History of the English Church and People
Introduced by Melvyn Bragg
Translated by Leo Sherley-Price
Bede, the father of English history, created a dramatic narrative which remains the most valuable chronicle of Anglo-Saxon England in existence, and an unrivalled account of the early days of Christianity.
With God’s help, I, Bede … have assembled these facts about the history of the Church in Britain … so far as I have been able to ascertain them from ancient writings, from the tradition of our forebears, and from my own personal knowledge
In 731, at the Northumbrian foundation of Jarrow, a monk named Bede completed a masterpiece of historical scholarship, the sophistication of which would not be equalled for centuries. Bede’s aim was to record the history of the Church in England. His achievement was far greater, for he created a complete history, not just of the Church but of the people of England, from the arrival of Julius Caesar to the 8th century. We owe most of our knowledge of this period to Bede’s work; it is without doubt the most valuable chronicle of Anglo-Saxon England in existence and the cornerstone of English history.
‘His works cast a light across the whole of Western civilisation’
- Melvyn Bragg
This Folio Society edition, introduced by Melvyn Bragg, pays tribute to the ‘father of English history’. Given the paucity of written sources, the History was a major undertaking, but Bede corresponded diligently with Europe’s finest minds to gather all available material. A pioneer historian, he was the first to popularise the convention of AD in dating. Most important of all, Bede was one of the greatest storytellers of his age, and he created a dramatic narrative out of fragmentary evidence, from scarce written accounts to the rich oral tradition of stories and poems handed down within monasteries and courts.