Things have been a little quiet here at History Clicking, as other matters have taken priority. But never fear, more blogs are coming.
We planned a blog series back in May, to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Saint Bede. We hope you like it.
May is the anniversary of the death of Saint Bede, a major scholar and historian of Early Medieval England. Bede was born in 672 or 673 in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria and he lived most of his life as a monk, dying aged about 62 on 26 May 735.
Bede is notable for many reasons. For his prolific scholarship, covering history, theology, biblical commentaries, cosmology, teaching aids, and others. And also for his popularisation of significant intellectual concepts that we now take for granted, such as the use of Anno Domini as a dating method and for his promotion of a national identity of the Anglo-Saxon people.
‘At the present time there are in Britain, in harmony with the five books of the divine law, five languages and four nations – English, British, Irish, and Picts. Each of these have their own language; but all are united in their study of God’s truth by the fifth – Latin – which has become a common medium through the study of the scriptures’ (Bede I.i).
The intellectual scope of his work aside, Bede did not travel much in his life. His life before age seven is not known, however, he wrote that he was born on the lands of ‘this monastery’ – i.e. the twinned monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. At age seven, he was sent to the monastery of Monkwearmouth. Bede spent the rest of life within the environs of the twinned monasteries, making brief visits to neighbouring locations such as York and the monastery at Lindisfarne. In a sense, his intellect allowed him to travel the known world whilst his corporeal existence remained in Northumbria.
Bede’s life was structured by monastic routines, actively participating in church liturgy, becoming a deacon at aged 17 and a priest at 30. His day-to-day life was also dominated by his teaching and scholarship work.
Contrary to popular opinion about the Early Medieval World, traditionally known as the ‘Dark Ages’, Bede worked within a vibrant intellectual culture – albeit, a world largely restricted to Christian monasteries. Monasteries such as Bede’s at Monkwearmouth and Jarrow contained extensive libraries that included works in multiple languages on many subjects. And leading scholars such as Bede actively corresponded with one another, sharing insights, debating controversies, and exchanging copies of works. However, access to this intellectual world was largely restricted to men who took holy orders within a monastery – few women or lay people could gain access to this world.
In this 9 Part series, I will explore the histories written in Early Medieval Britain.
- In Part 2, I will provide an overview of the major histories written during this period.
- In Part 3, I will discuss Gildas and his history written in the 6th Century.
- In Part 4, I will discuss Bede’s history written in the 8th Century.
- In Part 5, I will discuss Nennius and the Historia Brittonuum written about 828.
- In Part 6, I will discuss the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
- In Part 7, I will discuss the distinction between Form and Matter, a philosophical concept that became embedded in historical writing in the 19th Century.
- In In Part 8, I will continue my discussion of 19th Century historical thinking, which continues to shape modern notions of the past.
- And finally, with our notions of history clarified, in Part 9 I will explore the Early Medieval approach to historical writing.
Photo Copyright Details:
|Title: Sutton Hoo helmet reconstructed
Description: Replica of the helmet from the Sutton Hoo ship-burial 1, England.
Source: Wikipedia Commons
Author: Gernot Keller
This is a retouched picture, which means that it has been digitally altered from its original version. Modifications: brighten & crop.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.