King Edwin of Northumbria: From 616-633

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In summary: St. Edwin.In summary, Saint Edwin was a king of Northumbria who converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627. He fell at the Battle of Hatfield Chase, and was regarded as a saint and martyr.
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Saint Edwin 584 633 was the King of Northumbria from about 616 until his death. He converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627; after he fell at the Battle of Hatfield Chase, he was regarded as a saint and martyr.

He was the son of Aella of Deira and the brother of Aethelric of Deira. Around the year 604, upon the seizure of Deira by his brother-in-law, Æthelfrith of Bernicia, Edwin was expelled and took refuge with the king of Gwynedd, Cadfan ap Iago. After the battle of Chester, in which Æthelfrith defeated the Welsh, Edwin fled to Raedwald, king of East Anglia. Aethelfrith offered Raedwald a bribe to kill Edwin, but Raedwald refused and defeated Ælthelfrith at the river Idle in 616 or 617 Aethelfrith was killed, and Raedwald installed Edwin as king of Northumbria. The sons of Æthelfrith, among them Eanfrith, were driven out

Edwin is said to have founded the city of Edinburgh in 626, and it is possible that the city was named after him (one interpretation of its etymology is "Edwin's fort"). He also seems to have annexed Lindsey to his kingdom by 625. In this year he entered negotiations with Eadbald of Kent to marry his sister Æthelberga. It was a condition that Christianity should be tolerated in Northumbria, and accordingly Paulinus was consecrated bishop by Justus in 625, and was sent to Northumbria with Æthelberga.

According to Bede, Edwin was favourably disposed towards Christianity owing to a vision he had seen at the court of Raedwald, and in 626 he allowed Eanfled, his daughter by Æthelberga, to be baptized. On April 20, the day his daughter was born, an attempt was made on the king's life by Eomer, an emissary of Cwichelm, king of Wessex. Saved by his devoted thegn and best friend Lilla who interposed his body to receive the fatal dagger blow, Edwin vowed to become a Christian if victorious over his treacherous enemy. He was successful in the ensuing campaign, and gave up worshipping his traditional gods.

A letter of Pope Boniface V helped him decide, and, after consulting his friends and counsellors (one of whom, the priest Coifi, afterwards took a prominent part in destroying the temple at Goodmanham), he was baptized with his people and nobles at York, on Easter (April 12), 627. In this town he granted Paulinus of York a see, built a wooden church and began one of stone. Besides York, Yeavering and Maelmin in Bernicia, and Catterick in Deira, were the chief scenes of the work of Paulinus.

It was the influence of Edwin which led to the conversion of Eorpwald of East Anglia. Bede notices the peaceful state of Britain at this time, and says that Edwin used a standard like that carried by the Roman emperors. Bede tells us that Edwin conquered the Isle of Man and took Anglesey from Cadwallon ap Cadfan, who, according to the Annales Cambriae, Edwin besieged on the island of Glannauc or Puffin Island. He was definitely recognized as overlord by all the other Anglo-Saxon kings of his day except Eadbald of Kent, and thus considered Bretwalda.

The defeated Cadwallon fled into exile, but he returned within a few years and reconquered his lost lands with the aid of Penda of Mercia. Their combined armies then invaded Northumbria and defeated Edwin at Hatfield Chase near Doncaster, killing him along with his son Osfrith. Another of his sons, Eadfrith, was later executed by Penda. Edwin's body was hidden in the church of Edwinstowe.
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Execusions, assassinasions, battles, dirty tricks, some one should make a
film about Edwins life. :smile:

Deira extended from the Humber to the Tyne, York was the capital of its kings.
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  • #3
You are certainly very educated and enthusiastic about history. Is it a job or just a passion?
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matthyaouw said:
You are certainly very educated and enthusiastic about history. Is it a job or just a passion?
:smile: Educated no, passionate yes
  • #5
St Paulinus.
Archbishop of York, died at Rochester, 10 October, 644. He was a Roman monk in St. Andrew's monastery at Rome, and was sent by St. Gregory the Great in 601, with St. Mellitus and others, to help St. Augustine and to carry the pallium to him. He laboured in Kent -- with the possible exception of a mission to East Anglia before 616 -- till 625, when he accompanied Ethelburga (Aethelburh), the sister of King Eadbald of Kent, when she went to the Northumbrian Court to marry King Edwin.

Before leaving Kent, he was consecrated bishop by St. Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was successful in converting Edwin and large numbers of his people, the king's baptism taking place on 12 April, 627. With the assistance of St. Edwin, he established his see at York and began to build a stone church there. His apostolic labours in instructing and baptizing the people of the north country were unceasing, and tradition perpetuates his ministry at Yeavering, Catterick Bridge, Dewsbury, Easingwold, Southwell, and elsewhere, while his own name is preserved in the village of Pallingsburn in Northumbria. On the defeat of St. Edwin in 633, Paulinus carried the queen and her children safely to Kent; and, as the heathen reaction under Penda made missionary work impossible in Northumbria, he devoted himself to the Diocese of Rochester.

Bede describes him as tall and thin, with a slightly stooping figure; he had black hair and an aquiline nose and was of venerable and awe-inspiring aspect. He was buried in his church at Rochester, and, on the rebuilding of the cathedral, his relics were translated by Archbishop Lanfranc to a silver shrine where they lay till the Reformation. His festival is observed in England on 10 Oct., the anniversary of his death
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  • #6
The church he built in York- Which was it? I recently toured all but 3 of the pre-reformation churches in York. Beautiful buildings.
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matthyaouw said:
The church he built in York- Which was it? I recently toured all but 3 of the pre-reformation churches in York. Beautiful buildings.

York minster, is the site he performed his christenings, but he did not build it
The present structure was built in several stages between the early 13th and late 15th centuries. The transepts are early English, the nave is decorated gothic and the tower, quire & lady chapel are Perpendicular. Remains of the previous Norman structure can be seen in the undercroft, but the Minster has been the site of Christian worship since King Edwin of Northumbria was baptised here by St. Paulinus in AD 627. Traditionally this was in the well still to be seen in the present cathedral crypt. It stood just to the north of the old Roman Military Headquarters Building which is thought to have become the Palace of the Deiran and then the Northumbrian Kings. The threshold of a late 4th century entrance, excavated at the back of the great basilica, certainly became considerably warn over a long period of time - probably well into the 7th century. While the grand main entrance to the courtyard still survives today as Minster Gates.
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This is all i have, if anyone has more information please let me know.
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I love the Minster. I can't wait til I get my photos back, but I need an excuse to finish my film first. I may well have to go down to the undercroft next time I'm there and take a look at the remains. I'm not sure whether to do that or climb the tower (both cost you extra, so I'll probably only do one.)
  • #10
I just found this on google.

Having been offered hope of life after death, the thegns were won over. Even the King's pagan high priest, Coifi - probably motivated by hopes of his own survival - rode out to the great pagan temple at Goodmanham, a very short distance from Londesborough, threw a spear into it and began its demolition. The present parish church there may possibly occupy the site. Shortly after this conference, the baptism of Edwin took place, at York, on Easter Day (12th April) AD 627. Two of his children, and many other persons of noble birth, were baptised at the same time. Round the baptistery, which had been hastily built, the King caused a small stone church to be constructed. It stood somewhere in the vicinity of the present minster, under which its cemetery has been excavated.
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  • #11
Another find. .html

The pagan King Edwin was married to Princess Ethelburga of Kent who had brought Paulinus to the north as her personal chaplain. At the Royal palace in York, Edwin allowed him to build a church "of weed, of hasty workmanship, whilst he was receiving instruction, in preparation for baptism." We know that it stood within an 'arx' (walled enclosure) and was reached from the 'aula' (the Royal Palace) by crossing a public square. Soon after his conversion, however, the King set about encasing this temporary shack within a basilican cathedral of stone. Unfortunately, the city was overrun by Welsh and Mercian troops six years later and the scaffolded church was set alight. Edwin was killed in battle soon afterward and his cathedral remained a sad ruin for at least a year. Upon King Oswald's accession, however, building work recommenced and York Minster was finally completed and dedicated to St. Peter in AD 640. It was a fine building, though the windows were apparently unglazed, being instead covered with translucent linen or boards pierced with holes. Oswald had his uncle Edwin's body was buried at Whitby Abbey, but his head, which had become detached in battle, was taken to the chapel of St. Gregory at the new minster in York. Here, it was venerated as a holy relic for many centuries. The large Saxon cemetery excavated beneath the present south transept may also have been founded near the church at this time
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  • #12
Can anyone tell me why that Great Enclosure at Yeavering has a double wall around it? What would the purpose be for such a "walkway'? I have been guessing - even - a race course used by the King and his cronies. Aside from the very ancient barrow, there is nothing inside the enclosure, so it was very probably used as a corral. But I cannot see the point of that enclosed walkway.

Related to King Edwin of Northumbria: From 616-633

1. Who was King Edwin of Northumbria?

King Edwin was a ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria from 616 to 633. He was known for his military prowess and his efforts to expand his kingdom's territories.

2. What was King Edwin's role in the conversion to Christianity?

King Edwin played a significant role in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. He was baptized by Bishop Paulinus in 627 and later declared Christianity the official religion of his kingdom.

3. What were some of King Edwin's achievements during his reign?

During his reign, King Edwin established a stable and prosperous kingdom, expanded Northumbria's territories, and formed alliances with neighboring kingdoms. He also established a code of laws and promoted the arts and education.

4. What led to King Edwin's downfall?

King Edwin's downfall was largely due to his conflicts with other Anglo-Saxon kings, particularly Penda of Mercia. He was eventually killed in battle against Penda's forces in 633.

5. What is King Edwin's legacy?

King Edwin's legacy includes his role in the conversion to Christianity, his achievements in building a strong and prosperous kingdom, and his contributions to the development of Anglo-Saxon culture and society. He is also remembered as a heroic and influential ruler in the history of Northumbria.