The London Chronicles of the Fifteenth Century: A Revolution in English Writing

By Mary-Rose McLaren | Go to book overview
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The London Chronicles of
the Fifteenth Century
A revolution in English writing

WITH AN ANNOTATED EDITION OF BRADFORD, WEST YORKSHIRE ARCHIVES MS 32D86/42

The early fifteenth century witnessed the first attempt made by ordinary lay people merchants, scriveners, craftsmen to write their own history, in the so-called 'London chronicles', which have had a profound effect upon the growth and development of London. The earliest of the extant chronicles represents the first generation of historical writing to be undertaken in English since the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and reflects an important shift in the movement from a primarily oral to a literate culture. However, despite their significance as a secular and largely vernacular voice, and as evidence of this change, much about the London chronicles remains a mystery. This study, the first for over 80 years, includes manuscripts unknown to Kingsford in his 1913 survey of the chronicles, studies them in relation to each other, and draws together what can be known about their origins, purpose and effect upon the audience. It also provides an annotated edition of the previously unpublished text from Bradford, West Yorkshire Archives MS 32D86/42, while a selection of the most crucial events recorded in the chronicles such as the Rising of 1381 and Cade's rebellion is presented in an appendix.

MARY-ROSE MCLAREN gained her Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne.

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