The Venerable Bede was one of the greatest historians of the Medieval period who’s
comprehensive works on the people of his day and of the Bible were still in circulation into
the early printing era, says Richard Gameson. This pious monk who famously wrote the
Ecclesiastical History of the English People, as well as an edition of the holy Bible which is still
the foremost Latin translation, along with many other works, was later canonized as a saint for his
great achievements and in his own time was named a Doctor of the Church. Bede started his career
as a monk in Northumbria at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow, built in the late seventh century by another
Catholic saint Benedict Biscop, where he would spend the vast majority of his life (he was brought
by relatives to the monastery at age seven) as a servant of God. That being said, there was a very
good chance that The Venerable Bede was from an aristocratic background given the age at which
he entered, but he never made it passed the status of priest within the monastery which is unusual if
so. However, this can be explained away, according to Sarah Foot, because Bede never sought high
office as he thought his service to God was better spent where he was.
The library collected at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow by Biscop is of note, as it was an
extensive and fabulous collection that The Venerable Bede would have had access to.
Interestingly, The Venerable Bede had a strong dislike for warrior types and particularly
warrior priests. Bede also offered up a warning to all those who may turn from God and
become apostates by writing how three kings were lost from history due to this. A thought which
was terrifying for most royals in a time when oral history was still so strong.
“The Venerable Bede,” In Our Time Blog, November 4, 2004, accessed October 12, 2014, http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/iotr/all
“The Venerable Bede” New Advent, accessed October 12, 2014, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02384a.htm