Illuminating letters: eighth century Papal correspondence examined in public lecture
In a public lecture on Tuesday, Professor Joanna Story from our School of Historical Studies will describe a fascinating episode in the development of the early English church.
In 596AD, Pope Gregory sent a mission to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons. His plan was to establish two Archbishoprics: one in the south at Canterbury and one in the north at York. In the early 7th century another Pope, Honorius I, actually sent vestments to York for the investiture of an Archbishop, but more than a century after the original ‘Gregorian Plan’ there was still only one Archbishop in England.
Bede, the greatest of English Medieval scholars, knew of Pope Gregory’s original plan and lobbied hard for the establishment of an Archbishopric in North England. As evidence, he had original Papal documents concerning Honorius’ gift of the vestments, which had been found in the Vatican archives and conveyed to Bede by a diligent London priest, Nothhelm, who was himself named Archbishop of Canterbury in 735.
On the way from Rome to Northumbria, Nothhelm stopped off in what is now Luxembourg to visit a bishop named Willibrord and showed him the old letters from Pope Honorius. Willibrord went to the trouble of copying the documents. And, more than 1,300 years later, those copies were discovered in a dusty archive, providing a unique insight into Bede’s world.
In her Professorial Inaugural Lecture tomorrow on Bede and the origins of the Archbishopric of York, Joanna Story, Professor of Early Medieval History in our School of Historical Studies will examine these amazing documents and what they tell us about not only Bede but also the knowledge networks which existed between Rome and the rest of Europe in the 7th and 8th centuries.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, takes place in the Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1, at 5.30pm. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Story teaches a module on 'The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria' which was recently discussed by our student blogger Tom.