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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > C > Councils of Clovesho

Councils of Clovesho

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Clovesho, or Clofeshoch, is notable as the place at which were held several councils of the Anglo-Saxon Church. The locality itself has never been successfully identified. It is supposed to have been in Mercia, and probably near London (Bede, ed. Plummer, II, 214). Lingard, in his appendix to the "Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church", takes it to be Abingdon, and Kemble (Saxons in England, II, 191) to be Tewkesbury, and others have thought it might be Cliff-at-Hoo, in Kent, but Haddan and Stubbs (Councils, III, 121, n.) consider all these conjectures to be based upon unreliable evidence. Whatever uncertainty exists in determining the place which was known as Clovesho, there is no doubt as to the fact of the councils or to the authenticity of their Acts. When Archbishop Theodore held the Council of Hertford in 673, in which he declared to the assembled bishops that he had been "appointed by the Apostolic See to be Bishop of the Church of Canterbury", a canon was passed to the effect that in future yearly synods should be held every August "in the place which is called Clofeshoch". (Bede, H. E., IV, ch. v.) Notwithstanding this provision, ìt was not until seventy years later that the first Council of Clovesho of which we have an authentic record was assembled. It is true that in the Canterbury Cartulary there is a charter which says that the Privilege of King Wihtred to the churches was "confirmed and ratified in a synod held in the month of July in a place called Clovesho" in the year 716; but the authenticity of this document, though intrinsically probable, is held by Haddan and Stubbs to be dependent upon that of the Privilege of Wihtred. The councils of Clovesho of which we have authentic evidence are those of the years 742, 747, 794, 798, 803, 824, and 825.

It is evident from the records that the councils held at Clovesho and those generally of the Anglo-Saxon period were mixed assemblies at which not only the bishops and abbots, but the kings of Mercia and the chief men of the kingdom were present. They had thus the character not only of a church synod but of the Witenagemot or assembly fairly representative of the Church and realm. The affairs of the Church were decided by the bishops presided over by the archbishop, while the king, presiding over his chiefs, gave to their decisions the co-operation and acceptance of the State. Both parties signed the decrees, but there is no evidence of any ingerence of the lay power in the spiritual legislation or judgments of the Church. While it must be remembered that at this period the country was not yet united into one kingdom, the councils of Clovesho, as far as we may judge from their signatures, represented the primatial See of Canterbury and the whole English Church south of the Humber.


KEMBLE, Codex Diplomaticus Ævi Saxonici (London, 1839-48); THORPE ed., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (London, 1861); BEDE, Historia Eccl. Gentis Anglorum, ed. PLUMMER (Oxford, 1896); WILKINS, Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ (London, 1737); HADDAN AND STUBBS, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents (Oxford, 1869-78); SPELMAN, Concilia, decreta, etc., in re ecclesiarum orbis Britannici (London, 1639-64).

About this page

APA citation. Moyes, J. (1908). Councils of Clovesho. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Moyes, James. "Councils of Clovesho." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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