commanders, who afterwards held the government of that province. The first of them was afterwards killed by the same Ceadwalla, when he was king of the Gewissæ, and the province was more entirely subdued: Ina, likewise, who reigned after Ceadwalla, kept that country under the like servitude for several years; for which reason, during all that time, they had no bishop of their own; but their first bishop, Wilfrid, having been recalled home, they were subject to the bishop of the Gewissæ, i. e. the West Saxons, in the city of Winchester.
CHAP XVI. —
HOW THE ISLE OF WIGHT RECEIVED CHRISTIAN INHABITANTS, AND TWO ROYAL YOUTHS OF THAT ISLAND WERE KILLED IMMEDIATELY AFTER BAPTISM.
Isle of Wight converted.
AFTER Ceadwalla had possessed himself of the kingdom of the Gewissæ, he also took the Isle of Wight, which till then was entirely given over to idolatry, and by cruel slaughter endeavoured to destroy all the inhabitants thereof, and to place in their stead people from his own province; having bound himself by a vow, though he was not yet, as is reported, regenerated in Christ, to give the fourth part of the land, and of the booty, to our Lord, if he took the island, which he performed by giving the same for our Lord to the use of Bishop Wilfrid, who happened at the time to have accidentally come thither out of his own nation. The measure of that island, according to the computation of the English, is of twelve hundred families, and accordingly the bishop had given him land of three hundred families. The part which he received, he committed to one of his clerks called Bernwin, who was his sister’s son, assigning him a priest, whose name was Hiddila, who might administer the word and baptism of salvation to all that would be saved.
Here I think it ought not to be omitted that, as the first fruits of the natives of that island that by believing were saved, two royal youths, brothers to Atwald, king of the island, were honoured by the particular grace of God. For the enemy approaching, they made their escape out of the island, and passed over into the neighbouring province of the Jutes. Where being conducted to the place called, At the Stone, as they thought to be concealed from the victorious king, they were betrayed and ordered to be killed. This being made known to a certain abbot and priest, whose name was Cynebert, who had a monastery not far from thence, at a place called Reodford, that is, the Ford of Reeds, he came to the king, who then lay privately in those parts, to be cured of the wounds which he had received whilst he was fighting in the Isle of Wight, and begged of him, that if the lads must inevitably be killed, he might be allowed first to instruct them in the mysteries of the faith. The king consented, and the bishop having taught them the word of truth, and cleansed their souls by baptism, made the entrance into the kingdom of heaven sure to them. Then the executioner being at hand, they joyfully underwent the temporal death, through which they did not doubt they were to pass to the life of the soul which is everlasting. Thus, after all the provinces of the island of Britain had embraced the faith of Christ, the Isle of Wight also received the same; yet being under the affliction of foreign subjection, no man there received the ministry, or rank of a bishop, before Daniel, who is now bishop of the West Saxons.
The island is situated opposite the division between the South Saxons and the Gewissæ, being separated from it by a sea, three miles over, which is called Solente. In this narrow sea, the two tides of the ocean, which flow round Britain from the immense northern ocean, daily meet and oppose one another beyond the mouth of the river Homelea, which runs into that narrow sea, from the lands of the Jutes, which belong to the country of the Gewissæ; after this meeting and struggling together of the two seas, they return into the ocean from whence they come.
CHAP XVII. —
OF THE SYNOD HELD IN THE PLAIN OF HEATHFIELD, WHERE ARCHBISHOP THEODORE PRESIDED.
Synod of Heathfield.
ABOUT this time, Theodore being informed that the faith of the church at Constantinople was much perplexed by the heresy of Eutyches, and desiring to preserve the churches of the English, over which he presided, from that infection, an assembly of many venerable priests and doctors was convened, at which he diligently inquired into their doctrines, and found they all unanimously agreed in the Catholic faith. This he took care to have committed to writing by the authority of the synod, as a memorial, and for the instruction of succeeding generations; the beginning of which instrument is as follows:—
“In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the tenth year of the reign of our most pious lord, Egfrid, king of the Northumbrians, the seventeenth of October, the eighth indiction; and in the sixth year of the reign of Ethelfrid, king of the Mercians, in the seventeenth year of the reign of Aldhulf, of the East Angles, in the seventh year of the reign of Lothair, king of Kent; Theodore, by the grace of God, archbishop of the island of Britain, and of the city of Canterbury, being president, and the other venerable bishops of the island of Britain sitting with him, the holy Gospels being laid before them, at the place which, in the Saxon tongue, is called Heathfield, we conferred together, and expounded the true and orthodox faith, as our Lord Jesus in the flesh