Ceolwulf of Northumbria

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St Ceolwulf of Northumbria
King of Northumbria
Reign 729 – 737
Predecessor Oscric
Successor Eadberht
Born 7th Century
Died 765
Burial Lindisfarne Monastery
House Leodwaldings
Father Cuthwine
Ceolwulf of Northumbria
King, Monk
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion
Feast January 15

Saint Ceolwulf was king of Northumbria from 729 until 737, except for a short period in 731 or 732 when he was deposed, and quickly restored to power. Ceolwulf finally abdicated and entered the monastery at Lindisfarne. He was the "most glorious king" to whom Bede dedicated his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.


His ancestry is thus given by the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle": "Ceolwulf was the son of Cutha, Cutha of Cuthwin, Cuthwin of Leoldwald, Leoldwald of Egwald, Egwald of Aldhelm, Aldhelm of Ocga, Ocga of Ida, Ida of Eoppa."[1] Ceolwulf's brother, Coenred, seized the Northumbrian throne in AD 716.[2] Coenred ruled for two years when Osric, the last of the House of Aethelric, claimed the throne and ruled for ten years. In 729, shortly before his death, Osric nominated Ceolwulf as his successor.

Ceolwulf was a man with deep monastic interests, and perhaps little suited to affairs of state. Bede dedicated his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("History of the English Church") to Ceolwulf in 731.[2] That same year Ceolwulf was deposed for a short period in the autumn of 731 or 732, but quickly restored. The details of the attempted coup are unclear. Bishop Acca of Hexham is said to have been deprived of his see.

It has been suggested that Ceolwulf had spent time in Ireland, perhaps studying to enter into religion. As King, he had endowed the monastery at Lindifarne with many gifts. He obtained a dispensation for the monks to use of wine and beer for the monks, contrary to the established Celtic practice which limited beverages to water and milk.[2]

In 737 Ceolwulf abdicated in favor of his first cousin Eadberht, to retire to Lindisfarne. His death is recorded in the winter of 764–765. He was later canonized, and his feast day is January 15.[3]


Further reading

  • Bede (1994), McClure, Judith; Collins, Roger (eds.), The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Oxford World Classics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-953723-2<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fraser, James E. (2009), From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795, New Edinburgh History of Scotland, I, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-1232-1<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Higham, N. J. (1993), The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350–1100, Stroud: Sutton, ISBN 0-86299-730-5<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Higham, N. J. (2006), (Re-)Reading Bede: The Ecclesiastical History in context, Abingdon: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-35368-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kirby, D. P. (1991), The Earliest English Kings, London: Unwin Hyman, ISBN 0-04-445691-3<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Marsden, J. (1992), Northanhymbre Saga: The History of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria, London: Cathie, ISBN 1-85626-055-0<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Yorke, Barbara (1990), Kings and Kingdoms in Early Anglo-Saxon England, London: Seaby, ISBN 1-85264-027-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Yorke, Barbara (2006), The Conversion of Britain: Religion, Politics and Society in Britain c. 600–800, London: Longman, ISBN 0-582-77292-3<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Preceded by
King of Northumbria Succeeded by