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Preface, in Bede, 'History of the English Church and People'

Preface, in Bede, 'History of the English Church and People'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1150

Shelfmark: Additional MS 38817

Item number: f.5r

Length: 26

Width: 18

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Bede (ca. 673-735), star author of the twin monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow, is most famous for his 'History of the English Church and People'. Today it is known for Bede's acknowledgement of his sources: he gave footnotes saying where he got his information. He wrote it around 731 for the saintly but ineffective Ceolwulf, King of Northumbria, who was in that year forcibly 'retired' and tonsured as a monk, although he soon returned to the throne. In the book, Bede tells the story of the Anglo-Saxons becoming a Christian people and, although politically still divided into several kingdoms, united in destiny as a nation. It remained a best-seller for a few centuries. This 12th-century copy, made at Kirkham Abbey, Yorkshire, was included in a manuscript containing other works of Bede, histories, and material on saints. The preface of the 'History' begins with Bede's address to King Ceolfrid, telling him that he sends the book for a second time so that he may study it carefully. Bede acknowledges the help of Abbot Albinus, the abbot of the monastery of St Peter and St Paul, Canterbury. Between the lines, a few corrections were noted by a reader. The initial with a fantastic beast is conventional 12th-century manuscript decoration.

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