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Bede, Willibrord and the Letters of Pope Honorius I on the genesis of the archbishopric of York
journal contributionposted on 2012-06-13, 13:51 authored by Joanna E. Story
In his Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, completed in 731, Bede incorporated the texts of fourteen papal letters: eight were from Gregory the Great (590–604); three from Boniface V (619–25); two from Honorius I (625–38); one from Vitalian I (658–72). The two letters from Pope Honorius are the subject of this article. Previously known only through the pages of Bede’s History, copies of both these letters have been identified within an early eighthcentury manuscript that has no other connection with Bede’s text. This manuscript was made at Echternach, in modern day Luxembourg, for Willibrord (658–739), the Northumbrian missionary archbishop of Frisia. This copy of the letters of Pope Honorius I has not been studied before now and analysis of it has far reaching implications for our understanding of a number of important issues, namely: the division of the English Church into two provinces each headed by a metropolitan bishop, as envisaged by Gregory the Great in his letters to Augustine of Canterbury; the circumstances surrounding establishment of the archbishopric of York in 735 and Bede’s involvement in that process; the circulation and transmission of Bede’s primary sources; networks of communication and the use of ‘old records’ to solve contemporary problems in early eighth-century Europe; the proliferation of archbishoprics in England and in Francia in the later seventh and eighth centuries.
CitationThe English Historical Review, Volume 127, Issue 527, August 2012, Pages 783–818, https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/ces142
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF ARTS, HUMANITIES AND LAW/School of Historical Studies
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)