Bede and the Invention of England

The Tiberius Bede [Ecclesiastical History of the English People]. Cotton MS Tiberius C. II, f. 5v © The British Library Board

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The second in a series of three Panizzi lectures given by Dr Rowan Williams

Bede turns Gildas upside down by casting the invading Saxons as the true chosen people, displacing the idolatrous and immoral natives. A far better historian (and writer) than Gildas, he too combines biblical prototypes with the literature of holy lives and deaths and the ‘grand narratives’ of Christian historians and biographers of his time. For him, the English are not only an instrument of divine punishment for the British but in their own right a nation with a holy destiny; and the British accordingly have to be imagined as consistently sinful and heretical. Bede is appealing to the English of his age to be faithful to this divine calling and not to repeat the errors of the people they have displaced.

The lectures are not ticketed and seats will be allocated on the night on a first come, first served basis.


Name: Bede and the Invention of England
Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
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