Iurminburg (fl. 678–685)
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Queen of Northumbria. The daughter of unknown parents, Iurminburg became the second wife of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria some time between 672 and 678. Her influence over her husband seems to have been considerable, and she therefore played an important part in Northumbrian history. Her hostility to Bishop Wilfrid of York, possibly because he had been so close to her predecessor ÆTHELTHRYTH, caused her to persuade Ecgfrith to expel Wilfrid from his see in 678, and then, after Wilfrid returned from Rome in 681 with a papal judgement in his favour, to imprison him. Shortly after this Iurminburg fell ill, and was cured only after the King was advised by the Abbess ÆBBE of Coldingham, at whose foundation the royal couple were staying, to release Wilfrid and return the reliquary that Iurminburg had taken from him. Despite this warning, the Queen continued to harry Wilfrid, using her influence to prevent him from finding refuge either in Mercia or Wessex. Yet Iurminburg was not hostile to all ecclesiastics. In 685, for instance, St Cuthbert warned her of his vision that her husband had been killed while fighting the Picts. Cuthbert advised her to leave her sister’s monastery, where she was staying to await the outcome of the battle, and take refuge in nearby Carlisle. When the prophecy proved true, Iurminburg decided to take the veil. Cuthbert consecrated her, and she entered a monastery at Carlisle, presumably her sister’s house, where she spent the remainder of her life, first as a nun, and then as the monastery’s well-respected abbess.