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Ecgfrith of Northumbria

Ecgfrith (d. 685), king of Northumbria, succeeded his father Oswio in 671.

He was married to Æthelthryth, daughter of Anna of East Anglia, who, however, took the veil shortly after Ecgfrith's accession, a step which possibly led to his long quarrel with Wilfrid archbishop of York. Ecgfrith married a second wife, Eormenburg, before 678, the year in which he expelled Wilfrid from his kingdom.

Early in his reign he defeated the Picts who had risen in revolt. Between 671 and 675 Ecgfrith defeated Wulfhere of Mercia and seized Lindsey. In 679, however, he was defeated by Æthelred of Mercia, who had married his sister Osthreth, on the river Trent. Ecgfrith's brother Ælfwine was killed in the battle, and the province of Lindsey was given up when peace was restored at the intervention of Theodore of Canterbury.

In 684 Ecgfrith sent an expedition to Ireland under his general Berht, which seems to have been unsuccessful. In 685, against the advice of Cuthbert, he led a force against the Picts under his cousin Burde, son of Bile, was lured by a feigned flight into their mountain fastnesses, and slain at Nechtansmere (now Dunnichen[?]) in Forfarshire[?]. Bede dates the beginning of the decline of Northumbria from his death. He was succeeded by his brother Aldfrith[?].

See Eddius, Vita Wilfridi (Raine, Historians of Church of York, Rolls, Series, London, 1879f 894), 19, 20, 24, 34, 39, 44; Bede, Hist. Eccl. (Plummer, Oxford, 1896), iii. 24, iv. 5, 12, 13, iS, 19, 21, 26.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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