The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Engl. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ) is a collection of early medieval annals from the Anglo-Saxon England. A first version of the chronicle was probably written in the early 890s at the court of King Alfred the Great of Wessex . On the basis of this non-preserved document, copies were made that were sent to various places in England and continued there. Seven manuscripts and one fragment of these copies have survived today. The entries in the annals were regularly supplemented from the end of the 9th century and even continued in a manuscript beyond the Norman conquest of England in 1066 ( Peterborough Chronicle , until 1154). Using older texts that are mostly lost today, earlier events, going back to Roman times, were added to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , together with the material church history of the Beda Venerabilis, is one of the most important sources of history for the Anglo-Saxon period in England, especially with regard to the political history of this time. The Chronicle is also important in terms of the development of English prose and an important source for the development of the English language, especially the transition from Old English to Middle English .
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is not a single, continuously edited text that was in the hands of one or more scribes with a clear division of responsibility. Rather, the term Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is an expression for a series of chronicles that are available today in the form of seven surviving manuscripts and a fragment, which were created at different times and offer many similarities in terms of content, but also in terms of details and scope differ.
The surviving manuscripts are referred to in the literature with the letters A to H for easier identification. The oldest copy (Corpus Christi MS 173) is also known under the name Parker Chronicle (after the former owner Matthew Parker ) or Winchester Chronicle .
|manuscript||Today's repository||Presumed origin of the manuscript|
|A: MS 173, Parker Chronicle (or Winchester Chronicle )||Cambridge , Parker Library , Corpus Christi College||Winchester ; from 1100 in Christ Church, Canterbury|
|B: MS Cotton Tiberius A VI, Abingdon Chronicle I||London , British Library||Abingdon ; from 1100 in Christ Church, Canterbury|
|C: MS Cotton Tiberius BI, Abingdon Chronicle II||London, British Library||Abingdon; individual researchers suggest Christ Church, Canterbury|
|D: MS Cotton Tiberius B IV, Worcester Chronicle||London, British Library||Worcester or York|
|E: MS Laud Misc. 636, Peterborough Chronicle||Oxford , Bodleian Library||Peterborough|
|F: MS Cotton Domitian A VIII, Domitian bilingual or Canterbury Bilingual Epitome||London, British Library||Christ Church, Canterbury|
|G or A2: MS Cotton Otho B XI, copy of the Winchester Chronicle (A)||London, British Library||Winchester|
|H: MS Cotton Domitian A IX, fol. 9||London, British Library||Unexplained|
History of origin
It is assumed in research that the surviving manuscripts all go back to a chronicle that was probably written in the early 890s at the court of King Alfred the Great in Wessex. This original document, which is also referred to in the literature as the Alfredian Chronicle or Common Stock , has not survived, but can be reconstructed from the surviving manuscripts A to H and other contemporary documents. Among other things, Aser's biography of Alfred was based on this oldest version of the chronicle, which has not survived. It is believed that the common stock dates from around 60 BC. Covered until 891 BC. After this original chronicle was compiled at Alfred's court, it was presumably sent to various religious centers in what is now England and copies were made of it. In turn, additional information was added to these copies, partly further material from the court in Wessex, partly material with a focus on local events in the new repository.
Taken together, the surviving manuscripts A to H of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle cover a period of Gaius Julius Caesar's failed campaigns in Britain in the 1950s BC. Until the death of King Stephen and the succession of Henry II in 1154. However, not all manuscripts cover the entire period; only E and H contain material from the twelfth century. The basic format of each manuscript is a concise representation of the events for each year, preceded by the year. The only exception is manuscript B, in which after the year 652 every new year is only introduced with her (Old English for here / at this time / this year ).
The individual manuscripts cover the history as follows:
|manuscript||Time of origin||content|
|A.||late 9th / early 10th century, with additions from the 10th century||West Saxon genealogical king lists up to Alfred, events from 60 BC BC and 1 to 891, especially Alfred's war with the Vikings; later additions: reign of Edward the Elder of Wessex, annals from the 10th century|
|B.||10th century||Events from 60 BC Chr., 1–977, with particularly detailed account of the events in Mercia such as the activities of Æthelflæd of Mercia in the 910s (also known as the Mercian Register or Annals of Æthelflæd ); West Saxon genealogical lists up to Eduard the Martyr|
|C.||11th century||Events from 60 BC Chr., 1–1066, copy from B to around 977, chronicle by Æthelred and Knut , negative representation by Godwin of Wessex , battle of Hastings 1066|
|D.||11th century||Events 1-261, 693-1079, extensive additional material over Northumbria and the North of England from a lost source as Northern Recension is called|
|E.||1121-1154||Events 60 BC BC, 1–1154, including Northern Recension , positive account of Godwin of Wessex, continued to 1154, including a report on the "anarchy" under King Stephen|
|F.||approx. 1100||Events from 60 BC Chr., 1–1058, bilingual manuscript with entries in Old English and Latin|
|G or A2||about 1100?||Copy of A with no later material|
|H||unexplained||Fragment , contains only entries from 1113 and 1114|
Use by contemporary historians and authors
Versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that have not survived also became the basis for the work of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman writers who wrote their works in Latin. Asser used a version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for his biography of Alfred the Great; furthermore, the chronicles of Æthelweard in the 980s, the chronicle of Winchester from the first half of the twelfth century, the histories of William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon from the same period as well as the so-called Annals of St Neots , probably in the second, are based on it Quarter of the twelfth century in Bury St Edmunds .
Despite the similarities between the manuscripts, there are sometimes contradictions in details, which is also due to the interests of the individual writers who were settled in different spheres of rule by Anglo-Saxon rulers. For example, manuscripts A and B set different priorities during the reign of Edward the Elder: The focus of manuscript A is on the events in Wessex, that of B on events in Mercia.
Also in representations of later events, such as at the end of the Anglo-Saxon period 1035-1066, one can find diverging and sometimes contradicting representations of the events in manuscripts C and E. E seems to favor Godwin from Wessex , while C portrays the family of Leofric de Mercia in a positive light. The historian Martin J. Ryan points out that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle remains a central document for the reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon period, but that the chronicle should not be accepted as a mere collection of facts, but rather as a documentation of the presentation of the past by different groups and people at different times and places.
In addition to the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum des Beda Venerabilis, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is the most important source for the Anglo-Saxon period of England up to the 12th century, because it provides both a comprehensive chronology of events and an impression of what political historiography looked like at that time . The importance of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is also so great because there are otherwise only sparse sources from this period. In addition to its importance as a source for historical research, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is also an important source for language historians , as it contains examples of early and late Old English. The Peterborough Chronicle, in particular, provides interesting evidence for the transition from Old English (in the West Saxon dialect) to Middle English.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also contains some literary insertions which literary studies have dealt with. So in manuscript D as a subsequent insert for the year 1067 a poem on the occasion of the wedding of Malcolm III. and Margaret of Scotland 1070 included. Also significant is the poem The Battle of Brunanburh from the entry for the year 937, in which King Æthelstan's victory in the Battle of Brunanburh over the united armies of the Vikings from Dublin , which was then ruled by Norwegians , the Scots from the Kingdom of Alba and the British celebrated the Kingdom of Strathclyde . Other, shorter poems included in the Chronicle are Capture of the Five Boroughs (from 942), The Coronation of King Edgar (973), The Death of King Edgar (975), The Death of Prince Alfred (1036 ) and The Death of King Edward the Confessor (1065).
Scientific editions (selection)
- Peter Baker (Ed.): MS F ( The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition , Volume 8). Cambridge 2000.
- Janet Bately (Ed.): MS A ( The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition , Volume 3). Cambridge 1986.
- Clark, Cecily (Ed.): The Peterborough Chronicle , 2nd Edition. Oxford 1970.
- Conner, Patrick (Ed.): The Abingdon Chronicle AD 956-1066 . Cambridge 1996.
- Susan Irvine (Ed.): MS E ( The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition , Volume 7). Cambridge 2004.
Translations into modern English
- Dorothy Whitelock , David C. Douglas , Susie I. Tucker (Eds. And translation): The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Revised Translation. London 1961.
- Michael Swanton (Ed. And translation): The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles . Revised edition. Routledge, London 2000.
- Janet Bately: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Texts and Textual Relationships . Reading 1991.
- Alice Jorgensen (Ed.): Reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Language, Literature, History . Brepols, Turnhout 2010, ISBN 978-2-503-52394-1 .
- Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . In: Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World . Yale University Press, New Haven 2013, ISBN 978-0-300-21613-4 , pp. 271-276.
- Digitized version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle A
- Digitized version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles B, C, D & F
- Digitized Anglo-Saxon Chronicle E
- Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . In: Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World . Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2013, ISBN 978-0-300-21613-4 , p. 271.
- Simon Keynes, Michael Lapidge (Eds.): Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources . Penguin Classics, London 1983, ISBN 978-0-14-044409-4 , p. 276.
- Alice Jorgensen: Introduction . In: Alice Jorgensen (ed.): Reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Language, Literature, History . Brepols, Turnhout, Belgium 2010, ISBN 978-2-503-52394-1 , pp. 6-7.
- Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . In: Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World . Yale University Press, New Haven 2013, ISBN 978-0-300-21613-4 , pp. 272-274.
- Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . In: Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World . Yale University Press, New Haven 2013, ISBN 978-0-300-21613-4 , pp. 274-275.
- Simon Keynes, Michael Lapidge (Eds.): Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources . Penguin Classics, London 1983, ISBN 978-0-14-044409-4 , p. 277.
- Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . In: Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World . Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2013, ISBN 978-0-300-21613-4 , p. 276.
- Alice Jorgensen: Introduction . In: Alice Jorgensen (ed.): Reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Language, Literature, History . Brepols, Turnhout, Belgium 2010, ISBN 978-2-503-52394-1 , pp. 1-2.
- Thomas A. Bredehoft: Malcolm and Margaret: The Poem in Annal 1067D . In: Alice Jorgensen (ed.): Reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Language, Literature, History . Brepols, Turnhout, Belgium 2010, ISBN 978-2-503-52394-1 , pp. 32-48.
- Hans-Ulrich Seeber: Englische Literaturgeschichte , 5th edition. Metzler, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02421-3 , p. 8.