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corrections, in cases where they are a matter of question. It has been thought advisable to retain the ancient names of places where they differ materially from those of the present day, and to add the latter in the Notes.
Of the author of this work but little is known. He is sometimes spoken of as a native of York, but it is more probable that he was born at Hoveden, now Howden, a vill in the East Riding of Yorkshire, which belonged to the bishops of Durham, and where they occasionally resided. Frequent mention is made of this place in the Annals, in connection with those powerful prelates.* It has been suggested by some writers that our author is the person mentioned by Robert of Gloucester as "Hew of Howdene."f Among the various offices held by him, he is said to have been a professor of Theology at Oxford, and to have been employed, perhaps at a later period of his life, by Henry II., in the capacity of chaplain. Like many of the more learned clergy of his day, uniting the study of the Law J with that of Divinity,
* For the first time, at p. 389 of this Volume. We learn from our author that Hugh de Pusaz, or Pudsey, bishop of Durham, died at Howden.
t Mr. Hardy says, in the Introduction to the "Monumenta Britannica," p. viii., "The Burton Annals (Gale I.) mention a Hugh Hoveden, as does Robert of Gloucester, but Roger is certainly the person intended. The mistake arose probably from the practice of indicating an author's name by the initial letters only, and the scribe hastily inserted H instead of R." The lines of Robert of Gloucester alluded to are the following, (he is speaking of Richard I.):
"But who so wole of his chevalrie, know or wyte, i Rede he in the cornycles that ben of him wryte,
That Mayster Hew hath of Howdene ywrouzte."
If in these lines he refers to our Chronicler, it is pretty clear that he is the same person who wrote the life of Richard I., mentioned by Bishop Tanner as 'aid to be among the Digby MSS. in the Bodleian Library.
I This will probably account for the vast amount of information on legal matters which is to be found in the latter part of the work. Tanner . seems to think that Hoveden devoted himself to the law when in midhe acted as one of the clerks* or secretaries of that king; and, probably in such capacity, was employed in visiting monasteries on the death of the abbats or priors, for the purpose of receiving such portions of the revenues thereof as accrued to the crown. This fact will account for the great number of letters, charters, papal rescripts, bulls, and other matters relative to the Ecclesiastical history of his time, which are to be found in his work; while his connection, through the place of his birth, with the sees of York and Durham, will explain why the affairs of those sees are so abundantly treated of.
Hoveden has been charged by Lelandwith surreptitiously borrowing from Simeon of Durham, the great Chronicler of Northumbria; but it is not improbable that he enjoyed opportunities of free access to the materials from "which Simeon compiled his Chronicles, and, as Archbishop Mcolson remarks, f if he did copy anything from him, he has greatly improved his narrative by carefully identifying the chronology of many matters confusedly related by that author. That in some instances he has closely followed Simeon of Durham and other preceding Chroniclers, cannot, however, be questioned; but the evident universality of the practice among the Annalists of his times, shews that the censure of Leland is misplaced, and that Hoveden was actuated by no sordid motive, or wish to assume the credit of the labours of his predecessors.
The exact periods of his birth and death are unknown; but Tanner, following Leland, thinks that he did not commence
life, and subsequently entered the Church. He informs us that Walter of Coventry states in his Annals that Hoveden was in the number of the domestics of Henry II.; that he was sent to Norwich, by that king, on a visit to the abbey there, for the purpose of auditing the expenditure of the monks, and of superintending the election of a new abbat; and that his duties of a similar nature extended to other places.
* Benedictus Abbas mentions him as " Unus de clericis regis."
t Engl. Hist. Library, pp. 59, 60.
writing his Annals till after the death of Henry II., in 1189; when probably he devoted himself entirely to literary pursuits.* It is not improbable that he survived till the time of Henry III.
That he was a man of considerable learning, and, for his time, of extensive knowledge, is evident from his work. We find him frequently, and in some casesf appositely, quoting Virgil, Ovid (who seems to have been his favourite author), Lucan, and other Latin poets; but it is a curious fact, that he on no occasion mentions the name of the author from whom he quotes, or, indeed, of any Classical writer whatever. Like most of the learned Ecclesiastics of his day, he appears to have found peculiar charms in the jingle of the Leonine or Latin rhyme; a taste which had been recently introduced into this country by its Norman conquerors. » His work also bears abundant proof that he was versed in the legal and theological lore of those times.
On the other hand, it is clear, from his easy credulity, that his mind was not at all in advance of his age. Miracles (some of them of a very trifling and silly nature), portents, omens, prophecies, and astrological predictions, are readily, and as a matter of course, copied into his pages; while visits of the Devil in person would almost appear to be considered by him as everyday occurrences. Jews, Saracens, heretics, and Pagans are summarily dealt with in his pages; and amid the pious ejaculations which on some few occasions he utters when depicting the miseries or frailties of mankind, we find not a word of sympathy wasted on their sufferings.
The Annals of Hoveden are not merely a Chronicle of En
* We may here remark, that the passage in p. 247 of this Volume, in which he appears to assert that he was eye-witness to an event that happened in 1144, is copied almost literally from Henry of Huntingdon, who was probably the alleged witness of the miracle.
f See vol. ii. p. 42, where he mentions Tully.
glish affairs, but (in the latter part especially) form a history of the events of the then known world. Scotland, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Constantinople, Asia Minor, and the Holy Land, all come under his notice, and he sometimes treats of their affairs at considerable length. On two occasions* he gives an episodical account of the then existing state of Geographical knowledge respecting the "West and the South of Europe, which, in spite of the lamentably defective state of the text, cannot fail to be read with interest.
The work is divided into two Parts; the First of which, professing to be a continuation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History, commences in 732 and concludes in 1154. The Second Part commences in 1155, and breaks off in 1201, the third year of the reign of king John. Why this division was made, it is impossible with certainty to say; but it will readily be perceptible to the reader that events are treated in the First Part with much greater conciseness than in the second. This circumstance would perhaps warrant the conclusion that he marked the beginning of the reign of Henry II., in 1155, as the commencement of a period the events of which had passed under his own personal notice. In the concluding portion of the work, from the year 1192, his circumstantiality is such that we might almost imagine ourselves reading a newspaper account of events which happened nearly seven hundred years ago.f
By some writers, among whom Bishop Tanner may be mentioned, his style has been considered defective, but it is nevertheless remarkable for its simplicity and freedom from affectation. From his peculiar position there is no doubt that
* Under the reign of Richard I.
t As a proof of this, we may remark, that while the events of the period from 1155 to 1201 are compressed by Roger of Wendover and Matthew Paris into less than 250, the narrative of Hoveden, relative to the same period, extends to more than 800, pages.
he was able, and from the internal evidence offered by his work, he clearly was desirous, to resort to the most authentic sources of information within his reach; consequently, though his method of compilation is occasionally crude and defective in arrangement, much is to be found, especially in the latter portion of his work, which may be safely depended upon, and which is to be met with in no other of the Chronicles of those times. This high estimate of his authority appears to have been formed at an early period; for we learn from Archbishop Nicolson,* on the authority of Pitts, that in the year 1291, Edward I. caused diligent search to be made in all the libraries of England for copies of his Annals, for the purpose, on their evidence, of adjusting the disputes as to the homage due to him from the crown of Scotland. In later times, Sir Henry Saville, Selden, Archbishop Nicolson, and others of the learned, have concurred in bearing testimony to his diligence and fidelity as a historian, and, according to Leland, notwithstanding the censure in another place so undeservedly pronounced upon him, he is superior to all the chroniclers who preceded him.
His Annals are his only work the genuineness of which is undisputed. Vossius, however, asserts that he was the author of a History of the Kings of Northumbria, and a Life of Thomas a Becket. In his Annals, he enters fully into the disputes between king Henry and a Becket, and appears, though in a very guarded manner, to sympathize with the sufferings of that prelate, while at the same time he seems desirous to exculpate his royal master from the crime of having been accessary to his base assassination.
The remarks which he makes upon the characters of the illustrious personages of his times are few and cautious; stilL the prominence which he gives to certain circumstances
* Brit. Hist. Library, pp. 59, 60.