Faced with the inclusion of fables, miracle stories and legendary or mythological elements it is sometimes difficult to take the works of writers from the early Middle Ages seriously. We continue to use these texts, however, when we produce our histories of the past. It is imperative therefore that we seek to understand both the methods and the sources of our sources if we are interested in attempting to reconstruct the past that they describe. Richard Shaw will examine these questions by looking in particular at Bede’s Ecclesiastical History and the ways in which Bede worked with the limited materials at his disposal.
Richard Shaw is Associate Professor and Chairman of the History Department at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College. He completed his PhD at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. His book The Gregorian Mission to Kent in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History: Methodology and Sources was published by Routledge in 2018. Richard has also published on Antony of Egypt, Cassiodorus, Gregory of Tours, Augustine of Canterbury, Bede, Ælfric of Eynsham, Thomas Aquinas and François de Laval. He was awarded the 2014 Eusebius Essay Prize by the Journal of Ecclesiastical History and was shortlisted for the 2016 Medium Ævum Essay Prize.