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Henry of Huntingdon

HENRY OF HUNTINGDON

English churchman and chronicler; b. in the vicinity of Lincoln, England, between 1080 and 1085; d. Huntingdon, 1155. Brought up probably in the household of Robert Bloet, Bishop of lincoln (10931123), and trained by a certain Albinus of Angers as his master, he was ordained a priest before 1110 and was made archdeacon of Huntingdon the following year. At the request of Robert's successor at Lincoln, Alexander (112348), Henry began the composition of a Historia Anglorum that took bede's work as its foundation. In 1134 he accompanied Archbishop theobald of canterbury to Rome. On this journey he visited the Abbey of bec, met the Norman chronicler robert of torigny, then a monk there, and became acquainted with geoffrey of monmouth's Historia Britonum. He divided his own history into four periods: Roman, Saxon, Danish, and Norman, utilizing the conventional sources from Roman days down to the Norman period, and at times only his own imagination. However, it should be noted that he put Bede and the Old English Chronicle to good use and exhibited no race prejudice in his narrative. Between 1130 and 1154 he brought out five editions of his work, each showing not only continuations but much reworking and change. He eventually added three books, cast in epistolary form, to his Historia, viz: De summitatibus, letters addressed to high personages including King henry i; De miraculis, on the miracles of early English saints; and De contemptu mundi, a moralizing work in which examples are drawn from his own contemporaries. On the basis of his two extant books of epigrams it can be said that his poetical compositions did not rise above rhetorical flights in verse form. As a chronicler, Henry of Huntingdon is a valuable independent source for the period of his own lifetime, but he is inferior both as a historian and as a stylist to william of malmesbury and Robert of Torigny. The best available edition of his Historia is that by Thomas Arnold in the Rolls Series (1879).

See Also: annals and chronicles.

Bibliography: h. r. luard, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 9:569570. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 v. (Munich 191131) 3:481485. j. de ghellinck, L'Essor de la littérature latine au XII esiècle, 2 v. (Brussels-Paris 1946) 2: 153155. f. liebermann, "Heinrich von Huntingdon," Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte 18 (1878) 267295.

[m. r. p. mc guire]

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