Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Overview
 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals
Annals
Annals are a concise form of historical representation which record events chronologically, year by year. The Oxford English Dictionary defines annals as "a narrative of events written year by year"...

 in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

. The original manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

, during the reign of Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

. Multiple copies were made of that original which were distributed to monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.

Nine manuscripts survive in whole or in part, though not all are of equal historical value and none of them is the original version.
Encyclopedia

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals
Annals
Annals are a concise form of historical representation which record events chronologically, year by year. The Oxford English Dictionary defines annals as "a narrative of events written year by year"...

 in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

. The original manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

, during the reign of Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

. Multiple copies were made of that original which were distributed to monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.

Nine manuscripts survive in whole or in part, though not all are of equal historical value and none of them is the original version. The oldest seems to have been started towards the end of Alfred's reign, while the most recent was written at Peterborough Abbey
Peterborough Cathedral
Peterborough Cathedral, properly the Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew – also known as Saint Peter's Cathedral in the United Kingdom – is the seat of the Bishop of Peterborough, dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the...

 after a fire at that monastery in 1116. Almost all of the material in the chronicle is in the form of annals, by year; the earliest are dated at 60 BC (the annals' date for Caesar's invasions of Britain
Caesar's invasions of Britain
In his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice, in 55 and 54 BC. The first invasion, made late in summer, was either intended as a full invasion or a reconnaissance-in-force expedition...

), and historical material follows up to the year in which the chronicle was written, at which point contemporary records begin. These manuscripts collectively are known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

The Chronicle is not unbiased: there are occasions when comparison with other medieval sources makes it clear that the scribes who wrote it omitted events or told one-sided versions of stories; there are also places where the different versions contradict each other. Taken as a whole, however, the Chronicle is the single most important historical source for the period in England between the departure of the Romans and the decades following the Norman Conquest
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

. Much of the information given in the Chronicle is not recorded elsewhere. In addition, the manuscripts are important sources for the history of the English language
History of the English language
English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic invaders from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Netherlands. Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the...

; in particular, the later Peterborough text
Peterborough Chronicle
The Peterborough Chronicle , one of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, contains unique information about the history of England after the Norman Conquest. According to philologist J.A.W...

 is one of the earliest examples of Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 in existence.

Seven of the nine surviving manuscripts and fragments now reside in the British Library
British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

. The remaining two are in the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

 at Oxford and the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Corpus Christi College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is notable as the only college founded by Cambridge townspeople: it was established in 1352 by the Guilds of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary...

.

Composition

All of the surviving manuscripts are copies, so it is not known for certain where or when the first version of the Chronicle was composed. It is generally agreed that the original version was written in the late 9th century by a scribe in Wessex. After the original Chronicle was compiled, copies were made and distributed to various monasteries. Additional copies were made, for further distribution or to replace lost manuscripts, and some copies were updated independently of each other. Some of these later copies are those that have survived.

The earliest extant manuscript, the Winchester Chronicle, was written by a single scribe up to the year 891. The scribe wrote the year number, DCCCXCII, in the margin of the next line; subsequent material was written by other scribes. This appears to place the composition of the chronicle at no later than 892; further evidence is provided by Bishop Asser
Asser
Asser was a Welsh monk from St David's, Dyfed, who became Bishop of Sherborne in the 890s. About 885 he was asked by Alfred the Great to leave St David's and join the circle of learned men whom Alfred was recruiting for his court...

's use of a version of the Chronicle in his work Life of King Alfred, known to have been composed in 893. It is known that the Winchester manuscript is at least two removes from the original Chronicle; as a result, there is no proof that the Chronicle was compiled at Winchester
Winchester
Winchester is a historic cathedral city and former capital city of England. It is the county town of Hampshire, in South East England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government district, and is located at the western end of the South Downs, along the course of...

. It is also difficult to fix the date of composition, but it is generally thought that the chronicles were composed during the reign of Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

 (871–99), as Alfred deliberately tried to revive learning and culture during his reign, and encouraged the use of English as a written language
Written language
A written language is the representation of a language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will instinctively learn or create spoken or gestural languages....

. The Chronicle, as well as the distribution of copies to other centres of learning, may be a consequence of the changes Alfred introduced.

Surviving manuscripts

Of the nine surviving manuscripts, seven are written entirely in Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 (also known as Anglo-Saxon). One, known as the Bilingual Canterbury Epitome, is in Old English with a translation of each annal into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. Another, the Peterborough Chronicle
Peterborough Chronicle
The Peterborough Chronicle , one of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, contains unique information about the history of England after the Norman Conquest. According to philologist J.A.W...

, is in Old English except for the last entry, which is in early Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

. The oldest (Corp. Chris. MS 173) is known as the Winchester Chronicle or the Parker Chronicle (after Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of Anglican theological thought....

, an Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, who once owned it). Six of the manuscripts were printed in an 1861 edition for the Rolls Series
Rolls Series
The Rolls Series, official title The Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages, is a major collection of British and Irish historical materials and primary sources, published in the second half of the 19th century. Some 255 volumes, representing 99 separate...

 by Benjamin Thorpe
Benjamin Thorpe
Benjamin Thorpe was an English scholar of Anglo-Saxon.-Biography:After studying for four years at Copenhagen University, under the Danish philologist Rasmus Christian Rask, he returned to England in 1830, and in 1832 published an English version of Caedmon's metrical paraphrase of portions of the...

 with the text laid out in columns labelled A to F. Following this convention, the three additional manuscripts are often called [G], [H] and [I]. The surviving manuscripts are listed below.
Version Chronicle name Location Manuscript
A Winchester (or Parker) Chronicle Parker Library, Corpus Christi College  173
B Abingdon Chronicle I British Library
British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

 
Cotton
Cotton library
The Cotton or Cottonian library was collected privately by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton M.P. , an antiquarian and bibliophile, and was the basis of the British Library...

 Tiberius A. vi
C Abingdon Chronicle II British Library Cotton Tiberius B. i
D Worcester Chronicle British Library Cotton Tiberius B. iv
E Peterborough (or Laud) Chronicle
Peterborough Chronicle
The Peterborough Chronicle , one of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, contains unique information about the history of England after the Norman Conquest. According to philologist J.A.W...

 
Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

 
Laud misc. 636
F Bilingual Canterbury Epitome British Library Cotton Domitian viii
G or A2 or W A copy of the Winchester Chronicle British Library Cotton Otho B. xi + Otho B. x
H Cottonian Fragment British Library Cotton Domitian ix
I An Easter Table Chronicle British Library Cotton Caligula A. xv

Relationships between the manuscripts

The manuscripts are all thought to derive from a common original, but the connections between the texts are more complex than simple inheritance via copying. The diagram at right gives an overview of the relationships between the manuscripts. The following is a summary of the relationships that are known.
  • [A2] was a copy of [A], made in Winchester, probably between 1001 and 1013.
  • [B] was used in the compilation of [C] at Abingdon
    Abingdon Abbey
    Abingdon Abbey was a Benedictine monastery also known as St Mary's Abbey located in Abingdon, historically in the county of Berkshire but now in Oxfordshire, England.-History:...

    , in the mid-11th century. However, the scribe for [C] also had access to another version, which has not survived.
  • [D] includes material from Bede
    Bede
    Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

    's Ecclesiastical History
    Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
    The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

     and from a set of 8th-century Northumbrian annals and is thought to have been copied from a northern version that has not survived.
  • [E] has material that appears to derive from the same sources as [D] but does not include some additions that appear only in [D], such as the Mercia
    Mercia
    Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

    n Register. This manuscript was composed at the monastery in Peterborough
    Peterborough Cathedral
    Peterborough Cathedral, properly the Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew – also known as Saint Peter's Cathedral in the United Kingdom – is the seat of the Bishop of Peterborough, dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the...

    , some time after a fire there in 1116 that probably destroyed their copy of the Chronicle; [E] appears to have been created thereafter as a copy of a Kent
    Kent
    Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

    ish version, probably from Canterbury
    Canterbury
    Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

    .
  • [F] appears to include material from the same Canterbury version that was used to create [E].
  • Asser's Life of King Alfred, which was written in 893, includes a translation of the Chronicle's entries from 849 to 887. Only [A], of surviving manuscripts, could have been in existence by 893, but there are places where Asser departs from the text in [A], so it is possible that Asser used a version that has not survived.
  • Æthelweard wrote a translation of the Chronicle into Latin in the late 10th century; the version he used probably came from the same branch in the tree of relationships that [A] comes from.
  • Asser's text agrees with [A] and with Æthelweard's text in some places against the combined testimony of [B], [C], [D] and [E], implying that there is a common ancestor for the latter four manuscripts.
  • At Abingdon, some time between 1120 and 1140, an unknown author wrote a Latin chronicle known as the Annals of St Neots
    Annals of St Neots
    The Annals of St Neots are a Latin chronicle compiled and written at Bury St Edmunds between c. 1120 and c. 1140. It covers the history of Britain, extending from its invasion by Julius Caesar to the making of Normandy in 914...

    . This work includes material from a copy of the Chronicle, but it is very difficult to tell which version because the annalist was selective about his use of the material. It may have been a northern recension
    Recension
    Recension is the practice of editing or revising a text based on critical analysis. When referring to manuscripts, this may be a revision by another author...

    , or a Latin derivative of that recension.


All the manuscripts described above share a chronological error between the years 756 and 845, but it is apparent that the composer of the Annals of St Neots was using a copy that did not have this error and which must have preceded them. Æthelweard's copy did have the chronological error but it had not lost a whole sentence from annal 885; all the surviving manuscripts have lost this sentence. Hence the error and the missing sentence must have been introduced in separate copying steps, implying that none of the surviving manuscripts are closer than two removes from the original version.

History of the manuscripts

[A]: The Winchester Chronicle

The Winchester (or Parker) Chronicle is the oldest manuscript of the Chronicle that survives. It was begun at Old Minster, Winchester
Old Minster, Winchester
The Old Minster was the Anglo-Saxon cathedral for the diocese of Wessex and then Winchester from 660 to 1093. It stood on a site immediately north of and partially beneath its successor, Winchester Cathedral....

, towards the end of Alfred's reign. The manuscript begins with a genealogy of Alfred, and the first chronicle entry is for the year 60 BC. The section containing the Chronicle takes up folios 1-32. Unlike the other manuscripts, [A] is of early enough composition to show entries dating back to the late 9th century in the hands of different scribes as the entries were made. The first scribe's hand is dateable to the late 9th or very early 10th century; his entries cease in late 891, and the following entries were made at intervals throughout the 10th century by several scribes. The eighth scribe wrote the annals for the years 925–955, and was clearly at Winchester when he wrote them since he adds some material related to events there; he also uses ceaster, or "city", to mean Winchester. The manuscript becomes independent of the other recensions after the entry for 975. The book, which also had a copy of the Laws of Alfred and Ine
Ine of Wessex
Ine was King of Wessex from 688 to 726. He was unable to retain the territorial gains of his predecessor, Cædwalla, who had brought much of southern England under his control and expanded West Saxon territory substantially...

 bound in after the entry for 924, was transferred to Canterbury some time in the early 11th century, as evidenced by a list of books that Archbishop Parker gave to Corpus Christi. While at Canterbury, some interpolations were made; this required some erasures in the manuscript. The additional entries appear to have been taken from a version of the manuscript from which [E] descends. The last entry in the vernacular is for 1070. After this comes the Latin Acta Lanfranci, which covers church events from 1070–1093. This is followed by a list of pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

s and the Archbishops of Canterbury to whom they sent the pallium
Pallium
The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context it has always remained unambiguously...

. The manuscript was acquired by Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of Anglican theological thought....

, Archbishop of Canterbury (1559–1575) and master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Corpus Christi College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is notable as the only college founded by Cambridge townspeople: it was established in 1352 by the Guilds of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary...

, following the dissolution of the monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

, and bequeathed to the college on his death. It now forms part of the Parker Library.

[B] The Abingdon Chronicle I

[B] was written by a single scribe in the second half of the 10th century. The Chronicle takes up folios 1-34. It begins with an entry for 60 BC and ends with the entry for 977. A manuscript that is now separate (British Library MS. Cotton Tiberius Aiii, f. 178) was originally the introduction to this chronicle; it contains a genealogy, as does [A], but extends it to the late 10th century. [B] was at Abingdon in the mid-11th century, because it was used in the composition of [C]. Shortly after this it went to Canterbury, where interpolations and corrections were made. As with [A], it ends with a list of popes and the archbishops of Canterbury to whom they sent the pallium.

[C] The Abingdon Chronicle II

[C] includes additional material from local annals at Abingdon, where it was composed. The section containing the Chronicle (folios 115-64) is preceded by King Alfred's Old English translation of Orosius's world history, followed by a menologium
Menologium
Menologion , also written menology and menologe, is a service-book used in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Rite of Constantinople.From its derivation, menologium means "month-set"; in other words, a book arranged according to the months...

 and some gnomic verses
Gnomic poetry
Gnomic poetry consists of sententious maxims put into verse to aid the memory. They were known by the Greeks as gnomes, from the Greek word for "an opinion".A gnome was defined by the Elizabethan critic Henry Peacham as...

 of the laws of the natural world and of humanity. Then follows a copy of the chronicle, beginning with 60 BC; the first scribe copied up to the entry for 490, and a second scribe took over up to the entry for 1048. [B] and [C] are identical between 491 and 652, but differences thereafter make it clear that the second scribe was also using another copy of the Chronicle. This scribe also inserted, after the annal for 915, the Mercian Register, which covers the years 902–924, and which focuses on Aethelflaed. The manuscript continues to 1066 and stops in the middle of the description of the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

. In the 12th century a few lines were added to complete the account.

[D] The Worcester Chronicle

[D] appears to have been written in the middle of the 11th century. After 1033 it includes some records from Worcester
Worcester
The City of Worcester, commonly known as Worcester, , is a city and county town of Worcestershire in the West Midlands of England. Worcester is situated some southwest of Birmingham and north of Gloucester, and has an approximate population of 94,000 people. The River Severn runs through the...

, so it is generally thought to have been composed there. Five different scribes can be identified for the entries up to 1054, after which it appears to have been worked on at intervals. The text includes material from Bede's Ecclesiastical History and from a set of 8th-century Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

n annals. It is thought that some of the entries may have been composed by Archbishop Wulfstan
Wulfstan II, Archbishop of York
Wulfstan was an English Bishop of London, Bishop of Worcester, and Archbishop of York. He should not be confused with Wulfstan I, Archbishop of York or Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester. He is thought to have begun his ecclesiastical career as a Benedictine monk. He became the Bishop of London in 996...

. [D] contains more information than other manuscripts on northern and Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 affairs, and it has been speculated that it was a copy intended for the Anglicised Scottish court. From 972 to 1016, the sees
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

 of York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

 and Worcester were both held by the same person—Oswald
Oswald of Worcester
Oswald of Worcester was Archbishop of York from 972 to his death in 992. He was of Danish ancestry, but brought up by his uncle, Oda, who sent him to France to the abbey of Fleury to become a monk. After a number of years at Fleury, Oswald returned to England at the request of his uncle, who died...

 from 972, Ealdwulf from 992, and Wulfstan from 1003, and this may explain why a northern recension was to be found at Worcester. By the 16th century, parts of the manuscript were lost; eighteen pages were inserted containing substitute entries from other sources, including [A], [B], [C], and [E]. These pages were written by John Joscelyn
John Joscelyn
John Joscelyn or John Joscelin was an English clergyman and antiquarian as well as secretary to Matthew Parker, a Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Joscelyn was involved in Parker's attempts to secure and publish medieval manuscripts on church history, and...

, who was secretary to Matthew Parker.

[E] The Peterborough Chronicle

In 1116, a fire at the monastery at Peterborough destroyed most of the buildings. The copy of the Chronicle kept there may have been lost at that time or later, but in either case shortly thereafter a fresh copy was made, apparently copied from a Kentish version—most likely to have been from Canterbury. The manuscript was written at one time and by a single scribe, down to the annal for 1121. The scribe added material relating to Peterborough Abbey which is not in other versions. The Canterbury original which he copied was similar, but not identical, to [D]: the Mercian Register does not appear, and a poem
Battle of Brunanburh (poem)
The Battle of Brunanburh is an Old English poem. It is preserved in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a historical record of events in Anglo-Saxon England which was kept from the late ninth to the mid-twelfth century. The poem records the Battle of Brunanburh, a battle fought in 937 between an English...

 about the Battle of Brunanburh
Battle of Brunanburh
The Battle of Brunanburh was an English victory in 937 by the army of Æthelstan, King of England, and his brother Edmund over the combined armies of Olaf III Guthfrithson, the Norse-Gael King of Dublin, Constantine II, King of Scots, and Owen I, King of Strathclyde...

 in 937, which appears in most of the other surviving copies of the Chronicle, is not recorded. The same scribe then continued the annals through to 1131; these entries were made at intervals, and thus are presumably contemporary records. Finally, a second scribe, in 1154, wrote an account of the years 1132–1154; but his dating is known to be unreliable. This last entry is in Middle English, rather than Old English. [E] was once owned by William Laud
William Laud
William Laud was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. One of the High Church Caroline divines, he opposed radical forms of Puritanism...

, Archbishop of Canterbury 1633–1654, so is also known as the Laud Chronicle. The manuscript contains occasional glosses in Latin, and is referred to (as "the Saxon storye of Peterborowe church") in an antiquarian book from 1566. According to Joscelyn, Nowell had a transcript of the manuscript. Previous owners include William Camden
William Camden
William Camden was an English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and officer of arms. He wrote the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.- Early years :Camden was born in London...

 and William L'Isle
William L'Isle
William Lisle was an English antiquary and scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature. He studied at Eton and King's College Cambridge, where he achieved a B.A. and an M.A. . He is one of the known owners of the [F] manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the so-called Peterborough Chronicle, in which...

; the latter probably passed the manuscript on to Laud.

[F] The Canterbury Bilingual Epitome

At about 1100, a copy of the Chronicle was written at Christ Church, Canterbury
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site....

, probably by one of the scribes who made notes in [A]. This version is written in both Old English and Latin; each entry in Old English was followed by the Latin version. The version the scribe copied (on folios 30-70) is similar to the version used by the scribe in Peterborough who wrote [E], though it seems to have been abridged. It includes the same introductory material as [D] and, along with [E], is one of the two chronicles that does not include the "Battle of Brunanburh" poem. The manuscript has many annotations and interlineations, some made by the original scribe and some by later scribes, including Robert Talbot
Robert Talbot (scribe)
Robert Talbot was a scholar and scribe of Anglo-Saxon. Marginalia in his hand are found in the [F] manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, British Museum Cotton Domitian viii.-References:...

.

[A2]/[G] Copy of the Winchester Chronicle

[A2] was copied from [A] at Winchester in the eleventh century and follows a 10th-century copy of an Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History. The last annal copied was 1001, so the copy was made no earlier than that; an episcopal list appended to [A2] suggests that the copy was made by 1013. This manuscript was almost completely destroyed in the 1731 fire at Ashburnham House
Ashburnham House
Ashburnham House is an extended seventeenth-century house on Little Dean's Yard in Westminster, London, United Kingdom, and since 1882 has been part of Westminster School...

, where the Cotton Library
Cotton library
The Cotton or Cottonian library was collected privately by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton M.P. , an antiquarian and bibliophile, and was the basis of the British Library...

 was housed. Of the original 34 leaves, seven remain, ff. 39-47 in the manuscript. However, a transcript had been made by Laurence Nowell
Laurence Nowell
Two sixteenth-century English cousins, one an antiquarian and the other a churchman, were named Laurence Nowell. Their biographies have been confused since the seventeenth century.-Antiquarian:Laurence Nowell Two sixteenth-century English cousins, one an antiquarian and the other a churchman, were...

, a 16th century antiquary, which was used by Abraham Wheloc in an edition of the Chronicle printed in 1643. Because of this, it is also sometimes known as [W], after Wheloc. The appellations [A], [A2], and [G] derive from Plummer, Smith, and Thorpe, respectively.

[H] Cottonian Fragment

[H] consists of a single leaf, containing annals for 1113 and 1114. In the entry for 1113 it includes the phrase "he came to Winchester"; hence it is thought likely that the manuscript was written at Winchester. There is not enough of this manuscript for reliable relationships to other manuscripts to be established. Ker notes that the entries may have been written contemporarily.

[I] Easter Table Chronicle

A list of Chronicle entries accompanies a table of years, found on folios 133-37 in a badly burned manuscript containing miscellaneous notes on charms, the calculation of dates for church services, and annals pertaining to Christ Church, Canterbury. Most of the Chronicle's entries pertain to Christ Church, Canterbury. Until 1109 (the death of Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

) they are in English, all but one of the following entries are in Latin. Part of [I] was written by a scribe soon after 1073, in the same hand and ink as the rest of the Caligula MS. After 1085, the annals are in various contemporary hands. The original annalist's entry for the Norman conquest
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

 is limited to "Her forðferde eadward kyng"; a later hand added the coming of William the Conqueror, "7 her com willelm." At one point this manuscript was at St Augustine's Abbey
St Augustine's Abbey
St Augustine's Abbey was a Benedictine abbey in Canterbury, Kent, England.-Early history:In 597 Saint Augustine arrived in England, having been sent by Pope Gregory I, on what might nowadays be called a revival mission. The King of Kent at this time was Æthelberht, who happened to be married to a...

, Canterbury.

Lost manuscripts

Two manuscripts are recorded in an old catalogue of the library of Durham; they are described as cronica duo Anglica. In addition, Parker included a manuscript called Hist. Angliae Saxonica in his gifts but the manuscript that included this, now Cambridge University Library MS. Hh.1.10, has lost 52 of its leaves, including all of this copy of the chronicle.

Sources, reliability and dating

The Chronicle incorporates material from multiple sources. The entry for 755, describing how Cynewulf
Cynewulf of Wessex
Cynewulf was the King of Wessex from 757 until his death in 786.Cynewulf became king after his predecessor, Sigeberht, was deposed. He may have come to power under the influence of Æthelbald of Mercia, since he was recorded as a witness to a charter of Æthelbald shortly thereafter...

 took the kingship of Wessex
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

 from Sigebehrt
Sigeberht of Wessex
Sigeberht was the King of Wessex from 756 to 757.Sigeberht succeeded his distant relative Cuthred, but was then accused of acting unjustly. He was removed from power by a council of nobles, but given control of Hampshire. There, he was accused of murder, driven out and ultimately killed...

, is far longer than the surrounding entries, and includes direct speech quotations from the participants in those events. It seems likely that this was taken by the scribe from existing saga material. Early entries, up to the year 110, probably came from one of the small encyclopaedic volumes of world history in circulation at the time the Chronicle was first written. The chronological summary to Bede's
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 Ecclesiastical History was used as a source. The Chronicle gives dates and genealogies for Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

n and Mercia
Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

n kings, and provides a list of Wessex bishops; these are likely to have had separate sources. The entry for 661 records a battle fought by Cenwalh that is said to have been fought "at Easter"; this precision implies a contemporary record, which survived and was re-used by the Chronicle scribe.

Contemporary annals began to be kept in Wessex during the 7th century. The material compiled in Alfred's reign included annals relating to Kentish, South Saxon, Mercian and, particularly, West Saxon
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

 history, but, with the exception of the Cynewulf entry, does not gather momentum until it comes to the Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 invasions of the late 8th century onwards. The Chronicle grew out of the tradition of the Easter Tables, drawn up to help the clergy determine the dates of feasts in future years: a page consisted of a sequence of horizontal lines followed by astronomical data, with a space for short notes of events to distinguish one year from another. As the Chronicle developed, it lost its list-like appearance, and such notes took up more space, becoming more like historical records. Many later entries, especially those written by contemporaries, contained a great deal of historical narrative under the year headings.

As with any historical source, the Chronicle has to be treated with some caution. For example, between 514 and 544 the Chronicle makes reference to Wihtgar, who is supposedly buried on the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 at "Wihtgar's stronghold" (which is "Wihtgaræsbyrg" in the original) and purportedly gave his name to the island. However, the name of the "Isle of Wight" derives from the Latin "Vectis", not from Wihtgar. The actual name of the fortress was probably "Wihtwarabyrg", "the stronghold of the inhabitants of Wight", and either the chronicler or an earlier source misinterpreted this as referring to Wihtgar.

The dating of the events recorded also requires care. In addition to dates that are simply inaccurate, scribes occasionally made mistakes that caused further errors. For example, in the [D] manuscript, the scribe omits the year 1044 from the list on the left hand side. The annals copied down are therefore incorrect from 1045 to 1052, which has two entries. A more difficult problem is the question of the date at which a new year began, since the modern custom of starting the year on 1 January was not universal at that time. The entry for 1091 in [E] begins at Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 and continues throughout the year; it is clear that this entry follows the old custom of starting the year at Christmas. Some other entries appear to begin the year on 25 March, such as the year 1044 in the [C] manuscript, which ends with Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

's marriage on 23 January, while the entry for 22 April is recorded under 1045. There are also years which appear to start in September.

The manuscripts were produced in different places, and each manuscript reflects the biases of its scribes. It has been argued that the Chronicle should be regarded as propaganda, produced by Alfred's court and written with the intent of glorifying Alfred and creating loyalty. This is not universally accepted, but the origins of the manuscripts clearly colour both the description of interactions between Wessex
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

 and other kingdoms, and the descriptions of the Vikings' depredations. An example can be seen in the entry for 829, which describes Egbert
Egbert of Wessex
Egbert was King of Wessex from 802 until his death in 839. His father was Ealhmund of Kent...

's invasion of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

. According to the Chronicle, after Egbert conquered Mercia and Essex
Kingdom of Essex
The Kingdom of Essex or Kingdom of the East Saxons was one of the seven traditional kingdoms of the so-called Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was founded in the 6th century and covered the territory later occupied by the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Kent. Kings of Essex were...

, he became a "bretwalda
Bretwalda
Bretwalda is an Old English word, the first record of which comes from the late 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is given to some of the rulers of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the 5th century onwards who had achieved overlordship of some or all of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms...

", implying overlordship of all of England. Then when he marched into Northumbria, the Northumbrians offered him "submission and peace". The Northumbrian chronicles incorporated into Roger of Wendover
Roger of Wendover
Roger of Wendover , probably a native of Wendover in Buckinghamshire, was an English chronicler of the 13th century.At an uncertain date he became a monk at St Albans Abbey; afterwards he was appointed prior of the cell of Belvoir, but he forfeited this dignity in the early years of Henry III,...

's 13th-century history give a different picture: "When Egbert had obtained all the southern kingdoms, he led a large army into Northumbria, and laid waste that province with severe pillaging, and made King Eanred pay tribute."

Occasionally the scribes' biases can be seen by comparing different versions of the manuscript they created. For example, Ælfgar
Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia
Ælfgar was son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia,by his well-known wife Godgifu . He succeeded to his father's title and responsibilities on the latter's death in 1057....

, earl of East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

, and son of Leofric
Leofric, Earl of Mercia
Leofric was the Earl of Mercia and founded monasteries at Coventry and Much Wenlock. Leofric is remembered as the husband of Lady Godiva.-Life and political influence:...

, the earl of Mercia, was exiled briefly in 1055. The [C], [D] and [E] manuscripts say the following:
  • [C]: "Earl Ælfgar, son of Earl Leofric, was outlawed without any fault . . ."
  • [D]: "Earl Ælfgar, son of Earl Leofric, was outlawed well-nigh without fault . . ."
  • [E]: "Earl Ælfgar was outlawed because it was thrown at him that he was traitor to the king and all the people of the land. And he admitted this before all the men who were gathered there, although the words shot out against his will."


Another example that mentions Ælfgar shows a different kind of unreliability in the Chronicle: that of omission. Ælfgar was Earl of Mercia by 1058, and in that year was exiled again. This time only [D] has anything to say: "Here Earl Ælfgar was expelled, but he soon came back again, with violence, through the help of Gruffydd. And here came a raiding ship-army from Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

; it is tedious to tell how it all happened." In this case other sources exist to clarify the picture: a major Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 attempt was made on England, but [E] says nothing at all, and [D] scarcely mentions it. It has sometimes been argued that when the Chronicle is silent, other sources that report major events must be mistaken, but this example demonstrates that the Chronicle does omit important events.

Use by Latin and Anglo-Norman historians

The three main Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 historians, John of Worcester
John of Worcester
John of Worcester was an English monk and chronicler. He is usually held to be the author of the Chronicon ex chronicis.-Chronicon ex chronicis:...

, William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. C. Warren Hollister so ranks him among the most talented generation of writers of history since Bede, "a gifted historical scholar and an omnivorous reader, impressively well versed in the literature of classical,...

, and Henry of Huntingdon
Henry of Huntingdon
Henry of Huntingdon , the son of a canon in the diocese of Lincoln, was a 12th century English historian, the author of a history of England, Historia anglorum, "the most important Anglo-Norman historian to emerge from the secular clergy". He served as archdeacon of Huntingdon...

, each had a copy of the Chronicle, which they adapted for their own purposes. Simeon of Durham also had a copy of the Chronicle. Some later medieval historians also used the Chronicle, and others took their material from those who had used it, and so the Chronicle became "central to the mainstream of English historical tradition".

Henry of Huntingdon used a copy of the chronicle that was very similar to [E]. There is no evidence in his work of any of the entries in [E] after 1121, so although his manuscript may have been actually been [E], it may also have been a copy—either one taken of [E] prior to the entries he makes no use of, or a manuscript from which [E] was copied, with the copying taking place prior to the date of the last annal he uses. Henry also made use of the [C] manuscript.

The Waverley annals made use of a manuscript that was similar to [E], though it appears that it did not contain the entries focused on Peterborough. The manuscript of the chronicle translated by Geoffrey Gaimar
Geoffrey Gaimar
Geoffrey Gaimar , was an Anglo-Norman chronicler. Gaimar's most significant contribution to medieval literature and history is as a translator from Old English to Anglo-Norman. His L'Estoire des Engles translates extensive portions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as well as using Latin and French...

's cannot be identified accurately, though according to historian Dorothy Whitelock it was "a rather better text than 'E' or 'F'". Gaimar implies that there was a copy at Winchester in his day (the middle of the 12th century); Whitelock suggests that there is evidence that a manuscript that has not survived to the present day was at Winchester in the mid-tenth century. If it survived to Gaimar's time that would explain why [A] was not kept up to date, and why [A] could be given to the monastery at Canterbury.

John of Worcester's Chronicon ex chronicis appears to have had a manuscript that was either [A] or similar to it; he makes use of annals that do not appear in other versions, such as entries concerning Edward the Elder's campaigns and information about Winchester towards the end of the chronicle. His account is often similar to that of [D], though there is less attention paid to Margaret of Scotland, an identifying characteristic of [D]. He had the Mercian register, which appears only in [C] and [D]; and he includes material from annals 979–982 which only appears in [C]. It is possible he had a manuscript that was an ancestor of [D]. He also had sources which have not been identified, and some of his statements have no earlier surviving source.

A manuscript similar to [E] was available to William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. C. Warren Hollister so ranks him among the most talented generation of writers of history since Bede, "a gifted historical scholar and an omnivorous reader, impressively well versed in the literature of classical,...

, though it is unlikely to have been [E] as that manuscript is known to have still been in Peterborough after the time William was working, and he does not make use of any of the entries in [E] that are specifically related to Peterborough. It is likely he had either the original from which [E] was copied, or a copy of that original. He mentions that the chronicles do not give any information on the murder of Alfred Atheling
Alfred Atheling
Alfred Atheling or Aetheling was the son of Aethelred II and his second wife Emma of Normandy. He was a brother of Edward the Confessor. King Canute became their stepfather when he married Aethelred's widow...

, but since this is covered in both [C] and [D] it is apparent he had no access to those manuscripts. On occasion he appears to show some knowledge of [D] but it is possible that his information was taken from John of Worcester's account. He also omits any reference to a battle fought by Cenwealh in 652; this battle is mentioned in [A], [B], and [C], but not in [E]. He does mention a battle fought by Cenwealh at Wirtgernesburg, which is not in any of the extant manuscripts, so it is possible he had a copy now lost.

Importance

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is the single most important source for the history of England in Anglo-Saxon times. Without the Chronicle and Bede's
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

 (the Ecclesiastical History of the English People), it would be impossible to write the history of the English from the Romans to the Norman Conquest. It is clear that records and annals of some kind began to be kept in England at the time of the earliest spread of Christianity, but no such records survive in their original form. Instead they were incorporated in later works, and it is thought likely that the Chronicle contains many of these. The history it tells is not only that witnessed by its compilers, but also that recorded by earlier annalists, whose work is in many cases preserved nowhere else.

Its importance is not limited to the historical information it provides, however. It is just as important a source for the early development of English. The Peterborough Chronicle changes from the standard Old English literary language to early Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 after 1131, providing some of the earliest Middle English text known.

The Chronicle is not without literary interest. Inserted at various points since the 10th century are Old English poems in celebration of royal figures and their achievements: "The Battle of Brunanburh
Battle of Brunanburh (poem)
The Battle of Brunanburh is an Old English poem. It is preserved in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a historical record of events in Anglo-Saxon England which was kept from the late ninth to the mid-twelfth century. The poem records the Battle of Brunanburh, a battle fought in 937 between an English...

" (937), on King Æthelstan's victory over the combined forces of Vikings, Scots and the Strathclyde Britons, and five shorter poems, "Capture of the Five Boroughs" (942), "The Coronation of King Edgar" (973), "The Death of King Edgar" (975), "The Death of Prince Alfred" (1036), and "The Death of King Edward the Confessor" (1065).

History of editions and availability

An important early printed edition of the Chronicle appeared in 1692, by Edmund Gibson
Edmund Gibson
Edmund Gibson was a British divine and jurist.-Early life and career:He was born in Bampton, Westmorland. In 1686 he was entered a scholar at Queen's College, Oxford...

, an English jurist and divine who became Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Lincoln
The Bishop of Lincoln is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Lincoln in the Province of Canterbury.The present diocese covers the county of Lincolnshire and the unitary authority areas of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The Bishop's seat is located in the Cathedral...

 in that year. Titled Chronicum Saxonicum, it printed Latin and Old English versions of the text in parallel columns and became the standard edition until the 19th century. It was superseded in 1861 by Benjamin Thorpe
Benjamin Thorpe
Benjamin Thorpe was an English scholar of Anglo-Saxon.-Biography:After studying for four years at Copenhagen University, under the Danish philologist Rasmus Christian Rask, he returned to England in 1830, and in 1832 published an English version of Caedmon's metrical paraphrase of portions of the...

's Rolls
Rolls Series
The Rolls Series, official title The Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages, is a major collection of British and Irish historical materials and primary sources, published in the second half of the 19th century. Some 255 volumes, representing 99 separate...

 edition, which printed six versions in columns, labelled A to F, thus giving the manuscripts the letters which are now used to refer to them.

John Earle
John Earle (professor)
John Earle M.A., LL.D. was a British Anglo-Saxon language scholar. He was twice Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford. Earle wrote more than a dozen scholarly books. He is perhaps best known as the author of Two Saxon Chronicles Parallel , and Anglo-Saxon...

 wrote Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel (1865). Charles Plummer
Charles Plummer
Charles Plummer was an English historian, best known for editing Sir John Fortescue's The Governance of England, and for coining the term 'bastard feudalism'....

 edited this book, producing a Revised Text with notes, appendices, and glossary in two volumes in 1892 and 1899. This edition of the A and E texts, with material from other versions, was widely used; it was reprinted in 1952.

Editions of the individual manuscripts

Beginning in the 1980s, a new set of scholarly editions have been printed under the series title "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition". Some volumes are still projected, such as a volume focusing on the northern recension, but existing volumes such as Janet Bately's edition of [A] are now standard references. A recent translation of the Chronicle is Michael Swanton
Michael Swanton
Michael James Swanton is a British literary critic, translator, archaeologist and historian specializing in Old English literature and the Anglo-Saxon period....

's The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which presents translations of [A] and [E] on opposite pages, with interspersed material from the other manuscripts where they differ.

A facsimile edition of [A], The Parker Chronicle and Laws, appeared in 1941 from the Oxford University Press, edited by Robin Flower and Hugh Smith. A recent scholarly edition of the [B] text is The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition, 4, MS B by S. Taylor (Cambridge, 1983). The [C] manuscript was edited by H.A. Rositzke; The C-Text of the Old English Chronicles, in Beitrage z. engl. Phil., XXXIV, Bochum-Langendreer, 1940; and the [D] manuscript in An Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from British Museum Cotton MS., Tiberius B. iv, edited by E. Classen and F.E. Harmer, Manchester, 1926. Rositzke also published a translation of the [E] text in The Peterborough Chronicle (New York, 1951). The [F] text was printed in F.P. Magoun, Jr., Annales Domitiani Latini: an Edition in "Mediaeval Studies of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies", IX, 1947, pp. 235–295. The first edition of [G] was Abraham Whelock's 1644 Venerabilis Bedae Historia Ecclesiastica, printed in Cambridge; there is also an edition by Angelica Lutz, Die Version G der angelsächsischen Chronik: Rekonstruktion und Edition (Munich, 1981).

External links

  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle at Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books...

     – Public domain copy.
  • The Chronicle from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature
    The Cambridge History of English and American Literature
    The Cambridge History of English and American Literature was originally published by Cambridge University Press in 1907–1921. The 18 volumes include 303 chapters and more than 11,000 pages edited and written by a worldwide panel of 171 leading scholars and thinkers of the early twentieth century...

    , Volume I, 1907–21.
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