Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eardwulf

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EARDWULF or EARDULF (d. 810), king of Northumbria, was son of Eardulf, an ealdorman of Northumbria of royal blood. For an offence committed against Ethelred, king of Northumbria, he is said to have been executed before Ripon Minster, but was miraculously restored to life after being left for dead. A period of exile followed, and on the death of King Ethelred in 796, Eardwulf was recalled to fill his place on the throne. He was consecrated by Archbishop Eanbald I at York Minster on 25 June. Alcuin sent him a letter on his accession, urging him to be a God-fearing king. In 797 Alcuin wrote that Eardwulf would lose his throne because he had put away his wife and taken a concubine. In 798 the party who had placed Eardwulf in power revolted against him. The rebels under Alric, son of Eadbert and Wada the duke, were defeated near Whalley, Lancashire. Eardwulf followed up his victory by executing in 799 Moll, a duke, probably a son of the former king, Ethelred, and in 800 Alchmund, son of Alcred, the legitimate heir to the Northumbrian throne. In 801 Eardwulf threatened war with Cenwulf, king of Mercia, whom he charged with harbouring conspirators against himself, but peace was satisfactorily arranged without bloodshed. Archbishop Eanbald II was blamed by Alcuin for maintaining an armed retinue with which he attacked at times Eardwulf's many enemies. In 808 Eardwulf was driven from Northumbria by a claimant to the throne named Alfwold. He visited the courts of Charles the Great and Pope Leo III, and both strongly sympathised with him. Through the interposition of Charles the Great Eardwulf was restored to his kingdom in 809. He died in 810, and was succeeded by his son Eanred. Some of his coins are extant.

[Dict. of Christian Biography, by the Rev. James Raine; Symeon of Durham (Surtees Soc.), pp. 30, 34, 35, 39, 211; Alcuini Epistolæ, ed. Jaffé, pp. 303, 304, 621, 623; Saxon Chron. s.a. 796 and 798.]