Agilbert (fl. c. 650–680) was the second bishop of the West Saxon kingdom and later bishop of Paris.

Saint Agilbert
Bishop of Paris
DioceseDiocese 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
BuriedJouarre Abbey, in modern Ile de France
Feast day11 October
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
ShrinesJouarre Abbey

The date and place of Agilert's birth are unknown, but evidence suggests it took place between 610 and 620.[1][2] Son of a Neustrian noble named Betto, he was a first cousin of Audoin and related to the Faronids and Agilolfings,[3] and less certainly to the Merovingians.[4] His name, the Frankish language equivalent of Æthelberht, has been taken to suggest a link with the royal family of the Kingdom of Kent.[5]

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".[6] His appointment was due to Cenwalh.[7]

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",[6] although this may be mistaken.[8] This insult supposedly led to Agilbert's resignation. He then travelled north to Northumbria, where he ordained Wilfrid.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[7]

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.[12]


  1. ^ Hunter, 1985.
  2. ^ The abstract of Hammer 2011 gives his birth date as 610.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Fouracre.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Bede, HE, Book III, Chapter 7.
  7. ^ a b Kirby Earliest English Kings pp. 48-49
  8. ^ Higham, p. 255.
  9. ^ Eddius, VW, chapter 9.
  10. ^ Bede, HE, Book III, Chapter 25; Eddius, VW, chapter 10.
  11. ^ Eddius, VW, chapters 11 & 12.
  12. ^ a b Fouracre; Riché.


  • Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Translated by Leo Sherley-Price, revised R.E. Latham, ed. D.H. Farmer. London: Penguin, 1990. ISBN 0-14-044565-X
  • Eddius, "Life of Wilfrid" in D.H. Farmer (ed.) & J.H. Webb (trans.), The Age of Bede. London: Penguin, 1998. IBN 0-140-44727-X
  • Fouracre, P., "Agilbert" in M. Lapidge, et al., (eds), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999. ISBN 0-631-22492-0
  • Hammer, Carl I. (2011–2012). "'Holy Entrepreneur': Agilbert, a Merovingian Bishop between Ireland, England and Francia". Peritia. 22–23: 53–82. doi:10.1484/J.PERIT.1.103280.
  • Higham, N.J., The Convert Kings: Power and religious affiliation in early Anglo-Saxon England. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-7190-4828-1
  • Hunter Blair, Peter. "Whitby as a Centre of Learning in the Seventh Century". Learning and literature in Anglo-Saxon England: Studies presented to Peter Clemoes on the Occasion of His Sixty-Fifth Birthday. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. pp. 3–32.
  • Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin Hyman, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445691-3
  • Le Jan, Régine, Famille et Pouvoir dans le Monde Franc (VIIe–Xe Siècle). Essai d'anthropologie sociale. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2003. ISBN 2-85944-268-5
  • Riché, Pierre, Dictionnaire des francs. Les temps Mérovingiens. Paris: Bartillat, 1996. ISBN 2-84100-008-7

External linksEdit

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