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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.

He was adopted as heir by his predecessor, and distant cousin, Osric. Ceolwulf was brother of Coenred and was the second of the Leodwaldings to rule Northumbria. With the extinction of the main line of the Eoppingas at the death of Osric (or, if Osric was not in fact of the direct line, even earlier, in 716, at the death of Osred son of Aldfrith), the kingdom of Northumbria entered into a long period of dynastic conflict and instability, which was only ended by the destruction of the kingdom by the Vikings in 867.

As with Aldfrith, the Irish annals give Ceolwulf an Irish name, "Eóchaid son of Cuidin", and if Cuidin is a calque of Cuthwine, Eóchaid is no more obviously related to Ceolwulf than Flann is to Aldfrith. For this reason, it has been suggested that Ceolwulf had spent time in Ireland, perhaps studying to enter into religion. Be that as it may, his reign appears to have met with the approval of clerics such as Bede and William of Malmesbury.

As said, 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 driven from his seat, and Alric and Esc killed.

Ceolwulf was succeeded by his first cousin Eadberht. His death is recorded in the winter of 764–765.

Further reading

  • Bede (1994), McClure, Judith; Collins, Roger, eds., The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Oxford World Classics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-953725-5  
  • Fraser, James E. (2009), From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795, New Edinburgh History of Scotland, I, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0-7486-1232-1  
  • Higham, N. J. (1993), The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350–1100, Stroud: Sutton, ISBN 0-86299-730-5  
  • Higham, N. J. (2006), (Re-)Reading Bede: The Ecclesiastical History in context, Abingdon: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-35368-8  
  • Kirby, D. P. (1991), The Earliest English Kings, London: Unwin Hyman, ISBN 0-04-445691-3  
  • Marsden, J. (1992), Northanhymbre Saga: The History of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria, London: Cathie, ISBN 1-85626-055-0  
  • Yorke, Barbara (1990), Kings and Kingdoms in Early Anglo-Saxon England, London: Seaby, ISBN 1-85264-027-8  
  • Yorke, Barbara (2006), The Conversion of Britain: Religion, Politics and Society in Britain c. 600–800, London: Longman, ISBN 0-582-77292-3  
Preceded by:
Osric
King of Northumbria Succeeded by:
Eadberht
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