CHAP V. —
OF THE DEATH OF THE KINGS OSWY AND EGBERT, AND OF THE SYNOD HELD AT HERTFORD, IN WHICH ARCHBISHOP THEODORE PRESIDED.
Death of Oswy.
IN the year of the incarnation of our Lord 670, being the second year after Theodore arrived in England, Oswy, king of the Northumbrians, fell sick, and died, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. He at that time bore so great affection to the Roman apostolical institution, that had he recovered of his sickness, he had designed to go to Rome, and there to end his days at the Holy Places, having entreated Bishop Wilfrid, by the promise of a considerable donation in money, to conduct him on his journey. He died on the 15th of February, leaving his son Egfrid his successor in the kingdom. In the third year of his reign, Theodore assembled a synod of bishops, and many other teachers of the church, who loved and were acquainted with the canonical statutes of the fathers. When they were met together, he began, as became a prelate, to enjoin the observation of such things as were agreeable to the unity of the peace of the church. The purport of which synodical proceedings is as follows:—
Synod of Hertford.
“In the name of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who reigns for ever and for ever, and governs his church, it was thought meet that we should assemble, according to the custom of the venerable canons, to treat about the necessary affairs of the church. We met on the 24th day of September, the first indiction, at a place called Hertford, myself, Theodore, the unworthy bishop of the see of Canterbury, appointed by the Apostolic See, our fellow-priest and most reverend brother, Bisi, bishop of the East Angles; also by his proxies, our brother and fellow-priest, Wilfrid, bishop of the nation of the Northumbrians, as also our brothers and fellowpriests, Putta, bishop of the Kentish castle, called Rochester; Eleutherius, bishop of the West Saxons, and Winfrid, bishop of the province of the Mercians. When we were all met together, and were sat down in order, I said, ‘I beseech you, most dear brothers, for the love and fear of our Redeemer, that we may all treat in common for our faith; to the end that whatsoever has been decreed and defined by the holy and revered fathers, may be inviolably observed by all.’ This and much more I spoke tending to the preservation of the charity and unity of the church; and when I had ended my discourse, I asked every one of them in order, whether they consented to observe the things that had been formerly canonically decreed by the fathers? To which all our fellow-priests answered, ‘It so pleases us, and we will all most willingly observe with a cheerful mind whatever is laid down in the canons of the holy fathers.’ I then produced the said book of canons, and publicly showed them ten chapters in the same, which I had marked in several places, because I knew them to be of the most importance to us, and entreated that they might be most particularly received by them all.
“Chapter I. That we all in common keep the holy day of Easter on the Sunday after the fourteenth moon of the first month.
“II. That no bishop intrude into the diocese of another, but be satisfied with the government of the people committed to him.
“III. That it shall not be lawful for any bishop to trouble monasteries dedicated to God, nor to take any thing forcibly from them.
“IV. That monks do not remove from one place to another, that is, from monastery to monastery, unless by the consent of their own abbot; but that they continue in the obedience which they promised at the time of their conversion.
“V. That no clergyman, forsaking his own bishop, shall wander about, or be any where entertained without letters of recommendation from his own prelate. But if he shall be once received, and will not return when invited, both the receiver, and the person received, be under excommunication.
“VI. That bishops and clergymen, when travelling, shall be content with the hospitality that is afforded them; and that it be not lawful for them to exercise any priestly function without leave of the bishop in whose diocese they are.
“VII. That a synod be assembled twice a year; but in regard that several causes obstruct the same, it was approved by all, that we should meet on the 1st of August once a year, at the place called Clofeshoch.
“VIII. That no bishop, through ambition, shall set himself before another; but that they shall all observe the time and order of their consecration.
“IX. It was generally set forth, that more bishops should be made, as the number of believers increased; but this matter for the present was passed over.