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library, but it was burnt with the other manuscripts; and let it be observed, that the presses which contained the most valuable historical documents, were those which suffered most from the spiteful flames. A third manuscript was used by Sir Henry Saville:* we have no account of this codex, but it was imperfect, ending with the passage where the French text of the laws of the Conqueror is introduced; and, together with Marsham's copy, it has long since disappeared. Whilst the documents thus evade our inquiries, a curious accident enables us to pronounce upon the age of the Croyland'autograph' with tolerable certainty. Spelman states, that he consulted the autograph' manuscript, from whence he has transcribed the first five chapters of the Norman laws.I Now, in his transcript, this eminent antiquary has fallen into an error which renders his misprint equivalent to a fac-simile of the characters of the manuscript. For the word. Euesqes, he reads Euestres. The cause of this mistake will be easily understood when it is observed that in the current handwriting which prevailed during the reigns of Edward I. and 11., the syllables esqes' bear so near a resemblance to the syllables estres,' as scarcely to be distinguishable from each other, as may be seen by inspection of the following examples, which are faithfully traced from a manuscript of that age: (Euesqes)
But the mistake could hardly have been made by the transcriber,
Scriptores Reruni Anglicarum post Bedam, Lond. 1596. + The fate of Marsham's manuscript has not been ascertained. Bishop Gibson, writing July, 1694, to Dr. Arthur Charlett, Master of University College, says, Sir John Marsham's collection must be considerable. There is a curious Ingulphus in your library, which, as his family says, Obadiah Walker stole from him. I told him what they lay to his charge : his answer was, that Sir John gave it to bim; and that as an acknowledgement he presented him with some copies of the Ingulphus printed at Oxford. It is very probable, though Sir John did not design to part with the books pay, he used to be complaining of Mr. Walker for using him so unkindly. But the old gentleman has too much of the spirit of an antiquarie and a great scholar to think stealing a munuscript any sin. He has ordered me not to discover where it is lodged(Gougl's Additions to Croyland, 283). Though it has often been suspected that col. lectors do not consider themselves under a strict obligation of obeying the eighth Commandment, yet we never heard this doctrine so plainly expressed and confessed. We are informed that the most diligent search has been made in the library of University College for the manuscript, but without success. Some other antiquarie and great scholar may have followed the example of Obadiah, and acted with equal spirit.'
Adjiciendum censec aliud specimen quarundam prædictarum legum, ut Normannico habentur idiomate inter cæteras Confessoris leges ab Ingulpho, Abbate Croylandiæ datæ et post excidium illius monasterii in veterrimo M.S. ab ædituis superstitis illic ecclesiæ sub tertia clave conservatæ. Posuit has in lucem V. C. Johannes Selden in suis ad Edwerum notis, versionemque adjecit, quam jam accuratiorem exhibemus ; sed leges ipsas ex ipso designavimus archetypo, castigatiores paululum, quam in im. presso codice.-Concilia, vol. i. p. 313.
if the original manuscript had been written in the hands which prevailed in the age of Ingulphus; and we doubt whether the compilation was of much older date than the manuscript, that is to say, about the end of the thirteenth, or the first half of the fourteenth, century. In none of the chronicles anterior to that age can we trace a single line that is borrowed from Ingulphus. If the work had existed, it could scarcely have been neglected by these inveterate compilers. And subsequently to that period, the only work which exhibits a paragraph agreeing in substance with Ingulphus, is the Chronicle of Peterborough, compiled or interpolated by Robert of Boston, in the reign of Edward III. It is extremely probable that some history of Croyland existed in the archives of the abbey. Ordericus Vitalis, in his Ecclesiastical History, has given an abstract of the history of Croyland, perhaps deduced from genuine materials. Turketul is simply described as 'a certain clerk of London, of royal descent, a relative of Orketel Archbishop of York.' Had the biography consulted by Ordericus mentioned the name of Ethelward, he would scarcely have identified the clerk' by noticing the remoter and more obscure consanguinity; nor is it likely that the dignity of the chancellorship would have been omitted in the narrative. The deposition of Abbot Ulfketel, and the promotion of Ingulphus, are briefly told. Either Ordericus, or the documents used by him, may have furnished the outline of the romance published under the name of the reverend abbot. But to separate the gloss from the text, and the embellishment from the fact, is a task almost impracticable. The pseudo-Ingulphus, if quoted, must be quoted only in those passages where relations, not improbable in themselves, are uncontradicted by surer authorities. Ingulphus,' saith Dr. Henry,
published an excellent history of the abbey of Croyland, from its foundation, A.D. 664 to A.D. 1091, with which he had introduced much of the general history of the kingdom, with a variety of curious anecdotes that are no where else to be found,'—but it is exactly these curious anecdotes which must be unsparingly rejected.
Much might be added respecting the treatment and interpretation of these ancient authorities. Their chronology in particular requires great attention. Years, amongst the heathen AngloSaxons, were reckoned by winters, and diurnal revolutions by nights. The winter began on the mother-night, the festival of Yule. Their lunar calendar required the correction of an intercalary month, which was inserted in the summer season.
The Roman missionaries certainly introduced the Roman calendar, but the period when it came into general use is unknown; and it is possible that the old national calendar may have been long retained for civil purposes and in popular computation. All the Anglo-Saxon charters express their dates; the year of the King, of the Incarnation and the Indiction, are generally specified. But it is frequently difficult to reconcile the dates of these instruments to the chronicles, and the dates given by the chronicles as frequently offer discrepancies and varieties. Obvious as the convenience of denoting dates by a consecutive series of numbers may appear to us, this practice was by no means universal. Ethelweard reckons from event to event, and this rude and insecure chronology was probably the only mode of computation prevailing among the Anglo-Saxons before their conversion. There are even monastic chronicles in which the dates are entirely omitted. Instead of expressing the year, some scribes contented themselves with repeating the word 'annus,' without note, numeral, or particular of any description, and the date can only be supplied by conjecture. When the year of the incarnation is distinctly stated in an ancient chronicle, many perplexing difficulties still remain. On what day does the year begin? The year may begin either from the fixed feasts and days of Christmas, the kalends of January, the Annunciation, or Michaelmasmor else from the moveable feast of Easter. All these modes of computation prevailed. To increase the confusion, some chroniclers advanced upon their contemporaries by an entire year. If the year of the reign is to be calculated, our task will hardly be easier. It may have been reckoned from the king's accession, or from his consecration, and the date may change, not on the anniversary of the event from which it is reckoned, but with the beginning of the calendar year, whenever that beginning may have been reckoned.* The indiction also, which ought to change on the 24th of September, is sometimes ascribed to the whole of the current year. In addition to these sources of error, the historian must contend with the corruptions of manuscripts, the blunders of transcribers and of printers, the drowsiness of editors; and oftentimes the only result of his anxious labours will be a greater conviction of their unprofitableness and uncertainty.
In all regal tables and histories of England, the years of the reign of John are made to begin with the 6th April, 1199, the day of the death of Richard I. But John, notwithstanding the acknowledgment of his inchoate right, was only Duke of Normandy, until he was crowned as King of England, with the assent of the Baronage. In the period which elapsed between the death of Richard and the coronation, John had not the style of King, he exercised no acts of royal authority, nor did he become entitled to receive the royal revenue. His reign began with his coronation, which took place on the Ascension day (27th May, 1199), and he was then let into the receipt of the revenue. The years of his reign are calculated from Ascension day to Ascension day; and, as the date changes with the moveable feast, each year of his reign is of different length, and begins on a different day. Consequently, all the documents whose dates fall between the 6th of April and Ascension-day, in each year, have been referred to the wrong year of the reign, by those writers who have not noticed the ancient mode of calculation. A mistake the same description has been made with respect to the reign of Edward I. which is usually calculated from the 16th November, 1272, the day of the death of Henry III. Edward's reign really commenced from the 20th November, 1272, when he was proclaimed at the New Temple, and upon that day the date of the year of his reign was changed. Full proof is afforded of this assertion by the date of the charter of homage executed by John Balliol, ' apud Norham die Jovis in festo Sancti Eadmundi Regis et Martiris (20th November) anno Incarnationis Dominica millesimo ducentesimo nonagesimo secundo et regni ipsius domini nostri
The bulk of the massy folios, both in print and in manuscript, on paper and op vellum, in which the chronicles are comprized, may seem appalling; but, on examination of their contents, our annals anterior to the conquest will shrink into a narrow compass.
The information which has been transmitted to us respecting the Kingdoms of the Heptarchy, will be found to be distributed very unequally. Of the acts of the early kings of Northumbria, the inestimable history of Bede furnishes us with details which are equally authentic and interesting. But, after the termination of his narrative, the history of that state becomes extremely broken and obscure. With respect to Bernicia, and the states which it included, only a few details are preserved, and until we arrive at the cession, as it is termed, of the Lothians to the Scottish King, we have not a single notice concerning that extensive territory which then became finally separated from the English crown. Nor are the chronicles more ample with respect to the northern and western portions of the dominion subjected to Northumbria. Occasionally, we have notices of the Britons of Strathclyde and the Cumbrian kingdom ; but before the reign of Edgar, we cannot give even the name of any Burgh, River or Mountain in the modern counties of Cumberland, Westmoreland or Lancaster. These tracts are blank spaces in the Saxon map as well as in the Saxon history. Legends and fables constitute the East Anglian annals. Of Essex some few events are mentioned; but the extent of the chronicles will be estimated by remarking that the period of the conquest of London by the Anglo-Saxons is entirely unknown; and from their silence on so important an event we may judge of their deficiencies. The earlier annals of Mercia do not
forn any connected series. Kent and Wessex offer the most complete succession. But even here we are interrupted by lamentable chasms; and a chronicle composed by the juxtaposition of all the facts which we possess and collected from every source would show that, in truth, mere wrecks and fragments of Anglo-Saxon history have been preserved. Edwardi vicesimo finiente et vicesimo primo incipiente.—Fædera, N. E. vol. i. p. 781. Although there is not the slightest pretence for asserting that the English monarchy was elective, still this practice shows that, according to the theory of the constitution, the title of the heir required the recognition of the Baronage.
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