Bede's preoccupations in the later years of his life have recently come under close scrutiny. This article will set out the argument to this point, then explore how the Ecclesiastical history conforms to more general perceptions of Bede's purposes. It will conclude that this work was designed to address just one part of his wider reform agenda, as that pertained to the Northumbrian king of the day, Ceolwulf. To this end, Bede painted a picture of the current situation within the Church which is far more optimistic than that on offer in the Letter to Ecgberht just a few years later. It must be concluded that his specific purposes as regards any particular work, and the audience at which that work was aimed, exercised a considerable influence over his strategy, which varies enormously from one part of his output to another.