Odo (d.1056) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

ODO or ODDA (d. 1056), Earl, was a kinsman of Edward the Confessor (William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, i. 243). This is confirmed by the statement, which Leland quotes from the ‘Pershore Chronicle,’ that Odda was the heir of Ælfhere (d. 983) [q. v.]; Leland in another place calls Odda the son of Ælfhere. For reasons of chronology it is very unlikely that Odda was Ælfhere's son, but he may have been his grandson and the son of Ælfric (fl. 950?–1016?) [q. v.] In any case the conjecture of Lappenberg (Anglo-Saxon Kings, p. 510) and of Green (Conquest of England, p. 492), that Odda was a Norman kinsman of Edward the Confessor, who came to England in 1042, is untenable. Odda was baptised by the name of Edwin, and thus, like his brother Ælfric (English Chronicle, ad ann. 1053) and sister Eadgyth or Edith (Domesday, p. 186), bore a distinctively English name. He may perhaps have taken the name of Odo after the Danish conquest. An Odda ‘minister’ occurs as witness to a royal charter in 1018 (Cod. Dipl. 728), and frequently afterwards during the reign of Cnut, and once in that of Harthacnut; this Odda may be identical with Odda the earl, though there is no conclusive evidence. But Odda the earl had an hereditary connection with Mercia, and he is therefore probably the Odda miles who appears as witness to two charters of Bishop Living of Worcester in 1038 and 1042 (ib. 760, 764); in the latter Ælfric miles also occurs. Odda and Ælfric also appear as witnesses to a charter of Ælfwold, bishop of Sherborne, which is older than 1046 (ib. 1334); this connects him with his western earldom. After Edward's accession Odda ‘minister’ continues as a witness to royal charters, and in two he appears as Odda ‘nobilis’ (ib. 787, 791). On the banishment of Godwine and Harold in 1051, Odda was made earl over Somerset, Devon, Dorset, and ‘the Wealas,’ which last no doubt means Cornwall. Next year Odda and Earl Ralph, the king's nephew, were sent with the fleet to Sandwich, to watch for Godwine and his sons. Godwine came with his fleet to Dungeness. The earls went out to seek him, but Godwine went back, and the earls, unable to discover his whereabouts, retired. Soon afterwards Godwine and his sons were restored. Odda in consequence lost his western earldom, but he was perhaps compensated with an earldom of the Hwiccas, comprising the shires of Gloucester and Worcester; for he is styled Earl or ‘Comes’ till his death (ib. 804, 805, 823). On 22 Dec. 1053 Odda's brother Ælfric died at Deerhurst, and was buried at Pershore. Odda built the minster at Deerhurst, which still survives, for his brother's soul. Eventually he received the monastic habit from Ealdred, the bishop of Worcester, and on 31 Aug. 1056 he himself died at Deerhurst, but, like his brother, was buried at Pershore; his leaden coffin with a Latin inscription was discovered at Pershore in 1259. The date seems to make it impossible that the earl and his brother are identical with the monks Odda and Ælfric who witnessed a charter of Edward in 1052 or 1053 (ib. 797). Florence of Worcester, in recording the earl's death, speaks of him as ‘Comes Agelwinus, id est Odda;’ he praises him as the lover of churches, the friend of the poor and oppressed, and guardian of virginity. The ‘English Chronicle’ says ‘a good man he was, clean, and right noble.’ The ‘Pershore Chronicle’ relates that Odda restored the lands which Ælfhere had taken from the monks, and would not marry lest his heir should in his turn do evil.

[English Chronicle; Florence of Worcester; Leland's Collectanea, i. 244, 285, and Itinerary, v. 1; Kemble's Codex Diplomaticus Saxonici Ævi; Freeman's Old English Hist. and Norman Conquest, especially ii. 564–6; Green's Conquest of England.]

C. L. K.