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Who is Venerable Bede & Stephen Langton?

Who is the Venerable Bede (673 , 735) and what is Stephen Langton (~1150 , 1228) responsible for throughout history? A sample of their contribution to the Dark to Middle Ages is explored within this article, which illustrates the writings and sayings of a Benedictine monk and former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Venerable Bede (673 , 735)

Bede (also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede) was a Benedictine monk that resided at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth (which is now known as Sunderland). Bede has gained quite a reputation as a decent author and scholar, especially with his most famous work of Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (which translates into The Ecclesiastical History of the English People). It is through this work that he was given the title of “the father of English history.”

When taking a look at Bede’s works, he showed a great command of the learning that dictated his time. He had ample access to an extensive collection of books at the library at Wearmouth-Jarrow housed between 300 and 500 books , one of the largest in all of England. During his many travels, Bede would constantly collect books. The writings that Bede is responsible for are separated into a variety of categories, including historical, theological, and scientific. He wrote about music and commentaries on Scripture. He quoted a host of characters throughout history, such as Ovid, Horace, and Pliny the Elder.

A sample of his work includes:

“O King, seems to me the present life of men on earth, in comparison with that time which to us is uncertain, as if when on a winter’s night you sit feasting with your ealdormen and thegns, – a single sparrow should fly swiftly into the hall, and coming in at one door, instantly fly out through another.”

Stephen Langton (~1150 , 1228)

Stephen Cardinal Langton served as the Archbishop of Canterbury between 1207 until he passed away in 1228. Throughout history, he is known as a key character in the disagreement that took place between King John of England and Pope Innocent III. This dispute was significant as it led to the creation of the Magna Carta in 1215.

Langton is responsible for establishing a collection of works that speak volumes. He penned a host of commentaries, expositions, treatises, and glosses regarding the majority of books associated with the Old Testament. Numerous sermons of his doing have been preserved in a manuscript located at Lambeth Palace at Oxford and Cambridge, as well as in France. Langton also wrote on the life of Richard I and created many different historical pieces and poems.

Other significant associations include the Bible, as many believe that he was the first individual to section the Bible into defined chapters. Between 1244 and 1248, Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro gained the reputation of developing a system of division for the Bible, but it was Langton who established the organization of the books and chapters that we are most familiar with today.  While some of his famous quotes in history have also been attributed to others in history (including Pope Innocent III) , one to keep in mind is:  “Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Et emitte coelitus Lucis tuae radium,” which means, “Come Holy Spirit, and send out from heaven the beam of your light.”