Edwin (DNB00)

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EDWIN or EADWINE, Lat. Æduines (585?–633), king of Northumbria, son of Ælla, king of Deira, was three years old when, after his father's death in 588, he was forced to flee from Deira by the Bernician king, Æthelric, who conquered the country and ruled over both the Northumbrian kingdoms. He, perhaps, first found shelter in Gwynedd, or North Wales, and after some wanderings was received by Cearl, king of the Mercians, who gave him his daughter Coenburh to wife. By her he had two sons, Osfrith and Eadfrith, born during his exile. Æthelric's son and successor, Æthelfrith, sought to get him into his power, and probably made it unsafe for him to remain longer in Mercia, for in 617 he sought refuge with Rædwald, king of the East-Angles, who promised that he should be safe with him. As soon as Æthelfrith heard that he was with Rædwnld, he sent messengers to the East-Anglian king offering him a large sum of money if he would slay his guest, and when his offer was refused sent a second and a third embassy with larger offers and with threats of war. Rædwald promised either to slay the exile or to deliver him to his enemy. The promise was heard by one of Eadwine's friends, who came to him in the evening, called him from his sleeping-chamber, and when he had come out of doors told him of the king's intentions and offered to guide him to a place of safety. Eadwine's greatness of soul is shown by his reply: 'he would not,' he said, 'be the first to treat the king's pledge as worthless; up to that time I Rædwald had done him no wrong and he would not distrust him; but if he was to die, it were better that the king should slay him than any meaner man; he had sought refuge in every part of Britain, and was weary of wandering.' He spent the night in the open air in doubt and sorrow, and as he sat on a stone in front of the palace a man of foreign mien and in a foreign garb drew near to him, and asked him why he sat there at that hour of night. When Eadwine answered that it was nothing to him, the stranger declared that he knew the cause of his trouble, and asked what he would give to one who should persuade Rædwald to change his mind, and would promise that he should have greater power than all the kings that had reigned over the English race; would he listen to the counsel of such a one when he bade him live a nobler life than any of his house? Eadwine gave the required promise, and the stranger laid his right hand upon his head, saying: 'When this sign shall come to thee, remember this hour and my words,' and then vanished so quickly that Eadwine was sure that it was a spirit that had appeared to him. Soon afterwards his friend came to him again and told him that the king had changed his intentions, and had resolved to keep faith with him, and that this change had been brought about by the queen, who had remonstrated privately with her husband on the treachery he contemplated. The stranger who appeared to Eadwine was doubtless the Roman priest Paulinus, who seems to have come from Kent to East Anglia about this time; for Rædwald had been baptised, though he had in a measure relapsed. Paulinus had, of course, heard how matters stood, and hoped by this interview with Eadwine to prepare the way for the evangelisation of the north in case Eadwine overcame his enemy. And it is not unlikely that Rædwald's seeming intention to betray his guest was only a device to deceive Æthelfrith; for almost as soon as the messengers of the Northumbrian king had returned, the East-Anglian army attacked him, before he had time to gather his whole force together, and he was defeated and slain in a battle on the eastern bank of the river Idle.

The victory of Rædwald gave Eadwine his father's kingdom of Deira, and he at once made war on Bernicia, drove Æthelfrith's sons, and a large number of young nobles who adhered to them, to take refuge among the Picts or the Scots of Dalriada, and ruled over a united Northumbrian kingdom, making York the centre of his government. He appears to have extended his dominions northwards and to have fortified Edinburgh (Eadwinesburh), which seems to preserve his name (Skene, Celtic Scotland, 1. 240). On the west he conquered from the Britons the kingdom of Elmet, which may be described as roughly represented by the West Riding of Yorkshire, perhaps raised the earthworks at Barwick, and had a royal residence at the ruined Campodunum, which has been identified both with Doncaster and with Tanfield on the Yore (Nennius, p. 63; Bæda, Hist. Eccles. ii. c. 14; Making of England, pp. 253-257; Archæologia, i. 221; Fasti Eboracenses, p. 43). The conquest of Elmet may have led to that of the southern part of the present Lancashire, and also of Chester (Green), for Eadwine's power extended to the western sea, and he conquered the isles of Anglesea and Man (Hist. Eccles. ii. c. 5). At the same time it must be remembered that Chester had been conquered by Æthelfrith, Eadwine's predecessor, and that some of the glory which Bæda ascribes to Eadwine must have been the fruit of Æthelfrith's victory in 613. After Rædwald's death, which happened soon after his victory on the Idle, the East-Anglian power declined, and Eadwine gained authority over the Trent valley, his superiority was acknowledged by the East- Anglian king, and he had a 'mastery over Mid-Britain' (Green). In 625 he married Æthelburh, sister of Eadbald [q. v.], king of Kent, and daughter of Ælthelberht, the convert of Augustine. As Eadbald was at first unwilling to give his sister to a heathen, Eadwine promised that she and her attendants should have full liberty to practise their religion, and held out hopes that he would adopt it if on examination it commended itself to him. Eadburh was therefore accompanied to her future husband's court by Paulinus, who was ordained bishop before he left Kent, and other companions. Soon after his marriage Eadwine received a letter from Boniface V, exhorting him to give heed to the teaching of Paulinus, to accept the queen's religion, and to cast away his idols. With the letter the pope sent some costly robes, and also a letter to Æthelburh, to encourage her in her efforts for her husband's conversion, and with it a silver mirror and an ivory comb inlaid with gold (Bæda quotes these letters somewhat too late in his account of Eadwine, 626-7, for Boniface died on 22 Oct. 625). The extension of Eadwine's power to the south and his alliance with Kent threatened the independence of Wessex, and in 626 Cwichelm [q. v.], the West-Saxon king, sent an assassin named Eumer to slay him with a poisoned dagger. Eumer found the king holding his court on the Derwent on 17 April, and on pretence of bringing a message from his master gained admission to the king's presence and rushed upon him with his dagger. Lilla, one of the king's thegns who was dear to him, saw his lord's danger, and as he had no shield placed his own body in front of Eadwine and received Eumer's blow, which was given with so much force that the weapon, after passing through the body of the faithful thegn and slaying him on the spot, wounded the king. In the night the queen was delivered of a daughter named Eanflæd [q. v.] Paulinus heard Eadwine give thanks to his gods for his daughter's birth, and told him that he ought rather to give thanks to Christ that his queen had been preserved in great peril. The king was pleased and declared that he would renounce his idols and serve Christ, if he would give him victory over the West-Saxon king, and to show that he was in earnest he allowed Paulinus to baptise his daughter and eleven members of his household. He defeated the West-Saxons, and his victory extended his over-lordship over the whole of England except Kent, which was in alliance with him, so that he is reckoned by Bæda as the fifth of the monarchs, called in the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle' 'Bretwalda,' who had supremacy over the other kings of the English (Hist. Eccles, ii. c. 5j A.-S. Chron., sub an. 827).

Although Eadwine did not worship idols after he made his promise to Paulinus, he did not embrace Christianity immediately upon his victory over the West-Saxons, but put himself under the teaching of Paulinus, consulted with his chief counsellors on the matter, and constantly meditated alone on the course he should take. Paulinus saw that he was of too haughty a spirit readily to accept the religion of Christ, and accordingly reminded him of the promise he had made to the stranger who appeared to him when he was in trouble at Rædwald's court. He placed his right hand upon his head and asked whether he recognised the sign, evidently still leaving him to imagine that he had seen a ghostly messenger whose visit had been revealed to the bishop (Hist. Eccles. ii. c. 12, 17). The king trembled and would have fallen at his feet, but he raised him up, and, bidding him remember how he had thrice pledged his word, exhorted him to delay no longer to gain salvation from the eternal torments of the wicked. Eadwine answered that he would accept Christianity, and held a meeting of his witan in order to persuade them to be baptised with him. After some discourse he began to ask them singly whether they would consent. The first to answer was his chief priest, Coifi, who declared that he would do so because he had gained nothing by his devout worship of the old gods, and hoped that the new religion might be more profitable to him. Next, one of the king's chief nobles replied by comparing the life of man to a sparrow that on some winter's night might fly in at a door of the hall where the king was feasting with his ealdormen and thegns, be for a moment in the warmth and light, and then fly out by another door again into the darkness and tempest. 'Even so,' he said, 'it is with our life; we know not whence it came or whither it goeth. Wherefore if this new teaching can tell us aught of these things, we should do well to accept it.' Others spoke to the same effect, and lastly Coifi declared that the words of Paulinus seemed to him to be true, and proposed that the king should agree that the heathen temples and altars should be burnt. Eadwine gave public permission to Paulinus to preach, allowed Coifi to profane and burn the temple at Godmundham, near Market Weighton, where probably the assembly was held, and on Easter Sunday, 12 April 627, was baptised, together with his sons Osfrith and Eadfrith and many more, in the wooden church of St. Peter, which he had built at York. The baptism of Eadwine is claimed as the work of a British missionary, Run, the son of Urbgen (Nennius, p. 54; Annales Cambrenses, p. 832), and it is also said that Eadwine, when he fled from Deira, found his first shelter with Cadvan, king of Gwynedd, and was brought up as a christian at his court. The suggestion that Run and Paulinus were the same (Stevenson) cannot be admitted, and though it is not improbable that Eadwine did flee to the Welsh king, the story of his baptism by a Welsh bishop must be rejected in the face of Bæda's narrative (Ecclesiastical Documents, i. 124, iii. 75). After his baptism he appointed York as the episcopal see of Paulinus, and began to build a larger church of stone. This church, which was square, or rather oblong, and of the basilican type, with rows of columns, contained the original wooden church, which was kept as an oratory within it (Hist. Eccles. ii. c. 14;Alcuin, Carmen de Pontificibus, v. 220). Eadwine was earnest in the work of conversion; he induced Eorpwald of East Anglia to accept Christianity with all his kingdom, and the Northumbrian king and his queen were with Paulinus when, for thirty-six days, the bishop taught a great multitude near the Cheviots, and baptised them in the Glen, and again when he baptised a large number in the Trent. Accordingly Christianity made great progress in Deira, where the king's influence was strong, while in Bernicia no churches were built. Throughout all Eadwine's empire there was at this time such peace and order that it was said that a woman might walk through the land alone with her new-born child, from sea to sea, and none would do her harm. And the king cared for the comfort of his people, for he made drinking-fountains alongside the high-roads, and by each set up a stake to which a brazen cup was hung, and whether for fear or for love of him no one carried off these cups. He proclaimed the excellence of his kingdom by the state he kept, for when he rode with his thegns from place to place banners of purple and gold were carried before him, and even when he walked along the streets of a town a standard called 'tuuf,' a tuft of feathers on a spear, went before him. His greatness was a menace to the rising power of Mercia, and its heathen king, Penda, who had already routed the West-Saxons, made alliance with Cædwalla [q. v.], king of Gwynedd, and in 633 the allied armies of the Welsh and the Mercians marched against him. Eadwine advanced to meet them, and gave them battle on 12 Oct. at Heathfield, probably Hatfield Chase, near Doncaster. His army was totally routed, and he and his eldest son, Osfrith, were slain. Eadwine's head was taken to York and buried in the church of St. Peter that he had begun, in the porch of St. Gregory; his body was buried in the monastery of Whitby (Hist Eccles. ii. 20, iii. 24). He was forty-eight at the time of his death. The battle of Heathfield broke up Eadwine's kingdom into its two component parts, for Osric, a cousin of Eadwine, succeeded him in Deira, while the Bernicians chose a king of their own royal house, Eanfrith, the son of Æthelfrith. It also overthrew Christianity in the north, for both Osric and Eanfrith, though they had been baptised, turned back to paganism. Shortly before Eadwine's death he sent to Pope Honorius requesting that he would grant Paulinus the pall. The pope's answer and the pall did not arrive until after the king had fallen. Paulinus fled from Northumbria, and with the queen and her two children and Iffi, the son of Osfrith, sought shelter in Kent. Eadfrith, Eadwine's younger son by his first wife, Coenburh, fled to his father s victor, Penda, probably to escape from Osric, and was treacherously slain by his host. Of Eadwine's children by Æthelburh, a son, of Æthelhun, and a daughter, Ætheldryth, died young, and were buried at York; another son, Vuscfrea, and a daughter, Eanflæd, were taken by their mother to the court of their uncle Eadbald. Vuscfrea was sent to be educated at the court of Dagobert, and died there, and Eanflæd q. v.] became the wife of the Northumbrian king, Oswin. Eadwine obtained a place in the calendar, and an account is given of him in the 'NovaLegenda,' p. 116: 4 Oct. is the day of St. Edwin, king and martyr (Acta SS., Bolland, Oct. vi. 108).

[Bædæ) Hist. Eccles. and Nennius, Hist. Brit. (Engl. Hist. Soc); Anglo-Saxon Chron.and Annales Cumbrenses, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Alcuin, Carmen de Pontificibus, Historians of York, i. (Rolls Ser.); Haddan and Stubbs's Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents; Green's Making of England; Raine's Fasti Eboracenses.]

W. H.