Whitby, Wilfrid, and Church-State Antagonism in Early Medieval Britain
By Vance E. Woods
Master’s Thesis, Baylor University, 2009
Abstract: In 664, adherents of the Dionysian and Celtic-84 Easter tables gathered at the Northumbrian abbey of Whitby to debate the proper calculation of Easter. The decision to adopt the former, with its connections to the papacy, has led many to frame this encounter in terms of Roman religious imperialism and to posit a break between the ecclesiastical culture of Northumbria prior to the Synod of Whitby and afterward. This study will propose a different interpretation of the change that took place in the Northumbrian Church after 664. Rather than focusing solely on matters of religion, this project will seek also to demonstrate Whitby’s political implications. Instead of the end of alienation between the Celtic Church and the balance of Christendom, the Synod of Whitby will be identified, in the person of its main protagonist Wilfrid, as the beginning of alienation between the Northumbrian state and the hierarchy of the Church.