Brut Chronicle (1346 Continuation)

Archive Collection
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 103
  • Dates of Creation
      Mid 14th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      Middle English  and Latin
  • Physical Description
      1 volume. iv + 130 + ii folios, foliated (1-2), 3-130 (modern foliation). Folios iii and iv are vellum flyleaves (see below). Dimensions: 275 x 183 mm. Collation: 18, 28 lacking 2-7 after f. 9, 3-78, 88 lacking 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 (ff. 51-2), 9-178, 188 lacking 7 and 8. Quires are signed in the usual late medieval way: a, b, d-s. 'The fifth leaf in each quire is marked on the recto, bottom right, with a cross made without raising the pen' (Ker). The second leaf of the text is missing, but according to Ker its first words were no doubt 'al this', since f. 9v ends 'herden' (Brie, p. 3 line 9). Medium: vellum, 'of good quality, thick and soft' (Ker). Binding: blind-stamped chestnut morocco, 19th century.
  • Location
      Collection available at the John Rylands Library, Deansgate.
  • Direct Link

Scope and Content

Mid fourteenth-century manuscript of the Brut Chronicle to 1333, continued in another another hand and ending imperfectly in 1346. There are later lists of Anglo-Saxon kings and of archbishops of Canterbury from Augustine to Matthew Parker on the flyleaves.

Contents: Brut Chronicle to 1333, opening on f. 9: 'Here may a (man) hure Engeland was first called Albyon and þoruȝ wham it hadde þe name. In the nobele lande of Syrrye...'; continued in another hand and ending imperfectly at 1346 'fast by Crescy': ed. F.W.D. Brie, The Brut (see Bibliography below) p. 298 line 24. The first quire contains a table of 223 numbered chapters (ff. 1-7v) and a blank leaf (f. 8r-v).

There are five gaps in the text: (1) six leaves between f. 9v, which ends 'þe ladyes herden', and f. 10r, which begins 'and feete'; (2) a quire between f. 18v, which ends 'and whanne he', and f. 19r, which begins 'wheder to wende'; (3) two leaves between f. 50v, which ends 'hertes', and f. 51r, which begins 'loued þat þey bicomen sworne breþeren'; (4) two leaves between f. 51v, which ends 'he had of ham', and f. 52r, which begins 'to þe englisshmen'; (5) two leaves between f. 52v, which ends 'and after', and f. 53r, which begins 'come aȝen vnto king Edward'. For the missing text see Brie, pp. 3:9-14:5, 33:20-50:6, 115:17-119:17 (see footnote 17), 121:23-125:30,127:30-132:5.

Script: Gothic anglicana formata by two hands, the second beginning at f. 126v line 30 after 'chalaunge of eny man' (Brie, p. 286 line 9). Written space: 182 x 112 mm. 34 long lines.

Decoration: There are nearly continuous foliate borders on ff. 1r and 9r, of gold, pink and blue, with white penwork, terminating in ivy leaves and bezants.

Other features: ff. iii and iv are vellum flyleaves containing lists of early English kings and a list of archbishops of Canterbury from Augustine to Matthew Parker, 16th century.

Description derived from N.R. Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol. III, Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 417. By permission of Oxford University Press.

Administrative / Biographical History

The celebrated Chronicles of England, or Brut Chronicle, is the earliest prose chronicle in English and was the most popular history of England in the Middle Ages, with over 240 manuscript copies in English, Anglo-Norman and Latin still extant, as well as thirteen editions printed before 1528. The Chronicles are chivalric in tone and display a fondness for vivid battle scenes. Many mythical elements are incorporated, such as the founding of Britain by Brutus of Troy (from which the title comes) and the King Arthur legend, though the narrative becomes more detailed and factual the nearer it gets to contemporary events. It was intended to be read for pleasure by a predominantly secular and aristocratic audience, and its literary and dramatic qualities include frequent use of direct speech to give immediacy and drama.

The original prose initially covered the period up to the early years of Edward I's reign (regnal dates 1272-1307) but in various different manuscript editions it was continued up to a range of dates until near the end of the 15th century when in 1480 it was printed by William Caxton under the title of The Chronicles of England. The trend of manually extending the work however continued in the printed editions, with many acting as family almanacs.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library in 1908 from the London booksellers J. and J. Leighton for £36; invoice dated 18 June 1908. Accession no. R15385.

Other Finding Aids

Detailed description by Gavin Cole available on the Imagining History project website: http://www.qub.ac.uk/imagining-history/resources/short/results.php?record=117.

Custodial History

Unknown. A 19th-century owner wrote 'MSS: A' at the foot of f. 1 and noted on f. 84v that 'my MS. B is deficient for the remainder of this reign' (so it lacked Brie, p. 199 line 15 to p. 247) and that one piece of text on f. 126 was 'as MS. B' and another 'as MS. C'.

Related Material

The JRUL holds several other versions of the Brut Chronicle:

Bibliography

Friedrich W.D. Brie, The Brut, or, the Chronicles of England, edited from Ms. Rawl. B 171, Bodleian Library, etc. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner for the Early English Text Society, 1906-8).

N.R. (Neil Ripley) Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol. III, Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 417.

G.A. (Godfrey Allen) Lester, The index of Middle English prose. Handlist 2, a handlist of manuscripts containing Middle English prose in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester and Chetham's Library, Manchester (Cambridge: Brewer, 1985), p. 38.

Lister M. Matheson, The prose Brut: the development of a Middle English chronicle (Tempe, Arizona: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1998).

The Imagining History project website at Queen's University Belfast: http://www.qub.ac.uk/imagining-history/about.