Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

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), Luean, 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.

t 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 ofWendover 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 jhis 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.

and characteristics disclose the bias of his thoughts. It is evident that he considered Henry II. a great king, and he manifests a probably sincere sympathy for him in the numerous afflictions, caused to him by the unprincipled conduct of his sons, Henry, Richard, and Geoffrey. After the accession of Richard, Hoveden seems to hint that boundless sensuality was his great failing, and, though in words he does not say so, he affords sufficient grounds for the conclusion that treachery, meanness, and avarice, were in his opinion the striking features of the character of king John. His history does not come down to the time of the death, or "disappearance," as Roger of Wendover thinks proper to call it, of Arthur, duke of Brittany. He evidently dislikes the crafty and unprincipled Philip Augustus, king of France; and the zest with which he relates, on numerous occasions, how that monarch turned his back in flight before the prowess of Richard is highly amusing.

We may remark, in conclusion, that among the most interesting portions of the work, may be reckoned the following; the account of the contests between king Henry and Thomas a Becket; the first persecution of the Albigenses; the Assizes of Clarendon and Northampton; the Laws* of William the Conqueror, as re-enacted by Henry II.; the Coronation of Richard I.; the Journal of that king's voyage to the Holy Land, and of his adventures during his stay in Sicily; the contest between Hugh, bishop of Coventry, supported by the other prelates, and the chancellor, William, bishop of Ely; and the lengthened disputes between Geoffrey, archbishop of York, and his dean and chapter; which latter are not yet brought to a conclusion, when the work somewhat abruptly ends.

* Here the text is in such a corrupt and mutilated state that it entirely defies successful management. The Translation has therefore been made from the more correct text of the same Laws, which is found in the " Leges Anglo-Saxonicae" of Dr.Wilkins. London, 1721.

The following remarks, relative to this Chronicler, are extracted from the Introduction to the "Monumenta Britannica," commenced by the late Mr. Petrie, and recently published under the care of Mr. Hardy:

"Hoveden's Annals extend from A.d. 732 to A.d. 1201. Pars Prima: from A.d. 732 to A.d. 1154. From the commencement to the death of Egbert, in 837, his history is taken from Simeon of Durham, sometimes literally transcribed, at others condensed. Occasionally, however, Hoveden changes the collocation, and makes slight verbal alterations. He then returns to 751,* and takes up Henry of Huntingdon, who is followed, with a few verbal changes, to the death of Ethelred L, in 872. Then follows a recapitulationf of the history of the West Saxon Kings from Cerdic, continued to Henry I.; not always, however, agreeing with Huntingdon's History. He then returns to the year 849, J and again transcribes or abridges Simeon of Durham to the year 1122,§ making a few insertions from other sources. From 1122 to 1148, Huntingdon's History is again resorted to, abridged or transcribed, with a few additions. From 1148|| to 1154 Hoveden's History is very brief and confused, and that part of it relating to Scotland is apparently derived from the same source as the Chronicle of Melrose.

"Pars Secunda: from A.d. 1154 to A.d. 1201. From 1154f to 1164** it is of the same character: thence to 1170 ft it

* See p. 20 of this Volume, where he seems to revert to the year 749 in taking up Henry of Huntingdon. This change of the text will account for the apparent oversight noticed in p. 20, n, 68. According to Simeon of Durham's text, Hoveden makes Egbert to reign thirty-six years and six months, while, following Henry of Huntingdon, he gives him a reign of forty years, representing him as dying in 840 or 842.

t See p. 39 of this Volume. J See p. 40. § See p. 216.

|| See p. 250. \ See p. 253. ** See p. 259. ft See p. 325.

« AnteriorContinuar »