The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC) is the most important historical source in English history for the period of 500-1189 AD. The ASC is made up of 7 manuscripts, labeled by M. R. James as A-F.

The first attempt at printing the fragments of the ASC was made by by Professor Wheloc around 1644. The second attempt was made in 1692 by Edmund Gibson and contained around 4 times as much content as the first but it was still far from containing the complete ASC. The first literal version was finished in 1819. Every modern analysis of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is normally based on John Earle’s 1865 revision which was published by Charles Plummer between 1892 and 1899.

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Basic List of the MSS:

MS A – The Parker Chronicle. Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, MS. 173.

MS B – The Abingdon Chronicle I. British Library, Cotton Tiberius A VI.

MS C – The Abingdon Chronicle II. British Library, Cotton Tiberius B I.

MS D – The Worcester Chronicle. British Library, Cotton Tiberius B IV.

MS E – The Peterborough (Laud) Chronicle. Bodleian Library, Laud misc. 636.

MS F – The Bilingual Canterbury Epitome. British Library, Cotton Domitian A VIII.

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Earliest Provenance for the MSS:

I have 16th c. or 17th c. marked for the MSS from Cotton’s collection because I’m not sure when he acquired them but I do know that he lived in both the 16th and 17th cc..

All of the MSS appear out of obscurity in the 16th century or the 17th century.

MS A – 16th century – Nicholas Wotton possessed the manuscript.

MS B – *This is the only one from the British Library that doesn’t have the ownership section filled out. I think possibly 16th c. or 17th c. because it was part of Cotton’s collection but I’m not sure.

MS C – 16th c. or 17th century.

“Provenance: William Bowyer (d. 1569/70), antiquary: owned, according to John Joscelyn (see Cotton MS Nero C III, f. 208r).Robert Bowyer (b. c.1560, d. 1621), parliamentary official and politician: owned; exchanged by him with Robert Cotton (see Harley MS 6018, ff. 154v, 158r).Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (b. 1571, d. 1631), 1st baronet, antiquary and politician: a Cottonian title page can be found on f. 2r. Cotton’s collection was augmented by his son, Sir Thomas Cotton (b. 1594, d. 1662), 2nd baronet, and his grandson, Sir John Cotton. Sir John Cotton (b. 1621, d. 1702), 3rd baronet: bequeathed the entire Cotton collection of books and manuscripts to trustees ‘for Publick Use and Advantage’, 12 and 13 William III, c. 7. Formed one of the foundation collections of the British Museum in 1753.”

MS D – 16th c. or 17th c.

“Provenance: Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (b. 1571, d. 1631), 1st baronet, antiquary and politician: inscribed with his name (f. 91v).Cotton’s collection was augmented by his son, Sir Thomas Cotton (b. 1594, d. 1662), 2nd baronet, and his grandson, Sir John Cotton. Sir John Cotton (b. 1621, d. 1702), 3rd baronet: bequeathed the entire Cotton collection of books and manuscripts to trustees ‘for Publick Use and Advantage’, 12 and 13 William III, c. 7. Formed one of the foundation collections of the British Museum in 1753.”

MS E – 17th c. – Based on the date when Laud donated it to the Bodleian Library.

MS F – 16th c. or 17th c.

“Provenance: Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (b. 1571, d. 1631), 1st baronet, antiquary and politician: listed amongst his manuscripts in Additional MS 36682 (see Tite, Early Records (2003), p. 205). Cotton’s collection was augmented by his son, Sir Thomas Cotton (b. 1594, d. 1662), 2nd baronet, and his grandson, Sir John Cotton. Sir John Cotton (b. 1621, d. 1702), 3rd baronet: bequeathed the entire Cotton collection of books and manuscripts to trustees ‘for Publick Use and Advantage’, 12 and 13 William III, c. 7. Formed one of the foundation collections of the British Museum in 1753.”

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References:

[1] – English Historical Documents, 500-1042

[2] – English Historical Documents, 1042-1189

[3] – The Sources of Archbishop Parker’s Collection of MSS at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, with a Reprint of the Catalogue of Thomas Markaunt’s Library

[4] – Angus, W. S. “THE EIGHTH SCRIBE’S DATES IN THE PARKER MANUSCRIPT OF THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE.” Medium Ævum, vol. 10, no. 3, 1941, pp. 130–149. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43626218. Accessed 17 June 2020.

[] – Fomenko’s Fundamental English Chronicles

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