King of Northumbria (796-c806 and c808-c810)

Eardwulf was a Northumbrian nobleman that was one of the victims of Aethelred's vicious purge of 791. He was arrested and struck down outside the monastery at Ripon and left for dead. The monks carried his body into the church only to discover that Aethelred's henchmen had not quite finished the job. (We have a letter of Alcuin's to attest to this tale.)

Eardwulf therefore managed to recover from his ordeal and escape into exile. He returned in 796, following the murder of Aethelred and the brief reign of Osbald to take the throne of Northumbria.

From the beginning he faced challenges to his rule. In 798 the group of conspirators centred around Eanldred that had previously killed Aethelred attempted to oust him but were defeated in battle, and in 799 one Moll (probably from the line of Aethelwald Moll and Aethelred was killed on his orders. In 801 he was raiding Mercia in search of more Northumbrian dissidents, on top of which he had to suffer the discomfort of regular Viking raids.

Eardwulf was eventually driven out of power in around 806 by Aelfwald and fled into exile once more, this time to the court of Charlemagne. There he managed to gather the support of both Charlemagne and Pope Leo III, and was therefore able to return to power in around 808 following the death of Aelfwald.

He died shortly afterwards around the year 810 and was succeeded by his son Eanred.


SOURCES

A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain by Ann Williams, Alfred P. Smyth and D. P. Kirby (Seaby 1991)

Historia regum Anglorum et Danorum by Simeon of Durham

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