The Ecclesiastical History of England by the Venerable Bede

This book has a niche audience. I enjoyed it, and found the following features appealing:

  • it describes the early history of the English. I’m into Arthuriana, so the period is one to which I’m drawn.
  • It is written with an interesting archaic cadence, which works well in audiobook.  I listened to the free Librivox English edition through a podcasting app.
  • I write and play tabletop roleplaying games, and I was able to steal some story ideas from the political machinations of the priests.
  • If you come from the north of England, or are interested in that area: Bede has your back. He’s very clear on the fact that the Northumbrians are basically better than Mercians at everything.
  • Bede’s big theological argument was about the correct date of Easter (which is why I listened to it on Easter). I enjoy early church controversies.  Some people graffiti houses for their kicks…don’t judge me.
  • I’m really enjoying a Twitter feed at the moment called Donaeld the Unready, which parodies modern American political activity by pretending that President Trump is the  King of the Mercians. Bede is a character in the Twitter feed: a lying monk critical of Donaeld’s desire to make Mercia great again.

In the icon above, you can see that Bede uses books as footrests, so he’s clearly a monstrous human being. You’ll also see his books are shelved flat?  That was how things were done back in his day. Vertical shelving is, historically, quite new.  Note that the pot of ink is on a shelf of its own, at a place where you’d need to deliberately and carefully reach for it?  That’s so he doesn’t ruin a book by knocking it over.

The Library Service doesn’t have Bede, but his work is available online at and Project Gutenberg in text and Librivox in audio.