Oswald: Northumbrian King to European Saint

by Clare Stancliffe (Editor)

Other authorsEric Cambridge (Editor)
Paperback, 1995



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Paul Watkins Publishing (1995), Edition: 1st, 320 pages


Oswald of Northumbria, a charismatic leader, a Christian warlord, a warrior whose prowess in battle earned him the epithet Whiteblade was the founder of Lindisfarne monastery and the first great English monarch. Oswald Whiteblade lived one of the most influential and colorful lives in early English history. He was an exiled prince who returned to claim his birthright, the inspiration for Tolkein's Aragorn. Before his death in battle against the pagans of Mercia which cut short his reign as king of Northumbria (634-42), he remodeled his northeastern English homeland as a Christian kingdom, founded the monastery of Lindisfarne, introduced a culture of learning which influenced all Europe, and became the most powerful ruler in Britain.

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St Oswald, king of Northumbria, was one of the central political and religious figures of the seventh century. Like many kings who met an untimely death at the hands of a pagan, he was soon venerated as a saint; but unusually Oswald's cult flourished to such an extent that it spread throughout
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England and also widely on the continent. It is also unusual that his traditional iconography presents him with a raven, a pagan symbol. In all there are eleven essays together with an introduction by the editors on the iconography of the saint. Other contributors include Rosemary Cramp, Alan Thacker, Victoria Tudor, Richard N. Bailey, Dagmar O Riain-Raedel, Annemiek Jansen and Alison Binns. The topics embrace the archaeological background, Oswald's life and reign, a detailed discussion of the site of Oswald's death (finding grounds for reaffirming the traditional view that Maserfelth is Oswestry in Shropshire), the dismemberment of the body and the early spread of the cult, and its expansion to the continent and subsequent popularity there. Richard Bailey examines the various claims of medieval churches to possess 'St Oswald's Heads' (there are no fewer than four in Europe and one, almost certainly authentic, in England at Durham Cathedral). The last essay is a study of the distribution of Oswald dedications in England and Scotland. There is a full index and a section of photographs. Now in revised reprint .
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Original language


Physical description

6.3 x 1.02 inches


1871615518 / 9781871615517
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