Aldfrith (king of Northumbria)
- d. 704/705
- feast-day: 14 December
Aldfrith son of Oswiu, king of Northumbria
See also references for related subjects.
Ireland, Colin A., “Where was King Aldfrith of Northumbria educated? An exploration of seventh-century Insular learning”, Traditio 70 (2015): 29–73.
The superior learning of King Aldfrith of Northumbria (685–704) was acknowledged in both Anglo-Saxon and Gaelic contemporary sources by such renowned scholars as Bede of Wearmouth-Jarrow, Aldhelm of Malmesbury, Adomnán of Iona, Stephen of Ripon, and Alcuin of York. Both Aldhelm and Adomnán knew him personally, and texts composed by these two scholars and presented to Aldfrith help delineate the breadth of his educational background. He was educated among the Gaels, and their records described him as sapiens. By examining texts of other seventh-century Gaelic sapientes, and the comments of Aldhelm and Bede about Gaelic intellectual life and educational opportunities, we can expand our purview of the scope of his education. The nature of seventh-century schooling was peripatetic, and Aldfrith's dual heritage requires a broad search for locations. Many scholars accept Iona as the likely source of his learned background, but this essay will argue that, among other likely locations in Britain and Ireland, Bangor in Northern Ireland is best supported by surviving evidence. His benign reign is placed at the end of the first century of the Anglo-Saxon conversion, but his education benefited the kingdom of Northumbria through generations of Gaelic scholarship, as exemplified by peregrini such as Columba and Columbanus, and sapientes like Laidcenn mac Baíth, Cummíne of Clonfert, Ailerán of Clonard, Cenn Fáelad mac Ailello, and Banbán of Kildare. Aldfrith's rule ushered in a period of cultural florescence in Northumbria that saw the first hagiography and earliest illuminated manuscripts produced in Anglo-Saxon England and that culminated in the extensive library authored by Bede (d. 735).
Yorke, Barbara, “Adomnán at the court of King Aldfrith”, in: Aist, Rodney, Thomas Owen Clancy, Thomas O'Loughlin, and Jonathan M. Wooding (eds), Adomnán of Iona: theologian, lawmaker, peacemaker, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2010. 36–50.
Yorke, Barbara, “Aldhelm’s Irish and British connections”, in: Barker, Katherine, and Nicholas Brooks (eds), Aldhelm and Sherborne: essays to celebrate the founding of the bishopric, Oxford: Oxbow, 2010. 164–180.
Ireland, Colin A. [ed. and tr.], Old Irish wisdom attributed to Aldfrith of Northumbria: an edition of Bríathra Flainn Fhína maic Ossu, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 205, Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1999.
Ireland, Colin, “Aldfrith of Northumbria and the learning of a sapiens”, in: Klar, Kathryn A., Eve E. Sweetser, and Claire Thomas (eds.), A Celtic florilegium: studies in memory of Brendan O Hehir, Celtic Studies Publications 2, Lawrence, Massachusetts: Celtic Studies Publications, 1996. 63–77.