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Osulf, Earl of Bamburgh

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Title: Osulf, Earl of Bamburgh  
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Subject: Harrying of the North, Earl of Northumbria, Copsi, Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria
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Osulf, Earl of Bamburgh

Osulf or Oswulf (died 1067) was the son of Eadulf III, Earl of Bamburgh (killed 1041), and grandson of Uchtred the Bold, Earl of Northumbria (killed 1016). Osulf’s family ruled as "High-Reeves" or ealdormen of Bamburgh from 954 until 1041, when Siward the Stout killed Eadulf and reunited Northumbria under one ruler.

In 1065, Morcar succeeded Tostig as Earl of all Northumbria, and he appointed Osulf to rule the portion north of the River Tyne. However, because of Morcar’s resistance to the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, he was deposed and imprisoned. William then appointed Copsi (sometimes Copsig), Tostig’s former deputy, as Morcar's replacement.

In February 1067, Copsi came north and forced Osulf to seek shelter in the hills. Osulf began to gather an army. Because Copsi was seen as an invader and a tax-gatherer for William, he was deeply unpopular amongst the Northumbrians north and south of the Tees, and Osulf had no trouble in gathering recruits. On March 12 he surprised Copsi and his men at a banquet at Newburn-upon-Tyne. Copsi fled to a nearby church, but this was set on fire, forcing Copsi out. Osulf then had Copsi's head cut off.

Osulf appears to have seized control of the earldom of Bamburgh, and was not threatened by any expeditions to remove him. However in the autumn of 1067, Osulf, who appears to have been carrying out his duties as earl, intercepted an outlaw and was run through by the man’s spear.

He was succeeded as earl by his cousin, Cospatric, who purchased the earldom from King William.


  • Aird, William M., "Osulf , earl of Bamburgh (d. 1067)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 , accessed 30 Dec 2008
  • Kapelle, William E., The Norman Conquest of the North, University of North Carolina Press, 1979.
  • Stenton, Sir Frank M. Anglo-Saxon England Third Edition. Oxford University Press, 1971.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
As Earl of Northumbria
Earl of Bamburgh
Opposed by:

Succeeded by
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