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Egbert, Archbishop of York
(Died AD 766)

Egbert, cousin of King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, to whom Bede dedicated his history, succeeded Wilfrid II as Bishop of Northumbria in AD 732. His first endeavour was to obtain the pall, which was given to him by Pope Gregory III at Rome, three years later. He thus became the second Archbishop of York. More than a century had elapsed since St. Paulinus fled into Kent, carrying his pall with him, and no- one since that time had sought for the lost honour. A neglection which was made, in later years, a strong argument for the precedence of Canterbury, when the famous controversy arose between the two metropolitan sees.

When Egbert thus became Archbishop, he stepped at once into a commanding position and every bishop in the northern province was made his suffragan. Egbert was a stern disciplinarian and it was soon after his consecration to the see that Bede addressed to him his well-known letter, setting forth the disorder and corruption of the whole northern diocese. Evils which, throughout his episcopate, Egbert sought by every means to reform. He was probably the first to introduce of the parochial system in the north and was certainly the founder of the famous monastic school of York and of the library connected with it. In this school, Alcuin was educated and, afterwards, became "magister scholarnum". His poems contain many references to the piety, energy and goodness of his old master.

Several works by Egbert survive, including his Pontifical; his 'Excerptiones' - extracts from the Fathers and from the Canons on matters of discipline; a dialogue; 'De Eceleslastica Institutione,' a Confessional and a Penitential. His brother, Edbert, became King of Northumbria in AD 738. In AD 757, he resigned the crown and entered his brother's so-called "monasterium" at York. Egbert died on 19th November AD 766 and both King and Archbishop were buried in one of the porticos (side-chapels) in the cathedral.

Edited from Richard John King's "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Northern Division" (1903).


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