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ILLUSTRATIVE NOTES, A MAP OF ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND
AND A GENERAL INDEX.
BY J. A. GILES, D.C.L.,
LATE FELLOW OF CORPUS CHRISTIE COLLEGE, OXFORD.
LONDON: GEORGE BELL & SONS, YORK STREET,
LIBRARY OF THE
Union Theological Seminary
NEW YORK CITY
Samuel Macauley Jacksor
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
THE period of six hundred years (from about A.D. 466 to
To such a spirit of inquiry must be attributed the fact
Chronicles of Anglo-Saxon History. Although of limited dimensions, they present us with a most extraordinary number of facts arranged chronologically, and form a mass of history such as no other nation of Europe possesses.
CHAP. II.-LIFE OF BEDE.
Sect. 1.-Of his birth.
THE year of our Lord 673, remarkable for one of the most important of our early English councils, held at Hertford, for the purpose of enforcing certain general regulations of the church, has an equal claim on our attention, as the year in which that great teacher of religion, literature, and science, the Venerable Bede, first saw the light.
The time of his birth has, however, been placed by some writers as late as A.D. 677, but this error arose from not perceiving that the last two or three pages of his Chronological Epitome, attached to the Ecclesiastical History, were added by another hand.*
Bede's own words appear decisive in fixing the date of his birth:-"This is the present state of Britain, about 285 years since the coming of the Saxons, and in the seven hundred and thirty-first year of our Lord's incarnation." Το this he subjoins a short chronology which comes down to 731, and was continued to 734, either by another hand or by Bede himself, at a later period just before his death: he then gives a short account of the principal events of his own life, and says, that he has attained (attigisse) the fifty-ninth year of his life. Gehle, in his recent publication on the life of Bede, has not scrupled to fix the year 672, interpreting Bede's expression that he had attained his fifty-ninth year as implying that he was entering on his sixtieth. On the other hand, another learned critic,† whose opinion has been adopted by Stevenson in his Introduction [p. 7], has endeavoured to show that 674 is the true date. But in so unimportant a particular it is hardly worth while to weigh the conflicting opinions, and the intermediate date, so long ago settled by
Mabill. in v. Bed. sect. ii.__ Sim. Dun. de Ecc. D, 8, and Ep. de Archie. Stubbs's Act. Pont. Eborac. Sparke's Hist. Ang. Scrip. 1723. Surtees' Hist. of Durhamn, ii. p. 69.
Pag: Critic. in Baron. Ann. A.D. 693, sect. 8.
Mabillon, and apparently so well borne out by Bede's own words, is perhaps the best that can be adopted.
It is always to be regretted, when little is known of the early life of eminent men, as in all cases where many facts have been handed down concerning the years of their youth, something or other has invariably broken forth significant of their future life and fortunes. So very little, however, is known of this great ornament of England and father of the universal church, that, except his own writings, the letter of Cuthbert his disciple, and one or two other almost contemporary records, we have no means whatever of tracing his private history.
The place of his birth is said by Bede himself to have been in the territory afterwards belonging to the twin-monasteries of St. Peter and St. Paul, at Wearmouth and Jarrow. The whole of this territory, lying along the coast near the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Wear, was granted to abbat Benedict by king Egfrid two years after the birth of Bede. William of Malmesbury points out more minutely the spot where our author first saw the light. His words are these: "Britain, which some writers have called another world, because, from its lying at a distance, it has been overlooked by most geographers, contains in its remotest parts a place on the borders of Scotland, where Bede was born and educated. The whole country was formerly studded with monasteries, and beautiful cities founded therein by the Romans; but now, owing to the devastations of the Danes and Normans, it has nothing to allure the senses. Through it runs the Wear, a river of no mean width, and of tolerable rapidity. It flows into the sea, and receives ships, which are driven thither by the wind, into its tranquil bosom. A certain Benedict built two churches on its banks, and founded there two monasteries, named after St. Peter and St. Paul, and united together by the same rule and bond of brotherly love."* The birth of Bede happened in the third year of Egfrid, son of Oswy, the first of the kings of Northumberland, after the union of the provinces Deira and Bernicia into one monarchy. The dominions of this king extended from the Humber to the Frith of Forth, and comprehended all the six northern counties of England, and the * Hist, of the Kings of England, book i. chap. iii., p. 54.