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The Early Anglo-Saxon Church, 597-754

3. The Synod of Whitby

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In this module, we explore the Synod of Whitby, which took place in 664, focusing in particular on the central topic of debate at the Synod, the reasons for Oswiu calling the Synod when he did (or was it called by his son, Alhfrith?), the extent to which Bede reports the events of the Synod accurately, and the longer-term impact of the Synod.


In this course, Professor Sarah Foot (University of Oxford) explores the early Anglo-Saxon church, from Augustine's mission to England in the late sixth century to the death of Boniface in 754. We begin in the first module with Augustine's mission to the English, focusing in particular on the conversions of Æthelberht of Kent and Edwin of Northumbria. In the second module, we think about the longer-term success of Augustine's mission, exploring the importance of Frankish, Irish and English missionaries in the conversion of pagan England, including figures such as Felix of Burgundy, Aidan, Cuthbert and the controversial figure of Wilfrid. In the third module, we think about the Synod of Whitby (664), drawing on new research that suggesting that Bede's account may be completely accurate, before turning in the fourth module to the organisation of the English church in the sixth and seventh centuries, and the sweeping reforms of Theodore of Tarsus in the late seventh century. In the fifth module we think about the growth of monasticism in England in this period, before moving on in the sixth module to consider the Anglo-Saxon missions to the Continent from the mid-seventh century onwards, focusing in particular on the work on Boniface.


Professor Sarah Foot is Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Oxford. Her main research interests lie in ecclesiastical history in the early middle ages, and she has a long-standing interest in medieval monasticism, particularly the place of monasteries in the Anglo-Saxon Church and medieval women in religion. Her wider interests encompass the place of the Church within the societies of medieval western Europe, relations between Christians and pagans in the same period, the invention of the English as an imagined community, and historical writing in the early medieval West. Her recent publications include Monastic life in Anglo-Saxon England, c. 600-900 (2006), Æthelstan (2011), and Bede's Church (2013).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Foot, S. (2018, August 15). The Early Anglo-Saxon Church, 597-754 - The Synod of Whitby [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Foot, S. "The Early Anglo-Saxon Church, 597-754 – The Synod of Whitby." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,