Bede or BÆDA, 673–735

Portrait

Biographical note

Historian and scholar. Bede, who is sometimes referred to as “the father of English history,” was in his youth placed under the care of Benedict Biscop, Abbot of Wearmouth, and of Ceolfrith, afterwards Abbot of Jarrow. Ordained deacon in 692 and priest in 703, he spent most of his days at Jarrow, where his fame as a scholar and teacher of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew brought him many disciples. Here likewise he died and was buried, but his bones were, towards the beginning of the 11th century, removed to Durham. The well-deserved title of “Venerable” usually prefixed to his name first appears in 836. He was the most learned Englishman of his age. His industry was marvellous, and its results remain embodied in about 40 books, of which about 25 are commentaries on books of Scripture. The others are lives of saints and martyrs, and his two great works, The Ecclesiastical History of England and the scientific treatise, De Natura Rerum. The former of these gives the fullest and best information we have as to the history of England down to the year 731, and the latter is an encyclopædia of the sciences as then known. In the anxious care with which he sought out and selected reliable information, and referred to authorities he shows the best qualities of the modern historian, and his style is remarkable for “a pleasing artlessness.”

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