Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Synopsis

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People was completed in 731 and still ranks among the most popular of history books. First published in 1969, Colgrave and Mynors's edition made use for the first time of the mid-eighth-century manuscript now in Leningrad and provided a survey of the extant manuscripts and a new translation; it also brought up to date Plummer's invaluable edition. This revised edition takes into account J.M. Wallace-Hadrill's Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People: A Historical Commentary (Oxford Medieval Texts, 1988), enabling the reader to use the two in conjunction.

Excerpt

It is certainly not too much to say that Plummer's great edition of the History which was published in 1896 marked a new era of Bedan studies. Even now another edition seems to require an explanation, if not an excuse. The most potent of these is probably the fact that Plummer was unacquainted with the very important Leningrad MS. of the History which has recently been made available in facsimile; and full use has of course been made of it in this edition. A good deal of fresh light has been thrown by modern scholars, among whom it would not be invidious to mention Wilhelm Levison, on Bede's methods of work and upon the times in which he lived. Archaeologists, place-name experts, historians, and philologists have all had their contribution to make and, although the notes supplied by Plummer are still and will continue to be a constant help to students, yet it is hoped that the notes to the present edition will supply some guidance to the new material.

Bede has not been altogether fortunate in his translators, even though Stapleton's translation of 1565 set a splendid example. The present translator has attempted to produce something which is as near to the original as modern usage permits and at the same time does not altogether miss the nuances of thought and turns of speech in which Bede delighted. In this edition the reader will, at any rate, have the Latin original constantly before him. The whole edition is intended for the average student, to provide the best possible text, an adequate translation, notes which will explain some of the difficulties met by the modern reader, and guidance as to where to find further information on points in which he is interested. Each of the two editors is responsible for his own portion of the edition, Sir Roger Mynors for the Latin text and the relevant part of the Introduction, myself for the rest of the Introduction, the translation, and the notes on subject-matter; but we have of course worked in close collaboration throughout.

I am indebted to a number of scholars and institutions for much valuable help, and particularly to the following: Mrs. N. K. Chadwick and Miss Kathleen Hughes of Newnham College, Cambridge . . .

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