Historical Writing in England

Historical Writing in England

Historical Writing in England

Historical Writing in England

Synopsis

Using a variety of sources, including chronicles, annals, secular and sacred biographies and monographs on local histories, this book provides a comprehensive critical survey of historical writing in England from the 6th to 16th century.

Excerpt

This book is a survey of chronicles and biographies written in England to the end of Edward I's reign. It also includes works which though not written in England are of primary importance for English history. I intend to continue the survey until the Reformation in a second volume.

Despite the interest of the subject nearly a century has passed since a survey of this kind was attempted. James Gairdner published his book on English chroniclers, in the series 'Early Chroniclers of Europe', in 1879. Inevitably England occupies only a small place in J.W. Thompson, A History of Historical Writing (New York 1942), which covers all periods from the earliest times to the nineteenth century, on a world scale. Nevertheless there are useful studies of certain categories of historical writing, which include material relating to England, for example R.L. Poole's Chronicles and Annals (Oxford 1926). And recently much work has been done on individual literary sources of English history-for example by Professor Alistair Campbell (on the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Encomium Emmae Reginae), by Dr R.W. Southern (on Eadmer) and by Professor V.H. Galbraith (on the St Albans chronicles and others).

My approach to each author is pragmatic, not theoretical. I have based this survey on the texts themselves correlated with the secondary sources, which, however, I cannot claim to have exhausted. I have borne in mind the interests of students using chronicles and biographies as historical sources. Therefore I have tried to indicate what the student can expect to find in a specific work and what possible misrepresentations, resulting for example from political bias, local loyalties or literary mode, he must guard against.

The production of a survey of this sort is made more difficult because a number of important chronicles, such as those of Florence of Worcester and Henry of Huntingdon, the Lanercost and Melrose chronicles, Fitz Thedmar's chronicle of London and the historical works of Nicholas Trevet, are still only available in antiquated editions (the projected publication of William of

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