Bede's Historiae

Bede's Historiae

Genre, Rhetoric and the Construction of the Anglo-Saxon Church History

Vicky Gunn


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Boydell Press



A reappraisal of Bede's writings, focusing on his use of genre and rhetoric.
The church history of the Anglo-Saxons can only be approached through the lens of a few writers, arguably the greatest of whom is Bede; his works illuminate an otherwise impoverished landscape of ecclesial development from conversion to established Christian church amongst the Anglo-Saxons. Bede, however, had his own agendas - monastic, political, and rhetorical. In her reappraisal of Bede's Ecclesiastical History, Lives of the Saints, History of the Abbots, the Lesser and Greater Chronicles and the Martyrology and the audience for these texts, the author draws out the role played by classical forms of genre and rhetoric in the crafting of his work.She also explores the underlying political influences that caused Bede to write historia as he did. In particular, she notes the role of historia in monastic affairs, especially through the generation of a rhetoric of orthodoxy and the power of the cultural capital afforded by this within the relatively newly constituted Christian community in Northumbria.

Dr VICKY GUNN is Senior Lecturer, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Glasgow.


June 2009
256 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843834656
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Understanding Bede's Audience
The Historical and Contemporary Context of Northumbrian Hagiography and Historiae Production
Bede's Agenda Revisited: Monastic Superiority in the Ecclesiastical History
Bede's Approach to the Genre of Historia
A Case of Generic Discomfort: Bede's History of the Abbots
A Case of Innovation within Generic Boundaries: Bede's Martyrology
Bede's Compositional Techniques in the Genre of Ecclesiastical History


There is much of interest to Bedan scholarship. EARLY MEDIEVAL EUROPE