Oswiu

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Oswiu (d. 670), king of Northumbria (642–70). Ruling Bernicia, Oswiu was responsible for the death of the Deiran king Oswin (651), his wife's kinsman. He seems to have gained nothing, and appeased his wife by founding a monastery at Gilling (Yorks.). Oswin's successor allied with the powerful Mercian king Penda, who, refusing to be bought off, attacked in 655, but was defeated and killed at the battle of Winwaed, near Leeds. Oswiu fulfilled his promise that, if victorious, he would grant twelve estates for monasteries and dedicate his infant daughter to God's service. The triumph gained Oswiu control of Deira and undisputed overlordship of the southern kingdom for a time. He used his influence to convert the Mercian prince Peada, and revive East Saxon Christianity. Oswiu is distinguished for his decision to conform with Roman traditions at the Synod of Whitby. Death thwarted his ambition to go to Rome, but he was one of few early kings to die naturally.

Audrey MacDonald