Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

views updated May 11 2018

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Records of historical events, normally in Latin, were kept from the early days of Christian Anglo-Saxon England, notably in the form of genealogies, Easter tables, and monastic writings. For example, Bede, the greatest scholar of the age, was deeply interested in chronology. It was King Alfred, however, in the early 890s who was directly responsible for putting into shape the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as we have it, providing a record of events on an annalar basis in the vernacular Old English language. The Chronicle was kept up to date, clearly with encouragement from the royal court, at great ecclesiastical centres where literate clerks could be found. Surviving manuscripts associated with Canterbury, Worcester, York, and Abingdon provide very full accounts for some periods (the reign of Alfred and the reign of Æthelred conspicuously, and then the reign of Edward the Confessor and the Norman kings), but give only distressingly jejune entries at others. At Peterborough the Chronicle, initially copied from a Canterbury manuscript c.1121, continued to be kept as late as 1155, giving a full and lurid account of Stephen's reign in a language which was visibly changing from Old English into Early Middle English.

Henry Loyn


views updated May 23 2018

ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE [c.891–1154], also Old English Annals, Old English Chronicle. A set of annals, the first extended original composition in English, probably begun in the court of King ALFRED and continued in monasteries, in which the seven surviving manuscripts were written. The last, for 1154, is also the last known document in OLD ENGLISH 1. The Chronicle includes six poems amidst the prose entries, starting with the 937 annal on the battle of Brunanburh. The chroniclers used many sources, including Bede's history, other annals and records, and popular stories. The use of the vernacular rather than Latin for chronicles was rare at that time.

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Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

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