Northumbria, a kingdom of Angles, in what is now northern England and south-east Scotland, was initially divided into two kingdoms: Bernicia and Deira. The two were first united by Aethelfrith around the year 604, and except for occasional periods of division over the subsequent century, they remained so. The exceptions are during the brief period from 633 to 634, when Northumbria was plunged into chaos by the death of King Edwin in battle and the ruinous invasion of Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd. The unity of the Northumbrian kingdoms was restored after Cadwallon's death in battle in 634.
Another exception is a period from about the year 644 to 664, when kings ruled individually over Deira. In 651, King Oswiu had Oswine of Deira killed and replaced by Aethelwald, but Aethelwald did not prove to be a loyal sub-king, allying with the Mercian king Penda; according to Bede, Aethelwald acted as Penda's guide during the latter's invasion of Northumbria but withdrew his forces when the Mercians met the Northumbrians at the Battle of Winwaed. After the Mercian defeat at Winwaed, Aethelwald lost power and Oswiu's own son, Alchfrith, became king in his place. In 670, Aelfwine, the brother of the childless King Ecgfrith, was made king of Deira; by this point the title may have been used primarily to designate an heir. Aelfwine was killed in battle against Mercia in 679, and there was not another separate king of Deira until the time of Norse rule.
Kings of Bernicia
|c. 500||Esa (Oesa)||Doubtful historicity as a king.|
|c. 520||Eoppa||Doubtful historicity as a king. Son of Esa.|
|547 to 559||Ida||The Historia Brittonum calls Ida the first king of Bernicia. Son of Eoppa.|
|Adda||Order and dates uncertain.|
|568? to 572?||Æthelric||Order and dates uncertain. Son of Ida.|
|Theodric (Deoric)||Order and dates uncertain. Son of Ida|
|Frithuwald (Frithewlf)||Order and dates uncertain.|
|585[?] to 592[?]||Hussa||Order and dates uncertain.|
|593(?) to 616||Æthelfrith||Son of Æthelric, also ruled Deira, killed in battle|
|616 to 12/14 Oct 632||Edwin||Son of Ælla of Deira, which he also ruled, killed in battle by Penda, King of Mercia|
|Late 632 to 633||Eanfrith||Son of Æthelfrith|
|634 to 5 Aug 642||Oswald (Osuualde, Osƿald)||Son of Æthelfrith, also ruled Deira, killed by Penda, King of Mercia; Saint Oswald|
|late 642 to 654||Oswiu||Son of Æthelfrith, became king of united Northumbria|
Kings of Deira
|559/560 to 589||Ælla (Aelli)||Son of Yffa|
|589/599 to 604||Æthelric (Aedilric)|
|593/604? to 616||Æthelfrith||Also king of Bernicia; killed in battle|
|616 to 12/14 Oct 632||Edwin||Son of Ælla, also ruled Bernicia; killed in battle by Cadwallon of Gwynedd and Penda of Mercia; Saint Edwin|
|late 633 to summer 634||Osric|
|633 to 5 Aug 642||Oswald||Son of Æthelfrith, also ruled Bernicia, killed by Penda, King of Mercia; Saint Oswald|
|642 to 644||Oswiu||Son of Æthelfrith, also ruled Bernicia|
|644 to 651||Oswine||Son of Osric, murdered|
|Summer 651 to late 654 or 655||Æthelwold||Son of Oswald|
|654 to 15 Aug 670||Oswiu||Restored|
|656 to 664||Alchfrith||Sub-king under his father Oswiu|
|664 to 670||Ecgfrith||Sub-king under his father Oswiu, upon whose death he became king of all Northumbria|
|670 to 679||Ælfwine||Sub-king under his brother Ecgfrith, King of Northumbria. Killed in the Battle of the Trent against King Æthelred of Mercia|
Kings of Northumbria
|654 to 15 February 670||Oswiu||Previously king of Bernicia and Deira|
|February 670 to 20 May 685||Ecgfrith||Son of Oswiu, killed in battle against the Picts|
|May 685 to 14 December 704||Aldfrith (Ealdfrith, Aldfrid)||Son of Oswiu|
|Late 704 to early 705||Eadwulf||Usurper|
|705 to 716||Osred I||Son of Aldfrith, killed in battle or murdered|
|716 to 718||Coenred||Distant descendant of Ida of Bernecia|
|718 to 29 May 729||Osric||Son of Aldfrith, adopted Ceolwulf as his heir|
|729 to 731||Ceolwulf||Brother of Coenred, deposed; Saint Ceolwulf|
|731 to 737/8||Ceolwulf||Restored; abdicated to become a monk|
|737 to 758||Eadberht||Son of Eata, a descendant of Ida of Bernicia, abdicated to become a monk|
|758 to 759||Oswulf (Osulf)||Son of Eadberht, murdered by his servants|
|759 to 765||Æthelwald Moll||Deposed|
|765 to 774||Alhred||Distant descendant of Ida of Bernicia, deposed and exiled|
|774 to 779||Æthelred I||Son of Æthelwald Moll, deposed|
|779 to 23 September 788||Ælfwald I||Son of Oswulf, murdered|
|788 to 790||Osred II||Son of Alhred, deposed and exiled|
|790 to 18 April 796||Æthelred I||Restored|
|796||Osbald||Exiled after a reign of 27 days|
|14 May 796 to 806/8||Eardwulf||Deposed|
|806/8 to 808/10||Ælfwald II (Elfwald II)|
|808 to 810||Eardwulf||Restored|
|810 to 841||Eanred||Son of Eardwulf|
|840/1 to 844||Æthelred II||Son of Eanred, deposed|
|844 to c. 848/9||Æthelred II||Restored|
|c. 848/9 to 862/3||Osberht (Osbert)||Deposed|
|862/3/7 to 23 March 867||Ælle II||Usurper, killed by the Danes with Osbeorht|
|867 to 21 March 867||Osberht (Osbert)||Killed by the Danes with the usurper Ælle|
Kings of Northumbria in the Norse era
The kings of Northumbria in the Norse era variously controlled Jórvík, the former Deira, from its capital York or the northern part of the kingdom, the former Bernicia, from Bamburgh. The southern kings were usually Vikings while the northern rulers were Anglo-Saxons. Some of the rulers controlled all or most of Northumbria although there is some doubt over the details as the history of Northumbria in the ninth and tenth centuries is poorly recorded.
|Years||Ruler of southern Northumbria||Ruler of northern Northumbria||Notes|
|867–872||Military conquest by the Great Heathen Army||Ecgberht I||Ecgberht I ruled north of the Tyne as a puppet king of the Danes.|
|872–c. 875||Ricsige||Probably ruled most of Northumbria as a sovereign Anglo-Saxon king.|
|c. 875–877||Halfdan Ragnarsson||Ecgberht II||The year in which Ecgberht II ceased to be king is unclear.|
|877–883||Interregnum in York|
|c. 883–895||Guthred||Uncertain. Possibly Ecgberht II.|
|c. 895–900||Siefried||Eadwulf II||1. Eadwulf II is variously titled as either a king or a reeve and the year in which he came to power is unknown. Conventionally he is thought to have ruled only the northern part of the kingdom but he may have ruled the entirely of Northumbria.|
2. Siefried and Cnut may have been joint kings in York for part or all of the period between 895 and 905:79
3. Along with Hálfdan and Eowils, another king, Ingwær, their brother, may have also ruled. All three were killed at the Battle of Tettenhall in 910.
|c. 902–910:87||Hálfdan and Eowils|
|c. 910–913||Anglo-Saxon control, possibly under Eadwulf II|
|913–c. 918||Anglo-Saxon control, possibly under Ealdred I||Ealdred I||1. There is some evidence that Ealdred submitted to Edward the Elder in 924 who died in that year.|
2. Ealdred submitted to Æthelstan in 927, making Æthelstan the overlord of all Northumbria as King of the English from 12 July 927, following the Treaty of Eamont Bridge. It is likely that Ealdred's submission was somewhat nominal with Ealdred ruling semi-independently while acknowledging West Saxon authority.
|c. 933–c. 934||Adulf mcEtulfe||1. The name Adulf mcEtulfe can be taken to be Æthelwulf son of Eadwulf.|
2. Alternatively, Adulf mcEtulfe indicates Ealdred son of Eadwulf, i.e. Ealdred I.
3. Adulf mcEtulfe died in 934 and had been named 'King of the Northern Saxons' by the Annals of Clonmacnoise.
|c. 934–939 :151,74||Overlordship of Æthelstan|
|939–941:174,81||Olaf Guthfrithson||Possibly Olaf Guthfrithson||After Æthelstan's death in 939, the men of York immediately chose the Viking king of Dublin, Olaf Guthfrithson (or his cousin, Anlaf Cuaran[a]), as their king and the Anglo-Saxon control of the north collapsed.|
|941–943/944:181–2||Olaf Sihtricson||Possibly Olaf Sihtricson||Olaf Sihtricson was also known as Amlaíb Cuarán|
|c. 942||Sitric II||Possibly Sitric II||Sitric's existence is only evidenced by coins bearing his name which were minted at York.|
|943–944:182||Ragnall Guthfrithson (possibly with Olaf Sihtricson)||Possibly Ragnall Guthfrithson with Olaf Sihtricson|
|c. 944–946:182,86||Eadmund of Wessex||Possibly under Eadmund's overlordship||Edmund's authority was as King of the English.|
|c. 947–948:186–8||Eric Bloodaxe||Under Eadred's overlordship||1. From 946, Osulf I appears in the historical record as high-reeve of Bamburgh under Eadred the King of the English.|
2. Eric Bloodaxe had previously been King of Norway.
|949–952:186,88||Olaf Sihtricson||Olaf Sihtricson was restored to the throne. During this time, Osulf I is variously described as the high-reeve or earl of Bamburgh.|
|952–954:188–90||Eric Bloodaxe||Eric Bloodaxe was restored to the throne. In 954 Osulf I was responsible for a conspiracy that led to the death of Eric Bloodaxe.|
Although Eadred claimed rule from 946,:185–90 the Kingdom of Northumbria was not absorbed permanently into England until after 954.:190 Thereafter Osulf had control of all Northumbria under Eadred. See Rulers of Bamburgh for subsequent lords of Bamburgh after Osulf, none of whom ruled as kings.
- Kings of Bernicia; - Kings of Deira; - Kings of Northumbria
b.c.586; d. 633
|Osric I |
b.c.595; d. 634
b.c.604; d. 642
b.c.612; d. 670
King of the Picts
|Æthelwald I |
b.c.645; d. 685
b.c.661; d. 679
|Osred I |
b.c.697; d. 716
|Osric II |
- Historian Kevin Halloran argues that it was Anlaf Cuaran rather than Olaf Guthfrithson who became King of York after Æthelstan's death
- Gething, Paul; Albert, Edoardo (1 October 2012). Northumbria: The Lost Kingdom. The History Press. ISBN 9780752490892 – via Google Books.
- Cannon, John; Hargreaves, Anne (26 March 2009). The Kings and Queens of Britain. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780191580284 – via Google Books.
- Rollason, David (2003). Northumbria, 500-1100: Creation and Destruction of a Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. p. 249. ISBN 0-521-81335-2.
- Kirby, D. P. (1990). The Earliest English Kings. Routledge. ISBN 9781134548132.
- Costambeys, M (2004). "Hálfdan (d. 877)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/49260. Retrieved 10 December 2019. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Symeon of Durham (1855). "The Historical Works of Simeon of Durham". Church Historians of England, volume III, part II. J. Stevenson, translator. Seeley's. p. 493. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
- Hudson, Benjamin (2005), Viking Pirates and Christian Princes: Dynasty, Religion and Empire in the North Atlantic, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-516237-4, p. 21
- Downham, Clare (2007), Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014, Edinburgh: Dunedin
- Williams, "Ealdred"; Woolf, From Pictland to Alba, p. 158
- Woolf, Pictland to Alba.
- Woolf, From Pictland to Alba, pp. 163-164
- McGuigan, Neil (2015). "Ælla and the descendants of Ivar: politics and legend in the Viking Age". Northern History. 52 (1): 20–34. doi:10.1179/0078172X14Z.00000000075. S2CID 161252048. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- Halloran, "Anlaf Guthfrithson at York", pp. 180–185
- Costambeys, "Erik Bloodaxe"; Hudson, Viking Pirates, pp. 37—8
- Rollason, Northumbria, pp. 65—6
- Mackenzie, E; Ross, M (1834). An Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive View of the County Palatine of Durham. I. Newcastle upon Tyne: Mackenzie and Dent. p. xi. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
- Downham, Clare (2007), Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014, Edinburgh: Dunedin, ISBN 978-1-903765-89-0, OCLC 163618313
- Woolf, Alex (2007), From Pictland to Alba, 789–1070, The New Edinburgh History of Scotland, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-1234-5, OCLC 123113911