Peada (DNB00)

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PEADA (d. 656), under-king of the South Mercians, the eldest son of Penda [q. v.], king of the Mercians, was made ealdorman or under-king of the Middle Angles by his father in 653. He desired to marry Alchflæd, or Ealhflæd, the daughter of Oswy, or Oswiu [q. v.], king of the Northumbrians, and went to her father's court to ask for her as his wife, but Oswy refused unless Peada became a Christian. Accordingly he heard preaching, and was further persuaded by his friend and brother-in-law Alchfrith or Alchfrid, who had married his sister Cyneburh or Ciniburga, so that he declared that he would profess Christianity, even though his wished-for bride should be denied him. He was therefore baptised by Bishop Finan [q. v.], along with his thegns and other followers, at a place called At-wall, supposed to be Walbottle, near Newcastle, and, having received his bride, took back with him to his kingdom four priests, Cedd [q. v.], Adda, Betti, and Diuma, afterwards bishop of the Middle Angles and Mercians. With the help of Peada these missionaries had great success, and daily baptised many nobles and sick people; nor were they forbidden by Penda to preach in his immediate dominions (Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, iii. c. 21). On the overthrow and death of Penda in 655, Oswy made Peada under-king of the South Mercians, separated by the Trent from the North Mercians, who seem to have then become directly subject to the Northumbrian king. At the following Easter-tide, however, Peada was wickedly slain, it was said, through the treachery of his wife (ib. c. 24). He is said to have been one of the co-founders of the monastery of Medeshamstede, or Peterborough, with his brothers Wulfhere [q. v.], Æthelred, and Merewald, and his two sisters [see under Penda].

[Bede's Hist. Eccl., Flor. Wig. (both Engl. Hist. Soc.); Anglo-Saxon Chron. an. 652, and Peterborough insertion under 656; Green's Making of England; art. ‘Peada’ in Dict. Chr. Biogr. by Bishop Stubbs.]

W. H.