The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (in English: Ecclesiastical History of the English People) is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianit
It is considered to be one of the most important original references on Anglo-Saxon history and has played a key role in the development of an English national identity. It is believed to have been completed in 731, when Bede was approximately 59 years old.
Divided into five books (about 400 pages), the Historia covers the history of England, ecclesiastical and political, from the time of Julius Caesar to the date of its completion (731). The first twenty-one chapters, covering the period before the mission of Augustine, are compiled from earlier writers such as Orosius, Gildas, Prosper of Aquitaine, the letters of Pope Gregory I, and others, with the insertion of legends and traditions.
After AD 596, documentary sources that Bede took pains to obtain throughout England and from Rome are used, as well as oral testimony, which he employed along with critical consideration of its authenticity. This is impressive; nevertheless, the Historia, like other historical writing from this period has a lower degree of objectivity than modern historical writings. It seems to be a mixture of fact, legend and literature. For example, Bede quotes at length some speeches by people who were not his contemporaries and whose speeches do not appear in any other surviving source; it is doubtful whether oral traditional history supported these ostensible quotations.
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