History of the christian church



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Bede’s body was buried in the church at Jarrow, but between 1021 and 1042 it was stolen and removed to Durham by Elfred, a priest of its cathedral, who put it in the same chest with the body of St. Cuthbert. In 1104 the bodies were separated, and in 1154 the relics of Bede were placed in a shrine of gold and silver, adorned with jewels. This shrine was destroyed by an ignorant mob in Henry VIII’s time (1541), and only a monkish inscription remains to chronicle the fact that Bede was ever buried there.

The epithet, "Venerable," now so commonly applied to Bede, is used by him to denote a holy man who had not been canonized, and had no more reference to age than the same name applied to-day to an archdeacon in the Church of England. By his contemporaries he was called either Presbyter or Dominus. He is first called the Venerable in the middle of the tenth century.

Bede’s Writings are very numerous, and attest the width and profundity of his learning, and also the independence and soundness of his judgment. "Having centred in himself and his writings nearly all the knowledge of his day, he was enabled before his death, by promoting the foundation of the school of York, to kindle the flame of learning in the West at the moment that it seemed both in Ireland and in France to be expiring. The school of York transmitted to Alcuin the learning of Bede, and opened the way for culture on the continent, when England under the terrors of the Danes was relapsing into barbarism." His fame, if we may judge from the demand for his works immediately after his death, extended wherever the English missionaries or negotiators found their way." 1047

Bede himself, perhaps in imitation of Gregory of Tours,8gives a list of his works at the conclusion of his History. 1049 There are few data to tell when any one of them was composed. The probable dates are given in the following general account and enumeration of his genuine writings. Very many other, writings have been attributed to him. 1050

I. Educational treatises. (a) On orthography1(about 700). The words are divided alphabetically. (b) On prosody 1052(702). (c) On the Biblical figures and tropes. 1053 (d) On the nature of things 1054(702), a treatise upon natural philosophy. (e) On the times 1055(702). (f) On the order of times 1056(702). (g) On the computation of time 1057(726). (h) On the celebration of Easter. 1058 (i) On thunder. 1059

II. Expository works. These are compilations from the Fathers, which originally were carefully assigned by marginal notes to their proper source, but the notes have been obliterated in the course of frequent copying. He wrote either on the whole or a part of the Pentateuch, Samuel, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Tobit, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Catholic Epistles and the Apocalypse.0 His comments are of course made upon the Latin Bible, but his scholarship comes out in the frequent correction and emendation of the Latin text by reference to the original. The most frequent subject of remark is the want of an article in the Latin, which gave rise to frequent ambiguity. 1061 Throughout he shows himself a careful textual student. 1062

III. Homilies.3 These are mostly doctrinal and objective. The fact that they were delivered to a monastic audience explains their infrequent allusion to current events or to daily life. They are calm and careful expositions of passages of Scripture rather than compact or stirring sermons.

IV. Poetry. 1064 Most of the poetry attributed to him is spurious. But a few pieces are genuine, such as the hymn in his History upon Virginity, in honor of Etheldrida, the virgin wife of King Egfrid; 1065the metrical version of the life of Saint Cuthbert and of the Passion of Justin Martyr, and some other pieces. The Book of Hymns, of which he speaks in his own list of his writings, is apparently lost.

V. Epistles. 1066 These are sixteen in number. The second, addressed to the Archbishop Egbert of York, is the most interesting. It dates from 734, and gives a word-picture of the time which shows how bad it was. 1067 Even the archbishop himself comes in for faithful rebuke. Bede had already made him one visit and expected to make him another, but being prevented wrote to him what he desired to tell him by word of mouth. The chief topics of the letter are the avarice of the bishops and the disorders of the religious houses. After dwelling upon these and kindred topics at considerable length, Bede concludes by saying that if he had treated drunkenness, gluttony, luxury and other contagious diseases of the body politic his letter would have been immoderately long. The third letter, addressed to the abbot of Plegwin, is upon the Six Ages of the World. Most of the remainder are dedicatory.

VI. Hagiographies. 1068 (a) Lives of the five holy abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow, Benedict, Ceolfrid, Easterwine, Sigfrid and Huetberct. The work is divided into two books, of which the first relates to Benedict. (b) The prose version of the Life of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. The poetical version already spoken of, is earlier in time and different in character in as much as it dwells more upon Cuthbert’s miracles. The prose version has for its principal source an older life of Cuthbert still extant, and relates many facts along with evident fictions. Great pains were bestowed upon it and it was even submitted for criticism, prior to publication, to the monks of Lindisfarne. (c) The life of Felix of Nola, Confessor, a prose version of the life already written by Paulinus of Nola. (d) Martyrology. It is drawn from old Roman sources, and shows at once the learning and the simplicity of its author.

VII. Ecclesiastical History of England. 1069 This is Bede’s great work. Begun at the request of King Ceolwulf, it was his occupation for many years, and was only finished a short time before his death. It consists of five books and tells in a simple, clear style the history of England from the earliest times down to 731. The first twenty-two chapters of the first book are compiled from Orosius and Gildas, but from the mission of Augustin in the 23d chapter (a.d. 596) it rests upon original investigation. Bede took great pains to ensure accuracy, and he gives the names of all persons who were helpful to him. The History is thus the chief and in many respects the only source for the church history of England down to the eighth century. In it as in his other books Bede relates a great many strange things; but he is careful to give his authorities for each statement. It is quite evident, however, that he believed in these "miracles," many of which are susceptible of rational explanation. It is from this modest, simple, conscientious History that multitudes have learned to love the Venerable Bede.
§ 157. Paul the Deacon.
I. Paulus Winfridus Diaconus: Opera omnia in Migne, Tom. XCV., col. 413–1710. Editions of Paul’s separate works: Historia Langobardorum in: Monumenta Germanicae historica. Scriptores rerum langobardorum et italicarum. Saec. VI.-IX. edd. L. Bethmann et G. Waitz, Hannover, 1878, pp. 45–187. Historia romano in: Monum. Germ. Hist. auctor. antiquissimor. Tom. II. ed. H. Droysen, Berlin, 1879. Gesta episcoporum Mettensium in: Mon. Germ. Hist. Script. Tom. II. ed. Pertz, pp. 260–270. Homiliae in: Martène et Durand, Veterum scriptorum collectio, Paris, 1733, Tom. IX. Carmina (both his and Peter’s) in: Poetae latini aevi Carolini, ed. E. Dümmler, Berlin, 1880, I. 1. pp 27–86. Translations: Die Langobardengeschichte, übertsetzt Von Karl von Spruner, Hamburg, 1838; Paulus Diaconus und die übrigen Geschichtschreiber der Langobarden, übersetzt von Otto Abel, Berlin, 1849.

II. Felix Dahn: Paulus Diaconus. I. Abtheilung, Leipzig, 1876. Each of the above mentioned editions contains an elaborate introduction in which the life and works of Paul are discussed, e.g. Waitz ed. Hist. pp. 12–45. For further investigations see Bethmann: Paulus Diaconus’ Leben und Schriften, and Die Geschichtschreibung der Langobarden, both in Pertz’s "Archiv der Gesellsch. für ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde." Bd. X. Hannover, 1851; Bauch: Ueber die historia romana des Paulus Diaconus, eine Quellenuntersuchung, Göttingen, 1873; R. Jacobi: Die Quellen der Langobardengeschichte des Paulus Diaconus, Halle, 1877; and Mommsen: Die Quellen der Langobardengeschichte des Paulus Diaconus in: Neues Archiv der Gesellsch. für ältere Geschichtskunde, Bd. V. pp. 51 sqq. Du Pin, VI. 115–116. Ceillier, XII. l141–148. Ebert, II. 36–56.


Paul the Deacon (Paulus Diaconus), the historian of the Lombards, was the son of Warnefrid and Theudelinda. Hence he is frequently called Paul Warnefrid. He was descended from a noble Lombard family and was born in Forum Julii (Friuli, Northern Italy), probably between 720 and 725. His education was completed at the court of King Liutprand in Pavia. His attainments included a knowledge of Greek, rare in that age. Under the influence of Ratchis, Liutprand’s successor (744–749), he entered the church and became a deacon. King Desiderius (756–774) made him his chancellor, 1070and entrusted to his instruction his daughter Adelperga, the wife of Arichis, duke of Benevento. In 774 the Lombard kingdom fell, and Paul after residing for a time at the duke’s court entered the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino. There he contentedly lived until fraternal love led him to leave his beloved abode. In 776 his brother, Arichis, having probably participated in Hruodgaud’s rebellion, was taken prisoner by Charlemagne, carried into France, and the family estates were confiscated. This brought the entire family to beggary. 1071

Paul sought Charlemagne; in a touching little poem of twenty-eight lines, probably written in Gaul in 782, he set the pitiful case before him 1072and implored the great king’s clemency.

He did not plead in vain. He would then at once have returned to Monte Cassino, but Charlemagne, always anxious to retain in his immediate service learned and brilliant men., did not allow him to go. He was employed as court poet, teacher of Greek, and scribe, and thus exerted great influence. His heart was, however, in his monastery, and in 787 he is found there. The remainder of his life was busily employed in literary labors. He died, April 13, probably in the year 800, with an unfinished work, the history of the Lombards, upon his hands.

Paul was a Christian scholar, gentle, loving, and beloved; ever learning and disseminating learning. Although not a great man, he was a most useful one, and his homilies and histories of the Lombards are deservedly held in high esteem.

His Works embrace histories, homilies, letters, and poems.

I. Histories. (1) Chief in importance is the History of the Lombards. 1073 It is divided into six books, and carries the history of the Lombards from their rise in Scandinavia down to the death of Liutprand in 744. It was evidently Paul’s intention to continue and revise the work, for it has no preface or proper conclusion; moreover, it has manifest slips in writing, which would have been corrected by a final reading. It is therefore likely that he died before its completion. It is not a model of historical composition, being discursive, indefinite as to chronology, largely a compilation from known and unknown sources, full of legendary and irrelevant matter. Nevertheless it is on the whole well arranged and exhibits a love of truth, independence and impartiality. Though a patriot, Paul was not a partisan. He can see some good even in his hereditary foes. The popularity of the History in the Middle Age is attested by the appearance of more than fifteen editions of it and of ten continuations.

(2) Some scholars 1074consider the History of the Lombards the continuation of Paul’s Roman History, 1075which he compiled (c. 770) for Adelperga from Eutropius (Breviarum historiae Romanae); 1076Jerome, Orosius (Historia adversus Paganos), 1077Aurelius Victor (De Caesaribus historia), Jordanis (De breviatione chronicorum), 1078Prosper (Chronicon), 1079Bede and others. The Historia is in sixteen books, of which the first ten are mere excerpts of Eutropius, with insertions from other sources. The last six carry the history from Valens, where Eutropius ends, down to Justinian. The plan of these latter books is the same as that of the former: some author is excerpted, and in the excerpts are inserted extracts from other writers. The History is worthless to us, but in the Middle Age it was extremely popular. To the sixteen books of Paul’s were added eight from the Church History of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and the whole called Historia Miscella, and to it Landulph Sagax wrote an appendix, which brings the work down to 813.

Besides these histories several other briefer works in the same line have come down to us.

(3) Life of St. Gregory the Great, 1080a compilation from Bede’s Church History of England, and Gregory’s own works.

(4) A short History of the bishopric of Metz. 1081 It was written about 784, at the request of Angilram, bishop of Metz. It is in good part only a list of names. In order to please Charlemagne, Paul inserted irrelevantly a section upon that monarch’s ancestry.

II. Homilies. 1082 A collection made by request of Charlemagne, and which for ten centuries was in use in the Roman Church. It is in three series. 1. Homilies upon festivals, two hundred and two in number, all from the Fathers. 2. Homilies upon saints’ days, ninety-six in number. 3. Homilies, five in number. Many of the second series and all of the last appear to be original.

III. Letters, 1083four in number, two to Charlemagne, one each to Adalhard, abbot of Corbie, in France, and to the abbot Theudemar.

IV. Poems, including epitaphs. 1084From the first stanza of De Sancto Joanne Baptista, Guido of Arezzo took the names of the musical notes.
§ 158. St. Paulinus of Aquileia.
I. Sanctus Paulinus, patriarcha Aquileiensis: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. XCIX. col. 9–684, reprint of Madrisius’ ed., Venice, 1737, folio, 2d ed. 1782. His poems are given by Dümmler: Poet. Lat. aevi Carolini I. (Berlin, 1880), pp. 123–148.

II. Vita Paulini, by Madrisius in Migne’s ed. col. 17–130. Cf. Du Pin, VI. 124. Ceillier, XII. 157–164. Hist. litt. de la France, IV. 284–295; Bähr: Geschichte der römischen Literatur im Karolingischen Zeitalter, Carlsruhe, 1840 (pp. 88, 356–359); Ebert, II., 89–91.


Paulinus, patriarch of Aquileia, was born about 726 1085in Forum Julii, now Friuli, near Venice. He entered the priesthood, was employed in teaching and arrived at eminence as a scholar. He played a prominent part in the affairs of his country, and his services in suppressing a Lombard insurrection met, in the year 776, with recognition and reward by Charlemagne, who gave him an estate and in 787 elevated him to the patriarchal see of Aquileia. 1086 He carried on a successful mission among the Carinthians, a tribe which lived near Aquileia, and also another among their neighbors, the Avari (the Huns). 1087 He opposed with vigor the Adoptionists, and his writings contributed much to the extinction of the sect. He lived entirely for God and his church, and won the hearts of his spiritual children. Perhaps the most striking proof of his virtue is the warm friendship which existed between himself and Alcuin. The latter is very, enthusiastic in his praise of the learning and accomplishments of Paulinus. Charlemagne seems to have valued him no less. 1088 With such encouragement Paulinus led a busy and fruitful life, participating in synods and managing wisely his see until his death on January 11, 804. 1089 Very, soon thereafter he was popularly numbered among the saints, 1090and stories began to be told of his miraculous powers. 1091 His bones were deposited in the high altar of the collegiate church of Friuli, or as the place was called Civitas Austriae. The church underwent repairs, and his bones were for a time laid by those of the martyr Donatus, but at length on January 26, 1734, they were separated and with much pomp placed in the chapel under the choir of the great basilica of Friuli. 1092

The writings of Paulinus comprise (1) Brief treatise against Elipandus,3archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, who is generally regarded as the father of Adoptionism. It was issued in the name of the council of Frankfort-on-the-Main (794), and sent into Spain. It was first published by Jean de Tillet, in 1549. (2) Three books against Felix of Urgel, 1094also against the Adoptionists. It was prepared in 796 by order of Charlemagne, and probably submitted to Alcuin, agreeably to the author’s request. 1095 It is the most important work of Paulinus, though by no means the best in point of style. The Felix addressed was bishop of Urgel and the leader of the Adoptionists. Paulinus refutes the heretics by quotations of Scripture and the Fathers. The work is elaborately annotated by Madrisius, and thus rendered much more intelligible. 1096 (3) A deliverance by the council of Friuli, held in 796, upon the Trinity and the Incarnation. 1097 (4) An exhortation to virtue, 1098addressed to Henry, count or duke of Friuli. It was written about 795, and consists of sixty-six chapters upon the virtues to be practiced and the vices to be shunned by the duke. The style is excellent. The work was once claimed for Augustin, but this is now conceded to be an error. Nine of the chapters (x.-xv. xvii.-xix. ) are copied from The contemplative life, a work by Pomerius, a Gallican churchman of the fifth century. On the other hand, chapters xx.-xlv. have been plagiarized in an Admonitio ad filium spiritualem which was long supposed to be by Basil the Great. 1099

(5) Epistles. (a) To Heistulfus,0who had murdered his wife on a charge of adultery preferred against her by a man of bad character. It was written from Frankfort, in 794, during the council mentioned above. Paulinus sternly rebukes Heistulfus for his crime, and tells him that if he would be saved he must either enter a monastery or lead a life of perpetual penitence, of which he gives an interesting description. The letter passed into the Canon Law about 866. 1101 It has been falsely attributed to Stephen V. 1102 (b) To Charlemagne, 1103an account of the council of Altinum 1104in 803. (c) Fragments of three other letters to Charlemagne, and of one (probably) to Leo III. 1105

(6) Verses. (a) The rule of faith,6a poem of one hundred and fifty-one hexameters, devoid of poetical merit, in which along with a statement of his belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation Paulinus gives a curious description of Paradise and of Gehenna, and to the latter sends the heretics, several of whom he names. (b) Hymns and verses, 1107upon different subjects. (c) A poem on duke Eric. 1108

(7) A Mass.9

(8) The preface to a tract upon repentance0which enjoins confession to God in tender words.

(9) A treatise upon baptism. 1111
§ 159. Alcuin.
I. Beatus Flaccus Albinus seu Alcuinus: Opera omnia, Migne, Tom. C. CI., reprint of the ed. of Frobenius. Ratisbon, 1772, 2 vols. fol. Monumenta Alcuiniana, a P. Jaffé preparata, ed. Wattenbach et Dümmler (vol. vi. Bibliotheca rerum germanicarum). Berlin, 1773. It contains his letters, poems and life of Willibrord. His poems (Carmina) have been separately edited by E. Dümmler in Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, I. 1. 169–351, and some additional poetry is given in Addenda, Tom. II. 692.

II. Vita (Migne, C. col. 89–106), anonymous, but probably by a monk of Ferrières, based upon information given by Sigulf, Alcuin’s pupil and successor as abbot of Ferrières. De vita B. F. Albini seu Alcuini commentatio (col. 17–90), by Froben, for the most part an expansion of the former by the introduction of discussions upon many points. Eulogium historicum Beati Alcuini (CI. col. 1416–1442), by Mabillon. Of interest and value also are the Testimonia veterum et quorumdam recentiorum scriptorum (col. 121–134), brief notices of Alcuin by contemporaries and others.



III. Modern biographies and more general works in which Alcuin is discussed. Friedrich Lorentz: Alcuin’s Leben, Halle, 1829, Eng, trans. by Jane Mary Slee, London, 1837. Francis Monnier: Alcuin et son influence littéraire, religieuse et politique chez les France, Paris, 1853, 2d ed. entitled Alcuin et Charlemagne, Paris, 1864. Karl Werner: Alcuin and sein Jahrhundert, Paderborn, 1876, 2d ed. (unchanged), 1881. J. Bass Mullinger: The schools of Charles the Great, London, 1877. Cf. Du Pin, VI. 121–124. Ceiller, XII. 165–214. Hist. Lit. de la France, IV. 295–347. Clarke, II. 453–459. Bähr, 78–84; 192–195; 302–341. Wattenbach, 3d ed. I. 123 sqq; Ebert, II. 12–36. Guizot: History of Civilization, Eng. trans, , Bohn’s ed. ii. 231–253. The art. Alcuin by Bishop Stubbs in Smith and Wace, Dict. Chr. Biog. (i. 73–76), deserves particular mention.
Flaccus Albinus, or, as he is commonly called in the Old English form, Alcuin2("friend of the temple"), the ecclesiastical prime minister of Charlemagne, was born in Yorkshire about 735. He sprang from a noble Northumbrian family, the one to which Willibrord, apostle of the Frisians, belonged, and inherited considerable property, including the income of a monastic society on the Yorkshire coast. 1113 At tender age he was taken to the famous cathedral school at York, and there was educated by his loving and admiring friends, Egbert, archbishop of York (732–766) and founder of the school, and Ethelbert, its master. With the latter he made several literary journeys on the continent, once as far as Rome, and each time returned laden with MS. treasures, secured, by a liberal expenditure of money, from different monasteries. Thus they greatly enlarged the library which Egbert had founded. 1114 In 766 Ethelbert succeeded Egbert in the archbishopric of York, and appointed Alcuin, who had previously been a teacher, master of the cathedral school, ordained him a deacon, Feb. 2, 767, and made him one of the secular canons of York minster. In 767 he had Liudger for a pupil. Some time between the latter year and 780, 1115Ethelbert sent him to Italy on a commission to Charlemagne, whom he met, probably at Pavia. In 780 Ethelbert retired from his see and gave over to Alcuin the care of the library, which now was without a rival in England. Alcuin gives a catalogue of it, 1116thus throwing welcome light upon the state of learning at the time. In 780 Alcuin again visited Rome to fetch the pallium for Eanbald, Ethelbert’s successor.
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