Lisa M. Ruch

title.none: Marx, ed., An English Chronicle (Lisa M. Ruch)

identifier.other: baj9928.0501.026 05.01.26

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Lisa M. Ruch, Bay Path College,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Marx, William, ed. An English Chronicle 1377-1461: A New Edition. Series: Medieval Chronicles, vol. 3. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2003. Pp. cv, 199. $75.00 (hb). ISBN: 0-85115-793-9.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.01.26

Marx, William, ed. An English Chronicle 1377-1461: A New Edition. Series: Medieval Chronicles, vol. 3. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2003. Pp. cv, 199. $75.00 (hb). ISBN: 0-85115-793-9.

Reviewed by:

Lisa M. Ruch
Bay Path College

Many chronicle texts that can be of use to today's scholars either remain unedited, or exist in editions produced in the nineteenth century. While the nineteenth-century editions are often quite useful, their age frequently makes them difficult to locate, fragile to handle, and of course, extremely dated in their scholarship and ancillary materials.

Richard Marx's new edition of the Middle English text commonly known as the "Davies Chronicle" both rectifies the problems mentioned above and provides a more complete text of this prose Brut continuation. The so-called "Davies Chronicle" was edited by J.S. Davies in 1856 for the Camden Society. Davies used as his base text Oxford, Bodleian MS Lyell 34, a manuscript which is badly damaged in a number of places. While the chronicle it contains covers the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI, the initial portion, containing the reign of Richard II, is fragmentary. The material contained in the Lyell manuscript is worthy of publication, however, as it presents a unique Brut continuation that can be of interest to historians, linguists, and chronicle scholars alike.

This new edition takes as its base Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales MS 21608, a recently discovered text which provides a more complete and hence more authoritative version of the text in the "Davies Chronicle." The chronicle covers the years 1377-1437 and 1440-1461, with a three-year gap. It seems clear that the chronicle is actually comprised of two continuations of the Middle English Prose Brut, the compilers having made use of a number of Latin texts in their additions. Interest in the Brut has heightened recently with the 1998 publication of Lister Matheson's comprehensive study of the Prose Brut. Matheson categorizes the text of the "Davies Chronicle" under "Peculiar Texts and Versions," those texts having unique contents, pointing out its expanded narrative and individual characteristics, which appear to have been drawn from a variety of sources, including the Eulogium Historiarum.

Marx's approach as an editor is thorough and well-reasoned, resulting in a text that is both useful and easy to work with. His introductory material provides an in-depth discussion of the dating of the text, the relationship between the Aberystwyth and Lyell manuscripts and their relationship to the Brut itself, the reigns covered by the chronicle, and his own policy and practices as editor. The text itself is laid out by reigns, with boldfaced rubrics, clear indications of foliation, and line numbers to assist with the Apparatus and Commentary. Both of these portions of the edition are clearly arranged and comprehensive; Marx provides us with clear indications of any emendations he has made to the manuscript text, as well as notes on historical markers, collations to related texts, and linguistic issues. Marx includes as an Appendix the text from a Latin Brut (Oxford, Bodleian MS Rawlinson C.398) covering the reign of Richard II in a synoptic fashion. The Glossary is a useful tool which includes those words that appear in the chronicle only once, twice, or three times, with cross-references back to the text. Finally, both the Bibliography and Index are consistent and thorough.

This welcome new edition of the "Davies Chronicle" will be useful to a range of medievalists. Historians will value it for its presentation of unique vernacular regnal histories with both Yorkist and Lancastrian viewpoints, linguists will be able to use it to study dialectical features of fifteenth-century Middle English and certain instances of little-used words, while literary historians will be able to consider its particular use of historical texts as a means of rhetoric and propaganda.