Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum

The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ( dt: Ecclesiastical History of the English people ) is a penned in Latin early medieval historical work of the Venerable Bede ( 672/73-735 ).

It was built in the first third of the 8th century at the instigation of Abbot Albinus of Canterbury († 732) and was dedicated to King Ceolwulf of Northumbria. Bede described first in brief, the history of pre-Christian Britain and then deals at length with the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. The representation comprises five books, ranging to 731; In the same year Bede seems to have completed the work.

Bede's work is one of the most important sources for Anglo-Saxon history and quite rich material; it is also in terms of relations between the Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent and in general with regard to the conversion story of the Anglo-Saxons of great value. Bede treated not only aspects of church history, but also dedicated to the development of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and their rulers broad space. The work is written in good Latin, and has some allusions to classical authors. Stylistically illustrated Bede the victory of Christianity over the old gods again and again by way of exemplary episodes and strove for a vivid display.

Beda pulled in the drafting of the work zoom numerous written sources, he was able to rely on the good libraries of the double monastery Wearmouth and Jarrow. These include several ancient authors (including Pliny the Elder, Eutropius and Orosius ) and early medieval authors ( as Gilda ) and Christian biographies. There were also reports from the immediate past and verbal descriptions. One focus of the plot is Northumbria, without important events in the south to lose sight of.

The title Historia ecclesiastica ( "Ecclesiastical History " ) is an obvious reference to the church history of Eusebius of Caesarea, which Bede had read in Latin translation. As one of the first histories of the yearly counting was used after the birth of Christ in the church history of Bede.

The work was apparently widespread; there are known more than 160 manuscripts. In the late 9th century Church history was translated into Old English. 1480 they appeared incomplete, 1550 for the first time completely in pressure.


  • Günther goatee (ed.): The Venerable Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English people. 2 vols University Press, Darmstadt 1982. [ Latin text and German translation]