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147 [147]

The question of Easter day moued betwene the Scots and the Saxons.

Northūberland, MarginaliaBenedict or Benet the bringer vp of Bede.was a certaine man named Benedict, who was the brynger vp of Bede frō his youth, & tooke him to his institution, whē he was but seuen yeare olde, & so taught him during his lyfe. This Benedict or Benet, descendyng of a noble stocke and riche kinne & in good fauour with Oswye forsoke seruice, house, and all his kyndred, to serue Christ, & wēt to Rome (where he had bene in his life tyme v. tymes) and brought from thence bookes, into Monasteries, with other thynges which he thought then to serue for deuotion. MarginaliaThe vse of glasing first brought into this realme. This Benedict surnamed Byshop, was the first that brought in the arte and vse of glasing into this land. For before that, glasse windowes were not knowē, either in churches, or in houses.

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Cutbertus, Iarumannus, Cedda, Wilfridus.
In the raigne of the foresayd Oswye and Egfride hys sonne, was Botulphus Abbot: whiche builded in the East part of Lincolne an Abbey. Also Aidanus, Finianus, & Colmannus, with iij. Scottish Byshops of Northumberland holy men, held with the Britaines, agaynst the Romish order, for the keepyng of Easterday. Moreouer Cutbertus, Iarumannus, Cedda, and Wilfridus, liued the same time, who as I iudge to be Byshops of an holy conuersation, so I thought it sufficient here onely to name them. As touching their miracles wherefore they were made Saintes in the Popes calender: seyng they are not written in the Gospell nor in my Creede, but in certaine old chronicles of that age: so they are no matter of my fayth. Notwithstāding as touchyng their conuersation, this I read, and also do credite: that the Clergy both of Britaine & England at that tyme plyed nothyng that was worldly: but gaue thē to preaching and teachyng of the word of our Sauiour, and followed the lyfe that they preached, by geuyng of good ensample. And ouer that, as our histories accorde, they were so voyde of couetousnesse, that they receaued no possessions or territories, as was forced vpon them. MarginaliaO quanta mutatio? Beda. lib. 4. cap. 5.
Iornalensis, Fabia.
An. 664.

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About this season or not much before, vnder the raigne of Oswy and Oswyne, kynges of Northumberland: an other Synode or Councell was holden agaynst the Britaines, and the Scottish Byshops, for the right obseruyng of Easter, at Sternehalt. 

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Dispute over Easter

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.

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Matthew Phillpott and Mark Greengrass
University of Sheffield

At what tyme Agilbertus Byshop of the Westsaxons came to Northumberland, to institute Wilfride Abbot of Rypon: where this question for Easterday began to be moued. MarginaliaControuersie about Easter day. For Colmannus then Byshop of Northumberlād followed not the custome of Rome, nor of the Saxons: but followed the Britaines, and the Scottish Byshops, his predecessors in the same sea, before. Thus on the one side was Colmannus the Archbyshop of Yorke and Hilda the Abbes of Sternhalt: whiche alleaged for them the doynges and examples, of their predecessours, both godly and reuerend Byshops: as Aidanus, Finianus, Archbyshops of that sea of Yorke before them, and diuers moe. Who had vsed alwayes to celebrate the Easter, from the. xiiij. day of the Moone, til the. xxviij. of the same. And specially for that, S. Iohn the Euaungelist at Ephesus, kept and obserued that day, &c. On the other side was Agilbert Byshop of Westsaxons, Iames the Deacon of Paulinus, aboue mentioned: Wilfride Abbot of Rypon, and king Alfride, Oswyes sonne, with his Queene, holdyng on the same side. The full contentes of whiche disputation here followeth, accordyng as in the story of Beda at large is described, with their reasons and argumentes, on both sides as insueth, &c.

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MarginaliaEx Beda lib. 2 ca. 25. The question of Easter, and of shauyng, and other Ecclesiasticall matters beyng moued, it was determined that in the Abbey which is called Streneshalch, of the whiche Hilda a deuout woman was Abbes: a conuocation should be had and this question there determined. To the whiche place came both the kynges, the father and the sonne. MarginaliaDisputation betwene the Romaine byshops and the Scottish byshops for the day of Easter & other ceremonies. Byshop Colman with his Clergy of Scotlād, Aigelbert with Agathon and Wilfride Priestes, Iames and Roman were on their sides. Hilda the Abbes with her company was on the Scottish part. And the reuerend Byshop Cedda was appointed Prolocutor for both parties in that Parliament. MarginaliaThe kyng beginneth. King Oswye began first with an Oratiō declaryng that it was necessary for such as serued one God, to liue in one vniforme order, and that such as looked for one kyngdome in heauen should not differ in celebration of the heauenly Sacramentes, but should rather seeke for the true traditiō and follow the same. This sayd, he commaunded his Byshop Colman to declare what the rite and custome was in this behalfe that he vsed, and from whence it had the originall. MarginaliaColman speaketh Then Colman obeying his princes commaūdement, sayd: the Easter which I obserue I receaued of my auncestors that sent me hether a Byshop. The which, all our forefathers beyng men of god, did celebrate in like maner: & least it should be cōtemned or despised of any man, it is manifestly apparant, to be the very same, which the holy Euangelist S. Iohn (a Disciple especially beloued of the Lord) did customably vse, in all Churches and Congregations, where he had authoritie. When Colman had spoken many thinges to this effect, the kyng commaūded Aigelbert to declare his opinion in this behalfe, and to shew the order that he then vsed, from whence it came and by what authoritie he obserued the same. Aigelbert requested the kyng, that his scholer Wilfride, a Priest, might speake for him: in as much as they both, with the rest of his Clergy, were of one opinion herein: and that the sayd Wilfride could vtter his mynde better and more playnly in the Englishe toung, then he himselfe could. MarginaliaVVilfride replyeth. Then Wilfride at the kynges cōmaundement, began on this sorte, and sayd: The Easter whiche we keepe, we haue seene at Rome, where as the holy Apostles, Peter & Paule, did lyue and teach, did suffer, and were buried. The same also is vsed in Italie, and in Fraunce: the which coūtreys we haue traueled for learnyng, and haue noted it to be celebrated of them all. MarginaliaVniuersalitie alleged. In Asia also and in Aphricke, in Egypt and in Greece, and finally in all the world, the same maner of Easter is obserued, that we vse: saue onely by these here present with theyr accomplices, the Pictes & the Britaines: with the which two (& yet not altogether agreyng) they condescend & striue foolishly in this order against the vniuersall world. MarginaliaColman agayne speaketh. To whom Colmā replyed, saying: I maruel, you wil cal this order foolish, that so greate an Apostle, as was worthy to lye in þe Lords lappe, did vse: whom all the world doth wel know to haue liued most wisely. MarginaliaVVilfride replyeth. And Wilfride aūswered, God forbyd that I should reproue S. Iohn of folye, who kept the rites of Moyses lawe according to the letter (the Churche beyng yet Iewishe in many pointes) and the Apostles not as yet able to abdicate all the obseruations of the law before ordained: As for exāple, they could not reiect Images inuented of the deuill, the whiche all men that beleue in Christ ought of necessitie to forsake, and detest: least they should be an offence to those Iewes that were amongst the Gentiles. MarginaliaWhy Paule circumcised Timothy. For this cause did S. Paule circumcise Timothe: for this cause did he sacrifice in the temple, and did shaue his head with Aquila and Priscilla at Corinthe: all whiche thinges were done to none other purpose, then to eschue the offence of the Iewes. Hereupon also sayd Iames to Paule, thou seest brother how many thousand Iewes do beleue, and all these be zelous notwithstandyng, of the law. Yet seyng the Gospel is so manifestly preached in the world, it is not lawfull for the faythfull to be Circumcised, neither to offer sacrifice of carnall thynges to God. Therfore Iohn accordyng to the custome of the law, the. xiiij. day of the first moneth at euenyng, dyd begyn the celebration of the feast of Easter: nothyng respecting whether it were celebrated in the Sabboth, or in any other feriall day. MarginaliaExample of Peter alleaged, but no proofe brought therof. But Peter when he preached at Rome, remembryng that the Lord did arise from death on the first day after the Sabboth giuing thereby an hope to the world of the resurrectiō: thought good to institute Easter on that day, & not after the vse and preceptes of the law (that was) the xiiij. day of the first moneth. MarginaliaPeter & Iohn did not agree in the celebrating of Easter. Euen so Iohn lookyng for the Moone at night if it did arise, & the next day after were Sonday, which was then called the Sabboth, then dyd he celebrate the Easter of the Lord in the euenyng, like as we vse to do euen at this day. But if Sōday were not the next day after the xiiij. day, but fell on the xvi. day, or xvij. or on any other day vnto the xxi: he taried alwayes for it, and dyd begyn the holy solemnitie of Easter, on the euenyng next before the Sabboth. And so came it to pas that Easter was alwayes kept on the Sonday, and was not celebrated but from the xv. day vntill the xxi. Neither doth this tradition of the Apostle breake the law, but fulfilleth the same. In the which it is to be noted, that Easter was instituted frō the xiiij. day of the first moneth at euenyng: vnto the xxi. day of the same moneth at euenyng, the whiche manner all S. Iohns successours in Asia, after his death did folow, and the Catholicke Church throughout the whole world. And that this is the true Easter, and onely of all Christians to be obserued, it was not newly decreed: but confirmed by the Councell of Nice, MarginaliaIn the councell of Nice no such matter appeareth. as appeareth by the Ecclesiasticall hyitory. Wherupon it is manifest that you (Colman) do neither folow the example of S. Iohn as ye thinke, nor of S. Peter whose tradition ye do willingly resist, nor of the Church nor yet of the Gospell, in the celebration of Easter. For S. Iohn, obseruyng Easter accordyng to the preceptes of the law, kept it not on the first day after the Sabboth. But you precisely keepe it, onely on the first day after the Sabboth. Peter did celebrate Easter from the xv. day of the Moone to the xxi. day: But you keepe Easter frō the xiiij. vnto the xx. day, so that you begyn Easter oftentymes the xiij. day at night: of the which maner neither the law nor the Gospell maketh any mention. But the Lord in the. xiiij. daye

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