Æthelwold of Winchester cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Æthelwold of Winchester

Bishop of Winchester; Abbot of Abingdon

899   -   984

country of citizenship: Kingdom of England
languages spoken, written or signed: Latin, Old English
occupation: Catholic priest
position held: abbot, Anglican Bishop of Winchester, Abbot of Abingdon, Catholic bishop, diocesan bishop

Æthelwold of Winchester (904/9 – 984) was Bishop of Winchester from 963 to 984 and one of the leaders of the tenth-century monastic reform movement in Anglo-Saxon England. Monastic life had declined to a low ebb in England in the ninth century, partly because of the ravages caused by Viking attacks, and partly because of a preference for secular clergy, who were cheaper and were thought to serve the spiritual needs of the laity better. Kings from Alfred the Great onwards took an interest in the Benedictine rule, but it was only in the middle of the tenth century that kings became ready to commit substantial funds to its support. Æthelwold became the leading propagandist for the monastic reform movement, although he made enemies by his ruthless methods, and he was more extreme in his opposition to secular clergy than his fellow reformers, Saint Dunstan and Oswald of Worcester. He is nevertheless recognised as a key figure in the reform movement, who also made a major contribution to the revival of learning and the arts. He was an important political figure, backing Æthelred the Unready against Edward the Martyr, and playing a major advisory role during Æthelred's minority.
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