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Ecclesiastical History of the English People


Ecclesiastical History of the English People Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

His Letter to Egbert gives his final reflections on the English Church just before his death, and all three texts here are further illuminated by a detailed introduction and explanatory notes.


Written in AD 731, this title is the first account of Anglo-Saxon England ever written, and remains our single most valuable source for this period. This revised edition includes a new introduction, Bede's letter to Egbert, the account of Bede's death and new notes.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 383) and index.

Table of Contents

Ecclesiastical History of the English People Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations


Notes to the Introduction

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Author's Preface: To the Most Glorious King Ceolwulf

Book One

1. The situation of Britain and Ireland: their earliest inhabitants

2. On Gaius Julius Caesar, the first Roman to reach Britain

3. Claudius, the second Roman to reach Britan, annexes the Isles of Orkney to the Roman Empire: under his direction Vespasian subdues the Isle of Wight

4. Lucius, a British king, writes to Pope Eleutherus and asks to be made a Christian

5. Severus divides Roman Britain from the rest by an earth work

6. The reign of Diocletian: his persecution of the Christian Church

7. The martyrdom of Saint Alban and his companions, who shed their life-blood for Christ at this time

8. The Church in Britain enjoys peace from the end of this persecution until the time of the Arian heresy

9. During the reign of Gratian, Maximus is created Emperor in Britain, and returns to Gaul with a large army

10. During the reign of Arcadius, the Briton Pelagius presumptuously belittles the grace of God

11. During the reign of Honorius, Gratian and Constantine set up as despots in Britain: the former is killed shortly afterwards in Britain, and the latter in Gaul

12. The Britons, harassed by the Irish and Picts, seek help from the Romans, who come and build a second wall across the island. Notwithstanding, these enemies again break in and reduce the Britons to worse straits

13. During the reign of Theodoius the Younger, Palladius is sent to the Christians among the Irish. The Britons make an unsuccessful appeal to the Consul Aëtius

14. The Britons, made desperate by famine, drive the Barbarians out of their land. There soon follows an abundance of corn, luxury, plague, and doom on the nation

15. The Angles are invited into Britain. At first they repel the enemy, but soon come to terms with them, and turn their weapons against their own allies

16. Under the leadership of Ambrosius, a Roman, the Britons win their first victory against the Angles

17. Bishop Germanus sails to Britain with Lupus: with God's help he quells two storms, one of the sea, the other of the Pelagians

18. Germanus gives sight to the blind daughter of a tribune. He takes some relics from the tomb of Saint Alban, and deposits relics of the Apostles and other Martyrs

19. Germanus is detained by illness. He puts out a fire among houses by his prayer, and is healed of his sickness by a vision

20. The two bishops obtain God's help in battle, and return home

21. The Pelagian heresy revives, and Germanus returns to Britain with Severus. He heals a lame youth, and after denouncing or converting the heretics, restores the British Church to the Catholic Faith

22. The Britons enjoy a respite from foreign invasions, but exhaust themselves in civil wars and plunge into worse crimes

23. The holy Pope Gregory sends Augustine and other monks to preach to the English nation, and encourages them in a letter to persevere in their mission

24. Pope Gregory writes commending them to the Bishop of Arles

25. Augustine reaches Britain, and first preaches in the Isle of Thanet before King Ethelbert, who grants permission to preach in Kent

26. The life and doctrine of the primitive Church are followed in Kent: Augustine establishes his episcopal see in the king's city

27. Augustine is consecrated bishop: he sends to inform Pope Gregory what has been achieved, and receives replies to his questions

28. Pope Gregory writes to the Bishop of Arles, asking him to help Augustine in his work for God

29. Gregory sends Augustine the pallium, a letter, and several clergy

30. A copy of the letter sent by Pope Gregory to Abbot Mellitus on his departure for Britain

31. Pope Gregory writes to Augustine, warning him not to boast of his achievements

32. Pope Gregory sends letters and gifts to King Ethelbert

33. Augustine repairs the Church of Our Saviour and builds a monastery of Saint Peter the Apostle. A note on Peter, its first Abbot

34. Ethelfrid, King of the Northumbrians, defeats the Irish and drives them out of England

Book Two

1. On the death of Pope Gregory

2. Augustine urges the British bishops to cement Catholic unity, and performs a miracle in their presence. Retribution follows their refusal

3. Augustine consecrates Mellitus and Justus as bishops: his own death

4. Laurence and his fellow-bishops urge the Irish to maintain the unity of the Church, particularly in the observance of Easter: Mellitus visits Rome

5. At the deaths of Ethelbert and Sabert their successors revive idolatry: on this account, both Mellitus and Justus leave Britain

6. Laurence is reproved by Saint Peter, and converts King Eadbald to Christ. Mellitus and Justus are recalled

7. The prayers of Bishop Mellitus put out a fire in his city

8. Pope Boniface sends the pallium with a letter to Justus, Mellitus' successor

9. The reign of King Edwin: Paulinus comes to preach the Gospel to him, and first administers the Sacrament of Baptism to his daughter and others

10. Pope Boniface writes to the king, urging him to accept the Faith

11. The Pope writes to the Queen, urging her to exert her influence to obtain the king's salvation

12. King Edwin is moved to accept the Faith by a vision seen during his exile

13. Edwin holds a council with his chief men about accepting the Faith of Christ. The high priest destroys his own altars

14. Edwin and his people accept the Faith, and are baptized by Paulinus

15. The Province of the East Angles accepts the Christian faith

16. Paulinius preaches the Word of God in the Province of Lindsey. The reign of King Edwin

17. Pope Honorius sends a letter of encouragement to King Edwin, and the pallium to Paulinus

18. On succeeding Justus in the See of Canterbury, Honorius receives the pallium and a letter from Pope Honorius

19. Pope Honorius, and later Pope John, write letters to the Irish about Easter and the Pelagian heresy

20. King Edwin is killed, and Paulinus returns to Kent, where he receives the Bishopric of Rochester

Book Three

1. King Edwin's immediate successors abandon their people's Faith and lose their kingdom: the most Christian King Oswald restores both

2. Before engaging the heathen in battle, King Oswald sets up a wooden cross: a young man is later healed by a portion of it, and innumerable other miracles take place

3. Oswald asks the Irish to send him a bishop: when Aidan arrives, he grants him the island of Lindisfarne as his episcopal see

4. How the Picts received the Faith of Christ

5. The Life of Bishop Aidan

6. The wonderful devotion and piety of King Oswald

7. The West Saxons accept the Faith through the teaching of Birinus and his successors Agilbert and Leutherius

8. Earconbert, King of Kent, orders the destruction of idols. His daughter Earcongota and his kinswoman Ethelberga dedicate themselves to God as nuns

9. Miraculous cures take place at the site of Oswald's death. A traveller's horse is cured, and a paralytic girl healed

10. How the earth from this place has power over fire

11. A heavenly light appears all night over Oswald's tomb, and folk are healed from demonic possession

12. A little boy is cured of ague at Saint Oswald's tomb

13. A man in Ireland is recalled from death's door by means of Oswald's relics

14. On the death of Paulinus, Ithamar succeeds to his Bishopric of Rochester. An account of the wonderful humility of King Oswin, who was treacherously murdered by Oswy

15. Bishop Aidan foretells a coming storm, and gives seafarers holy oil to calm the waves

16. Aidan's prayers save the royal city when fired by the enemy

17. The wooden buttress of the church against which Aidan leaned as he died is untouched when the rest of the church is burned down. His spiritual life

18. The life and death of the devout King Sigbert

19. Fursey establishes a monastery among the East Angles: the incorruption of his body after death attests to his visions and holiness

20. On the death of Honorius, Deusdedit succeeds him as Archibishop of Canterbury. The succession of the bishops of the East Angles and of Rochester

21. The Province of the Middle Angles, under its king Peada, becomes Christian

22. The East Saxons, who had apostatized from the Faith under King Sigbert, are re-converted by the preaching of Cedd

23. Cedd receives the site for a monastery from King Ethelwald, and hallows it to our Lord with prayer and fasting: his death

24. On the death of Penda, the Province of the Mercians accepts the Faith of Christ: in gratitude for his victory, Oswy gives endowments and lands to God for the building of monasteries

25. Controversy arises with the Irish over the date of Easter

26. After his defeat Colman returns home and Tuda succeeds to his bishopric: the condition of the Church under these teachers

27. Egbert, an Englishman of holy life, becomes a monk in Ireland

28. On Tuda's death, Wilfrid is consecrated bishop in Gaul and Chad among the West Saxons, to be bishops in the Province of the Northumbrians

29. The priest Wighard is sent from Britain to Rome to be made archbishop: letters from the apostolic Pope tell of his death there

30. During a plague the East Saxons lapse into idolatry, but are quickly recalled from their errors by Bishop Jaruman

Book Four

1. On the death of Archbishop Deusdedit, Wighard is sent to Rome to be consecrated in his stead: on the latter's death there, Theodore is consecrated Archbishop and sent to Britain with Abbot Hadrian

2. Theodore makes a general visitation: the English churches begin to receive instruction in Catholic truth, and sacred study is fostered. Putta succeeds Damian as Bishop of Rochester

3. Chad is appointed Bishop of the Mercians: his life, death, and burial

4. Bishop Colman leaves Britain, and founds two monasteries in the land of the Irish, one for the Irish, and another for the English whom he had taken with him

5. The death of King Oswy and King Egbert. Archbishop Theodore presides over a Synod held at Hertford

6. Wynfrid is deposed, and Sexwulf appointed to his see: Earconwald is made Bishop of the East Saxons

7. A heavenly light indicates where the bodies of the nuns of Barking should be buried

8. A little boy, dying in the convent, announces the approaching death of one of the sisters. A nun, about to depart this life, sees a glimpse of future glory

9. Signs from heaven appear when the Mother of the Community departs this life

10. A blind woman regains her sight while praying in the convent burial-ground

11. Sebbi, King of the East Saxons, ends his days as a monk

12. Haeddi succeeds Leutherius as Bishop of the West Saxons: Cuichelm succeeds Putta in the See of Rochester, and is himself succeeded by Gebmund. The succession of the Northumbrian bishops

13. Wilfrid converts the Province of the South Saxons to Christ

14. A fatal epidemic is halted by the intercession of King Oswald

15. King Cadwalla of the Gewissae kills King Ethelwalh and devastates his province with plundering and slaughter

16. The Isle of Wight receives Christian settlers. Two young princes of the island are killed immediately after Baptism

17. Theodore presides over a Synod held in the Plain of Haethfeld (Hatfield)

18. John, Arch-cantor of the apostolic see, comes to teach in Britain

19. Queen Etheldreda preserves her virginity, and her body remains incorrupt in the grave

20. A hymn in honour of Etheldreda

21. Archbishop Theodore makes peace between King Egfrid and King Ethelred

22. A prisoner's chains fall off when Masses are sung on his behalf

23. The life and death of Abbess Hilda

24. A brother of the monastery is found to possess God's gift of poetry

25. A man of God sees a vision portending the destruction of Coldingham monastery by fire

26. On the death of King Egfrid and King Hlothere

27. Cuthbert, a man of God, is made bishop: his life and teaching as a monk

28. Cuthbert becomes a hermit: his prayers obtain a spring from dry ground, and a crop from seeds sown out of season

29. Cuthbert foretells his own death to the hermit Herebert

30. After eleven years in the grave, Cuthbert's body is found incorrupt. His successor departs this life soon afterwards

31. A brother is cured of paralysis at Cuthbert's tomb

32. The relics of Saint Cuthbert heal another brother's diseased eye

Book Five

1. The hermit Ethelwald, Cuthbert's successor, calms a storm by his prayer when some brethren are in danger at sea

2. The blessing of Bishop John cures a dumb man

3. Bishop John heals a sick girl by his prayers

4. The Bishop cures a thegn's wife with holy water

5. The Bishop's prayers recall the servant of a thegn from death's door

6. By his prayers and blessing, Bishop John saves from death one of his clergy who had been bruised in a fall

7. Cadwalla, King of the West Saxons, goes to Rome for Baptism: his successor Ini also makes a pilgrimage of devotion to the shrine of the Apostles

8. On the death of Theodore, Bertwald becomes Archbishop: among bishops consecrated by him is Tobias, Bishop of Rochester, a man of great learning

9. Egbert, a holy man, plans to travel to Germany and preach, but is prevented. Subsequently Wictbert goes, but meeting with no success, returns to his native Ireland

10. Willibrord preaches in Frisia and converts many to Christ: his companions the Hewalds suffer martyrdom

11. The venerable Swidbert in Britain; and Willibrord in Rome, are consecrated bishops for Frisia

12. A man in the Province of the Northumbrians returns from the dead, and tells of the many dreadful and many desirable things that he saw

13. Devils show another man a record of his sins before his death

14. Another man about to die sees the place of punishment reserved for him in Hell

15. Under Adamnan's influence, many churches of the Irish adopt the Catholic Easter. He writes a book on the Holy Places

16. Descriptions from this book of the sites of our Lord's Birth, Passion, and Resurrection

17. The site of our Lord's Ascension, and the tombs of the patriarchs

18. The South Saxons receive as their bishops Eadbert and Ealla, and the West Saxons Daniel and Aldhelm. The writings of Aldhelm

19. Coenred, King of the Mercians, and Offa, King of the East Saxons, end their days in Rome as monks. The life and death of Bishop Wilfrid

20. Albinus succeeds the devout Abbot Hadrian, and Acca succeeds to Wilfrid's bishopric

21. Abbot Ceolfrid sends church architechts to the King of the Picts, and with them a letter about the Catholic Easter and tonsure

22. The monks of Iona and the monasteries under its jurisdiction begin to adopt the canonical Easter at the preaching of Egbert

23. The present state of the English nation and the rest of Britain

24. A chronological summary of the whole book, and a personal note on the author

Bede's Letter to Egbert

Introductory Note

Bede's Letter to Egbert

Cuthbert's Letter on the Death of Bede

Introductory Note

Cuthbert's Letter on the Death of Bede


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Bede's Letter to Egbert

Cuthbert's Letter on the Death of Bede

Genealogies of English Kings

Further Reading


The British Isles at the Time of Bede

Western Europe


Product Details

Farmer, D. H.
Sherley-Price, Leo
Farmer, D. H.
Latham, Ronald
Lattimore, R. E.
Latham, Ronald E.
H, D.
Farmer, D. H.
Sherley-Price, Leo
Penguin Books
London ;
Great britain
Church History
Civilization, anglo-saxon
Christianity -- History.
Europe - Great Britain - General
Christianity - History - General
General History
England - Church history - Anglo-
World History-England General
Edition Number:
Rev. ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Penguin classics
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
8.24x5.08x1.10 in. .66 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Ecclesiastical History of the English People New Trade Paper
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Product details 400 pages Penguin Books - English 9780140445657 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Written in AD 731, this title is the first account of Anglo-Saxon England ever written, and remains our single most valuable source for this period. This revised edition includes a new introduction, Bede's letter to Egbert, the account of Bede's death and new notes.
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