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Walsingham, Thomas

WALSINGHAM, THOMAS

Monk and historian of saint albans Abbey, England; d. c. 1422. Walsingham first came to notice in 1380 when he compiled the Book of Benefactors of his house (London, Brit. Mus., Cotton, Nero D.VIII). In that year he described himself as precentor et scriptorarius of St. Albans. During the next 14 years he continued matthew paris's Great Chronicle with his own Chronica maiora; wrote the Gesta abbatum; and, according to V.H. Galbraith, compiled a second Book of Benefactors and a St. Albans Chartulary, now at Chatsworth.

In 1394 Walsingham was made prior of the cell of Wymondham, where he wrote a short history, actually "a condensation of the Chronica maiora " (Galbraith). Six years later he returned to St. Albans. It has been suggested (Galbraith) that during his years away he had become a finished Latin scholar, improving upon the mythological chronicle known as the Dictys Cretensis in an elaborate later medieval diction that can be recognized in the flowery style of younger disciples in the scriptorium, one of the most important being the future abbot John Whethamstede.

Upon his return to St. Albans he undertook his biggest work, the St. Albans Chronicle, in which his section from Matthew Paris (1259) to the Good Parliament (1376) is a pure compilation from various sources. The narrative after 1376 is Walsingham's own work, but it is the section from 1392 to 1422 that is the original chronicle of events that Walsingham noted as a contemporary. The part from 1406 to 1420 (Oxford, Bodl. 462) has now been edited by Galbraith. This section of the Chronicle is notable for the information it gives on the reign of King Henry IV (particularly on the relation of Prince Henry to his father), on the lollards, and on the western schism.

Bibliography: t. walsingham, Historia Anglicana, ed. h. t. riley, 2 v. (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 28.1; London 186364); Ypodigma Neustriae, ed. h. t. riley (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 28.7; 1876); St. Alban's Chronicle, 14061420, ed. v. h. galbraith (Oxford 1937); comp., Gesta abbatum monasterii Sancti Albani, ed. h. t. riley, 3 v. (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 28.4; 186769). c. jenkins, The Monastic Chronicler and the Early School of St. Albans (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge 1922), for Matthew Paris.

[e. f. jacob]

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