A-Z People of the Dark Ages: The Venerable Bede

I don’t know where I’d be without the Venerable Bede. He, along with The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, is one of the major resources for my Dark Age novels.

He was a great historian who recorded events in Anglo-Saxon England from the departure of the Romans until his own death. His essential book, as far as I’m concerned, is  Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples. You can tell from the title that it is written from a Christian perspective. What that means is that pagans, such as King Penda of Mercia, are not portrayed as heroes or good men and Christians, no matter how nasty, are.

Bede was an eighth century monk who lived in Jarrow, Durham, in the old kingdom of Northumbria. As a monk, he spent many of his days copying out passages of the Bible into wonderful illuminated manuscripts.There was a great library at his monastery, understandably. He was also a great scholar,singer, linguist and translator and said “study, teaching and writing had always been my delight”. My kind of guy.

He has written over sixty books, mainly educational and they all survive today. One was designed to teach grammar, another about time, De temporibus, another was about astronomy. Clever man. His contribution to our understanding of the Anglo-Saxon seasons and celebrations  I cover in my post The Anglo-Saxon Calendar.

Bede died on 25 May 735 and this became his feast day when he was made a saint. A museum in his home town of Jarrow explores his work and demonstrates Anglo-Saxon life. See a video of the place here.

For me and all of us, the Venerable Bede really did illuminate the Dark Ages.


This blog was part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge

 © 2016 A.J. Sefton


4 thoughts on “A-Z People of the Dark Ages: The Venerable Bede

  1. He was an amazing man, to be sure! I’m so grateful his works survived for us to see them today. They certainly shine light on the fact that the Dark Ages weren’t quite as “dark” as most believe. I would quibble a bit with your comment that Christians, no matter how nasty, were portrayed as heroes by Bede. He has some harsh things to say about some monks and Christian leaders who became corrupt and idle in the faith. He also wasn’t too fond of the Celtic Christian branch of the faith, basically seeing them as heretics for the most part, although he has nothing but nice things to say about Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne. So he is perhaps a little more nuanced than you portray here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you on that, but I wanted a short post as I’m writing daily. I was thinking about some of the Northumbrian kings and thought that he was very diplomatic when writing about them even though they were obviously quite nasty pieces of work. Maybe I should clarify that. I appreciate your comment.


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