King of Northumbria (729-737)
died 764

Ceolwulf was the brother of Coenred who had ruled as king in the years 716-718, and was, according to Bede appointed as heir by his immediate predecessor Osric and succeeded on the latter's death in 729.

His reign was characterised by his significant religious zeal and interest in matters ecclesiastical. Presumably this was not to everyone's taste as;

In the year 731 king Ceolwulf was taken prisoner, and tonsured, and sent back to his kingdom (1)
although by whom is not stated, and more particularly whether it was external or internal opponents.

These days Ceolwulf is mainly remembered as a patron of learning and specifically as the ruler to whom Bede dedicated his famous History, although all Bede Bede to say about his reign is the following enigmatic comment,

the beginning and progress of whose reign were so filled with commotions, that it cannot yet be known what is to be said concerning them, or what end they will have.(2)

From which one would conclude that Ceolwulf's reign was marked by a degree of internal strife and dissent, and that he personally lacked the necessary vigour to impose his authority and establish order. In any event by 737 Ceolwulf became tired of the burdens of secular kingship and abdicated the throne to become a monk at Lindisfarne, where he died, presumably of old age, in 764.


(1) According to the document known as the Continuation of Bede - The forcible tonsuring of kings or would be kings by their enemies seems to have been a regular practice of the times; a way of rendering an opponent visibly unsuitable for secular office.

(2) From Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum by the Venerable Bede

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