Bede's ecclesiastical history


Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People was created in 731. It tells the story of the conversion of the English people to Christianity.

It is the chief source of information about English history from the arrival of St Augustine in Kent in 597 until 731. But the book begins much earlier, with Julius Caesar's invasion in 55 BCE. It draws upon several other sources, each of which Bede acknowledges in footnotes.

After briefly describing Christianity in Roman Britain, it goes on to describe St Augustine's mission, which brought Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons. In subsequent years the history describes the attempts to convert the different kingdoms of Britain, including Mercia, Sussex and Northumbria.

Bede (c.672-735) was born in Northumbria in the late 7th century, and at the age of 7 entered the monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow near Newcastle, where he spent all of his adult life.  In the Middle Ages he was famous for the works he wrote on the interpretation of scripture, on the natural world and on how to calculate the date of Easter.

This copy of the text was probably produced within a few decades of Bede's death in 735. The British Library holds numerous copies of Bede's work, including an 8th-century edition from Northumbria and a ninth-century version made in Kent.

Full title:
Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People)
9th century
Held by:
British Library
Cotton MS Tiberius C II