The Venerable Bede
Born in 672
Died on 26th of May 735
The scholar-monk Bede is often described as the Father of English History for his great work Ecclesiastical History of the English People, still a major source of information for historians. In his day he was also renowned for his theological writings and for his contributions to a broad range of subjects – he wrote some 60 books in all.
Bede, born in 672 or 673 in Northumbria (either at Wearmouth or Jarrow), seems to have been destined for the religious life early on, sent to study at Monkwearmouth monastery when just seven from what is thought to be a noble Saxon family. Having transferred to Monkwearmouth’s twin monastery at Jarrow in 683 he was ordained deacon at around 19, and became a priest aged about 30.
From his writings it appears Bede probably travelled fairly extensively within England, certainly visiting York and Lindisfarne, and possibly venturing further afield. His scholarship, however, was facilitated by the existence of a significant library at Jarrow – perhaps as many as 500 books - collected by his abbots Biscop and Ceolfrith.
His extensive writings, some destined for the schoolroom, some for the higher authorities in the church and state, many for a more general readership, go well beyond theology and history: science, music, astronomy, grammar and poetry all feature in his prodigious output – he was celebrated in his day for his dedicated industry as well as scholarship.
Bede died in Jarrow on May 26 735. His significance in the church is such that he was declared a Doctor of the Church, the only Englishman to be so venerated, in 1899.
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