Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cridiodunus, Fridericus

CRIDIODUNUS, FRIDERICUS (d. 838), is the name given by Bale to St. Frederick, bishop of Utrecht, who is said by William of Malmesbury to have been the nephew and the disciple of St. Boniface. As Boniface was believed to have been born at Crediton, Bale assumed that this would be the birthplace also of his nephew Frederick, and therefore bestowed on the latter the surname Cridiodunus (from Cridiandún or Cridian-tún, the older spelling of Crediton). The statement that Frederick was related to Boniface rests solely on the authority of Malmesbury. According to the early continental hagiologists he was born at Sexberum in Friesland, and was of a noble Frisian family. The compilers of the ‘Acta Sanctorum’ point out that Frederick cannot have been Boniface's disciple, in the literal sense of having received his personal instructions, because the former died in 838, thus surviving his alleged teacher by eighty-three years. But they find it difficult to set aside the positive assertion of an honest and careful writer like Malmesbury, and in order to reconcile the authorities they have recourse to the conjecture that Frederick was really the nephew of Boniface, and was born of English parents in Friesland. There can, however, be little doubt that Malmesbury was mistaken. He confesses that he derived the story of Frederick, not from a written source, but from oral communication. Now, in the ‘Life of St. Frederick’ by Oetbert (written in the tenth century) it is stated that when a boy he was committed by his mother to the care of Ricfrid, bishop of Utrecht. It seems almost certain that Malmesbury mistook this name for Winfrid, the original name of Boniface, and therefore identified Frederick's teacher with his own distinguished countryman. apparently some of the manuscripts of Malmesbury actually read Wicfridus instead of Winfridus in this passage, for the former reading appears in the extract given in the ‘Monumenta Germaniæ,’ x. 454; the English editions, however, have Winfridus, and do not mention any variation.) In any case the authority of an English writer of the twelfth century is, on such a question, of no weight when opposed to the unanimous testimony of continental writers of earlier date. There is, consequently, no reason for supposing that Frederick was either of English birth or descent, and his biography is outside the scope of this work; but it has seemed expedient briefly to indicate the real state of the case in order to prevent future inquirers from being misled. Bale's account of ‘Cridiodunus’ has been followed by Pits, by Dempster (who, after his manner, makes St. Frederick a Scotchman, and adds some imaginary details), and by Bishop Tanner.

[William of Malmesbury's De Gest. Pont. ed. Hamilton (Rolls Ser.), p. 11; Savile's Scriptores, p. 197; Pertz's Monum. Germ. x. 454; Bale's Scriptt. Brit. Cat. ed. Basle, ii. 145; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptt. appendix art. 78; Dempster's Hist. Eccl. Scot. art. 516; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 209; Acta Sanctorum, July 18.]

H. B.