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09/26/2017

Christianization of Britain in the Writings of Bede the Venerable

The misfortune The Honorable – one of the largest scholars and theologians, teachers of medieval Europe, an Anglo-Saxon saint, canonized by the Roman church in 1899. Numerous writings of the Bede devoted to virtually all areas of Christian knowledge (commentaries on the books of Holy Scripture, Works on history, chronology, grammar, the fundamentals of versification, music, the work in which the Divine creations and the “nature of things” were described were widely known in the Christian world from the time of their creation until modern times.

Creativity of Bede gives an idea of the phenomenon that researchers call the “golden age” of the high Christian culture of the Anglo-Saxons (the second half of VII – the first third of the VIII century). A lot has been written about this phenomenon in historiography; Over the course of a century, the work is continually surprised that the unexpected flourishing of Christian culture was possible in the “barbarian north” away from the “civilization of the Mediterranean”.

The period when the Scriptures were studied north of the Alps, the writings of the Church Fathers were commented on, the Latin and Greek languages were taught, rich libraries were collected, and was comparatively short-lived. Its beginning is associated with the conversion to Christianity of Anglo-Saxon kings and their peoples, with the formation of the church. It combines the traditions of Irish and Roman Christianity. However, despite the proximity to Ireland, the Anglo-Saxons accepted the doctrine from the mouth of the missionaries from Rome. The close connection with the papal throne, with the church in Italy and Gaul, the gradual inclusion of the Christians of Britain in the common spiritual space centered in Rome, determined for contemporary researchers the appearance of Anglo-Saxon culture in the 7th-8th centuries.

In the British lands, there were large monasteries in Canterbury, Lindisfarne, Wearmouth-Yarrow, Whitby, Melrose, Hexheim and Ripon, and with them – schools and libraries. In the time being studied, the first theological works, hagiographic and historical works were compiled. In the Anglo-Saxon church, a galaxy of highly educated monks, abbots and bishops, writers and scholars, Christian thinkers and teachers such as Wilfried of York, Benedict Biskop, Aldhelm, Keolfried, St. Cuthbert, Akka, Egbert and many others formed. Perhaps the most outstanding and, without a doubt, the most famous of the figures of the Christian Anglo-Saxon culture was Bede Venerable.

By the second half of the VIII century. In the Anglo-Saxon church, the features of decadence became apparent. After relatively quiet times, wars between the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms resumed. The spirit of the “first Christianity” began to leave the church; In part, this can be judged by the spreading practice of establishing “false” monastic communities for release from military service, turning monasteries into legally transferred large landed estates. The general level of education has decreased; the writings of Bede were practically the last scholarly works created in England before the reign of King Alfred. By the end of the 9th c. Literacy in Britain was almost completely forgotten. At the end of the VIII century. Viking attacks on British lands began: the first was the destruction of Wearmouth-Yarrow – the monastery of Bede.

Let us examine the history of the formation of the Christian church among the Anglo-Saxons in accordance with the content of such works of Bede as the Church History of the Angles (731) and The History of the Abbots (after 716).

For the Mischief of the Venerable, the beautiful, but passing time of asceticism, asceticism, pure and pious service to God was associated with the generation of his teachers. He created the image of this world in historical works. These works of a century later earned Bede the glory of “the father of English history.” Modern ideas about the past of Britain since the Anglo-Saxon conquest until the first third of the VIII century. Most of them are based on information obtained from the Church History of the Angles. This involves a certain methodological complexity of describing the early medieval past of Britain.

In the humanitarian knowledge of the XIX-XX centuries. The presence of trouble is felt in almost every text that reconstructs the history of the Anglo-Saxons. This author belongs to the first in the Anglo-Saxon historiography selection of information worthy of recording, the first ordering of events, the construction of disparate dates, facts, documentary evidence into a coherent sequence, a historical narrative. Drawing on the text of Bede as a reliable testimony, using the information, he provides to recreate the image of the past, historians bred the concept of the history of the Bede and the facts contained in the text. Facts are given new meanings, depending on the task that the researcher sets for himself. However, the selection of the information included in the narrative by Bede was carried out in connection with his understanding of history. The unity of facts constructed by the Anglo-Saxon author bears the imprint of his vision of history, which allowed us to comprehend them as integrity.

Therefore, in any study of early British history, the logic of Bede’s narrative is implicitly present, despite the different language of description. In making a brief excursion into this story, we inevitably follow the path that the Honorable Bede offered.

“Britain, an island in the ocean, once called Albion, is located between the North and the West, opposite Germany, Gaul and Spain, the three greatest parts of Europe, separated by a great distance… The island has many trees and fruits, it is suitable for breeding livestock and pack animals. In some places, there grows grapes, and the island is rich in birds of various species, on land and sea, it is full of rivers and generous springs full of excellent salmon and eels, and there are often seals and dolphins, as well as whales. Many kinds of shells, among which are mussels, often they find a perfect pearl of all colors, that is, red, purple, purple and green, but mostly white, which is rich in mollusks, from which a crimson dye, whose most beautiful red. That does not grow dull from the heat of the sun, nor from exposure to rain, which is becoming more beautiful with time ”

This text is a fragment of the description of Britain in the first chapter of the Church History of the Angles. In it, the echo of the beginning of the book “Genesis” is heard. Britain, seen by Beda based on books, her experience and imagination, appears as a rich, abundant land, created by God, as the earth before the fall. Following this, it is told about the fall of the Britons and the movement towards God of the new people he chose-the Anglo-Saxons.

From the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain to the time of the adoption of Christianity by the Anglo-Saxons more than two hundred years have passed. Prior to this, the British and Irish islands were inhabited by the Picts and the Celtic tribes of the Britons and Scots. From I to V century. Britain was under Roman domination. For Bede, the count of the Anglo-Saxon past from the Roman conquest of the island could receive special significance in the light of the arguments of St. Augustine on the role of the Roman Empire in history. According to his ideas expressed in the work “On the City of God,” which was well known and often cited in his works by Bede, the empire fulfilled an important mission in the divine plan, since a state that had gained great power over various nations could contribute to the spread of Christian faith in the world. Contrary to prohibitions and persecutions, dogma was thus affirmed in different lands. For Bede, this process was of paramount importance. Immediately after describing the Roman conquest, Bede went on to the story of how Christianity came to Britain from Rome. In the second century, “the Britons took faith and preserved it indestructibly and inviolably, in peace and quiet.”

Romanization has not affected the local population. The Romans did not conquer a significant part of the island in the north and west. Around 410, the legions were withdrawn from Britain because of the need to protect Rome from the ready. According to the British historian Gildas and Bede, the Britons, who relied on their own forces to defend themselves against attacks of Picts and Scots, were forced to seek help from the Germans. In the second half of the 5th c. The penetration of German troops into Britain and the seizure of lands in the south and southeast of the island took a massive turn. By the middle of the VI. The tribes of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians occupied southern, central and northeastern areas of the island.

The poorest belongs to the most famous historiography description of their settlement in Britain. “They came from three of the strongest Germanic peoples, namely the Saxons, Angles and Utah. From Utah there are those who inhabit Kent and White … and those who in the province of the Western Saxons are called Utah to this day … Of the Saxons, That is, from the land that is now called the country of the Old Saxons, the Eastern, Southern and Western Saxons came in. And from the Angles, that is, from the part known as Angoulus, and which, as it is said, has been deserted since that time, Between the provinces of Utah and the Saxons, East and Mediterranean Angles, the Mercians and all the descendants of the Northumbrians, (that is, the people that live north of the Humber River), and other Angles. “In research works reconstructing the Anglo-Saxon history, it was repeatedly noted that, according to archaeological excavations, the picture of the settlement of the Germanic peoples in Britain was considerably more complex than that presented by Bede.

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