How did Bede talk about the social issues going on during this time in the Ecclesiastical History of the English People?

The Venerable Bede was notably reticent on contemporary social issues. His main interest was to pen an impartial ecclesiastical history of Britain, spanning the 800 years from Julius Caesar's arrival on the continent to his present day. The two issues on which Bede's opinion can be at all discerned include the popular trend toward monasticism in Northumbria as well as the Synod of Whitby, both narrated in the fifth and final book.

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The English Benedictine monk known as the Venerable Bede compiled the great Ecclesiastical History of the English People in the eighth century, beginning his narration with the invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar. As the title suggests, the church is Bede's primary focus; however, he occasionally (but reluctantly) provides some...

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The English Benedictine monk known as the Venerable Bede compiled the great Ecclesiastical History of the English People in the eighth century, beginning his narration with the invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar. As the title suggests, the church is Bede's primary focus; however, he occasionally (but reluctantly) provides some opinions on contemporary issues. Like any good historian, Bede clearly aims to provide impartial narration; however, his history accommodates time up until the rule of Bishop Wilfred, who presided over a very large diocese in Northumbria. The contemporary Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, tried to break up large diocese like these. Bede seemed to be critical of the popular move to monasticism on the part of an increasing number of his fellow Northumbrian countrymen, though he does not explicitly blame Wilfred for this. A cloistered monk, Bede himself never travelled beyond the city of York, approximately 100 miles to the south, so his wordly experience is largely limited to travel among monasteries. It is in York that Bede met King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, whom he lauds in his preface, and to whom the work is dedicated. The most consequential near-contemporary event narrated by Bede was the Synod of Whitby in 664, which fixed the day of Easter to accept the date promoted by Irish missionaries (the date of which Bede was in favor).

Overall, Bede's omissions are much more conspicuous (probably owing to an unwillingness to malign religious figures) than are his social commentaries. Bede's tome is overall a relatively sanguine and impartial version of British history, trajectory from paganism to Christianity gives the work its unity.

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