On the Name OiscEdit
In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Oisc is called Æsc, seemingly just a more modern form of the same name. Bede claims that Oisc gave his name to the Kentish royal family, who were called the Oscingas. And Oisc was the father of the next Kentish king who was named Octa. The Historia Britonum seems to reverse these two names, making Hengist father of Octa, not father of Oisc, and then making Octa father of Ossa, who would appear to be Oisc.
To avoid confusion, in this Wiki, Oisc is normally used as the name of Hengist’s son and Octa as the name of his grandson. Despite the confusion of names, it is always clear in a particular document which one is meant within that document.
The meaning of the name Oisc is not known, though scholars have sumnarized meanings, usually indicating a relation to the Old English element os- (‘god-’) as in Oswald, Osric, and so forth.
It is sometimes suggested that the royal family of Kent being named Oiscingas rather than Hengistingas, suggests that Hengist was not real, or at least was not the ancestor of the Kentish royal family. On the other hand, tradition indicates that Hengist had at least two sons, and that they originally had lands in Brynach and that a line derived from another son of Hengist may have continued to rule there, in which case Oiscingas would have been quite reasonable, indicating the royal lineage of the Kings of Kent, distinguished from the northern line.
For a more complete study, see Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, Volume 22 (2003, p. 35)
Oisc’s First VictoriesEdit
According to the Historia Brittonum, after Vortigern had married Hengist's daughter Renwein and given the province of Kent to Hengist, Hengist obtained permssion from Vortigern to bring more of his people from his homeland under the leadership of his sons Oisc and Ebissa. Oisc and Ebissa arrived with 40 ships, sailed round the country of the Picts, laid waste the Orkneys, and took possession of many regions, even to the Pictish confines.
Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regum Britanniae says the same, only raises the number of ships to 300, and includes a third companion named Cherdic, but is less definite about their achievements, only mentioning that with their support, Vortigern conquered his enemies and was victorious in every battle.
When the Britons under Vortimer make war on the Saxons, Oisc fights against the Britons along with his father until according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Saxons are driven out of Britain.
From the Anglo Saxon ChronicleEdit
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has:
488 [A]. Here Æsc succeeded to the kingdom and was king of the Kentish-men twenty-four winters.The Peterborough manuscript of the Chronicle (E) reads “thirty-four years”.
Pseudo-historic Information About OiscEdit
The preding information about Oisc is dubious at least. For the following, the only source is Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae and accounts which take material from it.
According to Geoffery, Oisc and some men succeeded in fleeing to York from the battle of Caer Conan where his father had been captured. In York, Oisc's cousin Eosa had garisoned the city with a large army. After having Eldol execute Hengist, Aurelius Ambrosius and his army besieged York. Oisc and his chief nobles realize they are beaten, and come from the city with heads bestrewen with gravel and carrying chains, declaring their surrender. They admit that their gods have been vanquished and that the Christian God is supreme. In Lawman’s account they even express the intent to believe in the Christian faith.
Bishop Eldad recommends mercy and Ambrosius agrees. Then Eosa comes forth in the same way and is also pardoned. Ambrosius again gives them the northern lands in which they had formerly dwelt, under a treaty. No mention is made of Kent.
According to Wace, Oisc and the Saxons are now installed in lands within Scotland, not just near Scotland. Lawman has Oisc and his people undergo Christian baptism and then settle beside Scotland.
But upon the death of Ambrosius, Oisc and Eosa (along with Ebissa according to Lawman) attack his heir Uther Pendragon. They join with the Saxons whom Paskent (now dead) had brought over and send for still further Saxons from overseas. Oisc destroys all towns and strong points from the border of Albany to York. When Uther attacks, Oisc wins the battle and pursues the Britons from York to Mt. Damen.
That night, Duke Gorlois of Cornwall argues for an attack by night. His advice is taken. The Saxons are taken by surprise and totally defeated. Oisc and Eosa (and Ebissa according to Lawman) are taken captive. They are imprisoned in London. One may take it that Oisc still retains his title of king, if one wishes.
Finally, after many years of imprionment, King Uther Pendragon falls ill. Oisc and Eosa (and Ebissa according to Lawman) persuade their bored warders to flee with them to the continent. They return with a large army and plunder in the north. The British army attacks them, under King Loth of Lothian, King Uther’s son-in-law. But in the following battles are not decisive, in part because many of the Britons do not respect Loth and do not obey him with good will.
King Uther is enraged, and insists on accompanying the army in a litter. The meet with the Saxons at St. Albans which the Saxons have just conquered. In disdain for the crippled king, the Saxons leave the gates open. The Britons attack furiously, which brings the Saxons to their senses. By nightfall, neither side can claim victory. Only by the end of the following day are the Britons finally victorious.
Oisc and Eosa (and Ebissa according to Lawman) are slain in the battle. The small number of Saxons who have escaped flee back to the north.
- Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, Volume 22, (2003), Berlin, Walter de Groot.
Some Name VariationsEdit
LATIN: Oeric, Oisc, Esk, Octa; FRENCH: Octa; ENGLISH: Æsc, Octa; WELSH: Octa.