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A Chronicle (of ancient Greek χρονικά (βιβλία) Chronicles (bíblia) to χρόνος chronOS 'time', accordingly, mutatis mutandis, "Time Code") is a historical prose representation illustrating the events listed in chronological order. Chronicles can range from short, pure data lists to detailed descriptions of individual annual events.


The chronicle as a form of historiography was developed in ancient times. Short chronical works were already written in the ancient Orient , even though they were not literarily processed and briefly reported on important events.

Chronicles were also created in Greco-Roman antiquity , but their content was broader. Mention is z. B. Apollodorus of Athens , Castor of Rhodes and Dexippos (although his chronicle was probably very close to "classical historiography"). Christian ancient authors based themselves on the genre of Greek chronicles from the Hellenistic period. The Chronicle of Sextus Iulius Africanus had a significant influence on later Christian historians . For the period of late antiquity in particular , some chronicles provide important information, although many only offered brief descriptions. The chronicles of Eusebius of Caesarea , Hieronymus , Hydatius of Aquae Flaviae , Josua Stylites , Johannes Malalas or the Chronicon Paschale should be mentioned . With the end of antiquity , this tradition lived on in the Byzantine Empire (see for example Georgios Synkellos and Theophanes ).

In the Latin West, the chronicle flourished in the high and late Middle Ages . It presents itself as a report on historical processes in chronological order, however not on the basis of the calendar years ( annals ), but in the larger chronological context of the reigns of kings and popes, for example. Chronicles aim to give the reader a chronologically ordered historical To provide an overview; the chronicles, written from an explicitly Christian standpoint, also attempt to establish a connection between Christian salvation history and secular history.

After the content and scope are world chronicles , Emperor and - King chronicles , country chronicles , monastery - Church and city chronicles to distinguish. The house chronicle is a family, genealogically oriented memorial. Finally, there were also the family chronicles , which have been created in Italy since the Renaissance and soon also in German trading cities and which constitute a new medium of bourgeois self-awareness and tradition, but also a preliminary form of the autobiography . Medieval examples of chronicles include the Chronica maiora of Isidore of Seville (6th / 7th centuries), the Fredegar chronicle (7th century), the chronicle of Thietmar von Merseburg (11th century), the Chronica sive Historia de duabus civitatibus by Otto von Freising (12th century) or the world chronicle by Hartmann Schedel (late 15th century). There are also numerous other works. German-language chronicles ( apart from the Annolied ) have been known since the 12th century.

School chronicles began in the 19th century and often recorded the knowledge of the development of the local school history that had been collected up to that point, in order to then report in detail on the current school situation every year.

Family chronicle 1894

In addition to its historical form of use, the chronicle lives on today as a popular form of use, for example in village or club chronicles . She has made another career as a literary structural model, especially in fictional narrative prose. For example, in the Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann .

Examples of African chronicles are the Kilwachronik (around 1520) or the godfather chronicle .

Related forms

Due to the purely chronological representation of events, the chronicle differs from those historical works that try to understand, describe and explain what happened by creating references and contexts and often contain richer stylistic elements (e.g. speeches). Such historical works were written in the Middle Ages by Gregor von Tours , Ernst von Kirchberg , Fulcher von Chartres , Lambert von Hersfeld , Jean Froissart , Thietmar von Merseburg , Otto von St. Blasien and Matthias von Neuenburg . Well-known late medieval chroniclers from Switzerland include Gerold Edlibach , Hans Fründ , Konrad Justinger , Diebold Schilling the Elder , Diebold Schilling the Younger , Werner Schodoler , Christoph Silberysen , Bendicht Tschachtlan and Johann Jakob Wick .

As a publication , a chronicle is a reference work that is not structured according to the alphabet but according to the time axis. However, under the designation "Chronicle" one can also find other representations in bookshops that do not follow the chronology more than other historical works.

Non-European forms of the chronicle are z. B.


  • Richard W. Burgess , Michael Kulikowski: Mosaics of Time. The Latin Chronicle Traditions from the First Century BC to the Sixth Century AD. Volume 1: A Historical Introduction to the Chronicle Genre from its Origins to the High Middle Ages (= Studies in the early Middle Ages. Vol. 33). Brepols, Turnhout 2013, ISBN 978-2-503-53140-3 .
  • Stefan Dicker: State consciousness and current affairs: Studies on Bavarian chronicles of the 15th century (= norm and structure. Studies on social change in the Middle Ages and early modern times. Vol. 30). Böhlau, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20103-6 .
  • Graeme Dunphy (Ed.): Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle . 2 vols. Brill, Leiden 2010 (with several work and overview articles).
  • Stephanie Dzeja: The History of Your Own City. Urban chronicle in Frankfurt am Main from the 16th to the 18th century (= European university publications. Vol. 946). Lang, Frankfurt a. M. 2003, ISBN 3-631-50419-5 .
  • Constantin Hruschka: Warfare and historiography in the late Middle Ages. An investigation into the chronology of the Council's time (= collective attitudes and social change in the Middle Ages. NF, vol. 5). Böhlau, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-412-06501-3 .
  • Peter Johanek: World Chronicle and Regional Historiography in the Late Middle Ages. In: Hans Patze (ed.): Historiography and historical consciousness in the late Middle Ages (= lectures and research. Vol. 31). Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1987, ISBN 3-7995-6631-7 , pp. 287-330 ( online )
  • Regula Schmid: History in the service of the city. Official history and politics in the late Middle Ages. Chronos, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-0340-0928-7 .
  • Gerhard Wirth, Karl Schnith, Raoul Manselli and 25 others: Chronicle. A. Late Antiquity - B. General questions and overview of medieval chronology (Medieval West) - C – S. The medieval chronicle according to countries, regions and cultures . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 2, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1983, ISBN 3-7608-8902-6 , Sp. 1955-2026 (with detailed references).
  • Gerhard Wolf, Norbert H. Ott (Hrsg.): Manual Chronicles of the Middle Ages. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-020627-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Chronicle  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Chronicler  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations