Bede
Overview
Bede also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 at the Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

n monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 of Saint Peter
Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey
Wearmouth-Jarrow is a twin-foundation English monastery, located on the River Wear in Sunderland and the River Tyne at Jarrow respectively, in the Kingdom of Northumbria . Its formal name is The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Wearmouth-Jarrow...

 at Monkwearmouth
Monkwearmouth
Monkwearmouth is an area of Sunderland located at the north side of the mouth of the River Wear. It was one of the three original settlements on the banks of the River Wear along with Bishopwearmouth and Sunderland, the area now known as the East End. It includes the area around St. Peter's Church...

, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow
Jarrow
Jarrow is a town in Tyne and Wear, England, located on the River Tyne, with a population of 27,526. From the middle of the 19th century until 1935, Jarrow was a centre for shipbuilding, and was the starting point of the Jarrow March against unemployment in 1936.-Foundation:The Angles re-occupied...

 (see Wearmouth-Jarrow), both in the Kingdom of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

. Bede's monastery had access to a superb library which included works by Eusebius and Orosius
Orosius
Paulus Orosius , less often Paul Orosius in English, was a Christian historian, theologian and student of Augustine of Hippo from Gallaecia...

 among many others.

He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

(The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) gained him the title "The Father of English History
History of England
The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

".
Encyclopedia
Bede also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 at the Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

n monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 of Saint Peter
Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey
Wearmouth-Jarrow is a twin-foundation English monastery, located on the River Wear in Sunderland and the River Tyne at Jarrow respectively, in the Kingdom of Northumbria . Its formal name is The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Wearmouth-Jarrow...

 at Monkwearmouth
Monkwearmouth
Monkwearmouth is an area of Sunderland located at the north side of the mouth of the River Wear. It was one of the three original settlements on the banks of the River Wear along with Bishopwearmouth and Sunderland, the area now known as the East End. It includes the area around St. Peter's Church...

, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow
Jarrow
Jarrow is a town in Tyne and Wear, England, located on the River Tyne, with a population of 27,526. From the middle of the 19th century until 1935, Jarrow was a centre for shipbuilding, and was the starting point of the Jarrow March against unemployment in 1936.-Foundation:The Angles re-occupied...

 (see Wearmouth-Jarrow), both in the Kingdom of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

. Bede's monastery had access to a superb library which included works by Eusebius and Orosius
Orosius
Paulus Orosius , less often Paul Orosius in English, was a Christian historian, theologian and student of Augustine of Hippo from Gallaecia...

 among many others.

He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

(The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) gained him the title "The Father of English History
History of England
The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

". In 1899, Bede was made a Doctor of the Church
Doctor of the Church
Doctor of the Church is a title given by a variety of Christian churches to individuals whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.-Catholic Church:In the Catholic Church, this name is given to a saint from whose...

 by Leo XIII, a position of theological significance; he is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation (Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

, also a Doctor of the Church, was originally from Italy). Bede was moreover a skilled linguist and translator, and his work with the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 writings of the early Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 contributed significantly to English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, making the writings much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

.

Life

Almost everything that is known of Bede's life is contained in the last chapter of his Historia Ecclesiastica
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

, a history of the church in England. It was completed in about 731, and Bede implies that he was then in his fifty-ninth year, which would give a likely birth date of about 672–673. A minor source of information is the letter by his disciple Cuthbert which relates Bede's death. Bede, in the Historia, gives his birthplace as "on the lands of this monastery". He is referring to the twinned monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow
Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey
Wearmouth-Jarrow is a twin-foundation English monastery, located on the River Wear in Sunderland and the River Tyne at Jarrow respectively, in the Kingdom of Northumbria . Its formal name is The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Wearmouth-Jarrow...

, near modern-day Sunderland and Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

, respectively; both have been claimed as his birthplace, and there is also a tradition that he was born at Monkton, two miles from the monastery at Jarrow. Bede says nothing of his origins, but his connections with men of noble ancestry suggest that his own family was well-to-do. Bede's first abbot was Benedict Biscop
Benedict Biscop
Benedict Biscop , also known as Biscop Baducing, was an Anglo-Saxon abbot and founder of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory and was considered a saint after his death.-Early career:...

, and the names "Biscop" and "Beda" both appear in a king list of the kings of Lindsey
Kingdom of Lindsey
Lindsey or Linnuis is the name of a petty Anglo-Saxon kingdom, absorbed into Northumbria in the 7th century.It lay between the Humber and the Wash, forming its inland boundaries from the course of the Witham and Trent rivers , and the Foss Dyke between...

 from around 800, further suggesting that Bede came from a noble family. The name "Bede" was not a common one at the time. The Liber Vitae of Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

 includes a list of priests; two are named Bede, and one of these is presumably Bede himself. Some manuscripts of the Life of Cuthbert, one of Bede's own works, mention that Cuthbert's own priest was named Bede; it is possible that this priest is the other name listed in the Liber Vitae. These occurrences, along with a Bieda who is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

under the year 501, are the only appearances of the name in early sources. The name probably derives from the Old English bēd, or prayer; if Bede was given the name at his birth, then his family had probably always planned for him to enter the clergy.

At the age of seven, he was sent to the monastery of Wearmouth by his family to be educated by Benedict Biscop and later by Ceolfrith. Bede does not say whether it was already intended at that point that he would be a monk. It was fairly common in Ireland at this time for young boys, particularly those of noble birth, to be fostered out; the practice was also likely to have been common among the Germanic peoples in England. Wearmouth's sister monastery at Jarrow was founded by Ceolfrith in 682, and Bede probably transferred to Jarrow with Ceolfrith that year. The dedication stone for the church has survived to the present day; it is dated 23 April 685, and as Bede would have been required to assist with menial tasks in his day-to-day life it is possible that he helped in building the original church. In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow. The Life of Ceolfrith, written in about 710, records that only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices; one was Ceolfrith and the other a young boy, who according to the anonymous writer had been taught by Ceolfrith and was "now a priest of the same monastery". After a week of singing the psalms without the usual antiphon
Antiphon
An antiphon in Christian music and ritual, is a "responsory" by a choir or congregation, usually in Gregorian chant, to a psalm or other text in a religious service or musical work....

s, Ceolfrith "could not bear it any longer", and the two managed to restore the usual service, "with no little labour". The young boy was almost certainly Bede, who would have been about 14.

When Bede was about 17 years old, Adomnan, the abbot of Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic...

, visited Wearmouth and Jarrow. Bede would probably have met the abbot during this visit, and it may be that Adomnan sparked Bede's interest in the Easter dating controversy
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

. In about 692, in Bede's nineteenth year, Bede was ordained a deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 by his diocesan bishop, John
John of Beverley
John of Beverley was an English bishop active in the kingdom of Northumbria. He was the Bishop of Hexham and then the Bishop of York which was the most important religious designation in the area. He went on to found the town of Beverley by building the first structure there, a monastery...

, who was bishop of Hexham
Bishop of Hexham
The Bishop of Hexham was an episcopal title which took its name after the market town of Hexham in Northumberland, England. The title was first used by the Anglo-Saxons in the 7th and 9th centuries, and then by the Roman Catholic Church in the 19th century....

. The canonical age for the ordination of a deacon was 25; Bede's early ordination may mean that his abilities were considered exceptional, but it is also possible that the minimum age requirement was often disregarded. There might have been minor orders ranking below a deacon; but there is no record of whether Bede held any of these offices. In Bede's thirtieth year (about 702) Bede became a priest, with the ordination again performed by Bishop John.

In about 701 Bede wrote his first works, the De Arte Metrica and De Schematibus et Tropis; both were intended for use in the classroom. He continued to write for the rest of his life, eventually completing over 60 books, most of which have survived. Not all of his output can be easily dated, and Bede may have worked on some texts over a period of many years. His last surviving work is a letter to Ecgbert of York, a former student, written in 734. A 6th-century Greek and Latin manuscript of Acts
ACTS
Acts or ACTS may refer to:Christianity* Acts of the Apostles , a genre of early Christian literature* Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book in the Bible's New Testament...

that is believed to have been used by Bede survives and is now in the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

; it is known as the Codex Laudianus
Codex Laudianus
Codex Laudianus, designated by Ea or 08 , α 1001 , called Laudianus after the former owner, Archbishop William Laud. It is a diglot Latin — Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, palaeographically assigned to the 6th century...

. Bede may also have worked on one of the Latin bibles that were copied at Jarrow, one of which is now held by the Laurentian Library
Laurentian Library
The Laurentian Library is a historical library in Florence, Italy, containing a repository of more than 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books...

 in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

. Bede was a teacher as well as a writer; he enjoyed music, and was said to be accomplished as a singer and as a reciter of poetry in the vernacular. It is possible that he suffered a speech impediment of some kind, but this depends on a phrase in the introduction to his verse life of Saint Cuthbert. Translations of this phrase differ, and it is quite uncertain whether Bede intended to say that he was cured of a speech problem, or merely that he was inspired by the saint's works.

In 708, some monks at Hexham
Hexham Abbey
Hexham Abbey is a place of Christian worship dedicated to St Andrew and located in the town of Hexham, Northumberland, in northeast England. Since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537, the Abbey has been the parish church of Hexham.-History:...

 accused Bede of having committed heresy in his work De Temporibus. The standard theological view of world history at the time was known as the six ages of the world
Six Ages of the World
The Six Ages of the World is a Christian historical periodization first written about by Saint Augustine circa 400 AD. It is based upon Christian religious events, from the creation of Adam to the events of Revelation...

; in his book, Bede calculated the age of the world for himself, rather than accepting the authority of Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

, and came to the conclusion that Christ had been born 3,952 years after the creation of the world, rather than the figure of over 5,000 years that was commonly accepted by theologians. The accusation occurred in front of the bishop of Hexham of the time, Wilfrid
Wilfrid
Wilfrid was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul, and at Rome; he returned to Northumbria in about 660, and became the abbot of a newly founded monastery at Ripon...

, who was present at a feast when some drunken monks made the accusation. Wilfrid did not respond to the accusation, but a monk present relayed the episode to Bede, who replied within a few days to the monk, writing a letter setting forth his defence and asking that the letter be read to Wilfrid also. Bede had another brush with Wilfrid, for the historian himself says that he met Wilfrid, sometime between 706 and 709, and discussed Æthelthryth
Æthelthryth
Æthelthryth is the proper name for the popular Anglo-Saxon saint often known, particularly in a religious context, as Etheldreda or by the pet form of Audrey...

, the abbess of Ely. Wilfrid had been present at the exhumation of her body in 695, and Bede questioned the bishop about the exact circumstances of the body and asked for more details of her life, as Wilfrid had been her advisor.

In 733, Bede travelled to York, to visit Ecgbert, who was then bishop of York. The see of York was elevated to an archbishopric in 735, and it is likely that Bede and Ecgbert discussed the proposal for the elevation during his visit. Bede hoped to visit Ecgbert again in 734, but was too ill to make the journey. Bede also travelled to the monastery of Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

, and at some point visited the otherwise unknown monastery of a monk named , a visit that is mentioned in a letter to that monk. Because of his widespread correspondence with others throughout the British Isles, and due to the fact that many of the letters imply that Bede had met his correspondents, it is likely that Bede travelled to some other places, although nothing further about timing or locations can be guessed. It seems certain that he did not visit Rome, however, as he would have mentioned it in the autobiographical chapter of his Historia Ecclesiastica. Nothhelm, a correspondent of Bede's who assisted him by finding documents for him in Rome, is known to have visited Bede, though the date cannot be determined beyond the fact that it was after Nothhelm's visit to Rome.

Bede died on Thursday, 26 May 735 (Ascension Day) and was buried at Jarrow. Cuthbert, a disciple of Bede's, wrote a letter to a Cuthwin (of whom nothing else is known), describing Bede's last days and his death. According to Cuthbert, Bede fell ill "with frequent attacks of breathlessness but almost without pain", before Easter. On the Tuesday before Acension Day (26 May) his breathing became worse, and his feet swelled. He continued to dictate to a scribe, however, and despite spending the night awake in prayer he dictated again the following day. At three o'clock, according to Cuthbert, he asked for a box of his to be brought, and distributed among the priests of the monastery "a few treasures" of his: "some pepper, and napkins, and some incense". That night he dictated a final sentence to the scribe, a boy named Wilberht, and died soon afterwards. Cuthbert's letter also relates a five-line poem in the vernacular that Bede composed on his deathbed, known as "Bede's Death Song". It is the most widely copied Old English poem, and appears in 45 manuscripts, but its attribution to Bede is not absolutely certain—not all manuscripts name Bede as the author, and the ones that do are of later origin than those that do not. Bede's remains may have been transferred to Durham Cathedral in the 11th century; his tomb there was looted in 1541, but the contents were probably re-interred in the Galilee chapel at the cathedral.

One further oddity in his writings is that in one of his works, the Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, he writes in a manner that gives the impression he was married. The section in question is the only one in that work that is written in first-person view. Bede says: "Prayers are hindered by the conjugal duty because as often as I perform what is due to my wife I am not able to pray." Another passage, in the Commentary on Luke, also mentions a wife in the first person: "Formerly I possessed a wife in the lustful passion of desire and now I possess her in honourable sanctification and true love of Christ." The historian Benedicta Ward argues that these passages are Bede employing a rhetorical device.

Works

Bede wrote scientific, historical and theological works, reflecting the range of his writings from music and metrics
Meter (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry where it means the number of lines in a verse, the number of syllables in each line and the arrangement of those syllables as long or short, accented or unaccented...

 to exegetical Scripture commentaries. He knew patristic literature, as well as Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, Lucretius
Lucretius
Titus Lucretius Carus was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is an epic philosophical poem laying out the beliefs of Epicureanism, De rerum natura, translated into English as On the Nature of Things or "On the Nature of the Universe".Virtually no details have come down concerning...

, Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

, Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

 and other classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 writers. He knew some Greek and Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. His Latin is generally clear, but his Biblical commentaries are more technical.

Bede's scriptural commentaries employed the allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 method of interpretation and his history includes accounts of miracles, which to modern historians has seemed at odds with his critical approach to the materials in his history. Modern studies have shown the important role such concepts played in the world-view of Early Medieval scholars.

He dedicated his work on the Apocalypse and the De Temporum Ratione to the successor of Ceolfrid as abbot, Hwaetbert.

Modern historians have completed many studies of Bede's works. His life and work have been celebrated by a series of annual scholarly lectures at St. Paul's Church, Jarrow from 1958 to the present. The historian Walter Goffart
Walter Goffart
Walter Andre Goffart is a historian of the later Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages who specializes in research on the barbarian kingdoms of those periods. He is a senior research scholar and lecturer at Yale University....

 says of Bede that he "holds a privileged and unrivalled place among first historians of Christian Europe".

Although Bede is mainly studied as a historian now, in his time his works on grammar, chronology, and biblical studies were as important as his historical and hagiographical works. The non-historical works contributed greatly to the Carolingian renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

.

Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum

Bede's best-known work is the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

, or An Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Completed in about 731,, Bede was aided in writing this book by Albinus
Albinus (abbot)
Albinus was an abbot of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury. He assisted Bede in the compilation of his Historia Ecclesiastica, and what we know concerning him is chiefly derived from the dedicatory epistle at the beginning of that work. Albinus was a pupil of Archbishop Theodore and his coadjutor...

, abbot of St Augustine's Abbey
St Augustine's Abbey
St Augustine's Abbey was a Benedictine abbey in Canterbury, Kent, England.-Early history:In 597 Saint Augustine arrived in England, having been sent by Pope Gregory I, on what might nowadays be called a revival mission. The King of Kent at this time was Æthelberht, who happened to be married to a...

, Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

. The first of the five books begins with some geographical background, and then sketches the history of England, beginning with Caesar's
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 invasion in 55 BC. A brief account of Christianity in Roman Britain, including the martyrdom of St Alban
Saint Alban
Saint Alban was the first British Christian martyr. Along with his fellow saints Julius and Aaron, Alban is one of three martyrs remembered from Roman Britain. Alban is listed in the Church of England calendar for 22 June and he continues to be venerated in the Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox...

, is followed by the story of Augustine
Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597...

's mission to England in 597, which brought Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons. The second book begins with the death of Gregory the Great in 604, and follows the further progress of Christianity in Kent and the first attempts to evangelise Northumbria. These ended in disaster when Penda
Penda of Mercia
Penda was a 7th-century King of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the...

, the pagan king of Mercia, killed the newly Christian Edwin of Northumbria
Edwin of Northumbria
Edwin , also known as Eadwine or Æduini, was the King of Deira and Bernicia – which later became known as Northumbria – from about 616 until his death. He converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627; after he fell at the Battle of Hatfield Chase, he was venerated as a saint.Edwin was the son...

 at the Battle of Hatfield Chase
Battle of Hatfield Chase
The Battle of Hatfield Chase was fought on October 12, 633 at Hatfield Chase near Doncaster, Yorkshire, in Anglo-Saxon England between the Northumbrians under Edwin and an alliance of the Welsh of Gwynedd under Cadwallon ap Cadfan and the Mercians under Penda. The site was a marshy area about 8...

 in about 632. The setback was temporary, and the third book recounts the growth of Christianity in Northumbria under kings Oswald of Northumbria
Oswald of Northumbria
Oswald was King of Northumbria from 634 until his death, and is now venerated as a Christian saint.Oswald was the son of Æthelfrith of Bernicia and came to rule after spending a period in exile; after defeating the British ruler Cadwallon ap Cadfan, Oswald brought the two Northumbrian kingdoms of...

 and Oswy. The climax of the third book is the account of the Council of Whitby, traditionally seen as a major turning point in English history. The fourth book begins with the consecration of Theodore as Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, and recounts Wilfrid
Wilfrid
Wilfrid was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul, and at Rome; he returned to Northumbria in about 660, and became the abbot of a newly founded monastery at Ripon...

's efforts to bring Christianity to the kingdom of Sussex
Kingdom of Sussex
The Kingdom of Sussex or Kingdom of the South Saxons was a Saxon colony and later independent kingdom of the Saxons, on the south coast of England. Its boundaries coincided in general with those of the earlier kingdom of the Regnenses and the later county of Sussex. A large part of its territory...

. The fifth book brings the story up to Bede's day, and includes an account of missionary work in Frisia, and of the conflict with the British church
Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages...

 over the correct dating of Easter. Bede wrote a preface for the work, in which he dedicates it to Ceolwulf
Ceolwulf of Northumbria
Ceolwulf was king of Northumbria from 729 until 737, except for a short period in 731 or 732 when he was deposed, and quickly restored to power. Ceolwulf finally abdicated and entered the monastery at Lindisfarne. He was the "most glorious king" to whom Bede dedicated his Historia ecclesiastica...

, king of Northumbria. The preface mentions that Ceolwulf received an earlier draft of the book; presumably Ceolwulf knew enough Latin to understand it, and he may even have been able to read it. The preface makes it clear that Ceolwulf had requested the earlier copy, and Bede had asked for Ceolwulf's approval; this correspondence with the king indicates that Bede's monastery had excellent connections among the Northumbrian nobility.

Sources

The monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow had an excellent library. Both Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith had acquired books from the Continent, and in Bede's day the monastery was a renowned centre of learning. It has been estimated that there were about 200 books in the monastic library.

For the period prior to Augustine's arrival in 597, Bede drew on earlier writers, including Solinus. He had access to two works of Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

: the Historia Ecclesiastica
Church History (Eusebius)
The Church History of Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneer work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts...

, and also the Chronicon
Chronicon (Eusebius)
The Chronicon or Chronicle was a work in two books by Eusebius of Caesarea. It seems to have been compiled in the early 4th century. It contained a world chronicle from Abraham until the vicennalia of Constantine I in 325 AD...

, though he had neither in the original Greek; instead he had a Latin translation of the Historia, by Rufinus, and Saint Jerome's translation of the Chronicon. He also knew Orosius's Adversus Paganus, and Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

' Historia Francorum, both Christian histories, as well as the work of Eutropius, a pagan historian. He used Constantius
Constantius of Lyon
Constantius of Lyon was a priest from what is Auvergne in modern-day France, who wrote a hagiography of Saint Germanus of Auxerre....

's Life of Germanus as a source for Germanus
Germanus of Auxerre
Germanus of Auxerre was a bishop of Auxerre in Gaul. He is a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, commemorated on July 31. He visited Britain in around 429 and the records of this visit provide valuable information on the state of post-Roman British society...

's visits to Britain. Bede's account of the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons is drawn largely from Gildas
Gildas
Gildas was a 6th-century British cleric. He is one of the best-documented figures of the Christian church in the British Isles during this period. His renowned learning and literary style earned him the designation Gildas Sapiens...

's De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae
De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae
De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae is a work by the 6th-century British cleric Gildas. It is a sermon in three parts condemning the acts of Gildas' contemporaries, both secular and religious, whom he blames for the dire state of affairs in sub-Roman Britain...

. Bede would also have been familiar with more recent accounts such as Eddius Stephanus's Life of Wilfrid, and anonymous Lives of Gregory the Great and Cuthbert. He also drew on Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

's Antiquities, and the works of Cassiodorus
Cassiodorus
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator , commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer, serving in the administration of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.- Life :Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in...

, and there was a copy of the Liber Pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
The Liber Pontificalis is a book of biographies of popes from Saint Peter until the 15th century. The original publication of the Liber Pontificalis stopped with Pope Adrian II or Pope Stephen V , but it was later supplemented in a different style until Pope Eugene IV and then Pope Pius II...

in Bede's monastery. Bede quotes from several classical authors, including Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, Plautus
Plautus
Titus Maccius Plautus , commonly known as "Plautus", was a Roman playwright of the Old Latin period. His comedies are the earliest surviving intact works in Latin literature. He wrote Palliata comoedia, the genre devised by the innovator of Latin literature, Livius Andronicus...

, and Terence
Terence
Publius Terentius Afer , better known in English as Terence, was a playwright of the Roman Republic, of North African descent. His comedies were performed for the first time around 170–160 BC. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, brought Terence to Rome as a slave, educated him and later on,...

, but he may have had access to their work via a Latin grammar rather than directly. However, it is clear he was familiar with the works of Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 and with Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

's Natural History, and his monastery also owned copies of the works of Dionysius Exiguus
Dionysius Exiguus
Dionysius Exiguus was a 6th-century monk born in Scythia Minor, modern Dobruja shared by Romania and Bulgaria. He was a member of the Scythian monks community concentrated in Tomis, the major city of Scythia Minor...

. He probably drew his account of St. Alban from a life of that saint which has not survived. He acknowledges two other lives of saints directly; one is a life of Fursa
Saint Fursey
Saint Fursey was an Irish monk who did much to establish Christianity throughout the British Isles and particularly in East Anglia...

, and the other of St. Æthelburh; the latter no longer survives. He also had access to a life of Ceolfrith. Some of Bede's material came from oral traditions, including a description of the physical appearance of Paulinus of York
Paulinus of York
Paulinus was a Roman missionary and the first Bishop of York. A member of the Gregorian mission sent in 601 by Pope Gregory I to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism, Paulinus arrived in England by 604 with the second missionary group...

, who had died nearly 90 years before Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica was written.

Bede also had correspondents who supplied him with material. Albinus, the abbot of the monastery in Canterbury, provided much information about the church in Kent, and with the assistance of Nothhelm
Nothelm
Nothhelm was a medieval Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury. A correspondent of both Bede and Boniface, it was Nothhelm who gathered materials from Canterbury for Bede's historical works. After his appointment to the archbishopric in 735, he attended to ecclesiastical matters, including holding...

, at that time a priest in London, obtained copies of Gregory the Great's correspondence from Rome relating to Augustine's mission. Almost all of Bede's information regarding Augustine is taken from these letters. Bede acknowledged his correspondents in the preface to the Historia Ecclesiastica; he was in contact with Daniel
Daniel of Winchester
Daniel of Winchester was Bishop of the West Saxons, and Bishop of Winchester from ca. 705 to 744.-Life:The prominent position which he held among the English clergy of his time can best be appreciated from the fact that he was the intimate friend of St. Aldhelm at Sherborne, of Bede at Jarrow and...

, the Bishop of Winchester, for information about the history of the church in Wessex, and also wrote to the monastery at Lastingham
Lastingham
Lastingham is a village and civil parish which lies in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England. It is on the southern fringe of the North York Moors, five miles north east of Kirkbymoorside, one and a half miles to the east of Hutton-le-Hole. It was home to the early missionaries to the...

 for information about Cedd
Cedd
Cedd was an Anglo-Saxon monk and bishop from Northumbria. He was an evangelist of the Middle Angles and East Saxons in England and a significant participant in the Synod of Whitby, a meeting which resolved important differences within the Church in England...

 and Chad
Chad of Mercia
Chad was a prominent 7th century Anglo-Saxon churchman, who became abbot of several monasteries, Bishop of the Northumbrians and subsequently Bishop of the Mercians and Lindsey People. He was later canonized as a saint. He was the brother of Cedd, also a saint...

. Bede also mentions an Abbot Esi as a source for the affairs of the East Anglian church, and Bishop Cynibert
Kinebertus
Cyneberht was a medieval Bishop of Lindsey.He was consecrated between 716 and 731. He died in 731. His death is recorded in the second continuation of the medieval chronicler Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum under the year 732. He was also one of the informants for Bede's historical...

 for information about Lindsey.

The historian Walter Goffart
Walter Goffart
Walter Andre Goffart is a historian of the later Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages who specializes in research on the barbarian kingdoms of those periods. He is a senior research scholar and lecturer at Yale University....

 argues that Bede based the structure of the Historia on three works, using them as the framework around which the three main sections of the work were structured. For the early part of the work, up until the Gregorian mission, Goffart feels that Bede used Gildas
Gildas
Gildas was a 6th-century British cleric. He is one of the best-documented figures of the Christian church in the British Isles during this period. His renowned learning and literary style earned him the designation Gildas Sapiens...

's De excidio. The second section, detailing the Gregorian mission
Gregorian mission
The Gregorian mission, sometimes known as the Augustinian mission, was the missionary endeavour sent by Pope Gregory the Great to the Anglo-Saxons in 596 AD. Headed by Augustine of Canterbury, its goal was to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. By the death of the last missionary in 653, they...

 of Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597...

 was framed on the anonymous Life of Gregory the Great written at Whitby. The last section, detailing events after the Gregorian mission, Goffart feels were modelled on Stephen of Ripon
Eddius
Stephen of Ripon is the author of the eighth-century Vita Sancti Wilfrithi . Another name which has been traditionally attributed to him is Eddius Stephanus or Æddi Stephanus, but since his identification with the bearer of this name is no longer accepted by historians today, modern usage tends to...

's Life of Wilfrid. Most of Bede's informants for information after Augustine's mission came from the eastern part of Britain, leaving significant gaps in the knowledge of the western areas, which were those areas likely to have a native Briton presence.

Models and style

Bede's stylistic models included some of the same authors from whom he drew the material for the earlier parts of his history. His introduction imitates the work of Orosius, and his title is an echo of Eusebius's Historia Ecclesiastica
Church History (Eusebius)
The Church History of Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneer work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts...

. Bede also followed Eusebius in taking the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

as the model for the overall work: where Eusebius used the Acts as the theme for his description of the development of the church, Bede made it the model for his history of the Anglo-Saxon church. Bede quoted his sources at length in his narrative, as Eusebius had done. Bede also appears to have taken quotes directly from his correspondents at times. For example, he almost always uses the terms "Australes" and "Occidentales" for the South and West Saxons respectively, but in a passage in the first book he uses "Meridiani" and "Occidui" instead, as perhaps his informant had done. At the end of the work, Bede added a brief autobiographical note; this was an idea taken from Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

' earlier History of the Franks.

Bede's work as a hagiographer, and his detailed attention to dating, were both useful preparations for the task of writing the Historia Ecclesiastica. His interest in computus
Computus
Computus is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age....

, the science of calculating the date of Easter, was also useful in the account he gives of the controversy between the British and Anglo-Saxon church over the correct method of obtaining the Easter date.

Bede's Latin has been praised for its clarity, but his style in the Historia Ecclesiastica is not simple. He knew rhetoric, and often used figures of speech and rhetorical forms which cannot easily be reproduced in translation, depending as they often do on the connotations of the Latin words. However, unlike contemporaries such as Aldhelm, whose Latin is full of difficulties, Bede's own text is easy to read. In the words of Charles Plummer, one of the best-known editors of the Historia Ecclesiastica, Bede's Latin is "clear and limpid ... it is very seldom that we have to pause to think of the meaning of a sentence ... Alcuin rightly praises Bede for his unpretending style."

Intent

Bede's primary intention in writing the Historia Ecclesiastica was to show the growth of the united church throughout England. The native Britons, whose Christian church survived the departure of the Romans, earn Bede's ire for refusing to help convert the Saxons; by the end of the Historia the English, and their Church, are dominant over the Britons. This goal, of showing the movement towards unity, explains Bede's animosity towards the British method of calculating Easter: much of the Historia is devoted to a history of the dispute, including the final resolution at the Synod of Whitby
Synod of Whitby
The Synod of Whitby was a seventh century Northumbriansynod where King Oswiu of Northumbria ruled that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practised by Iona and its satellite institutions...

 in 664. Bede is also concerned to show the unity of the English, despite the disparate kingdoms that still existed when he was writing. He also wants to instruct the reader by spiritual example, and to entertain, and to the latter end he adds stories about many of the places and people about which he wrote.

Bede's extensive use of miracles is disconcerting to the modern reader who thinks of Bede as a more or less reliable historian, but men of the time accepted miracles as a matter of course. However, Bede, like Gregory the Great whom Bede quotes on the subject in the Historia, felt that faith brought about by miracles was a stepping stone to a higher, truer faith, and that as a result miracles had their place in a work designed to instruct.

Omissions and biases

Bede is somewhat reticent about the career of Wilfrid
Wilfrid
Wilfrid was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul, and at Rome; he returned to Northumbria in about 660, and became the abbot of a newly founded monastery at Ripon...

, a contemporary and one of the most prominent clerics of his day. This may be because Wilfrid's opulent lifestyle was uncongenial to Bede's monastic mind; it may also be that the events of Wilfrid's life, divisive and controversial as they were, simply did not fit with Bede's theme of the progression to a unified and harmonious church.

Bede's account of the early migrations of the Angles and Saxons to England omits any mention of a movement of those peoples across the channel from Britain to Brittany described by Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, who was writing in the sixth century. Frank Stenton describes this omission as "a scholar's dislike of the indefinite"; traditional material that could not be dated or used for the Bede's didactic purposes had no interest for him.

Bede was a Northumbrian, and this tinged his work with a local bias. The sources he had access to gave him less information about the west of England than for other areas. He says relatively little about the achievements of Mercia and Wessex, omitting, for example, any mention of Boniface, a West Saxon missionary to the continent of some renown and of whom Bede had almost certainly heard, though Bede does discuss Northumbrian missionaries to the continent. He also is parsimonious in his praise for Aldhelm, a West Saxon who had done much to convert the native Britons to the Roman form of Christianity. He lists seven kings of the Anglo-Saxons whom he regards as having held imperium, or overlordship; only one king of Wessex, Ceawlin, is listed, and none from Mercia, though elsewhere he acknowledges the secular power several of the Mercians held.

Bede relates the story of Augustine's mission from Rome, and tells how the British clergy refused to assist Augustine in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. This, combined with the Gildas's negative assessment of the British church at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions, led Bede to a very critical view of the native church. However, Bede ignores the fact that at the time of Augustine's mission, the history between the two was one of warfare and conquest, which, in the words of Barbara Yorke, would have naturally "curbed any missionary impulses towards the Anglo-Saxons from the British clergy."

Use of Anno Domini

At the time Bede wrote the Historia Ecclesiastica, there were two common ways of referring to dates. One was to use indiction
Indiction
An indiction is any of the years in a 15-year cycle used to date medieval documents throughout Europe, both East and West. Each year of a cycle was numbered: first indiction, second indiction, etc...

s, which were 15-year cycles, counting from 312 AD. There were three different varieties of indiction, each starting on a different day of the year. The other approach was to use regnal years—the reigning Roman emperor, for example, or the ruler of whichever kingdom was under discussion. This meant that in discussing conflicts between kingdoms, the date would have to be given in the regnal years of all the kings involved. Bede used both these approaches on occasion, but adopted a third method as his main approach to dating: the anno domini
Anno Domini
and Before Christ are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars....

method invented by Dionysius Exiguus
Dionysius Exiguus
Dionysius Exiguus was a 6th-century monk born in Scythia Minor, modern Dobruja shared by Romania and Bulgaria. He was a member of the Scythian monks community concentrated in Tomis, the major city of Scythia Minor...

. Although Bede did not invent this method, his adoption of it, and his promulgation of it in De Temporum Ratione, his work on chronology, is the main reason why it is now so widely used.

Assessment

The Historia Ecclesiastica was copied often in the Middle Ages, and about 160 manuscripts containing it survive. About half of those are located on the European continent, rather than on the British Isles. Most of the 8th- and 9th-century texts of Bede's Historia come from the northern parts of the Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 Empire. This total does not include manuscripts with only a part of the work, of which another 100 or so survive. It was printed for the first time between 1474 and 1482, probably at Strasbourg, France. Modern historians have studied the Historia extensively, and a number of editions have been produced. For many years, early Anglo-Saxon history was essentially a retelling of the Historia, but recent scholarship has focused as much on what Bede did not write as what he did. The belief that the Historia was the culmination of Bede's works, the aim of all his scholarship, a belief common among historians in the past, is no longer accepted by most scholars.

Modern historians and editors of Bede have been lavish in their praise of his achievement in the Historia Ecclesiastica. Stenton regarded it as one of the "small class of books which transcend all but the most fundamental conditions of time and place", and regarded its quality as dependent on Bede's "astonishing power of co-ordinating the fragments of information which came to him through tradition, the relation of friends, or documentary evidence ... In an age where little was attempted beyond the registration of fact, he had reached the conception of history."

The Historia Ecclesiastica has given Bede a high reputation, but his concerns were different from those of a modern writer of history. His focus on the history of the organisation of the English church, and on heresies and the efforts made to root them out, led him to exclude the secular history of kings and kingdoms except where a moral lesson could be drawn or where they illuminated events in the church. Besides the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

, the medieval writers William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. C. Warren Hollister so ranks him among the most talented generation of writers of history since Bede, "a gifted historical scholar and an omnivorous reader, impressively well versed in the literature of classical,...

, Henry of Huntingdon
Henry of Huntingdon
Henry of Huntingdon , the son of a canon in the diocese of Lincoln, was a 12th century English historian, the author of a history of England, Historia anglorum, "the most important Anglo-Norman historian to emerge from the secular clergy". He served as archdeacon of Huntingdon...

, and Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur...

 used his works as sources and inspirations. Early modern writers, such as Polydore Virgil and Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of Anglican theological thought....

, the Elizabethan Archbishop of Canterbury, also utilised the Historia, and his works were used by both Protestant and Catholic sides in the Wars of Religion.

Some historians have questioned the reliability of some of Bede's accounts. One historian, Charlotte Behr, feels that the Historia's account of the arrival of the Germanic invaders in Kent should not be considered to relate what actually happened, but rather relates myths that were current in Kent during Bede's time.

It is likely that Bede's work, because it was so widely copied, discouraged others from writing histories and may even have led to the disappearance of manuscripts containing older historical works.

Other historical works

Chronicles

As Chapter 66 of his On the Reckoning of Time, in 725 Bede wrote the Greater Chronicle (chronica maiora), which sometimes circulated as a separate work. For recent events the Chronicle, like his Ecclesiastical History, relied upon Gildas, upon a version of the Liber pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
The Liber Pontificalis is a book of biographies of popes from Saint Peter until the 15th century. The original publication of the Liber Pontificalis stopped with Pope Adrian II or Pope Stephen V , but it was later supplemented in a different style until Pope Eugene IV and then Pope Pius II...

 current at least to the papacy of Pope Sergius I
Pope Sergius I
Pope Saint Sergius I was pope from 687 to 701. Selected to end a schism between Antipope Paschal and Antipope Theodore, Sergius I ended the last disputed sede vacante of the Byzantine Papacy....

 (687–701), and other sources. For earlier events he drew on Eusebius's Chronikoi Kanones. The dating of events in the Chronicle is inconsistent with his other works, using the era of creation, the anno mundi
Anno Mundi
' , abbreviated as AM or A.M., refers to a Calendar era based on the Biblical creation of the world. Numerous efforts have been made to determine the Biblical date of Creation, yielding varying results. Besides differences in interpretation, which version of the Bible is being referenced also...

.

Lives

His other historical works included lives of the abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow, as well as verse and prose lives of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
Saint Cuthbert was an Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne in the Kingdom of Northumbria, at that time including, in modern terms, northern England as well as south-eastern Scotland as far as the Firth of Forth...

, an adaptation of Paulinus of Nola
Paulinus of Nola
Saint Paulinus of Nola, also known as Pontificus Meropius Anicius Paulinus was a Roman senator who converted to a severe monasticism in 394...

's Life of St Felix, and a translation of the Greek Passion of St Anastasius. He also created a listing of saints, the Martyrology.

Theological works

In his own time, Bede was as well known for his biblical commentaries and exegetical, as well as other theological works. The majority of his writings were of this type, and covered the Old Testament and the New Testament. Most survived the Middle Ages, but a few were lost. It was for his theological writings that he earned the title of Doctor Anglorum, and why he was made a saint.

Bede was not an innovative religious thinker. He made no original writings or thoughts on the beliefs of the church, instead working to synthesise and transmit the learning from his predecessors. In order to do this, he learned Greek, and attempted to learn Hebrew. He spent time reading and rereading both the Old and the New Testaments. He mentions that he studied from a text of Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

's Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, which itself was from the Hebrew text. He also studied both the Latin and the Greek Fathers of the Church. In the monastic library at Jarrow were a number of books by theologians, including works by Basil
Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor . He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian...

, Cassian, John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

, Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

, Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age...

, Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, Jerome, Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

, Ambrose of Milan, Cassiodorus
Cassiodorus
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator , commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer, serving in the administration of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.- Life :Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in...

, and Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

. He used these, in conjunction with the Biblical texts themselves, to write his commentaries and other theological works. He had a Latin translation by Evagrius
Evagrius of Antioch
Evagrius of Antioch was a claimant to the See of Antioch from 388 to 392. He succeeded Paulinus and had the support of the Eustathian party, and was a rival to Flavian during the so-called Meletian schism.- History :...

 of Athanasius's Life of Antony, and a copy of Sulpicius Severus
Sulpicius Severus
Sulpicius Severus was a Christian writer and native of Aquitania. He is known for his chronicle of sacred history, as well as his biography of Saint Martin of Tours.-Life:...

' Life of St. Martin. He also used lesser known writers, such as Fulgentius
Fulgentius of Ruspe
Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe was bishop of the city of Ruspe, North Africa, in the 5th and 6th century who was canonized as a Christian saint...

, Julian of Eclanum
Julian of Eclanum
Julian of Eclanum was bishop of Eclanum, near today's Benevento . He was a distinguished leader of the Pelagians of 5th century.-Life:...

, Tyconius, and Prosperius. Bede was the first to refer to Jerome, Augustine, Pope Gregory and Ambrose as the four Latin Fathers of the Church. It is clear from Bede's own comments that he felt his job was to explain to his students and readers the theology and thoughts of the Church Fathers.

Bede also wrote homilies, works written to explain theology used in worship services. Bede wrote homilies not only on the major Christian festivals such as Advent
Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

, Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

 or Easter, but on other subjects such as anniversaries of significant events.

Both types of Bede's theological works circulated widely in the Middle Ages. A number of his biblical commentaries were incorporated into the Glossa Ordinaria
Glossa Ordinaria
The Glossa ordinaria , Lat., "the ordinary gloss/interpretation/explanation", was an assembly of glosses, from the Church Fathers and thereafter, printed in the margins of the Vulgate Bible; these were widely used in the education system of Christendom in Cathedral schools from the Carolingian...

, an 11th-century collection of biblical commentaries. Some of Bede's homilies were collected by Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon , also known as Paulus Diaconus, Warnefred, Barnefridus and Cassinensis, , was a Benedictine monk and historian of the Lombards.-Life:...

, and they were used in that form in the Monastic Office. Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface , the Apostle of the Germans, born Winfrid, Wynfrith, or Wynfryth in the kingdom of Wessex, probably at Crediton , was a missionary who propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He is the patron saint of Germany and the first archbishop of Mainz...

 used Bede's homilies in his missionary efforts on the continent.

Bede sometimes included in his theological books an acknowledgement of the predecessors on whose works he drew. In two cases he left instructions that his marginal notes, which gave the details of his sources, should be preserved by the copyist, and he may have originally added marginal comments about his sources to others of his works. Where he does not specify, it is still possible to identify books that he must have had access to by quotations that he uses. A full catalogue of the library available to Bede in the monastery cannot be reconstructed, but it is possible to tell, for example, that Bede was very familiar with the works of Virgil. There is little evidence that he had access to any other of the pagan Latin writers–he quotes many of these writers but the quotes are almost all to be found in the Latin grammars that were common in his day, one or more of which would certainly have been at the monastery. Another difficulty is that manuscripts of early writers were often incomplete: it is apparent that Bede had access to Pliny's Encyclopedia, for example, but it seems that the version he had was missing book xviii, as he would almost certainly have quoted from it in his De temporum ratione.

Works on the Old Testament

The works dealing with the Old Testament included Commentary on Samuel, Commentary on Genesis, Commentaries on Ezra and Nehemiah, On the Temple, On the Tabernacle, Commentaries on Tobit, Commentaries on Proverbs, Commentaries on the Song of Songs, Commentaries on the Canticle of Habakkuk, The works on Ezra, the Tabernacle and the Temple were especially influenced by Gregory the Great's writings.
He was also the one responsible for replacing the title God in the Hebrew texts to read 'Lord of Hosts.'

Works on the New Testament

Bede's works included Commentary on Revelation, Commentary on the Catholic Epistles, Commentary on Acts, Reconsideration on the Books of Acts, On the Gospel of Mark, On the Gospel of Luke, and Homilies on the Gospels.

Works on historical and astronomical chronology

De temporibus, or On Time, written in about 703, provides an introduction to the principles of Easter computus. This was based on parts of Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

's Etymologies
Etymologiae
Etymologiae is an encyclopedia compiled by Isidore of Seville towards the end of his life. It forms a bridge between a condensed epitome of classical learning at the close of Late Antiquity and the inheritance received, in large part through Isidore's work, by the early Middle Ages...

, and Bede also include a chronology of the world which was derived from Eusebius, with some revisions based on Jerome's translation of the bible. In about 723, Bede wrote a longer work on the same subject, On the Reckoning of Time, which was influential throughout the Middle Ages. He also wrote several shorter letters and essays discussing specific aspects of computus.

On the Reckoning of Time (De temporum ratione
De temporum ratione
The Reckoning of Time is an Anglo-Saxon era treatise written in Latin by the Northumbrian monk Bede in 725. The treatise includes an introduction to the traditional ancient and medieval view of the cosmos, including an explanation of how the spherical earth influenced the changing length of...

) included an introduction to the traditional ancient and medieval view of the cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

, including an explanation of how the spherical earth
Spherical Earth
The concept of a spherical Earth dates back to ancient Greek philosophy from around the 6th century BC, but remained a matter of philosophical speculation until the 3rd century BC when Hellenistic astronomy established the spherical shape of the earth as a physical given...

 influenced the changing length of daylight, of how the season
Season
A season is a division of the year, marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight.Seasons result from the yearly revolution of the Earth around the Sun and the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the plane of revolution...

al motion of the Sun and Moon influenced the changing appearance of the New Moon
New moon
In astronomical terminology, the new moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth...

 at evening twilight, and a quantitative relation between the changes of the Tides at a given place and the daily motion of the moon. Since the focus of his book was calculation, Bede gave instructions for computing the date of Easter and the related time of the Easter Full Moon, for calculating the motion of the Sun and Moon through the zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

, and for many other calculations related to the calendar. He gives some information about the months of the Anglo-Saxon calendar in chapter XV. Any codex of Bede's Easter cycle
Beda Venerabilis' Easter cycle
In the year 616 an anonymous extended Dionysius Exiguus' Easter table to an Easter table covering the years 532 up to and including 721. Dionysius' table was published in 525 and shortly thereafter was accepted by the church of Rome, which from the third century up till then had given preference...

 is normally found together with a codex of his "De Temporum Ratione".

For calendric purposes, Bede made a new calculation of the age of the world
Dating Creation
Cultures throughout history have attempted to date the beginning of the the world in the past, so methods of dating Creation have involved analysing scriptures or ancient texts.-Ancient creation dates:...

 since the creation, which he dated as 3952 BC. Due to his innovations in computing the age of the world, he was accused of heresy at the table of Bishop Wilfrid, his chronology being contrary to accepted calculations. Once informed of the accusations of these "lewd rustics," Bede refuted them in his Letter to Plegwin.

In addition to these works on astronomical timekeeping, he also wrote De natura rerum, or On the Nature of Things, modelled in part after the work of the same title by Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

. His works were so influential that late in the 9th century Notker the Stammerer, a monk of the Monastery of St. Gall
Abbey of St. Gall
The Abbey of Saint Gall is a religious complex in the city of St. Gallen in present-day Switzerland. The Carolingian-era Abbey has existed since 719 and became an independent principality during the 13th century, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It was...

 in Switzerland, wrote that "God, the orderer of natures, who raised the Sun from the East on the fourth day of Creation, in the sixth day of the world has made Bede rise from the West as a new Sun to illuminate the whole Earth".

Educational works

Bede wrote some works designed to help teach grammar in the abbey school. One of these was his De arte metrica, a discussion of the composition of Latin verse, drawing on previous grammarians work. It was based on Donatus' De pedibus and Servius' De finalibus, and used examples from Christian poets as well as Virgil. It became a standard text for the teaching of Latin verse during the next few centuries. Bede dedicated this work to Cuthbert, apparently a student, for he is named "beloved son" in the dedication, and Bede says "I have laboured to educate you in divine letters and ecclesiastical statutes" Another textbook of Bede's is the De orthographia, a work on orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

, designed to help a medieval reader of Latin with unfamiliar abbreviations and words from classical Latin works. Although it could serve as a textbook, it appears to have been mainly intended as a reference work. The exact date of composition for both of these works is unknown.

Another educational work is De schematibus et tropis sacrae scripturae, which discusses the Bible's use of rhetoric. Bede was familiar with pagan authors such as Virgil, but it was not considered appropriate to teach grammar from such texts, and in De schematibus ... Bede argues for the superiority of Christian texts. Similarly, his text on poetic metre uses only Christian poetry for examples.

Vernacular poetry

According to his disciple Cuthbert, Bede was also doctus in nostris carminibus ("learned in our songs"). Cuthbert's letter on Bede's death, the Epistola Cuthberti de obitu Bedae, moreover, commonly is understood to indicate that Bede also composed a five line vernacular poem known to modern scholars as Bede’s Death Song
And he used to repeat that sentence from St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” and many other verses of Scripture, urging us thereby to awake from the slumber of the soul by thinking in good time of our last hour. And in our own language,—for he was familiar with English poetry,—speaking of the soul’s dread departure from the body:

Facing that enforced journey, no man can be

More prudent than he has good call to be,

If he consider, before his going hence,

What for his spirit of good hap or of evil

After his day of death shall be determined.
Fore ðæm nedfere nænig wiorðe

ðonc snottora ðon him ðearf siæ

to ymbhycgenne ær his hinionge

hwæt his gastæ godes oððe yfles

æfter deað dæge doemed wiorðe.:


As Opland notes, however, it is not entirely clear that Cuthbert is attributing this text to Bede: most manuscripts of the letter do not use a finite verb
Finite verb
A finite verb is a verb that is inflected for person and for tense according to the rules and categories of the languages in which it occurs. Finite verbs can form independent clauses, which can stand on their own as complete sentences....

 to describe Bede's presentation of the song, and the theme was relatively common in Old English and Anglo-Latin literature. The fact that Cuthbert's description places the performance of the Old English poem in the context of a series of quoted passages from Sacred Scripture, indeed, might be taken as evidence simply that Bede also cited analogous vernacular texts. On the other hand, the inclusion of the Old English text of the poem in Cuthbert’s Latin letter, the observation that Bede "was learned in our song," and the fact that Bede composed a Latin poem on the same subject all point to the possibility of his having written it. By citing the poem directly, Cuthbert seems to imply that its particular wording was somehow important, either since it was a vernacular poem endorsed by a scholar who evidently frowned upon secular entertainment or because it is a direct quotation of Bede’s last original composition.

Veneration

There is no evidence for cult being paid to Bede in England in the 8th century. One reason for this may be that he died on the feast day of Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597...

. Later, when he was venerated in England, he was either commemorated after Augustine on 26 May, or his feast was moved to 27 May. However, he was venerated outside England, mainly through the efforts of Saint Boniface and Alcuin, both of whom promoted the cult on the Continent. Boniface wrote repeatedly back to England during his missionary efforts, requesting copies of Bede's theological works. Alcuin, who was taught at the school set up in York by Bede's pupil Egbert, praised Bede as an example for monks to follow and was instrumental in disseminating Bede's works to all of Alcuin's friends. Bede's cult became prominent in England during the 10th-century revival of monasticism, and by the 14th century had spread to many of the cathedrals of England. Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester (c. 1008–1095) was a particular devotee of Bede's, dedicating a church to him in 1062, which was Wulfstan's first undertaking after his consecration as bishop.

His body was stolen from Jarrow and transferred to Durham Cathedral around 1020, where it was placed in the same tomb with Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
Saint Cuthbert was an Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne in the Kingdom of Northumbria, at that time including, in modern terms, northern England as well as south-eastern Scotland as far as the Firth of Forth...

. Later they were moved to a shrine in Galilee Chapel
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

 at Durham Cathedral in 1370. The shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation, but the bones were reburied in the chapel. In 1831 the bones were dug up and then reburied in a new tomb, which is still there. Other relic
Relic
In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial...

s were claimed by York
York Minster
York Minster is a Gothic cathedral in York, England and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe alongside Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by...

, Glastonbury
Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Abbey was a monastery in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. The ruins are now a grade I listed building, and a Scheduled Ancient Monument and are open as a visitor attraction....

and Fulda
Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

.

His scholarship and importance to Catholicism were recognised in 1899 when he was declared a Doctor of the Church
Doctor of the Church
Doctor of the Church is a title given by a variety of Christian churches to individuals whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.-Catholic Church:In the Catholic Church, this name is given to a saint from whose...

, and was declared a sanctus in 1935. He is the only Englishman named a Doctor of the Church. He is also the only Englishman in Dante
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's Paradise
Paradiso (Dante)
Paradiso is the third and final part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the Inferno and the Purgatorio. It is an allegory telling of Dante's journey through Heaven, guided by Beatrice, who symbolises theology...

 (Paradiso
Paradiso (Dante)
Paradiso is the third and final part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the Inferno and the Purgatorio. It is an allegory telling of Dante's journey through Heaven, guided by Beatrice, who symbolises theology...

X.130), mentioned among theologians and doctors of the church in the same canto as Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

 and the Scot Richard of St. Victor
Richard of St. Victor
Richard of Saint Victor is known today as one of the most influential religious thinkers of his time. He was a prominent mystical theologian, and was prior of the famous Augustinian Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris from 1162 until his death in 1173....

.

His feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar in 1899, for celebration on 27 May rather than on his date of death, 26 May which was then the feast day of Pope Saint Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII
Pope St. Gregory VII , born Hildebrand of Sovana , was Pope from April 22, 1073, until his death. One of the great reforming popes, he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, his dispute with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor affirming the primacy of the papal...

; however, the 1969 calendar reforms allowed Bede's feast day to move to its proper day. He is venerated in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Church, with a feast day of 25 May.

Bede became known as Venerable
Venerable
The Venerable is used as a style or epithet in several Christian churches. It is also the common English-language translation of a number of Buddhist titles.-Roman Catholic:...

 Bede
(Lat.: Beda Venerabilis) by the 9th century, but this was not linked to consideration for sainthood
Canonization
Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares a deceased person to be a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process...

 by the Roman Catholic Church. According to a legend the epithet was miraculously supplied by angels, thus completing his unfinished epitaph. It is first utilised in connection with Bede in the 9th century, where Bede was grouped with others who were called "venerable" at two ecclesiastical councils held at Aix in 816 and 836. Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon , also known as Paulus Diaconus, Warnefred, Barnefridus and Cassinensis, , was a Benedictine monk and historian of the Lombards.-Life:...

 then referred to him as venerable consistently. By the 11th and 12th century, it had become commonplace. However, there are no descriptions of Bede by that term right after his death.

See also

  • List of works by Bede
  • List of manuscripts of Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica
  • Bede's World
    Bede's World
    Bede's World is a museum in Jarrow dedicated to the life and times of Venerable Bede, a monk, author and scholar who lived in at the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Wearmouth-Jarrow, a double monastery at Jarrow and Monkwearmouth, , England.The main museum building features the 'Age of...

     museum in Jarrow
    Jarrow
    Jarrow is a town in Tyne and Wear, England, located on the River Tyne, with a population of 27,526. From the middle of the 19th century until 1935, Jarrow was a centre for shipbuilding, and was the starting point of the Jarrow March against unemployment in 1936.-Foundation:The Angles re-occupied...

  • Works of Bede on Wikisource

Primary sources

  • Bede, Hist. eccl. · Venerabilis Baedae opera historica, ed. C. Plummer, 2 vols. (1896)

(Parallel Latin text and English translation with English notes.)

Secondary sources

  • Dorey, T.A. (ed.) (1966). Latin Historians. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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