The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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68
THE SUSSEX COAST
Eddius sputters and fumes with indignation as he records the famous scene of the rejection of the judgment of the Pope (quod exsecrabilius erat quod dictu horribile eratquod me enarrantem horruit). The opinion of the vast majority of his countrymen was undoubtedly summed up in the remark, " He is guilty by his own acknowledgment. He is worthy to be condemned if only because he prefers the judgment of Rome to ours,a foreign tribunal to that of his own country." Montalem-bert (Monks of the West) well sums up his life. " Wilfrid was the precursor of the great prelates, the great monks, the princely abbots of the Middle Ages, the heads and oracles of national councils, the ministers and lieutenants, and often the equals and rivals of kings. Many of his enemies were saints ; and of all the holy bishops and abbots of his time, so numerous in the Anglo-Saxon Church, not one was his ally, not one held out to him a friendly hand in his trials and combats."
Here is the real cause of his unpopularity : he was the first English prelate who wished to be a prince bishop, and demanded for the Church a kingdom that was of this world indeed. The ideal was far from pleasing to those who loved Aidan and Cuthbert. Remembering that he founded their bishopric the impression he made on the South Saxons was small, he has almost no place in the folk-lore of the county, not a mediaeval parish church, nor even a chapel in the cathedral, is called by his name.
King iEthelwealh had previously been persuaded to become a Christian by Wulfhere, King of the Mercians, who as a christening gift presented him with Meanwari in Wessex, perhaps the Hundred of Meon in Hampshire, together with the Isle of
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