Ecgberht (tenure 732-766), the son of Eata and brother of king Eadberht (king 737-758), was appointed Bishop by his cousin King Ceolwulf. Bede recalls that Pope Gregory III had decreed that there should be twelve bishops in England after the conversion, among whom the bishop of York should ‘receive the pallium and be metropolitan’. Within months of taking office in 734 he ‘laudably recovered the pallium which had been neglected by eight bishops since the time of Paulinus the first archbishop of York.’ Perhaps the austere, standing figure on the joint coinage with his brother Eadberht, shows this recently restored pallium.
The diocese was elevated to an Archbishopic in 737. Ecgberht corresponded with Boniface and was an associate (student?) of Bede, whose advice that the diocese be divided was not pursued. Though they collaborated in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to return bookland to secular control. The legal concept of bookland, land subject to charter, arose in the seventh century in respect of land that could be ‘alienated’ (i.e., disposed of) at will. The secular practice of families setting up monasteries that were totally under their own control as a way of making the family lands bookland, freed them from secular, military and fiscal responsibilities.
Ecgberht founded the school and library at York and wrote a law code for the clergy, Dialogus ecclesiasticae institutionis, which included wergeld for clerics. He issued coins jointly with Eadberht, Æthelwold Moll and Alchred. The joint issues mark a significant diplomatic achievement not just in inferring unity between church and state but in their continuity across rival dynasties. Ecgberht was buried at York cathedral. Ecgberht’s successor, Æthelbert, deposed and exiled Alchred to Pictland in 774 and he probably withdrew support from Æthelred I, demonstrating that episcopal influence over the monarchy continued.
Eanbald I (tenure 780-796) and his colleague Alcuin had been put in charge of the rebuilding of the cathedral by his predecessor. Alcuin was sent by Ælfwald I to collect Eanbald’s pallium from Pope Adrian I. Eanbald presided over several Synods; that of 786 barred illegitimate royal heirs and ordered that tithes be given by all men to the church; that of 786 condemned regicide in a time of growing instability. His archbishopric witnessed the first Danish attacks on Northumbria. He issued coins jointly with Æthelred and consecrated Eardwulf shortly before his own death and burial at York Minster. After his restoration, he produced coins jointly with Archbishop Eanbald I as well as a neatly executed series under a small number of moneyers of whom Ceolbald was the most prolific. It is though that Cuthgils’ shrine issue dates from after the devastating Viking attack on Lindisfarne in 793.
Notes from Spink catalogue 21050, the sale of the Abramson collection, pt II.