THE ROMAN CHURCH IN BRITANNIA

574 TO 737 CE/AD

THE ROMAN MISSION TO BRITANNIA

 

The Roman mission begins due to a political marriage and succeeds in converting Kent followed by its subordinate Essex.  The same technique succeeds in bringing Northumbria under Edwin into the Roman fold. But linking evangelism with Kent ceases to be advantageous as Kentish power declines, while linking the Roman church with Edwin does not win influence with those who overthrow him and those British whom he had attacked.  The Canterbury mission shrinks back into itself and makes no attempt to evangelise or reach out until Deusdedit, the first non-Roman Archbishop.   The mission seems very much to have been set in arrogant, foreign ways, treating British clergy as inferiors and appointing Romans for as long as possible. Subsequent successes in East Anglia and Wessex were due to Frankish links independent of Canterbury.  The Canterbury mission was not a success until the arrival of Theodore.

 

574–578 - Pope Benedict I asks Gregory to convert Saxons but recalls him before he leaves Rome. It is over a century since a Pope has sent a mission to the British Isles.

 

585 – 588 - Pope Gregory I sees three Anglian boy slaves, ? subjects of (? sold by) Aelle of Deira (559-585), in the market.

 

Before 588 - Aethelbert, King of Kent, marries Bertha, daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks, who brings with her Liudhard, Bishop of Silvanectium / Senlis, who brings once more the cult of Saint Martin to England. They dedicate church in Canterbury to Saint Martin.

 

595/596 - Pope Gregory sends Saint Augustine to convert Kent.  At first, the mission is to Kent alone, but Augustine seems to have been provided with authority over the Diocese of Britain, and so the British church.   

 

597 - Saint Augustine consecrated bishop and arrives in Kent with 40 missionaries including Saints Laurentius and Honorius (or 601), John, Romanus (or 601) and Peter of Canterbury. He converts King Ethelbert I. 

 

598 - Saint Augustine founds abbey in Durnovaria / Canterbury and baptizes ‘more than 10,000 Angli’ (although he fails to convert the heir, Eadbald).  Saint Peter of Canterbury first Abbot.

 

601 - Pope Saint Gregory I sends reply to Saint Augustine’s questions and letter to King Ethelbert I of Kent by hand of Saint Laurentius with the pallium for Saint Augustine along with second mission with Saints Justus, Rufinianus and Mellitus and teachers including Saint Paulinus of York. 

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Sinodus Urbis Legionis: two conferences between Augustine and the bishops and teachers of the nearest British province, the first ? on the border of Hwiccas and West Saxons at Augustine’s Oak, Aust near Chepstow or ‘The Oak’, Down Ampney near Cricklade; the second at Bancornaburg / ? Bangor with seven British bishops.  If the meeting with the British clergy was before the arrival of the pallium and Gregory’s letters, there may have been no authority for Augustine to show the British.  However, the meeting seems to have been held after their arrival, so may have been called to implement Gregory’s directives. The British church was an integral part of kingdoms hostile to the Anglo-Saxons, and its senior clerics would not have been pleased to be placed by the Pope under the direction of the bishop of their national enemy, the Jutish King of Kent. The previous thirty years had embittered them with a series of defeats and massive loss of territory.  Probably escorting Augustine were Kentish soldiers.  The papal directives would have been seen as a betrayal by the papacy which had, 170 or so year before, launched the British on their missions of evangelization of their then enemies, the Scotti and the Picts. At the meeting, they would have been faced with an Italian bishop who knew little or nothing of the great triumphs of the British church in evangelizing Britannia, Hibernia, Alba and Armorica over the previous two centuries, and probably nothing of the great figures and learning it had produced. Augustine’s view of the British was almost certainly coloured by that of the Jutish king to whom he had been accredited, and by that of the king’s Frankish wife, Bertha, daughter of King Charibert I of the Neustrian Franks, who had been raised at Tours.  Her father had fought the British in Armorica under King Chanao of Bro Erech when they were allied with Chramn, his step-brother, another son of King Clothar.  Neustrian lands suffered from continual Breton raiding.  When he had been excommunicated before his death in 567, he was buried in the Blavia Castellum, a fort in the Tractatus Armoricani.  To Bertha, the British were barbarian enemies. Augustine probably viewed them with trepidation. The meeting was unlikely to have succeeded in any case, but Augustine’s stiff, nervous disposition would have made success impossible. He was never to venture out of Kent again. 

 

604 - Augustine consecrates as Bishops Saint Justus for Rochester and Saint Mellitus for the East Saxons, the latter founding Saint Paul’s in the city of London. King Saeberht of East Saxons is converted.

 

604- 605 - Saint Augustine, Archbishop of Canterbury, d, succeeded by Saint Laurentius.  Augustine’s mission had not been a success except in Kent and lands under the influence of its King.  He seems to have taken no action to spread his mission further in Germanic kingdoms, nor, after the two meetings with British bishops, in British lands.

 

610 - Saint Mellitus, Bishop to the East Saxons, at the Council of Rome. 

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Dagan, Bishop of Inverdaoile, Wexford, is sent to Canterbury to meet Saint Laurentius. Dagan had been ?deputed to visit the Romans and discuss points of difference but left refusing to eat with them or stay under the same roof. 

 

614 - Bishop Justus of Rochester and Abbot Peter of Saint Augustine’s attend the Council of Paris.  No British Bishops are invited to Gallic councils. 

 

616-617 - King Saeberht of Essex d, succeeded by Joint Kings Sexred and Saeward, who revert to paganism.

 

617 - Sexred, Saeward and Sigeberht the Little, Joint Kings of the East Saxons, expel Bishop Mellitus, who flees to Gaul.  

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The new king of Kent, Eadbald, who succeeds Aethelbert in 616, expels Saint Justus from Rochester; he flees to Gaul.  Saint Laurentius converts King Eadbald of Kent and saves the mission.  However, there has been a withdrawal of the Roman mission from London, Essex and north Kent.

 

619 - Saint Laurentius Archbishop of Canterbury d, succeeded by Saint Mellitus.  Laurence has presided over a contraction and seems not to have sent out any missions.

 

619-624 - Pope Boniface V writes letters to Saints Mellitus and Justus encouraging them to persevere.

 

624 - Saint Mellitus Archbishop of Canterbury d, succeeded by Saint Justus who consecrates Romanus at Rochester.  Mellitus had made no progress in sending out missions. At his death, north Kent, London and Essex are still lost and all he has is Canterbury; 7 years of failure. Tying the mission to the waning power of Kent has become counter-productive but there is no evidence of any energy in the mission.

 

625 - King Saint Edwin of Northumbria marries Saint Aethelburgh, daughter of King Ethelbert I of Kent.  She brings Saint Paulinus, consecrated by Archbishop Saint Justus, as her chaplain to York.  This has a similar effect to the arrival of Liudhard in Kent pre 588.  Roman missions connected with Northumbria would have had little attraction to its British subjects after Aethelthryth’s massacre of monks at Chester and Bangor in 616 and Edwin’s expulsion of Ceretic of Elmet in 624-625 after he had been given refuge at his court.

 

626 - Rufinianus, Abbot of SS. Peter and Paul, Canterbury, d, succeeded by Graciosus, another of Augustine's companions, a Roman by birth, who d 638.  No local appointments have been made by the Roman mission 29 years after the mission’s arrival. They are all still Roman foreigners.

 

627 - King Saint Edwin of Northumbria is baptised by Saint Paulinus in York.  Saint Paulinus’s mission to Lindsey.  

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Saint Justus Archbishop of Canterbury d, succeeded by Saint Honorius, who goes to Lindsey to be consecrated by Saint Paulinus.  Justus has seen the baptism of Edwin of Northumbria but this is solely thanks to the King’s marriage, not to any missionary activity by him or the Canterbury mission.  By evangelizing Lindsey, Paulinus is the first Roman to undertake a recognizable missionary activity 30 years after the arrival of the mission.  

 

627- 628 - King Eorpwald of the East Angles is converted (from ? Canterbury or ? Gaul; more likely the latter cf C 630) then murdered by Ricberht, who succeeds him.

 

C 630 - Pope Honorius sends Saint Felix of Burgundy in mission to East Anglia or Felix returns to East Anglia from Gaul when the hitherto exiled King Sigeberht resumes his throne.  This is none of Canterbury’s doing. This is likely to have been the first non-Roman mission sent by Rome and also the first Frankish mission, Birinus’s four years later being the second. It may have given Rome the idea of using Franks.  Neither Bede nor the ASC credit Archbishop Honorius with initiating this mission, merely sending him on.  It is more likely that Sigeberht was converted in Gaul and asked for a bishop; politics again favouring the Roman mission.

 

633 - On King Edwin’s death, Queen Saint Ethelburgh and Saint Paulinus flee from York to Kent where the latter is consecrated Bishop of Rochester. They leave James the Deacon in Lindsey, but the church in York falls into decay; the collapse of Paulinus’s work caused by the fall of Edwin and his replacement by Oswald, who has been converted by the Celtic church; a dismal outcome after 36 years in Britannia.  York is abandoned but James clings on in Lindsey.  They are all Italians, which must have made evangelising the English and relations with the British difficult linguistically and culturally. 

 

634 - Bishop Saint Birinus arrives in the West Saxons and bases himself at Dorchester, not far from the ruined Abingdon Monastery and in an old Roman town.  Birinus, a Frank, had been made bishop by Asterius in Genoa, and Pope Honorius I created the commission to convert the West Saxons. Birinus is the second non-Italian sent by Rome, so has an advantage. He uses the political situation to get King Cynegils to convert. Pope Honorius, perhaps prompted by the arrival of Felix in East Anglia, may have realised the inability of Canterbury to act, so pushed things on himself and did not involve Canterbury in the mission. Pope Honorius’s missions revitalize the failed Gregorian mission in Canterbury]. 

 

636 - King Cwichelm of the West Saxons is baptised in Dorchester and d.  Bishop Birinus converts/baptises King Cynegils of the West Saxons / Gewissae, with King Oswald of Northumbria standing as his godfather.  Cynegils was under pressure from Oswald, so was converted and baptized.

 

640 - Petronius, a Roman, is made Abbot of Saint Augustine’s Canterbury; d 654.  43 years after the mission arrives, they are still appointing their own and not locals. Petronius must have been very old by then.

 

648 - King Coenwalh of West Saxons is restored to his kingdom and celebrates with the consecration of the Old Minster of SS Peter and Paul at Winchester. 

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Death of Bishop Saint Birinus of the West Saxons at Dorcic / Dorchester.

 

649-650 – Neustrian Frankish noble Bishop Saint Agilbert arrives, replacing Saint Birinus as Bishop of Dorcic / Dorchester.  Agilbert is the second Frankish bishop to the West Saxons.  He also has good Irish connections.  He would later have been able to advise Archbishop Theodore on the need for Roman systems of fixed dioceses before the Archbishop reached England].

 

652-653 - Bishop Thomas of the East Angles d, succeeded by Brigilsus / Beorhtgils / Boniface, who is consecrated by Archbishop Honorius of Canterbury.  Thomas was probably Felix of Burgundy’s deacon, so a Frank.  Brigilsus may also have been a Frank.  The bishopric remained Frankish but clearly had established links with Canterbury since Felix’s arrival.

 

Pre 653 - Ithamar is consecrated Bishop of Rochester, the first bishop in England to be Saxon-born, consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Honorius after 56 years of the Roman mission.

 

653 - Saint Honorius Archbishop of Canterbury d.  Honorius had not made much of an effort in evangelizing, if any.  In his time, Felix had been established in East Anglia due to its King’s exile in Francia, and Birinus in Wessex due to the Papal mission].

 

654 - Election of Deusdedit / Frithuwine / Peace Friend, the first native-born holder of the see, as Archbishop of Canterbury.  He is obscure and not an evangelizer. In his lifetime, he saw the Celtic church sweep across Britain.  Nevertheless, he was the first non-Roman to hold the see after 57 years, an indication of the problem with Canterbury pre-Theodore. 

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Petronius Abbot of Saint Augustine’s Canterbury d.

 

655 - Nathaniel made Abbot of Saint Augustine’s Canterbury; he had arrived with Mellitus and Justus in England; d 667.  Saint Augustine’s was still appointing old Romans 54 years after its foundation. 

 

C 658 – Alchfrid, Sub-King of Deira, sends for Saint Wilfrid and grants him Stanford on the Derwent, perhaps intending him to be Bishop of Deira. 

 

660 - King Coenwalh of Wessex invites Bishop Wini from Gaul and divides his kingdom’s diocese, giving Wini Venta / Wintancaestir / Winchester and leaving Saint Agilbert Dorchester.  Wini was ordained bishop in the Frankish kingdom and King Coenwalh of Wessex installed him after disagreements with Agilbert. Wini’s appointment shows the continued reach to Francia for Wessex bishops without regard to Canterbury. 

 

663-664 - Archbishop Deusdedit consecrates the Minster of Saints Peter, Paul and Andrew at Peterborough Abbey in the presence of Bishops Ithamar of Rochester, Wini of Winchester, Jaruman of Mercia, Tuda of Lindisfarne and priest Saint Wilfrid.  Jaruman and Tuda are Celtic church bishops.  Deusdedit is reaching out further than any of his predecessors and crossing the Saxon / Celtic divide.

 

664 - Synod at Streanaeshalch / Whitby, which decides on Roman rites in Northumbria and its satellites.  

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Saint Agilbert goes to Paris. 

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Saint Colman Bishop of Lindisfarne returns to Ireland, succeeded by Tuda, who d of plague, succeeded as Bishop of Northumbria with a see at York by Saint Wilfrid, who goes to Gaul for his consecration. 

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Saint Deusdedit Archbishop of Canterbury d of the plague. 

665 - Bishop Wini at Winchester, the only consecrated Roman Bishop in England at the time, with two British bishops, consecrates Saint Chad as Bishop of the Northumbrians at York as King Oswiu has despaired of the return of Saint Wilfrid, who is in Gaul. 

666 - Bishop Wilfrid returns from Neustria to Northumbria via Sussex, where he is attacked by heathens, so lands in Kent, where he officiates, then goes north to remain at Ripon.  Bishop Wini of Winchester is driven out by King Coenwalh of Wessex and takes refuge with King Wulfhere of Mercia, buying from him the Bishopric of London.  West Saxons have no Bishop. 

668 - Wighard appointed Archbishop of Canterbury but d in Rome. His death allows Pope Vitalian to select the next archbishop, his friend Theodore of Tarsus, who sets out for Canterbury.  King Oswiu of Northumbria is supreme in England and the presence of his messenger and the reply from the Pope clearly indicates who chose Wighard. This marks the end of the arrangements made by the Roman and Hibernian missions to England.  Hereafter, the structure of the church organized by Theodore is Roman and looks to Rome.

 

 

THE ENGLISH CHURCH

 

Archbishop Saint Theodore of Tarsus is the real builder of the English Church.  Using the backing of King Oswiu of Northumbria, who had decided at Whitby for Rome, he reduced the attachment of bishops to kings and divided dioceses. He dealt effectively with Saint Wilfrid. He held synods. He ensured regular diocesan successions. However, he did not replicate the tolerance demonstrated by Deusdedit to the British Church.  Canterbury is now, for the first time and finally, pre-eminent in Britannia.

 

669 - Saint Theodore reaches Canterbury accompanied by Saint Benedict Biscop.  He removes Saint Chad / Ceadda and restores Saint Wilfrid as Bishop of the Northumbrians at York, but confirms Saint Chad as a bishop, and after retiring him to Lastingham, appoints him Bishop of Mercia, Middle Anglia and the Lindsey people.  Chad moves his see to Lichfield, where he builds a monastery. Putta is consecrated Bishop of Rochester.  Theodore is the first Archbishop of Canterbury to be able to impose his will on the churches of all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.  He is an imperial figure, a confidant of the Eastern Emperor, a cleric appointed by the Pope, so he has great personal authority.  He perhaps comes with papal direction to assume authority over the province of Britain in a way that Augustine and his successors did not.   His imperial background would have made it likely that his view of his responsibilities would have encompassed something like the Roman Diocese of Britannia rather than just Kent.  Perhaps it was also the strength of his personality that counted, or more likely a combination of all of these factors.  Theodore moved very swiftly to implant his authority across the whole of the country, indicating a pre-thought out plan, maybe even one agreed in Rome before he arrived, due perhaps to a papal recognition of a lack of centralized control in the church in Britain.  From this point on, the incumbent of his post at Canterbury exercises an authority over England that is never lost.  It is noteworthy, however, that bishops in lands still held by the British and in Ireland are not included in Theodore’s remit.

 

670 – Hlothere / Leuthere / Leutheri / Leutherius / Lothar is consecrated as Bishop of Winchester by Theodore and is sole Bishop of the West Saxons.  

 

672 - The separation of King Egfrid of Northumbria and Queen Ethelthryth / Aethelthryth / Etheldreda, daughter of King Anna of the East Angles, who receives the veil from Bishop Saint Wilfrid to enter Coludesbyrig / Coldingham near Berwick. She grants lands to Wilfrid for Hexham Abbey and founds Ely.  

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Saint Ceadda / Chad Bishop of the Mercians and the Lindsey People d of plague, succeeded by Wynfrid / Winfrith / Winfride / Winfrid.  

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Bishop Bifus of the East Angles resigns, succeeded by Acca / Aecci / Aecce. Bishop Wine / Wini of London d.  This clears away baggage from the past and leaves Theodore a freer hand.

 

672/673 - The Synod of Hertford in which Archbishop Saint Theodore seeks to establish small bishoprics. This is the first Synod of the full English church.  Saint Wilfrid does not attend but sends representatives. 

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Theodore divides the East Anglian diocese into two: the north based at Elmham; the south at Dunwich.  Four years after Theodore establishes control over northern bishoprics, he is continuing to impose control by reorganization. 

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Saint Eafa  / Aebbe / Domneva Queen of King Merewalh of the Magonsaete becomes Abbess of Minster-in-Thanet, which she had founded.  

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Adrian Abbot of Saint Augustine’s Canterbury arrives from Francia to take post; another foreigner.  

 

673-674 - The Mercians consecrate Aetla Bishop of Dorchester.

 

674 - Saint Benedict Biscop is given land for Monkwearmouth Abbey by King Ecgfrith / Egfrid of Northumbria and is its first Abbot.  

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Bishop Winfrith / Wynfrid of Lichfield is deprived by Archbishop Saint Theodore and replaced by Saint Sexwulf / Seaxwulf, Abbot of Medehamstede / Peterborough, where he is replaced by Cuthbald.

 

675 - King Aethelred of Mercia grants land for the founding of Saint Peter’s Monastery, Gloucester. 

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Osric King of the Hwicce d, entombed in Gloucester Cathedral; he has founded Bath Abbey with Bertha / Bertana first Abbess.  Hwicce kings give grants in old Dobunni territory of Worcester-Gloucester-Bath. 

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Abbot Saint Earconwald / Erconwald / Eorconwald / Eorcenwald of Chertsey is consecrated Bishop of London.  

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? Hlothere / Leuthere / Leutheri / Leutherius / Lothar Bishop of the West Saxons grants a charter to Saint Aldhelm, priest, to build a monastery on land at Malmesbury, called Ealdelmsburg.  

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Death of Saint Aethelburh, Abbess of Barking, an Abbey founded for her by her brother Eorcenwald Bishop of London; she is succeeded by Hildelith.

 

C 675 - Saint Aldhelm, classically learned Latinist writer and poet, tutor of the scholar King Aldfrith, King of Northumbria, gains patronage from Aethelred, King of Mercia for the monastery at Malmesbury.

676 - Saint Cuthbert becomes a hermit on Inner Farne.    

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Putta is consecrated the first Bishop of the Magonsaete at Hereford and refounds the Cathedral; he is known as the Bishop of Uuestor Elih but then takes refuge with Sexwulf. That he refounds the cathedral indicates an earlier British foundation in Powys lands.  

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Saint Haeddi / Haedde is consecrated his replacement by Archbishop Saint Theodore in London.  

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Bishop Hlothere / Leuthere / Leutheri / Leutherius / Lothar of Winchester d. 

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Cwichelm is appointed to the see of Rochester.  

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Beorhtwald resigns the Abbacy of Glastonbury, succeeded by Haemgils, who had studied in Ireland. 

 

677 - Saint Wilbrord goes to Ireland to join Saints Ecgberht and Wigbert / Witbert.

 

678 - Bishop Saint Wilfrid of York is driven out by King Ecgfrith of Northumbria due to the enmity of Eormenburg, Ecgfrith’s second wife, and goes via Saint Ethelthryth at Ely then to preach to the Frisians. He is given refuge by King Aldegisel / Aldegisl / Aldgillis / Aldgisl / Aldgils / Eadgils, probably at his capital at Utrecht.  

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Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, visits Northumbria and divides the diocese into three, making Saint Bosa Bishop of York, Saint Eata Abbot of Lindisfarne Bishop of Hexham and Eadhaed Bishop of Lindsey.  Theodore dedicates the church on Lindisfarne. 

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Cwichelm Bishop of Rochester resigns, succeeded by Gebmund.

 

679 - Saint Wilfrid is in Rome for his first appeal before a Council.  Pope Agatho confirms the division of York diocese but appoints Saint Wilfrid to York and orders that he be allowed to appoint his co-Bishops. 

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The Diocese of Lindsey is formed at Sidnacester / Syddensis / Lincoln with Eadhaed consecrated its first Bishop, but he is expelled from Lindsey.  

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Cuthwine is consecrated first Bishop of Leicester.

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King Hlothhere of Kent grants land at Reculver to Abbot Bertwald / Berhtwald / Brihtwald in the oldest extant original charter in England.  

 

679-680 - The diocese of Worcester is founded in the Kingdom of the Hwicce (Episcopus Hwicciorum) with Bosel its first Bishop. 

 

680 - Saint Wilfrid returns from Rome but his case is dismissed at Saint Theodore’s Synod of Hatfield and he is imprisoned by King Ecgfrith for 9 months at Inbroninis, then at Dunbar.  Theodore’s position is strong enough for him to ignore a papal court and impose a solution he prefers.  This is the second synod of the English church.  

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Aethelwine / Ethelwine / Elwin is consecrated Bishop of Lindsey. 

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Bede is given to Saint Benedict Biscop and enters Monkwearmouth.

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Hilda Abbess of Whitby d succeeded by Saint Queen Eanflaed and her daughter Saint Elfled / Aelfflaed as joint Abbesses.  

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Saint Ethelthryth Abbess of Ely d.

 

C 680 - Mildburg, daughter of King Merewalh of the Magonsaetan, founds Much Wenlock with the help of the Frankish nun Liobsynde.  

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Winfrid / Saint Boniface is educated at an abbey in Escanceaster / Exeter.

 

Post 680 - The monastery of Abercorn becomes the episcopal see of Trumuni / Trumwine, Bishop of the Picts.

 

681 – Trumberht / Trumbert / Tunbert becomes Bishop of Hexham, with Trumwine / Trumuni Bishop of the Picts subject to him.  

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Jarrow is given to Saint Benedict Biscop of Monkwearmouth by King Ecgfrith; he appoints Saint Ceolfrith / Ceolfrid its first abbot.  The commemoration slab of dedication of Saint Benedict Biscop’s church at Jarrow is the first recorded Northumbrian writing.  Benedict appoints Eosterwine to represent him at Monkwearmouth. 

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Saint Wilfrid is released at the urgings of King Egfrid’s aunt, Ebba, Abbess of Coldingham, and goes to Mercia and Wessex, then Sussex [to 686].  Wilfrid is made first Bishop of Selsey and founds Selsey Abbey on land granted by King Æðelwealh / Aethelwalh of Sussex. 

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Baldred of Mercia gives a charter with land to Glastonbury.

 

684 - King Ecgfrith of Northumbria sends Ealdorman Beorht / Bert, son of sub-king Beornhaeth, to raid the Irish in Campus Breg, Meath, having ignored the plea of Saint Ecgberht not to do so. 

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The Synod of Twyford; Bishop Tunbert of Hexham is deposed, Saint Cuthbert installed. This is the third synod of the English church.

 

685 - Bishop Saint Cuthbert of Hexham swaps his see for Lindisfarne, succeeded by the restored Saint Eata. 

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Bishop Trumwine of the Southern Picts leaves his see at Abercorn monastery on the Forth and retires to Whitby and the nuns flee to Cuthbert’s diocese.  

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Aldfrith / Ealdfrith / Aldfrid becomes King of Northumbria, called back from Hibernia (he had also been in Iona) to be King by his half-sister Saint Aelfflaed Abbess of Whitby on Saint Cuthbert’s advice. 

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Saint Theodore meets Saint Wilfrid at London and they agree that Saint Wilfrid be Bishop of Ripon; Wilfrid is reconciled with the Archbishop and with King Ethelred of Mercia.  Elfled, Abbess of Whitby, Aldfrid’s half-sister, writes to persuade King Aldfrid of Northumbria to allow Wilfrid to return from Sussex. 

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Jarrow church is consecrated.

686 - King Caedwalla of Wessex and his brother Mul ravage Kent and Wight, killing its Jutish King Arwald, England’s last pagan king, and his two nephews who are first forcibly baptised, becoming the single Saint Arwald. Caedwalla and Mul vow to extirpate heathenism and confirm ¼ of the island to Bishop Wilfrid.  The Jutes are forcibly converted or killed and made to speak West Saxon.  

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The West Saxons recover Dorchester, ending the Mercian see.  

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Saint Wilfrid resigns the Bishopric of Selsey to the See of Winchester.

686-687 - Saint Wilfrid is restored as Bishop of Hexham (Saint Acca retiring but staying with him), York and Ripon.  

687 - Saint Johannes / John of Beverley is consecrated Bishop of Hexham.  

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Bishop Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne resigns to resume life as hermit then dies, succeeded by Saint Ceolfrith / Ceolfrid Abbot of Jarrow. 

687-688 - Saint Wilfrid administers the see of Lindisfarne.

688 - Saint Eadberht is consecrated Bishop of Lindisfarne.  

Bishop Putta of Hereford d succeeded by Tyrhtel / Thyrtell / Tirhtullus.  

690 - Death of Archbishop Saint Theodore of Tarsus. Interregnum until Saint Berhtwald in 693.  Archbishop Theodore leaves an English church with properly organized dioceses of manageable sizes and regular synods. The Church is now on a foundation that will last it until the Reformation.

691/692 - Second expulsion of Saint Wilfrid, Bishop of Ripon, who leaves with Saint Acca, expelled from Northumbria by King Aldfrith due to his continued opposition to division of the see of Northumbria into four.  Aldfrith waits until the death of Theodore to dispose of Wilfrid.  King Aethelred / Ethelred of Mercia gives refuge to Wilfrid.  

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Bishop Saint Seaxwulf of Lichfield d succeeded by Headda / Headdi / Eatheadus of Sidnachester, abbot of Breedon-on-the-Hill, but with Saint Wilfrid at first officiating.  

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Bishop Bosel resigns the see of Worcester / the Hwicce, succeeded by Ottfor / Oftfor, who is consecrated by Saint Wilfrid at a time when Oshere is Sub-king of the Hwicce. 

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Bishop Cuthwine of Leicester d.

 

Before 692 - Bishop Sexwulf of Lichfield d.

 

692 - Bishop Aethelwine of Lindsey d.  

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Saint Wilfrid officiates as Bishop of Leicester.  

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Abbot Saint Bertwald / Berhtwald / Brihtwald of Reculver is elected Archbishop of Canterbury.  

 

693 – Edgar / Eadgar is consecrated Bishop of Lindsey.  

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Bishop Ottfor of Worcester d succeeded by Saint Ecgwine / Ecgwin / Egwin / Eegwine of Evesham.  

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Saint Earconwald  /Eorconwald / Eorcenwald Bishop of London d succeeded by Waldhere / Wealdheri.  

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Saint Berhtwald / Brihtwald / Beorhtweald / Bertwald / Berthwald / Beorhtwald / Beretuald Abbot of Reculver is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in Gaul by Godin, Bishop of Lyons.  

 

698 - Saint Eadberht / Eadbert Bishop of Lindisfarne d succeeded by Saint Eadfrith, author of the Lindisfarne Gospels

 

699 - Saint Cuthbert’s body is found incorrupted; his cult develops.  

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Saint Wilfrid appeals by proxy to Rome and Pope Sergius I orders a Northumbrian synod.

 

C 699-700 - Saint Guthlac renounces freebooting and moves to the Island of Crowland in the Fens.

 

C 699-705 - Anonymous Life of Cuthbert written at Lindisfarne.

 

699-716 - Bishop Gebmund of Rochester d succeeded by Tobias.

 

700 - Abbot Saint Aldhelm builds the first organ in England.  

 

 702 - Saint Wilfrid leaves Leicester.  

 

702-703 - Northumbrian Great Council presided over by Archbishop Saint Beorhtwald of Canterbury at Austerfield strips Saint Wilfrid of all his sees and possessions except Ripon.  He goes to appeal to Rome and retires first to Mercia.

 

703-704 - Saint Wilfrid and Saint Acca in Frisia with Wilbrord.

 

704 - Saint Wilfrid in Rome for second appeal. 

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King Ine of Wessex builds an additional church at Glastonbury dedicated to Dominus Salvator and Saints Peter and Paul, leaving alone the wooden church.  Ine respects the British foundation at Glastonbury (due to its venerability?) and leaves its British abbot in place, but appoints a Saxon bishop in newly conquered Sherborne and there is no mention of any British clergy surviving in conquered Dumnonian lands.

 

705 - Saint Wilfrid falls ill at Meaux then reaches Northumbria with Saint Acca, but King Aldfrith / Ealdfrith / Aldfrid of Northumbria will not see him.  

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King Osred I succeeds to Northumbria, with power held by Saint Aelfflaed Abbess of Whitby and Saint Wilfrid, ‘foster father’, and the regent Beorhtfrith.  The throne is usurped by Eadwulf, son of King Aethwold of Deira, who expels Osred to Bamburgh, where he and Ealdorman Beorhtfrith are besieged until relieved after promising to restore Saint Wilfrid to his property.  

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Saint Bosa Bishop of York d succeeded by Saint Johannes / John of Beverley, who is succeeded at Hexham by Bishop Saint Wilfrid, who is rehabilitated at the Synod of River Nidd, where he is supported by Abbess Aelffled and Ealdorman Beorhtfrith.  The Ripon bishopric is defunct.  

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Saint Haedde / Hedde / Haeddi Bishop of Winchester d having translated body of Saint Birinus / Berin / Birin from Dorchester to Winchester and having founded Farnham.  Daniel becomes Bishop of Winchester.  

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Abbot Saint Aldhelm becomes 1st Bishop of Sherborne or Selwoodshire / bewestan wuda / West of the Wood / Coir Maur / the Great Forest (that divided Wessex).  The new diocese is to minister to the Durotriges / Dorsaetan / Dorset now under West Saxon control.  

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Bishop Saint Aldhelm writes to King Geraint of Dumnonia about the date of Easter.

 

705/716 - Bishop Waldhere of London d, succeeded by Ingwald / Ingweald.

 

708 - Adrian Abbot of Saint Augustine’s Canterbury d, succeeded by Albin, the first Englishman in post after 108 years.  

 

709 - Bishop Saint Wilfrid leaves Hexham, succeeded by Saint Acca, then d at his foundation at Oundle.  

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Headda, Bishop of Lichfield, is consecrated Bishop of Leicester, when his see of Lichfield is amalgamated with it.  

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Bishop Saint Aldhelm d and is buried in Malmesbury Abbey, with crosses erected every 7 miles at each resting place of his body. Forthere / Fordhere succeeds as Bishop of Sherborn.  

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Abbot Eadbert / Eadberht / Eadbeorht / Eadbertus of Selsey is consecrated Bishop of the South Saxons at Selsey by synodal decree.  

 

Post 709 - Stephen of Ripon’s Life of Saint Wilfrid.

 

C 710 - Bishop Tyrhtel of Hereford d succeeded by Torhthere / Torchtere / Tortherus.  

 

C 713 - Anonymous Life of Saint Gregory written at Whitby.

 

714 - Saint John of Beverley resigns the Bishopric of York, succeeded by Wilfrid II.  

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Saint Guthlac d at Welland in the Fens.

 

715 - Tewkesbury Abbey founded.

 

C 715 - Eddius Stephanus’s Life of Wilfrid written at Ripon.

 

716-727 - Bishop Headda of Leicester d succeeded by Bishop Aldwine of Lichfield.

 

718 - Saint Ecgwine Bishop of Worcester, founder of Evesham, d succeeded by Wilfrith / Wilfrid. 

 

Pre 721 - Venerable Bede writes Life of Saint Cuthbert.

 

721 - Saint Eadfrith / Eadfrid Bishop of Lindisfarne d succeeded by Saint Aethelwold / Ethelwald.  

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Saint John of Beverley, ex-Bishop of York d.  

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Bishop Daniel of the West Saxons goes to Rome.

 

C 721 – Aldwine / Aldwyn / Aldwini (Worr) is consecrated Bishop of Lichfield on the death of Bishop Headda.

 

727 - Bishop Tobias of Rochester d succeeded by Aldwulf / Eadwulf.  

 

729 - Bishop Saint Ecgberht / Egbert of Northumbria d at Iona.

 

729-731 - Bishop Torhthere of Hereford d succeeded by Abbot Walhstod / Walchstod / Walstodus / Wastoldus / Ualchstod of Glastonbury.

 

731 - Saint Acca, Bishop of Hexham is deprived or expelled with King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, who is forced into a monastery. 

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Venerable Bede writes Epistola ad Albinum.  Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum uses Anno Domini dates.  

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Northumbrian Bishop Pechthelm takes over Whithorn.  

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Bishop Cynberht of Lindsey d [other has Bishop Cyniberctum / Cynibert d 732].  

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Ealdbeorht / Alberht I succeeds Cuthwine  /Cuthwinus Bishop of Dunwich.

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Saint Beorhtwald / Bertwald / Berhtwald Archbishop of Canterbury d succeeded by Saint Tatwine / Tatwin / Tatuini / Tadwinus, monk of Breedon-on-the Hill. 

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Bishop Eolla of Selsey, successor to Bishop Eadberht d.

732 - Bishop Wilfrid II resigns see of York succeeded by Ecgbert / Egbert / Ecgberht.

 

733 – Alwig / Alwigh consecrated Bishop of Lindsey. 

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Sigeferth / Sigelmus / Sigfridus / Sigfrid / Sigga / Siggca / Sicgg is consecrated Bishop of Selsey.  

 

734 - Saint Frithubeorht / Frithbert is consecrated Bishop of Hexham. 

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Ecgberht / Egbert is consecrated Bishop of York. 

 

735 - York becomes an Archbishopric, with Ecgbert / Egbert / Ecgberht as first Archbishop, given pallium by Pope Gregory III, the first since Paulinus in 633.  

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Archbishop Egbert founds the School of York and later writes Dialogus ecclesiasticae institutionis (Dialogue of Ecclesiastical Institutions). 

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Venerable Bede finishes his translation of the Gospel of John before dying. 

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Pectwine Bishop of Whithorn d succeeded by Frithuwald.  

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Nothelm becomes Archbishop of Canterbury.  

 

C 736 - Bishop Walhstod of Hereford d succeeded by Abbot Cuthbert / Cuthbeorht of Lyminge.

 

737 - Bishop Aldwine of Leicester d succeeded by Totta / Torhthelm.  

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Forthere Bishop of Sherborne goes to Rome.  

 

ENGLISH MISSIONS TO EUROPE

 

Individual Anglo-Saxons had entered or founded monasteries in Francia from the middle C 7.  The English series of missions to Frisia and Germania, of which more trace remains, were started by Northumbrian Saint Ecgberht in Hibernia and Saint Wilfrid when exiled. It is likely that Archbishop Saint Theodore was involved in evangelising Frisia and Germania as personnel for the English mission come from Northumbria, East Anglia and Wessex.

 

660 – death of Princess Saint Ercongota / Ercongotha / Erkengota daughter of King Erconbert of Kent and Queen Sexburga / Sexburg / Sexburh, daughter of King Anna of the East Angles, at her aunt Aethelburh’s monastery of Faremoutiers-en-Brie.

 

664 - Death of Saint Aethelburh, daughter of King Anna of East Anglia, Abbess of Faremoutiers-en-Brie.  

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Saxon Saint Baithild, Queen of King Chlodwig II of Neustria and Burgundy, enters the monastery of Chelles, which she had founded (as she had Corbie).

 

678 - Bishop Saint Wilfrid of York goes via Saint Ethelthryth at Ely to preach to the Frisians, given refuge by King Aldegisel / Aldegisl / Aldgillis / Aldgisl / Aldgils / Eadgils probably at his capital at Utrecht.  This is the first English mission to Frisia.

 

Pre 690 - An abortive attempt by Saint Egbert to evangelise Germania from Ireland, by dispatching Saint Wigbert / Wihtberht, another Englishman living at Rath Melsigi, to Frisia. 

 

690 - Northumbrian Saint Willibrord’s mission to Frisia.  He arrives at the mouth of the Rhine and goes to Traiectum / Utrecht.  The "Apostle to the Frisians", he becomes the first Bishop of Utrecht and dies at Echternach, Luxembourg.

 

692-693 - Saint Wilfrid consecrates Northumbrian Saint Suitbert / Suidbert / Suitbertus / Swithbert / Swidbert first Bishop of the Frisians.  Suitbert studied at Rathmelsigi, Connacht, along with Saint Ecgberht.   Wilfrid’s mission is seemingly unknown to, or unrecognized by, Rome, but there is no subsequent conflict with Wilibrord, as Swidbert moves to evangelize the Germans.

 

695 – Saint Willibrord’s second visit to Rome; Pope Sergius I consecrates him in Rome in the name of Clement and gives him the pallium as Archbishop of the Frisians.  Willibrord lands in Frisia with 12 followers, establishes a monastery at Utrecht and is joined by Saint Adalbert, who becomes Archdeacon of Utrecht. 

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Saint Suitbert establishes a see at Dorostadium / Dorostat / Wijk bij Duurstede on a branch of the Rhine.

 

C 695 – Deaths of Saints Hewald the Dark and Hewald the Light / Ewald the Black and Ewald the White, Northumbrian evangelisers (trained in Ireland and motivated by Saint Willibrord) tortured and thrown into the Rhine of the Old Saxons [other has C 692].

 

698 - Saint Willibrord establishes a monastery at Echternach.

 

703-704 - Saint Wilfrid and Saint Acca in Frisia with Saint Willibrord.  

 

710 – Saint Adalbert / Adelbert d in Egmond [other has 740]. Northumbrian royal family missionary, one of Saint Willibrord's companions in Holland and Frisia. C 690 with Saint Willibrord in Frisia, where he became associated particularly with Egmond and was made Archdeacon of the recently founded See of Utrecht.

 

713/715 - Saint Suitbert d at Suitberts-Insel / Kaiserswerth, near Düsseldorf.

 

C 716 - When Abbot Wynberth / Winbert of Nursling d, the Wessex monk Winfrid / Wynfrith / Wynfryth, later Saint Boniface / Bonifatius, C 675?–754, declines his position and goes to Frisia as a missionary with Willibrord.  

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King Radbod of Frisia expels Saint Willibrord and his monks.  

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Saint Winfrid returns to Nurslingborn.  He later becomes the patron saint of Germania, the first Archbishop of Mainz and the "Apostle of the Germans". He is killed in Frisia in 754, along with 52 others. 

 

716-717 - Saint Winnoc, Damnonian Abbot or Prior of Wormhout, C 640 - C 716/717, d.  This is the only mention of British clergy on the Germany mission and the only mention of any joint British/English missionary activity.

 

718 - Saint Wynfryd / Boniface in Rome receives a commission from Pope Gregory II to work among the Germans.  He goes to Frisia. 

 

719 - King Rathbod / Radbod / Redbad of the Frisians d and Saint Willibrord returns to Utrecht under the protection of King Charles Martel of the Franks.  He destroys pagan sanctuaries and temples till his death in 739.   

 

722 - Saint Boniface in Germany strives against Celtic missionaries from the unreformed British and Breton churches.  

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Charles Martel of the Franks gives Utrecht to Saint Willibrord. 

 

 732 - Saint Boniface makes a second trip to Rome and Pope Gregory III gives him pallium as Archbishop of the Germans, Bishop of Mainz.

 

737 - Saint Boniface makes third trip to Rome and is made papal legate for Germany.  

 

C 741 – death of Hibernian Saint Wiro / Wera / ? Vira [other has of Northumbria d C 700] of Roermond, Limburg / Utrecht, patronized by Pippin.  ? Associated with Saint Willibrord, appointed the second bishop of Utrecht C 739–741. He was also a missionary and preached in the region of the Maas and the Rhine, where his legend associates him with the priest Plechelm and the deacon Otger, with whom he later founded St. Peter's Abbey on land given him by Pippin II in the present Sint Odilienberg near Roermond in the Netherlands, where he is also buried.

 

The Northumbrian missions to Frisia and Germania were jointly planned by Northumbrian clergy from Ireland, but later included English clergy from other kingdoms and even British clergy from Armorica. 

 

Wilfrid and Boniface continued their campaign against the British rites on the continent, but Wilibrord seems to have worked with Scotti clergy in Utrecht.

 

The missions to the continent do not seem to have been politically or royally driven in the way that earlier missions were. For once, the missions were initiated and maintained by the Church, which by then had the resources to do so.

© 2014 Nigel Collett All Rights Reserved