Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Penguin Classics)
Written in AD 731, Bede's work opens with a background sketch of Roman Britain's geography and history. It goes on to tell of the kings and bishops, monks and nuns who helped to develop Anglo-Saxon government and religion during the crucial formative years of the English people. Leo Sherley-Price's translation brings us an accurate and readable version, in modern English, of a unique historical document. This edition now includes Bede's Letter to Egbert concerning pastoral care in early Anglo-Saxon England, at the heart of which lay Bede's denunciation of the false monasteries; and The Death of Bede, an admirable eye-witness account by Cuthbert, monk and later Abbot of Jarrow, both translated by D. H. Farmer.
A classic source of English history
By Fred Camfield - June 24, 2002
This book is a "must read" for anyone studying English history. It was completed by the monk Bede in 731 AD and contains a wealth of material he gathered from sources available at that time. He provided an overview of Roman emperors, and gives accounts of conflicts within the Roman empire and particularly within Briton. He provided a good account of Saxons and other invaders and their conflicts with the Romano-Britons. He also provided various sidelights including accounts of miracle cures using holy relics. Unfortuneately, the material is often all too brief, and the original sources seem to have vanished in the dust. For example, the uprising (led by the warrior queen Boadicea) against the Romans in 61 A.D. is described by Bede in a single sentence in the Greater Chronicle (4021) when, writing of Nero, he states "this emperor attempted nothing of a military kind, and even nearly lost Britain, where two of the finest towns were captured and sacked" (he is somewhat in error as three... read more
Treasure of the English People
By Richard R. Carlton - October 27, 2002
There is a definite thrill to reading the actual words set down by the infamously unassuming monk himself. This is why there are so many fields where "Bede" is mandatory foundational literature, but if you are a student of English history, literature, theology, philosophy, or sociology you already know that. One of the most lasting of the many images the book creates is the biography of Bede himself; surviving a plague that left only the abbot and the young boy Bede to sing the Divine Offices, then settling in at Jarrow where he was sheltered with the precious books for the remainder of his life.Dated as 731, Bede's history was written in his old age (when he was 60 or so) and his gentle manner of reflection on the relationship of kings, gentry, the Church, it's priests and leaders, and common folk with one another informs one quite clearly of the many years spent teaching other monks, repeatedly re-reading texts, and living the religious life that bestowed the title "Venerable... read more
By J. Angus Macdonald "bibliovore" - October 21, 2004
A few years ago, I had the chance to go to Durham Cathedral. As an American medievalist with a love of the Anglo-Saxon era I jumped at the chance. I had a chance there to see not only the resting place of Saint Cuthbert, but also The Vernerable Bede.
The Venerable Bede -- this is not a name, only an office. What his actual name was we will probably never know, but that is less important than the historical narrative he has left us. Having in mind to write a history of the English peoples, he goes on to write a work filled with wonders, colourful characters, foul villains, and ever and ever again, miracles.
The Bede was an ecclesiast and saw all of history filtered through the glass of the Church. Yet somehow he does not come off as "preachy" as many other historians of the time. Maybe it is because of his deft characterizations, maybe his succinct view of the seemingly necessary course of history, but in any case I find myself caught up in a well-told tale,... read more