My favourite kind of story. Over at Heavenfelth, Michele talks about the humble and very much dead King Oswine, who was murdered by King Oswiu after a period of intrigue involving battles that never happened and treasonous retainers. She also talks about the reasons why Bede might have included this story in his history.
What interests me about this story, though, is that Oswiu’s queen, Eanfled, was Oswine’s cousin. So she demanded weregild from her husband – it was to be paid in the form of the foundation of a monastery at Gilling. Now, as Michelle notes, Oswiu had seriously pissed off the church by killing Oswine, so Eanfled probably had some powerful churchmen backing her demand. But it’s interesting to me that the demand was framed as weregild, not merely as penance; and that a wife could claim weregild from her husband for the death of a cousin. I don’t recall ‘found a monastery’ ever appearing in any of the law codes on weregild that I slogged through, although obviously this is a couple of centuries earlier than said codes. But that still leads me to conclude that this is a very odd social/legal transaction, and all the more interesting for it.
Besides, as Michelle noted in the comments, that means that the monastery of Gilling was founded to pray for both Oswine (murdered) and Oswiu (murderer). There’s a special sense of narrative coherence to that.