Oswald of East Anglia

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King of the East Angles
Reigncirca (c.) 869 – before 880
PredecessorEdmund the Martyr
SuccessorÆthelred II of East Anglia

Oswald was king of East Anglia in the 870s after the death of Edmund the Martyr. No textual evidence of his reign is known, but some of his coins are known from the same period.


Evidence suggests that during the period between the death of Edmund the Martyr and the return of Guthrum to East Anglia in 880, Oswald and Æthelred ruled the East Angles as client kings. It is possible that the East Anglian aristocracy had been almost, but not entirely, extinguished by the Viking attacks that resulted in Edmund's death, and that in the years when Oswald, Æthelred and Guthrum successively ruled the kingdom, there was a period of opposition or defiance against the Danish leadership.[1] The Vikings ruled the East Angles from the accession of Oswald, until 920, when East Anglia was incorporated into the kingdom of England after the defeat of the Danes by Edward the Elder.[2]


Two coins of Oswald, now in the British Museum

The existence of Oswald is known solely because of his coins.[3]

Coins and silver bullion was used throughout the period of the Viking attacks in East Anglia and the Vikings continued the Anglo-Saxon tradition of producing silver pennies, although at a reduced rate. Eight coins are known from the reigns of Æthelred and Oswald, whereas over two hundred are known to have been made by the moneyers of Oswald's predecessor, Edmund.[4]

A few coins bearing Oswald's name were found in the Cuerdale Hoard. The coins can be dated from the 870s to the 900s, following the death of Edmund the Martyr. One of the coins, produced by a moneyer whose name started Beor..., is of the temple type: another has an alpha, a common East Anglian design.[5]


  1. ^ Pestell, Landscapes of Monastic Foundation, pp. 78-79.
  2. ^ Bates, D. and Liddiard, R., East Anglia and its North World in the Middle Ages, pp. 83-84.
  3. ^ Bates, D. and Liddiard, R., East Anglia and its North World in the Middle Ages, p. 137.
  4. ^ Bates, D. and Liddiard, R., East Anglia and its North World in the Middle Ages, p. 149.
  5. ^ Grierson and Blackburn, Mediaeval Coinage Vol. 1, p. 294.


  • Blackburn, Mark; Grierson, Philip (1986). Mediaeval European Coinage: Volume 1 The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th Centuries). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pestell, Tim (2004). Landscapes of Monastic Foundation: The Establishment of Religious Houses c.650-1200. Woodbridge: Boydell Press. ISBN 1 84383 062 0.
English royalty
Preceded by
Edmund the Martyr
King of East Anglia Succeeded by
Æthelred II