An English Chronicle, 1377-1461: Edited from Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales MS 21068 and Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Lyell 34
In 1856 J.S. Davies edited for the Camden Society the continuation of the Middle English prose Brut, from a manuscript in the Bodleian (Lyell 34), that became known as the Davies Chronicle. Covering the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI, it was at once recognised as an important vernacular historical narrative. Unfortunately Lyell 34 is in places badly damaged, and the narrative of the reign of Richard II has survived only in fragments. This new edition of what are in fact two Brut continuations makes use of a full text recently discovered in the National Library of Wales (MS 21608), providing a more authoritative version. The narrative covers the periods 1377-1437 and 1440-1461, and includes previously unknown English-language accounts of episodes of the reign of Richard II, such as the Peasants' Revolt. Each continuation is the product of a different political climate, and the introduction explores the narrative and rhetorical structures that lie behind them. As a whole, the edition offers particularly valuable insights into the growth of a highly politicised vernacular historical narrative, and the way in which two medieval compilers sought to represent the history of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. WILLIAM MARX is senior lecturer in medieval literature at the University of Wales, Lampeter
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