World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Osthryth

Osthryth (died 697), queen of the Mercians, was the wife of King Æthelred and daughter of King Oswiu of Northumbria and his second wife Eanflæd. She was murdered by the nobles of Mercia.[1]

Osthryth was not the first of her family to become a Mercian queen. Her sister Alhflæd had married Peada, King of South Mercia 654-656.[2] After Peada's death, allegedly murdered with Alhflæd's connivance, she retreated to Fladbury in Worcestershire, to judge both from the place-name, which means "stronghold of Flæde", and from its subsequent history:[3] sometime in the 690s Æthelred granted Fladbury to Oftfor, Bishop of Worcester, to re-establish monastic life there;[4] however, this grant was later contested by Æthelheard, son of Oshere, who maintained that Æthelred had no right to give Fladbury away, as it had been the property of Osthryth. Æthelheard claimed it as her kinsman and heir.[5]

Æthelred and Osthryth loved and favoured Bardney Abbey in Lincolnshire. Osthryth placed there the bones of her uncle Oswald of Northumbria, who was venerated as a saint. It is clear from this story that Osthryth played a part in promoting the cult of St Oswald.[6] Many years later she persuaded Oswald's widow Cyneburh to take the veil.[7]

Osthryth had to contend with major conflicts of loyalty. In 679 her brother Ecgfrith of Northumbria fought a battle against Æthelred, in which Ecgfrith's brother Ælfwine was killed. Bede tells us that he was "a young man of about eighteen years of age and much beloved in both kingdoms, for King Æthelred had married his sister."[8]

The murder of Osthryth in 697 by Mercian nobles is unexplained in the sources that mention it.[9] Ann Williams attributes it to the hostility between the Mercians and the Northumbrians,[10] while D. P. Kirby suggests that it may have been revenge for her sister's alleged involvement in Peada's murder.[11] Finberg speculates that she and her kinsman Oshere were suspected of trying to detach the kingdom of the Hwicce from Mercian overlordship.[12]

Osthryth was buried at Bardney Abbey.[1]

Osthryth was probably the mother of Æthelred's son, Ceolred, king of Mercia from 709 to 716.[1]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Kelly, F. E. (2004). "Osthryth (d. 697)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.   (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (1994), 144.
  3. ^ Hooke, in The Anglo-Saxon Landscape: The Kingdom of the Hwicce (1985), p. 11, argues that Fladbury could have belonged to another sister of Osthryth, Ælflæda, Abbess of Whitby, but she had no known connection with Mercia and died in 713, after Osthryth, so Osthryth could not have inherited Fladbury from her.
  4. ^ S76 Anglo-Saxons.net: Æthelred's grant of Fladbury
  5. ^ H. P. R. Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands (Leicester 1961), p.170.
  6. ^ Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People ed. J. McClure and R. Collins (1994), 126.
  7. ^ H.P.R.Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands (Leicester 1961), p.165.
  8. ^ Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People ed. J. McClure and R. Collins (1994), 207.
  9. ^ Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People ed. J. McClure and R. Collins (1994), 292; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
  10. ^ Ann Williams, 'Osthryth', in Ann Williams et al, eds, A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain, Seaby, 1991
  11. ^ D. P. Kirby, The Earliest English Kings, Routledge, 1991, p. 127
  12. ^ H.P.R. Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands (Leicester 1961), pp. 176-7.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.