defeated the British at Catterick (north Yorks.), lamented in the Welsh poem, Gododdin. His defeat of King Ædan at Degsastan in 603 effectively subdued the Irish in Scotland. His victory over the men of Powys at Chester c.616 was significant, separating Britons in Wales from their northern compatriots. But Æthelfryth's demise was at the hands of Anglo-Saxons. Threatened by Æthelfryth if he did not murder or hand over Edwin, claimant to the Northumbrian kingdom of Deira, who had taken refuge at his East Anglian court, Rædwald attacked, killing Æthelfryth in battle near the river Idle (Lincs.) c.616.

Audrey MacDonald

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