Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The annals were initially created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple manuscript copies were made and distributed to monasteries across England and 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 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, 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. 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; in particular, the later Peterborough text is one of the earliest examples of Middle English in existence.

Seven of the nine surviving manuscripts and fragments now reside in the British Library. The remaining two are in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.



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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] This appears to place the composition of the chronicle at no later than 892; further evidence is provided by Bishop Asser's use of a version of the Chronicle in his work Life of King Alfred, known to have been composed in 893.[4] 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.[5] 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 (871–99), as Alfred deliberately tried to revive learning and culture during his reign, and encouraged the use of English as a written language. The Chronicle, as well as the distribution of copies to other centres of learning, may be a consequence of the changes Alfred introduced.[6]

Surviving manuscripts

A page from the Winchester, or Parker, Chronicle, showing the genealogical preface.

Of the nine surviving manuscripts, seven are written entirely in Old English (also known as "Anglo-Saxon"). One is in Old English with a translation of each annal into Latin. Another, the Peterborough Chronicle, is in Old English except for the last entry, which is in early Middle English. The oldest (Corp. Chris. MS 173) is known as the Winchester Chronicle or the Parker Chronicle (after Matthew Parker, an Archbishop of Canterbury who once owned it). Six of the manuscripts were printed in an 1861 edition by Benjamin Thorpe 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; though manuscript G was burned in a fire in 1731 and only a few leaves remain.[3]

Version Chronicle name Location Manuscript
A The Parker Chronicle or The Winchester Chronicle Parker Library, Corpus Christi College MS. 173
B The Abingdon Chronicle I British Library Cotton MS. Tiberius A vi.
C The Abingdon Chronicle II British Library Cotton MS. Tiberius B i.
D The Worcester Chronicle British Library Cotton MS. Tiberius B iv.
E The Laud Chronicle or The Peterborough Chronicle Bodleian Library MS Laud 636
F The Bilingual Canterbury Epitome British Library Cotton MS. Domitian A viii.
G or A2 or W A copy of The Winchester Chronicle British Library Cotton MS. Otho B xi., 2
H Cottonian Fragment British Library Cotton MS. Domitian A ix.
I An Easter Table Chronicle British Library Cotton MS. Caligula A xv.

Relationships between the manuscripts

The relationships between seven of the different manuscripts of the Chronicle. The fragment [H] cannot be reliably positioned in the chart. Other related texts are also shown. The diagram shows a putative original, and also gives the relationships of the manuscripts to a version produced in the north of England that does not survive but which is thought to have existed.

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.[3]

  • [A2] was a copy of [A], made in Winchester, probably between 1001 and 1013.
  • [B] was used in the compilation of [C] at Abingdon, 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's Ecclesiastical History 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 Mercian Register. This manuscript was composed at the monastery in Peterborough, 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 Kentish version, probably from Canterbury.
  • [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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • At Abingdon, some time between 1120 and 1140, an unknown author wrote a Latin chronicle known as the Annals of St. Neots. 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, or a Latin derivative of that recension.[8]

History of the manuscripts

A map showing the places where the various chronicles were written, and where they are now kept.

[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, 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 first scribe stopped with the year 891, and the following entries were made at intervals throughout the 10th century by several scribes. 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 bound in after the entry for 924, was transferred to Canterbury some time in the early eleventh century. 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 popes and the Archbishops of Canterbury to whom they sent the pallium. The manuscript was acquired by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury 1559–1575 [3] and master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, following the dissolution of the monasteries, 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. 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. It is known that [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.[3]

[C] The Abingdon Chronicle II

A page from the [C] text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. This entry is for 871, a year of battles between Wessex and the Vikings.

[C] includes additional material from local annals at Abingdon, where it was composed. It also includes an Old English translation of Orosius's world history, followed by a menologium and some verses of the laws of the natural world and of humanity. There 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. In the 12th century a few lines were added to complete the account.[3]

[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, 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 Northumbrian annals. It is thought that some of the entries may have been composed by Archbishop Wulfstan. [D] contains more information than other manuscripts on northern and Scottish affairs, and it has been speculated that it was a copy intended for the Anglicised Scottish court. From 972 to 1016 the sees of York and Worcester were both held by the same person—Oswald 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. These pages were probably written by John Joscelyn, who was secretary to Matthew Parker.[3]

[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 about the Battle of Brunanburh 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, Archbishop of Canterbury 1633–1654, so is also known as the Laud Chronicle.[3]

[F] The Canterbury Bilingual Epitome

At about 1100 a copy of the Chronicle was written at Christ Church, Canterbury, 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 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.[3]

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

[A2] was copied from [A] at Winchester. The last annal copied was 1001, so the copy was made no earlier than that; and an episcopal list appended to [A2] suggests that the copy was made by 1013. This manuscript was almost completely destroyed in a fire at Ashburnham House in 1731, where the Cotton Library was housed. A few leaves remain. However, a transcript had been made by Laurence Nowell, 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.[3]

[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.[3]

[I] Easter Table Chronicle

Part of [I] was written by a scribe soon after 1073. After 1085, the annals are in various hands and appear to have been written at Christ Church, Canterbury. At one point this manuscript was at St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury.[3][9]

Sources, reliability and dating

The Chronicle incorporates material from multiple sources. The entry for 755, describing how Cynewulf took the kingship of Wessex from Sigebehrt, 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.[10] 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 Ecclesiastical History was used as a source. The Chronicle gives dates and genealogies for Northumbrian and Mercian 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.[11]

Contemporary annals began to be kept in Wessex during the 7th century.[12] The material compiled in Alfred's reign included annals relating to Kentish, South Saxon, Mercian and, particularly, West Saxon history, but, with the exception of the Cynewulf entry, does not gather momentum until it comes to the Danish invasions of the late 8th century onwards.[13] 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.[14]

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 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.[15][16]

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 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'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.[17]

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.[18] This is not universally accepted,[19] but the origins of the manuscripts clearly colour both the description of interactions between Wessex and other kingdoms, and the descriptions of the Vikings' depredations. An example can be seen in the entry for 829, which describes Egbert's invasion of Northumbria. According to the Chronicle, after Egbert conquered Mercia and Essex, he became a "bretwalda", 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'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."[20][21]

Occasionally the scribes' biases can be seen by comparing different versions of the manuscript they created. For example, Ælfgar, earl of East Anglia, and son of Leofric, the earl of Mercia, was exiled briefly in 1055. The [C], [D] and [E] manuscripts say the following:[22][23]

  • [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; it is tedious to tell how it all happened."[22] In this case other sources exist to clarify the picture: a major Norwegian 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.[23]


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 Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (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.[24] 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.[25]

The three main Anglo-Norman historians, John of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, and Henry of Huntingdon, each had a copy of the Chronicle, which they adapted for their own purposes. 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".[26]

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.[24] The Peterborough Chronicle changes from the standard Old English literary language to early Middle English after 1131, providing some of the earliest Middle English text known.[3]

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 (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, an English jurist and divine who became Bishop of Lincoln 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.[27] It was superseded in 1861 by Benjamin Thorpe's Rolls 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. In 1892, Charles Plummer produced an edition of the A and E texts, with material from other versions, entitled Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel, which was widely used.

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.[3] A recent translation of the Chronicle is Michael Swanton'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.

See also


  1. ^ For example, Richard Abels says that "Historians are in basic agreement that the original Chronicle extended to at least 890." Keynes and Lapidge suggest that "the return of the Vikings to England appears to have occasioned the 'publication', in late 892 or early 893, of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle". See Abels, Richard (2005). Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England. Longman. pp. 15. ISBN 0-582-04047-7.   See also Keynes & Lapidge, Alfred the Great, p. 41.
  2. ^ Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pp. xx–xxi.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pp. xxi–xxviii.
  4. ^ Keynes & Lapidge, Alfred the Great, p. 55
  5. ^ See P. Wormald, "Alfredian Manuscripts", p. 158, in Campbell & al., The Anglo-Saxons.
  6. ^ Hunter Blair, Roman Britain, p. 12.
  7. ^ For example, Asser omits Esla from Alfred's genealogy; [A] includes Esla but [D] does not. See footnote 4 in Keynes & Lapidge, Alfred the Great, pp. 228–229.
  8. ^ a b Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pp. xix–xx.
  9. ^ "Cotton Catalogue". Retrieved 11 April 2007.   See Caligula A.15, under "Provenance", which gives a description of the manuscript and some of its history.
  10. ^ Greenfield, Stanley Brian (1986). A New Critical History of Old English Literature. New York: New York University Press. pp. 60. ISBN 0-8147-3088-4.  
  11. ^ Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pp. xviii–xix.
  12. ^ Stenton suggested that the Chronicle entry for 648 marked the beginning of a contemporary record of events. Yorke, Barbara (1990). Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby. ISBN 1-85264-027-8.  
  13. ^ Lapidge, Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England, p. 35.
  14. ^ Crystal, David (1995). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 15. ISBN 0-521-59655-6.  
  15. ^ Ekwall, Dictionary of English Place-Names.
  16. ^ Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, p. 16.
  17. ^ Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pp. xiv–xvi.
  18. ^ Campbell, James (2000). The Anglo-Saxon State. Hambledon and London. pp. 144. ISBN 1-85285-176-7.  
  19. ^ For example, Keynes & Lapidge (Alfred the Great, p. 55) comment that we should "resist the temptation to regard it as a form of West Saxon dynastic propaganda".
  20. ^ Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pp. 60–61.
  21. ^ P. Wormald, "The Ninth Century", p. 139, in Campbell & al., The Anglo-Saxons.
  22. ^ a b Translations from Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pp. 184–18.
  23. ^ a b Campbell & al., The Anglo-Saxons, p. 222.
  24. ^ a b Hunter Blair, An Introduction, p. 355.
  25. ^ Hunter Blair, Roman Britain, p. 11.
  26. ^ Lapidge, Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England, p. 36.
  27. ^ The title in full is Chronicon Saxonicum; Seu Annales Rerum in Anglia Praecipue Gestarum, a Christo Nato ad Annum Usque MCLIV. Deducti, ac Jam Demum Latinitate Donati. Cum Indice Rerum Chronologico; Accedunt Regulae ad Investigandas Nominum Locorum Origines; Et Nominum Locorum ac Vivorum in Chronico Memoratorum Explicatio. A detailed description of a first edition is listed at "Law Books - October 2002 List". Retrieved 13 April 2007.  


  • Bately, Janet M. (1986). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition. Vol. 3: MS. A. Cambridge.. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-103-9.  
  • Campbell, James; John, Eric & Wormald, Patrick (1991). The Anglo-Saxons. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-014395-5.  
  • Ekwall, Eilert (1947). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Clarendon Press. OCLC 3821873.  
  • Hunter Blair, Peter (1960). An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (3rd ed. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   (2003 edition: ISBN 0-521-83085-0)
  • Hunter Blair, Peter (1966). Roman Britain and Early England: 55 B.C. - A.D. 871. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-00361-2.  
  • Keynes, Simon; Michael Lapidge (2004). Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and other contemporary sources. New York: Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-140-44409-2.  
  • Lapidge, Michael (1999). The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-22492-0.  
  • Savage, Anne (1997). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Gadalming: CLB. ISBN 1-85833-478-0.  
  • Swanton, Michael (1996). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92129-5.  

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals, written in Old English and covering the whole of English history from its beginnings to the accession of Henry II. It survives in several recensions, of which the Winchester (or Parker) Chronicle and the Laud (or Peterborough) Chronicle are used here.

English quotations here are from the Everyman's Library translation, by G. N. Garmonsway.

  • Þa het Ælfred cyng timbran langscipu ongen ða æscas; þa wæron fulneah tu swa lang swa þa oðru. Sume hæfdon .lx. ara. sume ma. Þa wæron ægðer ge swiftran ge unwealtran, ge eac hieran þonne þa oðru.
    • Then king Alfred ordered warships to be built to meet the Danish ships: they were almost twice as long as the others, some had sixty oars, some more; they were both swifter, steadier, and with more freeboard than the others.
    • The Parker Chronicle, annal for 896.
  • Her Æþelstan cyning,      eorla dryhten,
    beorna beahgifa,      7 his broþor eac,
    Eadmund æþeling,      ealdorlangne tir
    geslogon æt sæcce      sweorda ecgum
    ymbe Brunanburh.      Bordweal clufan,
    heowan heaþolinde      hamora lafan,
    afaran Eadweardes,      swa him geæþele wæs
    from cneomægum,      þæt hi æt campe oft
    wiþ laþra gehwæne      land ealgodon,
    hord 7 hamas.
    • In this year king Athelstan, lord of warriors,
      Ring-giver of men, with his brother prince Edmund,
      Won undying glory with the edges of swords,
      In warfare around Brunanburh.
      With their hammered blades, the sons of Edward
      Clove the shield-wall and hacked the linden bucklers,
      As was instinctive in them, from their ancestry,
      To defend their land, their treasures and their homes,
      In frequent battle against each enemy.
    • The Parker Chronicle, annal for 937.
  • Sende þa ofer eall Englaland into ælcere scire his men. 7 lett agan ut hu fela hundred hyda wæron innon þære scire. oððe hwet se cyng him sylf hæfde landes. 7 orfes innan þam lande. oððe hwilce gerihtæ he ahte to habbanne to xii monþum of ðære scire. Eac he lett gewritan hu mycel landes his arcebiscops hæfdon. 7 his leodbiscops. 7 his abbods. 7 his eorlas. 7 þeah ic hit lengre telle. hwæt oððe hu mycel ælc mann hæfde þe landsittende wæs innan Englalande. on lande. oððe on orfe. 7 hu mycel feos hit wære wurð. Swa swyðe nearwelice he hit lett utaspyrian. þæt næs an ælpig hide. ne an gyrde landes. ne furðon, hit is sceame to tellanne. ac hit ne þuhte him nan sceame to donne. an oxe. ne an cu. ne an swin. næs belyfon. þæt næs gesæt on his gewrite.
    • Then he sent his men all over England into every shire to ascertain how many hundreds of "hides" of land there were in each shire, and how much land and live-stock the king himself owned in the country, and what annual dues were lawfully his from each shire. He also had it recorded how much land his archbishops had, and his diocesan bishops, his abbots and his earls, and – though I may be going into too great detail – and what or how much each man who was a landholder here in England had in land or in live-stock, and how much money it was worth. So very thoroughly did he have the inquiry carried out that there was not a single "hide", not one virgate of land, not even – it is shameful to record it, but it did not seem shameful to him to do – not even one ox, nor one cow, nor one pig which escaped notice in his survey.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1085.
  • He forbead þa heortas swylce eac þa baras, swa swiðe he lufode þa headeor swilce he wære heora fæder.
    • He forbade the killing of boars even as the killing of harts. For he loved the stags as dearly as though he had been their father.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1087.
  • Þa the suikes undergæton ðæt he milde man was 7 softe 7 god. 7 na iustise ne dide. þa diden hi alle wunder…For æuric riceman his castles makede 7 agænes him heolden. 7 fylden þe land ful of castles. Hi suencten suyðe þe uurecce men of þe land mid castelweorces þa þe castles uuaren maked þa fylden hi mid deoules 7 yuele men. Þa namen hi þa men þe hi wenden ðæt ani god hefden. bathe be nihtes 7 be dæies. carlmen 7 wimmen. 7 diden heom in prisun efter gold 7 syluer. 7 pined heom. untellendlice pining.
    • When the traitors saw that Stephen was a good-humoured, kindly, and easy-going man who inflicted no punishment, then they committed all manner of horrible crimes…For every great man built him castles and held them against the king; and they filled the whole land with these castles. They sorely burdened the unhappy people of the country with forced labour on the castles; and when the castles were built, they filled them up with devils and wicked men. By night and by day they seized those whom they believed to have any wealth, whether they were men or women; and in order to get their gold and silver, they put them into prison and tortured them with unspeakable tortures.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1137.
  • 7 hi sæden openlice ðæt Crist slep. 7 his halechen.
    • And men said openly that Christ and His saints slept.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1137.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
compiled under the direction of Alfred the Great
Nine versions of the Chronicle, some of which vary greatly, are extant.


  1. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (A-Prime), refered to as the Parker Manuscript
  2. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (A) (or G), refered to as the Winchester Manuscript
  3. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (B), refered to as the Abingdon Manuscript
  4. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (C), refered to as the Abingdon Manuscript II
  5. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (D), refered to as the Worcester Manuscript
  6. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (E), refered to as the Laud Manuscript or the Peterborough Manuscript
  7. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (F), refered to as the Bilingual Canterbury Epitome
  8. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (H), refered to as the "Cottonian Fragment"
  9. Anglo Saxon Chronicle (I), refered to as An Easter Table Chronicle



1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE. It is usual to speak of "the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle"; it would be more correct to say that there are four Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. It is true that these all grow out of a common stock, that in some even of their later entries two or more of them use common materials; but the same may be said of several groups of medieval chronicles, which no one dreams of treating as single chronicles. Of this fourfold Chronicle there are seven MSS. in existence; C.C.C. Cant. 173 (A); Cott. Tib. A vi. (B); Cott. Tib. B i. (C); Cott. Tib. B iv. (D); Bodl. Laud. Misc. 636 (E); Cott. Domitian A viii. (F); Cott. Otho B xi. (G). Of these G is now a mere fragment, and it is known to have been a transcript of A. F is bilingual, the entries being given both in Saxon and Latin. It is interesting as a stage in the transition from the vernacular to the Latin chronicle; but it has little independent value, being a mere epitome, made at Canterbury in the 11th or 12 th century, of a chronicle akin to E. B, as far as it goes (to 977), is identical with C, both having been copied from a common original, but A, C, D, E have every right to be treated as independent chronicles. The relations between the four vary very greatly in different parts, and the neglect of this consideration has led to much error and confusion. The common stock, out of which all grow, extends to 892. The present writer sees no reason to doubt that the idea of a national, as opposed to earlier local chronicles, was inspired by Alfred, who may even have dictated, or at least revised, the entries relating to his own campaigns; while for the earlier parts pre-existing materials, both oral and written, were utilized. Among the latter the chronological epitome appended to Bede's Ecclesiastical History may be specially mentioned. But even this common stock exists in two different recensions, in A, B, C, on the one hand, and D, E on the other. The main points of difference are that in D, E (1) a series of northern annals have been incorporated; (2) the Bede entries are taken, not from the brief epitome, but from the main body of the Eccl. Hist. The inference is that, shortly after the compiling of this Alfredian chronicle, a copy of it was sent to some northern monastery, probably Ripon, where it was expanded in the way indicated. Copies of this northernized Chronicle afterwards found their way to the south. The impulse given by Alfred was continued under Edward, and we have what may be called an official continuation of the history of the Danish wars, which, in B, C, D extends to 915, and in A to 924. After 915 B, C insert as a separate document a short register of Mercian affairs during the same period (902-924), which might be called the acts of Æthelflaed, the famous "Lady of the Mercians," while D has incorporated it, not very skilfully, with the official continuation. Neither of these documents exists in E. From 925 to 975 all the chronicles are very fragmentary; a few obits, three or four poems, among them the famous ballad on the battle of Brunanburh, make up the meagre tale of their common materials, which each has tried to supplement in its own way. A has inserted a number of Winchester entries, which prove that A is a Winchester book. And this local and scrappy character it retains to ioor, where it practically ends. At some subsequent time it was transferred bodily to Canterbury, where it received numerous interpolations in the earlier part, and a few later local entries which finally tail off into the Latin acts of Lanfranc. A may therefore be dismissed.

C has added to the common stock one or two Abingdon entries, with which place the history of C is closely connected; while D and E have a second group of northern annals 901-966, E being however much more fragmentary than D, omitting, or not having access to, much both of the common and of the northern material which is found in D. From 983 to 1018 C, D and E are practically identical, and give a connected history of the Danish struggles under Æthelred II. This section was probably composed at Canterbury. From 1018 the relations of C, D, E become too complicated to be expressed by any formula; sometimes all three agree together, sometimes all three are independent; in other places each pair in turn agree against the third. It may be noted that C is strongly anti-Godwinist, while E is equallypro-Godwinist, D occupying an intermediate position. C extends to 1066, where it ends abruptly, and probably mutilated. D ends at 1079 and is certainly mutilated. In its later history D is associated with some place in the diocese of Worcester, probably Evesham. In its present form D is a comparatively late MS., none of it probably much earlier, and some of it later, than 1100. In the case of entries in the earlier part of the chronicles, which are peculiar to D, we cannot exclude the possibility that they may be late interpolations. E is continued to 1154. In its present form it is unquestionably a Peterborough book. The earlier part is full of Peterborough interpolations, to which place many of the later entries also refer. But (apart from the interpolations) it is only the entries after 11 21, where the first hand in the MS. ends, which were actually composed at Peterborough. The section 1023 - I 06 7 certainly, and possibly also the section 1068-11 21, was composed at St Augustine's, Canterbury; and the former is of extreme interest and value, the writer being in close contact with the events which he describes. The later parts of E show a great degeneration in language, and a querulous tone due to the sufferings of the native population under the harsh Norman rule; "but our debt to it is inestimable; and we can hardly measure what the loss to English history would have been, if it had not been written; or if, having been written, it had, like so many another English chronicle, been lost." BIBLIOGRAPHY. - The above account is based on the introduction in vol. ii. of the Rev. C. Plummer's edition of Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel (Clarendon Press, 1892, 1899); to which the student may be referred for detailed arguments. The editio princeps of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was by Abraham Wheloc, professor of Arabic at Cambridge, where the work was printed (1643-1644). It was based mainly on the MS. called G above, and is the chief source of our knowledge of that MS. which perished, all but three leaves, in the Cottonian fire of 1723. Edmund Gibson of Queen's College, Oxford, afterwards bishop of London, published an edition in 1692. He used Wheloc's edition, and E, with collations or transcripts of B and F. Both Wheloc and Gibson give Latin translations. In 1823 appeared an edition by Dr Ingram, of Trinity College, Oxford, with an English translation. Besides A, B, E, F, Ingram used C and D for the first time. But both he and Gibson made the fatal error of trying to combine the disparate materials contained in the various chronicles in a single text. An improvement in this respect is seen in the edition made by Richard Price (d. 1833) for the first (and only) volume of Monumenta Historica Britannica (folio 1848). There is still, however, too much conflation, and owing to the plan of the volume, the edition only extends to 1066. A translation is appended. In 1861 appeared Benjamin Thorpe's six-text edition in the Rolls Series. Though not free from defects, this edition is absolutely indispensable for the study of the chronicles and the mutual relations of the different MSS. A second volume contains the translation. In 1865 the Clarendon Press published Two Saxon Chronicles (A and E) Parallel, with supplementary extracts from the others, by the Rev. John Earle. This edition has no translation, but in the notes and introduction a very considerable advance was made. On this edition is partly based the later edition by the Rev. C. Plummer, already cited above. In addition to the translations contained in the editions already mentioned, the following have been issued separately. The first translation into modern English was by Miss Anna Gurney, privately printed in 1819. This was largely based on Gibson's edition, and was in turn the basis of Dr Giles' translation, published in 1847, and often reprinted. The best translation is that by the Rev. Joseph Stevenson, in his series of Church Historians of England (1853). Up to the Conquest it is a revision of the translation contained in Mon. Hist. Brit. From that point it is an independent translation. (C. PL.)

<< Anglo-Norman Literature

Anglo-Saxon Law >>


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address