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self had had more to do with Rome than any prelate
since the time of Augustine ; his conduct on this
occasion was unpatriotic, but not unnatural.

He set off for Rome, but was driven by stress of
weather into what was then called Friesland. There
he stayed the whole winter, striving to Christianize
the Frisians. ' He instructed,' says Bede, ' many
thousands of them in the word of truth, washing
them from their abominations in the laver of salva-
tion.' Thus Wilfrid may be regarded as the first
English missionary.- At last he arrived at Rome,
and laid his case before Agatho, who had succeeded
Vitalian in the Papacy. An important synod was

1 ' Theodore, at Egfrid's request, consecrated at York three
new bishops, Bosa, Eata and Eadhaed, who were practically in
the room of Wilfrid. They represented the sees of York,
Hexham (Lindisfarne), and Lindsey.'— ' Historians of the Church
of York and its Archbishops,' ed. J. Raine (Rolls Series),
preface xxvii.

2 His work in Friesland was taken up by Willibrord, the
next English missionary, during the period which this chapter
covers, and still more vigorously by Boniface, as will appear in
the next chapter.



THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH 8i

then being held at Rome to deal with the errors of
the Monothelites. Wilfrid was summoned before it
to confess his faith ; and it was recorded that ' Wil-
frid, the beloved of God and Bishop of the city of
York, having referred to the Apostolic See, and being
by that authority acquitted of everything, whether
specified against him or not, and having taken his
seat in judgment with one hundred and twenty-five
other bishops in the synod, made confession of the
true and Catholic faith, and subscribed the same in
the name of the northern part of Britain ' (Bede).

He returned home, armed with a Papal Bull to the
effect that he was to be restored to his see, and that
he was himself to appoint bishops to help him. The
decision was an adroit one, for it of course satisfied
Wilfrid, while at the same time it did not altogether
thwart Theodore's design of having more bishops
appointed.

The English were, however, deeply offended.
They were quite ready to admit the primacy of
Rome as an Apostolical see, but primacy was one
thing, jurisdiction in England another. At the same
time they felt themselves in an embarrassing position.
They did not desire to break off from the centre of
Western Christendom, especially just after they had
condemned the Celtic Church for differing from
Roman usages ; and yet they resolved to maintain
their national independence. The obvious expedient
was to lay all the blame upon Wilfrid for placing
them in so awkward a predicament. They assumed,
quite gratuitously, so far as evidence shows, that
Wilfrid had obtained the decision in his favour b)'
corrupt means, ^ and by this convenient assumption

' ' Ut pretio redempta essent scripta.' — Eddius.
VOL. I. 6



82 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN ENGLAND

they were enabled to evade the dehcate question
as to the extent of Rome's authority in England.
Theodore had already deposed Wilfrid and conse-
crated Bosa, a saintly man, Bishop of York (that
is, the divided diocese of York) in his room ; and
Wilfrid was now confined in prison for nine months.

Thus Theodore had his way, as he generally had,
in the great Northumbrian diocese, which was now
divided into four. The Mercian diocese was also
'cantoned' into five — Lichfield, Worcester, Leicester,
Sidnacester (or Lindsey) and Dorchester.^ East
Anglia had already been divided into two dioceses —
Elmham and Dunwich, and the need of subdivision
in other dioceses was not so crying ; therefore Theo-
dore may be fairly said to have carried his second
point.

3. The establishment of the parochial system was
a gigantic task, and Theodore cannot be said to have
done more than to have laid down the principles on
which it was carried out. The matter is a little
complicated by the fact that the term ' parochia,' or
parish, was sometimes used to express the Bishop's
diocese,- sometimes in the sense in which we use
it. What Theodore certainly did was to encourage
lords of manors to build and endow parish churches
by giving them the patronage of the churches thus
founded.^ It was also probably through him that
the custom was established of paying part of the
tithes to the parish priest instead of giving them all

^ But for a modification of this view, see Canon Bright's
' Chapters of Early English Church History,' p. 309, etc.

- Even as late as 943 A.D. it was so used in the Constitutions
published in that year by Otho, Archbishop of Canterbury.

'■ ' Patronum faciunt dos, ^edificatio, fundus."



THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH 83

to the cathedral to be apportioned by the Bishop.
It should be remembered that hitherto the cathedrals
and the monasteries had done (and done with con-
siderable effect) part of the work now done by the
parish priest, sending forth priests to administer the
sacraments, preach the Word, and visit the sick over
a large area in their respective neighbourhoods.^

4. The advancement of learning was effectively
promoted by Theodore and Hadrian. Both, but
especially the latter, were learned men themselves,
and they gave the greatest stimulus, not only to
theological, but to general learning.- S. Augustine's
at Canterbury became, under their influence, and,
indeed, personal instruction, the most distinguished
seat of learning in the South of England. The con-
tagion spread in all directions. Monasteries became
most efficient schools. Aldhelm, at Malmesbury
and in the diocese of Sherborne generally, Bosa
and his successors at York, must be regarded as

1 ' It was the custom of the English people,' says Bede,
writing of the year 685, ' that when a clerk or priest came into
the town, they all, at his command, flocked together to hear the
Word ; willingly heard what was said, and willingly practised
those things that they could hear or understand ' (' Eccl. Hist.,'
book iv., ch. xxvii., p. 226).

- ' Forasmuch as both of them were well read both in sacred
and in secular literature, there gathered a crowd of disciples, and
there daily flowed from them rivers of knowledge to water the
hearts of their hearers ; and, together with the books of Holy
Writ, they also taught them the arts of ecclesiastical poetry,
astronomy, and arithmetic' — Bede, 'Eccl. Hist.,' book iv., ch. ii.,
p. 172. Mr. J. B. Mullinger goes so far as to say : ' The impulse
given by this ecclesiastic [Theodoie] long continued to influence
the course of instruction, and in the curriculum he introduced
may be discerned the rude outlines of our modern system '
('The University of Cambridge,' Introduction to vol. i., p. 8)

6—2



84 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN ENGLAND

following the lead of Theodore. Music also began
to be cultivated, and to lend its attractions to the
Church. 'From that time,' writes Bede, ' they
began in all the churches of the English to learn
sacred music, which till then had been known only
in Kent.'

To these four reforms of Theodore, a fifth may,
perhaps, be added, viz., his attempt to enforce and
systematize Church discipline by the publication of
his famous ' Penitential '; but this most important
matter is not so closely identified with Theodore's
name as the other four ; so it may suffice to notice it
in passing.

This was, perhaps, the palmiest period in the
early English Church. 'Never,' writes Bede, 'were
there happier times since the English came into
Britain, for their kings, being brave men and good
Christians, they were a terror to all barbarous
nations, and the minds of all men were bent upon
the joys of the heavenly kingdom, and all who desired
to be instructed in sacred reading had masters at
hand to teach them.'^ And in writing of the Arch-
bishop's death : ' To say all in few words, the English
Churches received more advantage during his pontifi-
cate than ever they had done before.'-

We must now return to the chequered career of
Wilfrid. After his release from prison he was not
allowed to remain in Northumbria. In 68i he found
for a time a refuge in Mercia, where he built a small
monastery ; but he was driven from thence through
the remorseless enmity of King Egfrid, whom no
other King dared to offend, and withdrew into

1 'Eccl. Hist.,' book iv., ch. ii., p. 173.
^ //n'd., book v., ch. viii., p. 246.



THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH 85

Wessex ; hither, too, the hostihty of Queen Ermen-
burga, who was even more embittered against him
than her husband, pursued him, and ' he turned
aside into the province of the South Saxons, where
the King promised him his protection.'

The Httle kingdom of Sussex was the one single
spot where heathenism not only lingered, but
reigned triumphant, and that in spite of the fact
that the King, Ethelwalch (^thelwalch), and the
Queen, Ebba (yEbbe), were both Christians, this
being the one exception to the rule that the Anglo-
Saxons followed the religion of their sovereigns.
Sussex was the near neighbour of the kingdom which
had first accepted the Gospel, and which was still
the centre of light ; but Sussex was cut off by its
forests and its marshes from much intercourse with
those outside its own borders, and missionaries had
tried to convert it in vain. There was one little
oasis in the midst of the heathen desert, a small
monastery at Bosham, presided over by a Scottish
monk called Dicul, but this produced no effect upon
the surrounding country. King Ethelwalch, how-
ever, had now found the one man who was able to
do the work. The wonderful persuasiveness of
Wilfrid, which has been already noticed at Whitby,
in Friesland, and at Rome, was now brought to
bear upon the heathenism of the South Saxons, and
not in vain. Wilfrid succeeded where others had
failed. He began, as so many missionaries have
begun, by winning attention through his superior
culture in the arts of this life. There was a famine
in the land, and the people had no resources, not
even the obvious one of fishing, for they knew onl}-
how to catch eels. Wilfrid instructed his followers



86 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN ENGLAND

' to gather the eel-nets and cast them into the sea,
and by the blessing of God they took three hundred
fish of several sorts ' (Bede). In other words,
Wilfrid saved them from starvation by teaching
them the art of fishing. And, having thus won
their gratitude and confidence, he saved them, as a
fisher of men, from spiritual starvation. The King
granted him some land in the district of Selsey, and
he built a monastery there, and made it the centre
of his operations. Thus Sussex was converted
through the instrumentality of Wilfrid.^

The conversion of Sussex was immediately fol-
lowed by that of the Isle of Wight, which was the
last place in the realm of England to receive the
Gospel. The instrument of this conversion was
again Wilfrid, who seems to have exercised his
marvellous powers of persuasion over the fierce
Csedwalla, King of the Gewissse (West Saxons). For
though Caedwalla was not yet himself a Christian,
he vowed that if he took the island ' he would give
the fourth part of the land and of the booty to our
Lord, which he performed by giving the same for
our Lord to the use of Bishop Wilfrid.'- The date
686 A.D. is thus important, as the date of the final
subjugation of the English to the Cross.

But the heart of the Apostle of Sussex (for so
Wilfrid may justly be termed) still yearned after his
Northern home, and this same year, 686 — his relent-
less enemy. King Egfrid, being now dead — he
accepted the invitation of King Alchfrid to return

^ Wilfrid is sometimes called the first Bishop of Selsey, but
the see was not regularly established until the year of his death,
709— that is, twenty-three years after he left Sussex.

-' Bede, book iv., ch. xvi., p. 199.



THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH 87

to Northumbria, and, after some readjustment of
dioceses, was once more reinstated in his old see of
York. There is a touching interest in the account
of a final meeting between the two foremost Church-
men of the da}', who had long been estranged, at
the house of Erconwald (Earconwald), Bishop of
London, in 686. Both were old — Theodore very old
— both had led busier lives and made deeper marks
upon the Church than any man of their day, and it
is pleasing to think that they were reconciled at last.
Theodore died in 6go a.d., but Wilfrid lived on until
709, and had yet some turbulent and exciting experi-
ences to pass through. It seems to me scarcely fair
to assume, as has been done, that Wilfrid took
advantage of Theodore's death to make an attempt
to upset the great Archbishop's arrangements in
Northumbria. The fact appears to be that in 6gi
it was proposed that his diocese should be still
further shorn of its greatness by the erection of
Ripon into a separate see.

' That was the most imkindest cut of all ;'

for Wilfrid loved Ripon more than Selsey, more
than York, more than Gaul, more even than Rome.
He again appealed to Rome, was again successful
there, and again utterly failed to make his country-
men accept the decision of the Pope. He was again
banished from Northumbria, and acted for a time as
Bishop at Leicester, during the vacancy of the see. In
706 A.D., after the Council of the Nidd, he was allowed
to return to Northumbria, not as Bishop of York, but
as Bishop of Hexham, with his beloved Minster Ripon
attached. But the old man was restless, as well he
might be, in his greatly diminished glory in North-



88 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN ENGLAND

umbria ; his thoughts must have wandered back to
the palmy days when he carried all before him at
York, when he was the richest and the most magni-
ficent prelate England had ever seen. He wandered
about among the religious houses he had founded
in Mercia, and died at one of them (S. Andrew's,
Oundle) in the year 709.

The absorbing interest which attaches to the lives
and work of Theodore and Wilfrid must not make
us forget that there were other great Churchmen,
more or less contemporary with them, whose lives
are in one sense more fascinating than those of the
two who, as factors in the making of the Church,
tower far above them all. There is a sort of uncon-
scious poetry in the careers of such men as S. Chad
and S. Cuthbert which is totally wanting in those of
Wilfrid and Theodore ; they present higher types of
pure saintliness, and are quite free from the defects
which were obvious in the characters of those two
great men.

The two brothers, Cedd (Cedda) and Chad
(Ceadda), have already been mentioned. Cedd had
gone to his rest, but Chad, the younger and more
famous of the two, lived on for some years. Both
were successively Abbots of Lastingham, the place
which Cedd ' chose himself to build a monastery
among craggy and distant mountains, which looked
more like lurking-places for robbers and retreats for
wild beasts than habitations for men '^ — that is, in
the beautiful countr}^ in the neighbourhood of Pick-
ering, and not far from the still more famous monas-
tery of Whitby. To this spot both brothers had
loved to retire, but both also did active work for
' Uede, ' Eccl. Hist.,' book iii., ch. xxiii., p. 148.



THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH 89

Christ in the outer world. S. Chad's name is
inseparably connected with Lichfield, though he
only presided over the great Mercian diocese for two
and a half years. The beautiful tales that are told
of him all indicate the great saint rather than the
great administrator. Both at York and at Lichfield
he would insist upon visiting his diocese on foot,
till on one occasion Theodore, who had ' assuredly
discovered him to be a holy man ' (Bede), lifted
him on horse-back with his own hand. Near the
Church of S. Mary at Lichfield he built a dwell-
ing for himself and seven or eight brethren, and
with them he used to pray and read ' as often
as he had any spare time from the labour and
ministry of the Word.' He was deeply affected by
the convulsions of Nature, and when the wind blew
strongly or the thunder rolled, he would always
retire into the church and pray to God to spare His
people whom He had redeemed. After he had ' most
gloriously governed the Church in that province for
two and a half years' (Bede), the end came, and its
circumstances were in accordance with the whole
tenor of his life. A pestilence had broken out which
had carried off many of his clergy, and at last
attacked the Bishop himself. A certain monk, Owin
— himself a remarkable man — who had followed
Chad from Lastingham to Lichfield, was working in
the fields, when he heard ' the voice of persons sing-
ing most sweetly and rejoicing, and appearing to
descend from heaven.' The voice, coming from the
south-east, drew near him, till it came to the roof of
the oratory where the Bishop was. It entered, and
then seemed to return to heaven ' the same way
it came, within expressible sweetness.' Then the



90 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN ENGLAND

Bishop opened the window of the oratory and
clapped his hands, as his wont was when he desired
the monk to come to him ; and he said to him,
' Make haste to the church, and cause the seven
brothers to come hither, and do you come with them.'
When they came he gave them holy counsel, and
then added : ' That amiable guest, who was wont to
visit our brethren, has vouchsafed also to come to
me this day, and to call me out of this world.
Return, therefore, to the church, and speak to the
brethren, that they in their prayers recommend m}-
passage to our Lord, and they be careful to prepare
for their own.'^ But Owin lingered behind to ask
Chad the meaning of the heavenly music ; and he
said : ' They were the angelic spirits, who came to
call me to my heavenly reward, which I have always
longed for, and they promised they would return
seven days hence and take me away with them.'
And in seven days he died (March 2, 671).

Another saint, whose reputation stands higher
even than that of S. Chad, and who was also, like
Chad, trained in the Celtic school, was S. Cuthbert
(Cuthberht). He has been immortalized by Bede in
two ' Lives,' one in verse and one in prose, and is,
perhaps, the most famous of all the saints of the
North. While yet a shepherd lad, Cuthbert had
come to the monastery of Melrose- (which was then,
of course, on the English side of the Border, in the
kingdom of Northumbria), having determined to

1 Bede.

^ This is Bede's description of Melrose. Mr. Green describes
it as 'a group of log shanties in the midst of untilled solitudes,
where a few Irish monks from Lindisfarne had settled in the
mission-station of Melrose' (' Short History,' ch. i., ;: 3, p. 25).



THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH 91

embrace the monastic life because he had seen in a
vision the soul of S. Aidan carried up to heaven by
the angels, and a few days after heard of his death.
Eata was then Abbot, and Boisil Prior, and the
latter is said to have exclaimed, as he saw the youth
approach, ' Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is
no guile,' a description which Cuthbert certainly
justified. He surpassed all the other monks in
diligence and devotion. He went about from place
to place, preaching and teaching, choosing especially
the remoter mountain villages, which other teachers
disdained to visit ; and the rough peasants took all
the more heed of him because he had been a
peasant lad himself, and could speak to them in
their own provincial dialect. He was ' so skilful an
orator, and such a brightness appeared in his angelic
face, that no man present presumed to conceal from
him the most hidden secrets of his heart, but all
openly confessed what he had done.'^ Then he went
for a short while to the new abbey of Ripon, but
was removed from thence because he adhered to the
Celtic usages, and returned to Melrose, where, on
the death of Boisil, he was made Prior, The Council
of Whitby probably led him, as it led Cedd and
others, to conform to Roman usages, and he was
appointed Prior of Lindisfarne for the express pur-
pose of bringing this stronghold of the Celtic
Church into harmony with the Roman usages. It
was a hard task ; but Cuthbert, by a happy blending
of gentleness, patience, and firmness, at last accom-
plished it. The monastic rule, however, was not
austere enough for him ; so, after he had been
twelve years at Lindisfarne, he commenced the

1 Bede.



93 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN ENGLAND

solitary life, probably in a spot still called Saint
Ciithbert's Cave on a southern slope of the
Lothians. But even this was not sufficiently deso-
late for him ; so he took up his abode in an unin-
habited island, one of the Fame group, just opposite
Bamborough, from which it is divided by two miles
of ocean. Here he dwelt for nine years in a cell
so constructed that he could see nothing but the sky
from his window, desiring to look only at heaven,
not at earth. Visitors used to come to converse
with the holy man and receive his blessing, and here
it was his wish to live and die. But in 684 a.d.,
at -the Council of Twiford, in Northumberland, he
was unanimously elected Bishop of Hexham. Of
course he refused, till at last a deputation, headed
by the King (Egfrid) himself, and Trumwin, ' Bishop
of the Picts,'^ went to the island, and persuaded
him to accept the office. To make it the more
palatable to him, Eata, his old Abbot, who was
the Bishop of Lindisfarne, consented to be trans-
ferred to Hexham, and Cuthbert was appointed to
Lindisfarne, in which diocese the Fame Islands lay.
During the short time that he held the bishopric,
Cuthbert was a diligent worker ; but after two years
he felt his end approaching, so he resigned his see,
and returned to die on his lonely island. There is
no need to describe the dramatic circumstances of
his departure, nor the many miracles which were
attributed to him in his lifetime, and to his relics
after his death. The wonderful reputation w'hich
he achieved is certainly not undeserved, so far as

^ That is, either of Whithern (Candida Casa) in Galloway, or
of Abercorn. See Canon Bright's 'Chapters of Early English
Church History,' p. 331.



THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH 93

his personal character went, for he was evidently,
not only a most saintly, but also a most persua-
sive and attractive man. But we cannot help
feeling that such a life might have a tendency to
encourage a morbid and unwholesome craving for
rcligiositdt rather than religion. How his bones
were afterwards removed, first to Chester - le-
Street, and then to Durham, will be told in a
future page.

Of almost equal reputation for saintliness with the
two last mentioned was S. John of Beverley, both
in his own day and for many generations later.
Unlike S. Cuthbert, he was of noble parentage, and
received an excellent education, being one of the
many distinguished pupils who were brought up at
the school of Canterbury under Archbishop Theo-
dore. Next we find him at the double monastery of
Whitby under the Abbess Hilda, and in 687 he
became Bishop of Hexham. On the death of Bishop
Bosa he was translated to York, but it is with Bever-
ley that his name is inseparably connected. For it
was at Beverley, or, as it was then called, ' Inder-
wood in the Land of the Deiri,' that he founded a
monaster}', into which, after an episcopate of thirty-
three years, he retired until his death in 721 A.D.
According to Bede, his miracles almost rivalled those
of S. Aidan and S. Cuthbert. We may be sceptical
about the miracles, but the fact is worth noting, for
it is evident that, in the guileless historian's view, the
greater the saint, the greater and more numerous
were the miracles that he wrought. As an illustra-
tion of the high repute in which he was long held,
it may be mentioned that King Henry V. attributed
his victory at Agincourt, which was fought on



94 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN ENGLAND

S. John of Beverley's Day, to the intercession of the
saint.

Another famous saint in his hfetime, and for some
generations after his death, though now almost for-
gotten, was Erkenwald (Earconwald), Bishop of
London, or, to speak more correctly, of the East
Saxons, from 675 to his death in 693. Before he
was raised to the episcopate he had founded two of
the most famous monasteries of the South, Chertsey,
over which he presided himself, and Barking, which
he committed to the care of his sister Ethelburga
(/Ethelburh). All sorts of legends are told about
S. Erkenwald, which are only valuable as showing
the estimation in which he was held ; but if we may
once more apply the test of miracles as gauging the
reputation for saintliness, this saint will certainly



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