Ranulph Higden ( d. 1364) was a monk of St. Werburgh's at Chester, and has been doubtfully identified with the 'Randal Higden' who is said to have travelled to Rome to get the Pope's consent to the acting of the Chester miracle plays in English.
His Polychronicon, so called because it is the chronicle of many ages, is a compilation covering the period from the Creation to 1352. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries it was the favourite universal history; and the First Book, which deals with general geography, has still a special interest for the light it throws on the state of knowledge in Chaucer's day.
Two English prose translations are known: Trevisa's, completed in 1387, and modernized and printed by Caxton in 1482; and an anonymous rendering made in the second quarter of the fifteenth century. Both are printed, with Higden's Latin, in the edition by Babington and Lumby, Rolls Series, 9 vols., 1865-86.
John of Trevisa was a Cornishman. He was a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, from 1362 to 1365; and was one of those expelled from Queen's College for 'unworthiness' in 1379. He became vicar of Berkeley, and at the request of Sir Thomas Berkeley undertook the translation of the Polychronicon. In 1398 he brought to an end another long work, the translation of Bartholomaeus de Proprietatibus Rerum, the great encyclopaedia of natural science at this time. He died at Berkeley in 1402.
Trevisa was a diligent but not an accurate or graceful trans-