Corporas, but a speciall gift for the cōuersion of the heathē, for whose saluation God suffereth oft many wōders to bee done. Thus Berinus beyng receuyed in the shyp agayne with a great admiration of the Mariners, being therwith conuerted and Baptised: was dryuē at last by the wether, to þe coast of þe Weastsaxōs, wher Kinigilsus and his brother Quicelinus aboue mētioned, did raigne. Which ii. kings, þe same tyme by þe preaching of Birinus wer conuerted, and made Christen mē, with þe people of þe countrey beyng before rude, and barbarous. MarginaliaOswaldus god father and son in law to Kynegilsus, and al in one day.Yt happened the same tyme when the foresayd kynges should be Christened, þt Oswaldus mentioned a litle before, king of Northumberlande, was then presente, and the same day maried Kingilsus daughter, & also was Godfather to the kyng.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaKyng Oswald slayne in the field.
Penda kyng of Mercians slain
Oswy king of Northumberland.Thus Oswald after he had reigned ix. yeares in such holynes and perfectnes of lyfe as is aboue specified, was slain at lēgth in þe field called Maxfield, by wicked Pēda, kyng of the Mercians. Which Penda, at length after al his tyrāny, was ouercome and slayne by Oswy brother to Oswald, next kyng after Oswald of Northūberland, notwithstādyng he had thrise the people that Oswy had. This Penda being a Panym had iij. sonnes Wolferus, Weda, & Egridus. To this second sonne Weda, Oswy had before time maryed his daughter by cōsent of Pēda hys father. The which Weda by helpe of Oswy was made kyng of Southmercia: the whiche Lordship is seuered from Northmercia by the ryuer of Trent. The same Weda moreouer, at what tyme he maryed the daughter of Oswy, promised to hym, that he should become a Christen man: whiche thyng he performed after the death of Penda hys father, but afterward within iij. yeares of his reigne, he was by reason of his wife slaine. And after him the kingdome fell to Wolferus the other brother, who beyng wedded to Ermenilda daughter of Ercombert kyng of Kent, MarginaliaThe conuerting of the Mercians to the fayth of Christ.
Wolferus fyrst christened king of Mercia.was shortly after Christened: so that he is accompted the first christened kyng of Mercia. This Wolferus conquered Kenwalcus, king of Kent, and gat the Ile of Wyght, which after he gaue to Sigbert king of Theastangles, vpon conditiō he would be Christened. MarginaliaThe Eastangles reduced to the christian fayth.And thus the Eastangles, whiche before had expulsed Mellitus there Byshop, as is declared recouered agayne the Christian fayth vnder Sigbert there king, who by the meanes of the foresaid Wolferus was reduced, and Baptised by Finanus the Byshop.
MarginaliaOswy & Oswyne, fellow kyng, in Northumberland.But to returne againe to Oswy, frō whom we haue a litle digressed, of whom we shewed before how he succeded after Oswald, in the Prouince of Bernicia: to whō also was ioyned Oswinus hys cosin, ouer the Prouince of Deyra, and there with his felow Oswy reigned the space of vij. yeares. This Oswine was gentle, and liberall to his people, & no lesse deuoute toward God: who vpon a tyme had geuen to Aidanus the Byshop, aboue mencioned, a princely horse, with the trappers & all that perteined therto: because he should not so much trauayle on foote, but some time ease him selfe withall. MarginaliaNote the worthy liberality in the kyng, & no lesse in the bishop.Thus Aidanus the Scottish Byshop as he was rydyng vpon his kyngly horse, by the way meteth him a certein poore mā askyng and crauyng his charitie. Aidanus hauyng nothyng els to geue him: lighteth downe, & geueth to hym his horse trapped and garnished as he was. MarginaliaH. Huntyng. de historia anglorum. lib. 9.
Example of true almose.The kyng vnderstanding this, and not contented therwith: as hee was entring to dinner with the sayde Aidanus: what ment you father bishop (said he) to geue away my horse I gaue you vnto the begger? Had not I other horses in my stable, þt might haue serued him welinough: but you must geue away that which of purpose was pickte out for you among the chiefest? To whom the bishop made aunswer againe saying, or rather rebuking the kyng: what be these wordes (O king, sayd he) that you speake? Why set you more price by an horse, which is but the fole of an horse, then you doo by him which is the sonneof Mary, yea which is the Sonne of God? He sayde but this, when the king forthwithal vngyrding his swoorde from about hym (as he was then newlye come in from hunting) falleth downe at the feete of the bishop: desiring him to forgeue him that, & he would neuer after speake word to him, for any treasure he should afterward geue away of hys. MarginaliaA perfect exāple of humility in a PrinceThe bishop seing the king so mekely affected, he then taking him vp, and chearing him againe wt wordes, began shortly after to wepe and to be very heauy, his Minister asking the cause therof, Aidanus aunswered in his Scottish language, saying to him: I wepe (sayth he) for þt this king cānot lyue long. This people is not worthy to haue such a Prince as he is, to raygne among them. And so as Aidanus sayde, it came to passe. MarginaliaOswine trayterously murtheredFor not long after Oswy the king of Bernicia disdayning at him, when Oswine either being not able, or not willing to ioyne with him in battayle: caused him traiterously to be slayne. And so Oswy with hys sonne Egfride raygned in Northumberland alone.
Benedict or Benet, the brynger vp of Bede.In the tyme, and also in the house, of thys Oswye king of Northumberland, was a certaine man named Benedict, who was þe bringer vp of Bede frō his youth, and toke him to his institution, when he was but seuen yeare olde, and so taught him during his life. This Benedict, or Benet, descending of a noble stocke and riche kinne, and in good fauour with Oswye: forsoke seruice, house, and al his kindred, to serue Christ, and went to Rome (where he had bene in his life time fiue times) and brought frō thence bookes, into monasteries, with other thinges which he thought then to serue for deuotion. MarginaliaThe vse of glasīg first brought into this realme.This Benedict surnamed bishop was þe first þt broughte in þe arte & vse of glasing into this land. For before that, glasse windowes were not knowen, either in churches, or in houses.
Cutbertus, Iarumannus, Cedda, VVilfridus.In the reigne of the foresayd Oswye and Egfride his sonne, was Botulphus Abbot: which builded in the east part of Lincolne an Abbey. Also Aidanus, Finianus, and Colmannus, with three Scotyshe bishops of Northumberland & holy men, helde with the Britaines, against the Romish order, for the keping of Easter day. Moreouer Cutbertus, Iarumannus, Cedda, and Wilfridus, liued þe same time, who as I iudge to be bishops of an holy conuersation, so I thought it sufficient here onely to name them. As touching their miracles wherefore they were made sainctes in the Popes calender: seing they are not written in the Gospell nor in my crede, but in certayne olde chronicles of that age: so they are no matter of my fayth. Notwithstanding as touching their conuersation, this I read, and also do credit: that the clergye both of Britanie and England at that time plied nothing that was worldly: but gaue them to preaching and teaching of the worde of our Sauiour, and followed the life that they preached, by geuing of good ensample. And ouer that, as our histories accorde, they wer so voyde of couetousnes, that they receaued no possessions or territories, as was forced vpon them.MarginaliaO quanta mutatio? Beda. lib. 4. cap. 5.
About this season or not much before, vnder þe reign of Oswye and Oswyne, kinges of Northumberland: an other Synode or counsell was holden agaynst the Brytaines, & the Scotysh bishops, for the right obseruing of Easter, at Sternehalt.
The famous Synod of Whitby, held in 664 at Saint Hilda's double monastery of Streonshalh (Streanoeshalch) ('Sternehalt': 'Streneshalch' in Foxe's narrative) was the famous centrepiece of the third book of Bede's Ecclesiastical History, the moment when King Oswiu of Northumbria decided that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practiced by Iona and its satellite monasteries. When Foxe came to construct his narrative of the 'second age' for the 1570 edition of the martyrology, he took his narrative of what happened at Whitby directly from Bede's Ecclesiastical History (book 3, ch. 25), translating it often word for word. The Synod had been seen as the triumph of Roman over Celtic Christianity, but Foxe prefers to gloss it as confirming the power of the Saxon monarchs to determine the religious complexion of their state, albeit the king's reasons for doing so were 'simple and rude'. Foxe accompanied the passage with a Latin tag from Claudian with obvious contemporary (Elizabethan) resonance: 'Mobile mutatur simper cum principe vulgus' ('the fickle populace always changes with the prince'). Foxe allowed himself no more than the briefest of mentions, however, of the significance of the year 666, situating it not in the context of events in England, but in terms of the rise of Islam. As Catherine Firth has argued, however, Foxe hardly felt the need to emphasise an apocalyptic framework in 1570 which was, by then, an all too familiar periodisation to his readers (Catherine Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition, 1530-1645 [Oxford, 1979], pp. 69-110). For Foxe's continuing narrative of the coming of Christianity to the Saxon kingdoms, he relied (as is evident from other sections of books 2) principally on the chronicles of Fabian and Brompton, stretching his net more widely as and when it seemed appropriate. So, for the accession of Egfride as king of Northumbria, Foxe seems to have also used Henry of Huntingdon's Chronicle (T. Arnold, ed. Henry of Huntingdon. Henrici Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum, the History of the English, by Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon, from B. C. 55 to A. D. 1154 [London: Rolls Series, 1879], book 2, ch. 35; book 3, chs 48-9; book 4, ch. 4) to supplement Fabian (R. Fabyan, The Chronicle of Fabian (London, 1559), book 5, chs 133-135) and Bede. For the dispatch of Theodorus to England as Archbishop of Canterbury and Wilfred's appeal to Rome, Foxe's references are confused. He appears to be following the account in William of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontificium (book 1, ch. 1). His references to Ranulph Higden's Polychronicon and to Bede's Ecclesiastical History, however, are mistaken (they should read: book 5, ch. 19 and book 4, ch. 12 respectively). For the Synod at Thetford, his souce is unambiguously Bede (either directly or indirectly). For the miracles of St Cuthlake ('a popish saint') Foxe allowed his scepticism to be more evident: 'But why thys Cuthlake shoulde bee sancted for hys doings, I see no great cause, as neyther do I thinke the fabulous miracles reported of himn to be true: as when the vulgar people are made to beleue, that he inclosed the deuil in a boiling pot, and caused wicked spirites to erect vp houses, with such other fables and lying miracles'. His sources here were Fabian's Chronicle (book 6, ch. 141) although he may have checked back to the Polychronicon (book 5, ch. 21). This was in line with the gradually ascending scornful tone that Foxe allowed himself towards miracles in Book II, culminating in those of Adelm and John of Beverley. For the scepticism, Foxe probably owed something here to Bale's Catalogus (pp. 82-4; 89) but for the material he relied on Fabian's Chronicle (book6, ch. 141), Brompton (J. Brompton, 'Chronicon Johannis Brompton Abbatis Jornalensis.' In Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores X. [....], ed. by Roger Twysden [London, 1652], col. 794), William of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontificium and Ranulph Higden's Polychronicon. Along with his crescendo of scepticism towards these miracles, however, comes a greater insistence upon the 'Monkish devises' and 'monkish fantasies' of these sources.[Back to Top]
Matthew Phillpott and Mark Greengrass
University of Sheffield