Montag, 29. Oktober 2018, 17:15 - 19:00 iCal

226. Institutsseminar, Dr. Alan Thacker

Pope Sergius’s letter to Abbot Ceolfrith. Wearmouth-Jarrow and Rome in the late seventh and early eighth century

Elise-Richter-Saal im Hauptgebäude der Universität Wien
Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien

Seminar, Workshop, Kurs

This paper focuses upon a letter sent by Pope Sergius I (687-701) to Abbot Ceolfrith of Wearmouth-Jarrow. Though long known, it has been little discussed because an interpolated version disseminated by William of Malmesbury has caused it be regarded with suspicion. The letter asked Abbot Ceofrith to send to the pope a ‘religious’ and learned advisor (unnamed in the surviving text but wrongly identified by Malmesbury as Bede) to assist in the resolution of ‘certain heads of ecclesiastical contention’. This paper argues that the tone of the letter, which lays stress on bringing those who were beginning to turn away from error into harmony with true knowledge, suggests that it relates to a council held by Pope Sergius in Rome in the late 690s to bring to effect a final reconciliation with the dissent bishops associated with the see of Aquileia and so conclude the Three Chapters controversy. It suggests that the learned advisor requested was Hwaetred, himself later abbot of Wearmouth- Jarrow, who had studied in Rome under Sergius earlier in the 690s. Although it is very probable that Hwaetred never went, the letter is important in highlighting Wearmouth-Jarrow’s close relations with the papacy and the esteem in which its learning was held in this period.


Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung


Stefanie Gruber
Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung