Article

Chronicles of England and the British Isles

Lister M. Matheson

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online June 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0021
Chronicles of England and the British Isles

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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Chronicles were the major source of historical knowledge and interpretation available to medieval people and form an important and a large part of many national literatures in the Middle Ages. They can be defined as historical narratives, in verse or prose, of a more or less extended period or a significant historical event and distinguished from annals (year-by-year, though sometimes sporadic, prose accounts of events), but in practice these two formats for historical writing often overlapped and merged. Chronicles in England were written in Old English, Latin, Anglo-Norman, and Middle English, in general accordance with the relative cultural and political fortunes of these languages. Frequently, though not invariably, the choice of language depended on the type of chronicle: thus, monastic chronicles were usually written in Latin, “chivalric” chronicles in Anglo-Norman, and civic chronicles in English. Scholarly interest in chronicles remains strong and has expanded beyond their significance for the modern historian to their value as cultural indicators (e.g., in sections that seem “legendary” to a modern mind) and as products of textual culture.

Article.  7011 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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