It should require little justification to include Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum amongst the chronicles of the Merovingian World. Although Bede’s history is about the English, the English were very much part of the Frankish world, maybe even part of a ‘Frankish Hegemony’ (Wood). A number of Frankish characters are prominent, including Queen Bertha (daughter of Charibert I) and  Agilulf (later bishop of Paris). In Book V, several stories take place on the continent as the age of missionary saints began with St Willibrord (d. 739).

Bede himself remains a difficult figure to understand. He was a monk at Wearmouth-Jarrow from a young age, never travelled far, and never rose above the rank of priest.  Between 702/3 and his death in 735 he produced a wide variety of texts on scripture, saints, science and chronology, which gained him an international reputation for learning. But his work was sometimes controversial, often polemical, and very much coloured by religious and political divisions in his native Northumbria.

Latin Text:

A number of editions of HE are in popular use. The classic critical edition is ed. by C. Plummer (2 vols., Oxford, 1896) [link][2: link]. The version ed. and trans. B. Colgrave & R.A.B. Mynors (Oxford, 1969) is adequate and bolstered by the discovery of the ‘Leningrad Bede’, but the translation is less satisfactory. There is much to recommend the edition by M. Lapidge, which has appeared combined with a French translation by P. Monat & P. Robin (Paris, 2005) and with an Italian translation by P. Chiesa (Rome, 2008-10).


M  Cambridge, University Library, Kk. 5. 16 (= The Moore Bede).

L  St Petersburg, Publichnaja Biblioteka, Q.v.I.18 (= The Leningrad Bede).

B  London, British Library, Cotton Tiberius A. xiv.

C  London, British Library, Cotton Tiberius C. ii.

[S]  St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 247 [link]

[W]  Wolfenbüttel Herzog August Bibliothek Cod. Guelf. 34 Weiss [link]