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The Council of Whitby: A Study in Early Anglo-Saxon Politics

  • Richard Abels (a1)
Extract

The scene is familiar to most students of English history. In 664 A.D. the Northumbrian kings Oswiu and his son Alhfrith met with their clergy at Whitby to resolve (in Bede's words) “a great and active controversy about the keeping of Easter.” Oswiu, who presided over the council, listened patiently to a long and often bitter debate between the Irish and Roman advocates. On the surface, it was an unequal contest, for the traditions of Iona were upheld by the king's own bishop, Colman, while those of Rome were championed by a young abbot, Wilfrid, a protege of Alhfrith. But once again David slew Goliath. Oswiu, fearing for the welfare of his soul, pronounced in favor of the Apostle Peter, the “hostiarius … qui claues tenere probatur,” thus turning his back on his own childhood teachings. “When the king had spoken, all who were seated there or standing by, both high and low, gave up their imperfect rules, and readily accepted in their place those which they recognized to be better.”

Bede portrayed the Council of Whitby as the decisive confrontation in his native Northumbria between the rival ecclesiastical traditions of Rome and Iona. For him, the Roman triumph, the climax of the third book of his Ecclesiastical History, signified that the Northumbrian church would no longer be guided by “a handful of people in the remotest of islands,” but would rejoin the “catholic and apostolic" Church of Christ. Oswiu's dramatic conversion at Whitby was thus a crucial step in the growth of Christian unity in the British Isles.

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I am grateful to J.M.W. Bean, in whose seminar this article originated, for his guidance and numerous valuable suggestions. I would also like to thank Robert Somerville, Eric John, and Milton Gatch for reading and commenting upon this piece while it was still in manuscript. A less detailed version of this article was read at the First Annual Conference of the Charles Homer Haskins Society at the University of Houston on 13 November 1982.

1 Bede's Ecclesiastical History, ed. and trans. Colgrave, B. and Mynors, R.A.B. (Oxford, 1969), bk. iii, ch. 25, hereafter cited as HE (by book and chapter). The other abbreviations used are: VW = The Life of Bishop Wilfrid by Eddius Stephanus (Cambridge, 1927), cited by book and chapter; MGH = Monumenta Germaniae Historica; EHD, I = English Historical Documents, vol. 1, ed. Whitelock, Dorothy, 2nd ed. (London, 1979); ASC = The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, trans. Dorothy Whitelock, in EHD, I, cited under year; BCS = Birch, W. de Gray, ed., Cartularium Saxonicum, 3 vols. (18851893; rpt, N.Y., 1964); Plummer, = Venerabilis Baedae Opera Historica, ed. Plummer, Charles, (Oxford, 1896). Although “Whitby,” a Danish place name, is of course an anachronism, the usage is so familiar that it has been retained in place of the more accurate “Streaneshalch.” Similarly, the author of the Life of Wilfrid is referred to as “Eddius,” despite the lack of conclusive evidence for the traditional ascription. See Kirby, D.P., “Bede, Eddius Stephanus and the ‘Life of Wilfrid’.” English Historical Review, 98 (1983), 101114.

2 HE iii, 25.

3 HE iii, 25.

4 HE iii, 25.

5 Internal evidence suggests that the Life was composed between 711 and 715, and there is some reason to believe that the work may have been revised c.734. Kirby, “Bede, Eddius Stephanus and the ‘Life of Wilfrid’,” pp. 101-114.

6 John, Eric, “Social and Economic Problems of the Early English Church,” in Thirsk, J., ed., Land, Church and People: Essays presented to H.P.R. Finberg (Agricultural History Review, Supplement to vol. 18 [1970], pp. 3963 (esp. pp. 41 ff.); Mayr-Harting, Henry, The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (London, 1972), pp. 105–13. See also Kirby, D.P., The Making of Early England (N.Y., 1968), p. 47. Eddius describes the council in chapter 10.

7 Bede admits in the preface to the Historia Ecclesiastica that he was most interested in salutary facts, hoping to stir his reader “to follow more earnestly the things which he knows to be good and worthy to God.” H, p. 2. Kings, wars, societal organization, and the like were only incidental to Bede's story. Even if he knew the political significance of the Council of Whitby there is no reason to believe that he would have muddied the waters with such information.

8 See, e.g., Jones, Charles W., Saints' Lives and Chronicles in Early England (1947; repr., N.Y. 1968), pp. 8093; Campbell, James, “Bede, in Latin Historians, ed. Dorey, T.A. (N.Y., 1966), pp. 182–83; Ray, Roger, “Bede's Vera Lex Historiae,” Speculum 55 (1980), 121.

9 HE iii, 25.

10 HE iii, 25. Note that Bede does not claim firsthand knowledge here; he merely reports what he has heard. MacCarthy, B., Introduction to the Annals of Ulster, vol. VI of The Annals of Ulster, ed. Hennessy, W. (Dublin, 1901), p. cl, has argued from this that Bede was not acquainted with the details of the Irish-84 Easter cycle, for “otherwise, in his known zeal for the Alexandrine system, he would not have rested content with an indefinite hearsay number.”

11 HE iii, 25.

12 E.g., MacNaught, J.G., The Celtic Church and the See of Peter (Oxford, 1927), p. 77; Hodgkin, R.H., A History of the Anglo-Saxons (Oxford, 1935), I, 77; Grosjean, P., “La date du colloque de Whitby,” Analecta Bollandiana, 78 (1960), 254; Godfrey, J., The Church in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge, 1962), p. 118; Kirby, D.P., “Northumbria in the Time of Wilfrid,” in Saint Wilfrid atHexham, ed. Kirby, D.P. (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1974), p. 8.

13 See the appendix on the dating of the Council of Whitby.

14 MacCarthy, , Annals, p. cl.

15 O'Connell, D. J., “Easter Cycles in the Early Irish Church,” Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 66 (1936), 67106, esp. 92-96.

16 Jones, Charles W., “The Victorian and Dionysiac Tables in the West,” Speculum 9 (1934), 413, also noted this. He proposed an ingenious, if not completely persuasive, solution to the problems it poses. Jones argued that Whitby's true purpose was to adopt publicly the Dionysiac tables in place of the less accurate Victorian. The two orthodox Easter cycles would clash in 655, while the Irish and Dionysiac Easters would fall on the same day. Fearing the embarrassment that would result from this, Wilfrid pushed for a council that would resolve the Dionysiac-Victorian problem. While this computistical thesis is interesting, it is unconvincing. It ignores that fact that Oswiu called the council, presided over it, and decided the issue himself. There is no reason to believe that the Irish-educated Oswiu would have been interested in saving the Romanists from embarrassment. It could, however, be argued that Wilfred and Alhfrith agitated for a synod without dis-closing their true intent. See also Kirby, , Making of Early England, p. 46, and Harrison, Kenneth, The Framework of Anglo-Saxon History (Cambridge, 1976), pp. 56, 93.

17 HE iii, 25.

18 HE iii, 25.

19 Mayr-Harting, , Coming of Christianity, pp. 105–13; John, , “Problems,” pp. 4250.

20 Ibid., p. 49.

21 Ibid., p. 50.

22 Mayr-Harting, , Coming of Christianity, p. 108.

23 E.g., Chadwick, H.M., Studies in Anglo-Saxon Institutions (Cambridge, 1905), pp. 357–60; Jolliffe, J.E.A., The Constitutional History of Medieval England (London, 1937), pp. 3031; Vollrath-Reichelt, Hannah, Königsgedanke und Königtum bei den Angelsachsen bis zur Mitte des 9. Jahrhunderts (Cologne, 1971), pp. 5463; Harrison, , Framework, pp. 8092; Dumville, David, “The Aetheling: a study in constitutional history,” Anglo-Saxon England 8, ed. Clemoes, Peter (1979), 135.

24 Bede clearly felt that a king had to belong to the royal family of the kingdom to be legitimate. He thus stresses that Oswald, who had been driven into exile by Edwin, was his predecessor's kinsman: “Erat autem nepos Eudini regis ex sorore Acha, dignumque fait ut tantus praecessor talem haberet de sua consanguinitate et religionis heredem et regni.” HE iii, 6. Cf. ASC, s.a. 868 C [recte, 867]; Asser's Life of King Alfred, ed. Stephenson, W.H. (Oxford, 1904), § 27 (p. 22).

25 E.g., HE ii, 5; iii, 8,18; iv, 5; v, 23. See also ASC, s.a. 737; Asser's Life, § 16 (pp. 14-15).

26 E.g., “Continuations from the Moore MS,” in Colgrave and Mynors, pp. 574, 576. See also ASC, s.a. 755 [recte, 757], 774, 868C [recte, 867].

27 ASC, s.a. 685.

28 HE iv, 26.

29 HE iii, 14.

30 HE iii, 24.

31 See Plummer, II, 120, 182. Kirby also notes that Alhfrith had reason to fear Ecgfrith's aspirations to the throne. Kirby, D.P., “… per universas Pictorum provincias,” Famulus Christi, ed. Bonner, Gerald (London, 1976), p. 310.

32 Oswiu did not marry Eanflaed until after he had ascended the throne in 642. Since Alhfrith fought at the Winwaed in 655 and had married Penda's daughter before then (HE iii, 21), we may safely assume that he was not Eanflaed's son. The Historia Brittonum, ch. 57 (EHD, 1, 2), reports that Oswiu had had a Celtic wife, Riemmelth or Rhiainfellt, granddaughter of Rhun map Urbgen, before he married Eanflaed. It is possible that Alhfrith was her son. See, e.g., Kirby, , “Northumbria,” p. 8; Miller, Molly, “The dates of Deira,” Anglo-Saxon England 8, ed. Clemoes, Peter (1979), p. 43, n. 4. Miller further argues that Rhiainfellt may well have followed the Roman Easter. Ibid., p. 47, n. 3.

33 The influence that a widowed queen might have on the succession is seen in Beowulf, lines 2369-2378, ed. F. Klaeber, 3rd ed. (Lexington, Mass., 1950). Cf. Kirby, , “Northumbria,” p. 22.

34 We cannot date his conversion exactly. We can, however, be fairly certain that he adhered to Irish practice before the Winwaed in 655, when he aided in Peada's conversion (HE iii, 21) and that he was within the Roman camp by 660. When Wilfrid returned to England from Gaul in 658 or 659 (see Plummer,. II, 317), Alhfrith already “greatly loved" Roman ways. VW, ch. 7; HE v, 19. Cf. HE iii, 25, where Bede suggests that Alhfrith's preference for Rome stemmed from Wilfrid's teaching. One might also note that Alhfrith's mother may well have been Romanist. Miller, “Dates of Deira,” p. 47, n. 3.

35 VW, ch. 7.

36 HE iii, 25; v, 19; VW, ch. 8.

37 HE v, 19. See also Bede's Life of St. Cuthbert, chs. 7, 8, in Two Lives of St. Cuthbert, ed. and trans. Colgrave, B. (Cambridge, 1940), pp. 175, 181. Wilfrid invited monks from Gilling to replace those who departed with Eata. This suggests that Gilling celebrated Easter with the Romans. See “Historia Abbatum auctore Anonymo,” in Plummer, I, 389.

38 See, e.g. HE ii, 6; iii, 7. See also BCS 99. For other source references see Abels, Richard, “Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England,” (Diss., Columbia University, 1982), pp. 108–10.

39 Plummer, II, 193, 195, 317.

40 Plummer, II, 317. Cf. VW, ch. 7, which implies that Coenwealh of Wessex introduced Wilfrid and Alhfrith.

41 Colgrave, , Two Lives, p. 181.

42 Plummer, I, 389.

43 Cf. Plummer, II, 195, 267. Plummer's argument is as follows: Boisil, prior of Melrose, died of the pestilence and was succeeded by Cuthbert. Bede tells us that Cuthbert filled this office “aliquot annos.” Life of Saint Cuthbert, chs. 9 & 16. Furthermore, Florence of Worcester and the Annales Lindisfarnenses assert that Cuthbert was transferred to Lindisfarne in 664. From this Plummer concluded that Boisil could not have died from the great plague of 664. Instead he suggested that the prior died in 661. This argument, based as it is upon later sources, is not convincing. The Anonymous Life of St. Cuthbert, iii, 1, states that Cuthbert was ordered to Lindisfarne “by the venerable and holy Bishop Eata.” Two Lives, p. 95. See also the implications of HE iv, 27. Since Eata was not consecrated bishop until 678 (HE v, 24), Cuthbert must have remained at Melrose until that year. This explains the phrase “multos annos” that Bede uses to describe Cuthbert's tenure as prior of Melrose. HE iv, 27. It is thus quite possible that Alhfrith did not expel Cuthbert and his brethren until 663 or 664. At any rate, Plummer's solution is unsatisfying. It is difficult to see how one can translate “multos annos” as three years.

44 Meissner, J.L.G., The Celtic Church in England (London, 1929), pp. 1213.

45 HE iii, 26.

46 Bede's account of Whitby reads like a treatise on the Easter question. Eddius Stephanus's portrayal of the debate, which appears to have been one of Bede's sources, is shorter, less detailed, and marred by confusion over the precise nature of the Irish error—most surprising when one considers that the Life was written shortly after the Picts abandoned the Irish-84 year cycle in favor of the Roman observance and shortly before Egbert's conversion of Iona. Bede, the master of chronology whose computistical studies were the textbooks throughout the Middle Ages, simply may have emended Eddius's account in accordance with his vera lex historiae; he gave to each side the arguments that they ought to have made, thus, ironically according Wilfrid, a man for whom Bede apparently had little affection, a more prominent role in his narrative than in the saint's own Vita. One cannot help but wonder along with Plummer whether “the [Easter] question occupies a place in Bede's mind [and history] out of all proportion to its real importance.” Plummer, I, xl.

47 Stenton, F.M., Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1971), p., 123.

48 HE iii, 25; VW, ch. 10.

49 HE ii, 5; iii, 24.

50 HE iii, 24, 30; iv, 3; ASC, s.a. 661.

51 Plummer, I, xl; Jones, Charles W., Baedae Opera de Temporibus (Cambridge, Mass., 1943), p. viii. Although one would hesitate to suggest that the Easter controversy was inconsequential in seventh-century England, it seems very possible that Bede overstated its importance. There seems to have been little, if any, overt hostility between the West Saxon Bishop Wine, who was consecrated in Gaul and presumably followed the Romanist Easter, and the neighboring Cornish bishops. HE iii, 19. See also Grosjean, “La date,” p. 246. Wilfrid's championship of the Roman cause at Whitby, however, does seem to have generated bad feelings. It is interesting that Eddius chose to tar Wilfrid's enemies with the label “Quartodeciman,” despite the inaccuracy of the charge. See, e.g., VW, ch., 14.

52 HE iv, 1.

53 HE, iii, 28.

54 VW, ch. 12.

55 HE, iii, 20.

56 HE, iv, 2. The ascription of the Life to Eddius Stephanus is based upon less than compelling evidence. See B. Colgrave's introduction to his edition of the Life for the traditional view; cf. Kirby, “Bede, Eddius Stephanus and the ‘Life of Wilfrid’,” pp. 102-04.

57 For Aethelberht's role in summoning the conference at Augustine's Oak, see HE ii, 2. Without entering into the debate over the precise nature of the bretwalda-ship, we may briefly note that in the seventh and eighth centuries an overlord probably exercised not only political, economic, and military superiority over his subject kings, but also possessed a certain preeminence over the churches in his imperium. See, e.g., HE ii, 3,6; in, 7,21; iv, 15, 16, 23. The ability of a bretwalda to exercise a principatus over the English church ought not to be taken as a “constitutional” power. One was not able to choose an archbishop in Kent because one was bretwalda; rather, one who had the power to assert his authority in such a manner would have been recognized as bretwalda by others. On the meaning of bretwalda see Stenton, , “The Supremacy of the Mercian Kings,” EHR 33 (1918), 439442; John, , Orbis Britanniae and Other Studies (Leicester, 1966), ch. 1; Stenton, , Anglo-Saxon England, pp. 33-36, 204–10; Vollrath-Reichelt, Königsgedanke, passim.; Wallace-Hadrill, J. M., Early Germanic Kingship in England and on the Continent (Oxford, 1971), pp. 109–13.

58 The plague-induced apostacy of the East Saxon kings Sighere and Sebbi in 664 is instructive. HE, iii, 30. I owe this observation to Bernard Bachrach.

59 See HE ii, 2; VW, ch. 42. The compact between Wilfrid and Caedwalla alone should warn one against imputing the modern distinction between “politics” and “religion” to the men of this age.

60 HE iii, 29; iv, 1. J. Campbell suggests that Bede's account of Oswiu and Egbert cooperating in choosing an archbishop of Canterbury may be “a mere deduction based on the conflation of a letter from Pope Vitalian to Oswy and some account of Egbert's sending a candidate for the see to Rome.” Bede,” Latin Historians, ed. Dorey, T.A. (London, 1966), p. 187, n. 30. Campbell's doubts arise because of Bede's earlier account of this mission in the Historia Abbatum, Plummer, 1, 366, in which Egbert alone is said to have sent Wigheard. If this is merely Bede's deduction, it appears to be a sound one. See Plummer's explanation of the discrepancy, Plummer, II, 200-201.

61 HE iii, 29; iv, 1, 2. Bede himself appears unsure about the date of Wigheard's journey. In HE iv, 1, he says rather vaguely that the archiepiscopal see had been vacant some time before a candidate was chosen by Oswiu and Egbert. But in HE iii, 29 and iv, 2, he uses language that suggests that the appointment was made not long after the Council of Whitby had concluded. HEW iv, 2, implies that Wigheard was in Rome by 665 at the latest, for he was there at the time that Wilfrid was being ordained in Gaul. Cf. ASC, s.a. 667; Florence of Worcester, Chronicon ex chronicis, ed. Thorpe, B. (London, 1849), I, 28.

62 HE iii, 29.

63 That this refers to Oswiu's decision at Whitby is made clear later in the letter: “Quamobrem oportet uestram celsitudinem, utpote membrum existens Christi, in omnibus piam regulam sequi perenniter principis apostolorum, siue in pascha celebrandum siue in omnibus quae tradiderunt sancti apostoli Petrus et Paulus, qui ut duo luminaria caeli inluminant mundum, sic doctrina eorum corda hominum cotidie inlustrat credentium.” HE iii, 29. Vitalian seems to have interpreted Oswiu's conversion to the Roman Easter as a profession of devotion to the Holy See, as Oswiu certainly intended it to be.

64 HE i, 32 (Gregory to Aethelberht); ii, 10 (Pope Boniface to Edwin); ii, 17 (Pope Honorius I to Edwin, “regi Angorum”).

65 HE iii, 29.,

66 See Plummer, II, 201; Deanesly, M., The Pre-Conquest Church in England (Oxford, 1963), p. 106. Eric John in a personal communication points out that in this case it would have been natural to ask the pope to intervene and produce an archbishop to whom no one could object.

67 The language of this letter ought to be compared with that of the papal epistles in HE i, 32; ii, 10 and 17.

68 HE iii, 26.

69 Hild appears in Bede's account of the council as a follower of the Irish usages. HE iii, 25. She continued in opposition to Wilfrid, for Pope John VI, writing in 704, refers to her accusations against Wilfrid in 679. VW, ch. 54.

70 VW, ch. 14. Bede, discreet as always, appears to have deliberately passed over this embarrassing conflict in his narrative. The dispute, involving most of the major figures in the mid-seventh-century Northumbrian clergy, could hardly have been construed as edifying. Moreover, Bede's possible dislike of Wilfrid may have led him to downplay the saint's persecution. Here and elsewhere (e.g., in his discussion of Chad's elevation), Bede's attitude toward Wilfrid may have colored his account. On this subject see Plummer, II, 316; Colgrave and Mynors, HE, p. 306, n.2. Cf. Kirby, , “Bede, Eddius Stephanus and the ‘Life of Wilfrid’,” pp. 101102.

71 HE iii, 26, 27.

72 Plummer believes that Wilfrid was sent to Gaul while Tuda was still alive. Plummer, II, 323. Bede, although vague on this point, speaks of Wilfrid's consecration in the chapter following his description of Tuda's death. HE iii, 27, 28. His use of interea rather than postea further obscures matters. But it is unlikely that Oswiu would have permitted Wilfrid to go to Gaul for his consecration if Tuda had been alive at the time.

73 HE iii, 28; v, 19. Cf. HE iii, 5: “rex Osuald postulasset antistitem, qui sibi suaeque genti uerbum fidei ministraret.”

74 HE, v. 19. VW, chs. 12, 16.

75 Plummer, II, 198-99; John, , “Problems,” pp. 4950.

76 VW, ch. 14. Bede tactfully passes over the conflict between Wilfrid and Chad. See HE iii, 28. Bede's discretion in such matters is well known. See Campbell, “Bede,” pp. 176-78.

77 John, “Problems,” pp. 46-47. Cf. HE iii, 28. John stresses that quo adhuc implies a causal relationship between Wilfrid's delay and Chad's accession to the see of York.

78 VW, ch. 14.

79 Plummer, II, 198-99; John, “Problems,” pp. 49-50.

80 HE iii, 14.

81 Plummer, I, 365.

82 See Florence of Worcester, Chronicon, I, 27; Albertson, Clinton, Anglo-Saxon Saints and Heroes (New York, 1967), pp. 54, n. 24, 100, n. 24, 226. But Benedict Biscop's second visit to Rome may have taken place before 665. On the choice of this date, see Plummer, II, 357.

83 John argues that the episcopal see of Northumbria was moved to York in accordance with the Gregorian tradition as a result of Whitby. “Problems,” p. 49. But there is no suggestion of this in either Eddius's or Bede's narrative. One would expect information of this sort to have found its way into the History.

84 Stenton, , Anglo-Saxon England, p. 129.

85 Grosjean, , “La date,” p. 239, n. 1. Bede incorrectly places the eclipse on 3 May. For an explanation of this error see Jones, , Saints' Lives, pp. 3738.

86 HE iii, 20.

87 Grosjean, , “La date,” p. 237.

88 Ibid., pp. 237-38. March 12 in 664, as Grosjean points out, was a propitious day for Deusdedit's consecration, being the feast of Gregory the Great, who was especially venerated at Canterbury as the “apostle of the English.” How then did Bede arrive at the date 26 March? Grosjean suggests that the answer to this problem lies in HE iv, 1. Here Bede tells us that Theodore, Deusdedit's successor, was consecrated by Pope Vitalian on Sunday, March 26, 668. It would seem that Bede, perhaps working from a Canterbury episcopal list, mistakenly copied Theodore's date of consecration for his predecessor's.

89 Stenton, , Anglo-Saxon England, p. 129.

90 HE, pp. xliii-xliv, 278-79; Plummer, 1, 169. Note that a later hand has altered the vii of MS M into iiii.

91 Poole, R.L., “St. Wilfrid and the See of Ripon,” EHR 34 (1919); reprinted in Poole, , Studies in Chronology and History (Oxford, 1934), pp. 3853.

92 Harrison, , Framework, pp. 8596. See also Levison, W., England and the Continent in the Eighth Century (Oxford, 1946), pp. 256–79.

93 Harrison, Kenneth, “The beginning of the year in England, c. 500-900,” Anglo-Saxon England 2, ed. Clemoes, P. (Cambridge, 1973), pp. 5559: Harrison, , Frame-work, p. 96. Cf. Jones, , Baedae, p. 381. As Jones notes, January 1, the beginning of the Julian year, was firmly entrenched in the Roman mind as the New Year.

94 Harrison, , Framework, pp. 8384. The rule is found in Bede, De Temporum Ratione, ch. 49, in Jones, , Baedae, p. 269. Bede borrowed it from Dionysius.

95 Jones, , Baedae, pp. 4041.

96 HE iii, 27.

97 The structure of the History clearly suggests that Bede believed that Deusdedit was a victim of the plague of 664. The chapter in which he discusses the selection of his successor, HE iii, 29, is squeezed between descriptions of the plague in Northumbria and Ireland, iii, 27, and in the kingdom of the East Saxons, iii, 30.

98 Stenton, , Anglo-Saxon England, p. 129.

99 Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, III, ed. Haddan, A.W. and Stubbs, W. (Oxford, 1871), p. 109.

100 HE iii, 28.

101 Grosjean, , “La date,” pp. 244–45, contends that his passage does not suggest that the Northumbrians were unaware of Deusdedit's death. He emphasizes the clause “et necdum alium pro eo constitum fuisse pontificem,” and asserts that Bede meant by this that Chad knew that the archbishop had died but had expected someone to have been appointed in his place.

102 See above pp. 12-13.

103 HE iii, 28.

104 HE iv, 2: “Eo autem tempore quo defuncto Deusdedit, Doruuernensi ecclesiae episcopus quaerebatur ordinabatur mittebatur, Uilfrid quoque de Brittania Galliam ordinandus est missus, et quoniam ante Theodorum rediit, ipse etiam in Cantia presbyteros et diaconos, usque dum archiepiscopus ad sedem suam perueniret, ordinabat.” Cf. VW, ch. 14: “Ecgberhtus quoque rex Cantwariorum religiosus pontificem nostrum ad se accersivit, et illic presbiteros multos, ex quibus unus erat Putta, quo postea episcopatum accepit, et non paucos diacones ordinavit. Deusdedit enim episcopus post Honorium archiepiscopum diem obiit.”

105 HE iii, 26.

106 HE iii, 27. Bede described one of Cuthbert's symptoms as a femoral tumor. Life of Saint Wilfrid, ch. 8, in Colgrave, , Two Lives, p. 180. W. MacArthur, noting this, diagnosed the pestilence as bubonic plague. The Identification of Some Pestilences Recorded in Irish Annals,” Irish Historical Studies 6 (1949), 176–77. Cf. Shrewsbury, J.F.D., A History of Bubonic Plague in the Britishlsles (Cambridge, 1970), pp. 2021, where he argues for a diagnosis of smallpox.

107 HE iii, 27. Bede describes the plague as reaching the north diutius after it had “depopulated” the southern parts of England.

108 According to Shrewsbury's calculations from chronicle sources, the plague of 1348-1349 entered England at Weymouth in August, 1348, reached London at the end of October to the beginning of November, and spread to Yorkshire in March 1349. History of Bubonic Plague, pp. 38, 109. Although the plague was in York in March, it did not strike Wearmouth until July of that year. It reached Scotland in the spring of 1350.

109 Florence of Worcester, Chronicon, I, 27. Florence's source for this date is unknown.

110 He iii, 26: “Cedd, relictis Scottorum uestigiis, ad suam sedem rediit, utpote agnita obseruatione catholici paschae.” See also Grosjean, “La date,” p. 243.

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