Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oswald's Greatness and Overthrow

As a king Oswald based his power on the acknowledgment of his over-lordship by all the kingdoms which were hostile to Penda. In 635 Wessex accepted Christianity, and the acceptance of Christianity brought with it the acceptance of Oswald's supremacy. Penda was thus surrounded by enemies, but his courage did not fail him, and in 642 at the battle of Maserfield he defeated Oswald. Oswald fell in the battle, begging with his last words for God's mercy on the souls of his enemies.

After Oswald's fall Bernicia was ruled by his brother Oswiu. Deira, again divided from it, was governed first by Eadwine's cousin Osric, and then by Osric's son, Oswini, who acknowledged Penda as his over-lord. Oswini was a man after Aidan's own heart. Once he gave a horse to Aidan to carry him on his mission journeys. Aidan gave it away to the first beggar he met. "Is that son of a mare," answered Aidan to the reproaches of the king, "worth more in your eyes than that son of God?" Oswini fell at the bishop's feet and entreated his pardon. Aidan wept. "I am sure," he cried, "the king will not live long. I never till now saw a king humble." Aidan was right. In 651 Oswini was slain by the order of King Oswiu of Bernicia, who had long engaged in a struggle with Penda. Penda had for some years been burning and slaughtering in Bernicia, till he had turned a quarrel between himself and Oswiu into a national strife. Oswiu rescued Bernicia from destruction, and after Oswini's murder joined once more the two kingdoms together. Oswini was the last heir of Ælla's house, and from that time there was but one North-humberland. In 655 Oswiu and Penda met to fight, as it seemed for supremacy over the whole of England, by the river Winwæd, near the present Leeds. The heathen Penda was defeated and slain.

No comments:

Post a Comment