Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, collective name given several English monastic chronicles in Anglo-Saxon, all stemming from a compilation made from old annals and other sources c.891. Although the work was thought for some time to have been commissioned by King Alfred, there is no positive evidence to substantiate this claim; his encouragement of learning, however, undoubtedly inspired the compilation of the chronicle. The original chronicle was later edited with additions, omissions, and continuations by monks in various monasteries. The four chronicles recognized as distinct are called the Winchester Chronicle, the Abingdon Chronicle, the Worcester Chronicle, and the Peterborough Chronicle.

The account begins with the start of the Christian era and extends to 1154. Much of the very early material is drawn from Bede's history. From the period of the wars between Saxons and Danes onward, most of the annals are original and are the sole source for information about certain events. The writing is generally in sparse prose, but some poems are inserted, notably the stirring "Battle of Brunanburh" (see Brunanburh).

See C. Plummer, ed., Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel (1892–99); D. Whitelock et al., ed., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1962); C. Clark, ed., The Peterborough Chronicle (2d ed. 1970); G. N. Farmonsway, ed. and tr. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1978).

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