Last updated
Saint Agilbert
Bishop of Paris
Diocese Diocese of Paris
In officec. 667 - c.680
Other post(s) Bishop of Dorchester (the precursor role to Winchester) (c.650–660)
Consecrationc. 640s–650s
Personal details
Diedafter 10 March 673
Buried Jouarre Abbey, in modern Ile de France
Denomination Catholic Church
Feast day11 October
Venerated in Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox Church
ShrinesJouarre Abbey

Agilbert (fl.c. 650–680) was the second bishop of the West Saxon kingdom and later Bishop of Paris. He is venerated as a saint within the Catholic Church, with his feast day falling on 11 October. [1]


The date and place of Agilbert's birth are unknown, but evidence suggests it took place between 610 and 620. [2] [3] Son of a Neustrian noble named Betto, he was a first cousin of Audoin and related to the Faronids and Agilolfings, [4] and less certainly to the Merovingians. [5] His name, the Frankish language equivalent of Æthelberht, has been taken to suggest a link with the royal family of the Kingdom of Kent. [6]

Agilbert was consecrated as a bishop in Francia before he travelled to Britain. He arrived in the West Saxon kingdom after the return to power of King Cenwalh of Wessex, who had been driven out by Penda of Mercia, either in the late 640s or 650s. He was appointed to succeed Birinus (also later canonised, and attributed with conversion of Wessex to Christianity) as bishop of the West Saxons, or the Wessex folk, who following their seizure of part of Christian Mercia set up the first Wessex see as Bishop of Dorchester, near Oxford. Nothing remains above the surface of the Saxon cathedral, succeeded in the faith by Norman Dorchester Abbey church which has decorative memorials to the two early bishops. Agilbert, according to Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum , had "spent a long time in Ireland for the purpose of studying the Scriptures". [7] His appointment was due to Cenwalh. [8]

From Bede, it appears that Agilbert did not speak Old English, and it is said that his see was divided in two, with Wine being given half, because King Cenwalh "tired of his barbarous speech", [7] although this may be mistaken. [9] This insult supposedly led to Agilbert's resignation. He then travelled north to Northumbria, where he ordained Wilfrid. [10] He was present at the Synod of Whitby in 664, where he led the pro-Roman party, but he had the young Wilfrid speak on his behalf. [11]

The charter of Clotilde, 10 March 673, endowing the monastery of Bruyeres-le-Chatel; witnessed by Agilbert, this is his last appearance in year-dated records Charter of Clotilde.jpg
The charter of Clotilde, 10 March 673, endowing the monastery of Bruyères-le-Châtel; witnessed by Agilbert, this is his last appearance in year-dated records

Returning to Francia, Agilbert later took part in Wilfrid's consecration as a bishop at Compiègne. [12] Agilbert became bishop of Paris between 666 and 668, and hosted Theodore of Tarsus. He was later invited to return by Cenwalh, to become Bishop of Winchester, but sent his nephew Leuthhere in his place. [13]

One modern historian, D. P. Kirby, is unsure if Agilbert actually went to Northumbria after being expelled from Dorchester, suggesting it is just as likely that he went directly to the continent. [8]

Agilbert died at some time after 10 March 673, on which date he witnessed Clotilde's foundation charter for the Abbey of Bruyères-le-Châtel, and probably between 679 and 690. He was buried at Jouarre Abbey where his sister Theodechildis was abbess. His fine sculpted sarcophagus can be seen there in the crypts, as can that of his sister. [13]


  1. "St. Agilbert". Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  2. Hunter, 1985.
  3. The abstract of Hammer 2011 gives his birth date as 610.
  4. Le Jan, pp. 382, notes 6, 388, & 390–391, table 48. Le Jan shows that Agilbert's first cousins included Saints Audoin and Dado, the future Bishop Ebregisil of Meaux, and Agilberta, the second abbess of Jouarre.
  5. Fouracre.
  6. Fouracre states: "[h]is very name was the Frankish form of Æthelberht...". Le Jan, however, takes his name to indicate kinship with the Agilolfings; Le Jan, p. 388.
  7. 1 2 Bede, HE, Book III, Chapter 7.
  8. 1 2 Kirby Earliest English Kings pp. 48-49
  9. Higham, p. 255.
  10. Eddius, VW, chapter 9.
  11. Bede, HE, Book III, Chapter 25; Eddius, VW, chapter 10.
  12. Eddius, VW, chapters 11 & 12.
  13. 1 2 Fouracre; Riché.

Related Research Articles

The 670s decade ran from January 1, 670, to December 31, 679.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">660</span> Calendar year

Year 660 (DCLX) was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 660 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Wilfrid was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Francia, and at Rome; he returned to Northumbria in about 660, and became the abbot of a newly founded monastery at Ripon. In 664 Wilfrid acted as spokesman for the Roman position at the Synod of Whitby, and became famous for his speech advocating that the Roman method for calculating the date of Easter should be adopted. His success prompted the king's son, Alhfrith, to appoint him Bishop of Northumbria. Wilfrid chose to be consecrated in Gaul because of the lack of what he considered to be validly consecrated bishops in England at that time. During Wilfrid's absence Alhfrith seems to have led an unsuccessful revolt against his father, Oswiu, leaving a question mark over Wilfrid's appointment as bishop. Before Wilfrid's return Oswiu had appointed Ceadda in his place, resulting in Wilfrid's retirement to Ripon for a few years following his arrival back in Northumbria.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Æthelred of Mercia</span> 7th and 8th-century King of Mercia

Æthelred was king of Mercia from 675 until 704. He was the son of Penda of Mercia and came to the throne in 675, when his brother, Wulfhere of Mercia, died from an illness. Within a year of his accession he invaded Kent, where his armies destroyed the city of Rochester. In 679 he defeated his brother-in-law, Ecgfrith of Northumbria, at the Battle of the Trent: the battle was a major setback for the Northumbrians, and effectively ended their military involvement in English affairs south of the Humber. It also permanently returned the kingdom of Lindsey to Mercia's possession. However, Æthelred was unable to re-establish his predecessors' domination of southern Britain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wulfhere of Mercia</span> 7th-century King of Mercia

Wulfhere or Wulfar was King of Mercia from 658 until 675 AD. He was the first Christian king of all of Mercia, though it is not known when or how he converted from Anglo-Saxon paganism. His accession marked the end of Oswiu of Northumbria's overlordship of southern England, and Wulfhere extended his influence over much of that region. His campaigns against the West Saxons led to Mercian control of much of the Thames valley. He conquered the Isle of Wight and the Meon valley and gave them to King Æthelwealh of the South Saxons. He also had influence in Surrey, Essex, and Kent. He married Eormenhild, the daughter of King Eorcenberht of Kent.

Eanflæd was a Deiran princess, queen of Northumbria and later, the abbess of an influential Christian monastery in Whitby, England. She was the daughter of King Edwin of Northumbria and Æthelburg, who in turn was the daughter of King Æthelberht of Kent. In or shortly after 642 Eanflæd became the second wife of King Oswiu of Northumbria. After Oswiu's death in 670, she retired to Whitby Abbey, which had been founded by Hilda of Whitby. Eanflæd became the abbess around 680 and remained there until her death. The monastery had strong association with members of the Northumbrian royal family and played an important role in the establishment of Roman Christianity in England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eadbald of Kent</span> King of Kent

Eadbald was King of Kent from 616 until his death in 640. He was the son of King Æthelberht and his wife Bertha, a daughter of the Merovingian king Charibert. Æthelberht made Kent the dominant force in England during his reign and became the first Anglo-Saxon king to convert to Christianity from Anglo-Saxon paganism. Eadbald's accession was a significant setback for the growth of the church, since he retained his people's paganism and did not convert to Christianity for at least a year, and perhaps for as much as eight years. He was ultimately converted by either Laurentius or Justus, and separated from his first wife, who had been his stepmother, at the insistence of the church. Eadbald's second wife was Emma, who may have been a Frankish princess. They had two sons, Eormenred and Eorcenberht, and a daughter, Eanswith.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cædwalla of Wessex</span> 7th-century King of Wessex

Cædwalla was the King of Wessex from approximately 685 until he abdicated in 688. His name is derived from the Welsh Cadwallon. He was exiled from Wessex as a youth and during this period gathered forces and attacked the South Saxons, killing their king, Æthelwealh, in what is now Sussex. Cædwalla was unable to hold the South Saxon territory, however, and was driven out by Æthelwealh's ealdormen. In either 685 or 686, he became King of Wessex. He may have been involved in suppressing rival dynasties at this time, as an early source records that Wessex was ruled by underkings until Cædwalla.

Cenwalh, also Cenwealh or Coenwalh, was King of Wessex from c. 642 to c. 645 and from c. 648 until his death, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in c. 672.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cynegils</span> Early 7th-century King of Wessex

Cynegils was King of Wessex from c. 611 to c. 642. Cynegils is traditionally considered to have been King of Wessex, but the familiar kingdoms of the so-called Heptarchy had not yet formed from the patchwork of smaller kingdoms in his lifetime. The later kingdom of Wessex was centred on the counties of Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire but the evidence of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is that the kingdom of Cynegils was located on the upper River Thames, extending into northern Wiltshire and Somerset, southern Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and western Berkshire, with Dorchester-on-Thames as one of the major royal sites. This region, probably connected to the early tribal grouping known as the Gewisse, a term used by Bede for the West Saxons, lay on the frontier between the later kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia.

Centwine was King of Wessex from c. 676 to 685 or 686, although he was perhaps not the only king of the West Saxons at the time.

Seaxburh was a queen of Wessex. She is also called Queen of the Gewisse, an early name for the tribe which ruled Wessex. She is said to have ruled Wessex for between one and two years after the death of her husband, Cenwalh, in 672. Her accession to the throne is documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for that year which states that 'This year king Kenwalk died, and Sexburga his queen reigned one year after him'. It was extremely rare for a woman to rule in her own right in Anglo-Saxon England, and she was one of the only women to appear in a regnal list. She may have ruled for over a year, as the next reign is entered in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 674.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cwichelm of Wessex</span> 7th-century Anglo-Saxon monarch

Cwichelm was an Anglo-Saxon king of the Gewisse, a people in the upper Thames area who later created the kingdom of Wessex. He is usually counted among the Kings of Wessex.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England</span>

In the seventh century the pagan Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity mainly by missionaries sent from Rome. Irish missionaries from Iona, who were proponents of Celtic Christianity, were influential in the conversion of Northumbria, but after the Synod of Whitby in 664, the Anglo-Saxon church gave its allegiance to the Pope.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Peonnum</span>

The Battle of Peonnum was fought about AD 660 between the West Saxons under Cenwalh and the Britons of what is now Somerset in England. It was a decisive victory for the Saxons, who gained control of Somerset as far west as the River Parrett. The location of the battle is uncertain.

Beornhæth was an Anglo-Saxon nobleman in Northumbria in the reign of King Ecgfrith. He was the first of his family to come to notice.

Wine was a medieval Bishop of London, having earlier been consecrated the first Bishop of Winchester.

Events from the 7th century in England.

The Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England was a process spanning the 7th century. It was essentially the result of the Gregorian mission of 597, which was joined by the efforts of the Hiberno-Scottish mission from the 630s. From the 8th century, the Anglo-Saxon mission was, in turn, instrumental in the conversion of the population of the Frankish Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thelchildes</span>

Saint Thelchildis, was abbess of Jouarre Abbey.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Dorchester
c. 650–660
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bishop of Paris
666x668 679x690
Succeeded by