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Freithegod, (sometimes Frithegode; Fredegaud,[1] Fredegaud of Brioude,[2] or Frithegod of Canterbury;[3] flourished circa (c.) 950 to c. 958[1]) was a poet and clergyman in the middle 10th-century who served Oda of Canterbury, an Archbishop of Canterbury.

Frithegod was probably a native of France, as his name is obviously not Anglo-Saxon, and was probably an attempt to Anglicize the Frankish name Fredegaud. Where in France he originated is unknown, as is when he met Oda. It may have been in 936, when Oda visited France.[1]

Frithegod served Oda as one of the teachers of Oda's nephew Oswald of Worcester, but he is generally known for his Latin poem Breviloquium Vitae Wilfridi, a hexameter work based on Stephen of Ripon's prose Life of St Wilfrid. The subject of both Frithegod and Stephen's works was Wilfrid, a late 7th and early 8th-century bishop and saint. Oda ordered the Breviloquium to commemorate Oda's securing of Wilfrid's relics around 950. Preceding the poem is a prose description of the actual acquisition, supposedly written by Oda, but more probably, on the basis of the writing style, written by Frithegod. The historian Michael Lapidge describes the Breviloquium as "one of the most difficult Latin poems written in pre-conquest England".[1] It is 1400 lines and its meaning is not always clear, even when compared to the Life of St Wilfrid which was its basis. The poetic word adds nothing new to historian's knowledge of Wilfrid, being mainly a poetic exercise to show off Frithegod's writing. It contains a number of neologisms and Greek words, the rarity of some of which imply that Frithegod had some knowledge of the Greek language.[1] The Breviloquium was influenced by Biblical hermeneutics, a type of study of biblical texts.[4] A modern edition of the Breviloquium was published in 1950 with another edition appearing in the Biblioheca hagiographica latina series as number 8891.[2]

Frithegod wrote a number of other works, not all of which survive to the present day. A 16th-century antiquary, John Bale, knew of a manuscript that contained, besides the Breviloquium, a work on the life of St Ouen – whose relics Oda had also acquired, two poems, another work entitled De Visione Beatorum, and a work given the title of Contemplationes Variae. Although the Life of Ouen and the two named works do not survive, the two poems do in other manuscripts.[1]

It appears that after Oda's death in 958, Frithegod returned to the continent, and his date of death is unknown.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Lapidge "Frithegod" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ a b Sharpe Handlist p. 117
  3. ^ Sharpe Handlist p. 118
  4. ^ McGowan "Introduction" Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature p. 37


Further reading[edit]

  • Lapidge, Michael (1988). "A Frankish scholar in tenth-century England: Frithegod of Canterbury and Fredegaud of Brioude". Anglo-Saxon England 17. pp. 43–65.