Joseph Stevenson.

The Church historians of England : Pre-Reformation period (Volume 4, p2) online

. (page 1 of 56)
Online LibraryJoseph StevensonThe Church historians of England : Pre-Reformation period (Volume 4, p2) → online text (page 1 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

tihv<xxy of Che Cheolojical ^eminarjp





BR 7A6 .C58 v. 4:2

The Church historians of



^> ^l -











The History of William of Newburgh 395

The Chronicles of Robert de Monte 673


§ 1. Nearly all the scanty information which we possess re-
specting the biography of William of Newborough, — the author of
the histoiy which occupies the larger portion of the present volume,
— is derived from his own writings. The earlier bibliographers, in-
deed, add a few details, which, although unsupported by collateral
authority, are here incorporated with the more trustworthy notices
gleaned from the author's own statements.

§ 2. Leland, followed by Bale and others, tell us that his family
name was Pettit, or Parvus, and that he was born at Bridlington,
in Yorkshire. He himself records the date of his birth, — an event
which took place in the first year of the reign of king Stephen ;
consequently, in the few last days of December, 1135, or in 1 136.
In his Prefatory Epistle, he describes himself as "William, a canon
of Newborough," — a priory of Black or Augustine monks, — which
he appears ' to have entered shortly after it was founded by Roger de
Moubray, in 1145.^ Here he probably spent the whole of his life.
He is said* to have died in the year 1208, aged seventy-two. For
this date no satisfactory authority is vouched ; and, until such is
produced, its accuracy may be considered questionable, — if we con-
sider how improbable it is that the author, who had chronicled
with such minuteness of detail the earlier exploits of king Richard,
should have neglected to record the death of his sovereign, had he
himself been alive at the period of its occurrence.

§ 3. This history, which commences with the Norman conquest,
in 1066, and ends in 1197, was undertaken at the request of
Ernald,* abbot of the neighbouring monastery of Rievaux, to whom,
on its completion, it was dedicated by the author. Both in design
and execution, it is worthy of the approbation which has generally
been awarded to it. Far from being a barren chronicle of events,
collected without discretion, and recorded without taste, it aims at
narrating, with some historical precision, the leading incidents of
our national history — pointing as well to the causes in which these
events originated as the results of which they were productive. In
criticism, William of Newborough is in advance of his age ; and he

' See Book I. chap. xv. p. 419.

2 See Tanner, Notit. Monast., p. 658; Dugd. Monast. vi. 317.

* Cave, ii. 253 ; Tanner, p. 695. In his first edition of the Scriptores Bri-
tannia (4 Gippesv. 1548), fol. 100 b, Bale says that he flourished about a.d. 1216;
but in the second edition (fol. Basil, 1557), he alters the date to a.d. 1200. (Cent,
iii. § liii.)

* This Ernald resigned his dignity of abbot in 1199; see Chron. Melr. ad an.
(Ch. Hist. iv. 147.) Picard (see p. 397^ surmised that the abbot to whom it was
dedicated was the more celebratt'd Ealred, or Ailred, forgetting that he died ii>
1166; see Acta Sanct. Januar. i. 751.


is freer from prejudices than might reasonably have been expected;
while his honesty of heart and singleness of purpose, which scruple
not to express an independent opinion, as well on individuals as
measures, give weight to his conclusions. The work contains
internal evidence of having been written whilst the occurrences
which are therein recorded were in actual progress. Although no
less than twelve new chapters were added by the author at a later
period of his life, he does not appear to have thought fit at the
same time to revise the whole, and to produce a consistent and
uniform narrative ; but this consideration is more than counter-
balanced by the recollection that we have here the impression of
the moment, uninfluenced by subsequent considerations.^

§ 4. As might have been anticipated from what has been already
stated, the manuscripts present no variations of recensions,^ nor are
the various readings either numerous or important. The copies
most worthy of notice are the- following : —

MS. Bodl. Digby, 101, written upon vellum, in quarto, in the
fourteenth century, with the following title : " Historia de Gestis
Anglorum, tempore Stephani, Henrici, et Ricardi, Regum ; edita
a Willelmo, canonico de Novo Burgo."

MS. Bodl. 712 (formerly 2619, and also bearing the press-mark.
Sup. D. art. 20.'), written upon vellum, in folio, formerly belonging
to Roger S[aville]. It commences at folio 259, with the following
title : " Incipit Cronica de adventu Normannorum in Angliam et

de ultimo conquestu Et primo videndum est et dicendum

qua de causa W., dux Normannicee, dictus Nothus, primo Angliam

MS. Cott. Vesp. B vi., on vellum, in quarto, written in the four-
teenth century; a good and accurate copy.

The Royal MS. in the British Museum, 13 B ix., written on
vellum in the fifteenth century.

1 Hearne prints some memoranda by Archbishop Ussher, in which mention ia
made of a treatise by William of Newborongh, "De Rebus Terra} Sanctae," of which
a copy was extant in the manuscript belonging to Josseline. The chapter which
Heame has printed (p. 807) from Ussher's notes, and which professes to belong to
our present history, appears to me to have no such claim to be so considered.

- Unless, pei'haps, we may be inclined to believe that the variations (already
mentioned) which exist between the MS. used by Silvius (and which is repre-
sented by the Antwerp edition and the Heidelberg reprint), and those adopted by
Picard and Hearne, are sufficiently marked to indicate two independent and dis-
tinct recensions. The more important additions made to the Antwerp edition are
the following : —

Book iii. ch. xii. Book v. ch. xxii. Book v. ch. xxvi.

Book iv. ch. xxxvi. „ ch. sxiii. „ ch. xxix.

Book V. ch. vi. „ ch. xxiv. „ ch. sxx.

„ ch. vii. „ eh. xxv. „ ch. xxxiii.

These chapters were also wanting in a copy which had belonged to John .Josseline,
and which was collated by Ussher; see Hearne's edition, pp. 804 sqq., andJoaunia
Joscelini, Catalogus Historicorum, printed by Hearne, p. 281, at the end of his
edition of Avesbury. If this view be adopted, the manuscripts may be classified
as follows : —

A. The copy used by Silvius ;

That which formerly belonged to Josseline.

B. The copies used by Picard and Hearne — those above specified ; and two
in the jjossession of Henry Saville and — • Bromley, collated by Ussher.

' Cited also by Dugdale, Baron, i. 375, 463, as Med. 20, but without stating
that its author is William of Nowborough.


The Lambeth MS. lxxiii., written upon vellum, in folio, in the
fourteenth century.

These manuscripts have been examined, and, where necessary,
collated for the present edition.

The printed copies of the text are the following : —

" Gulielmi Neubrigensis Historia Anglica," 12". Antv. 1567 ; an
imperfect and faulty edition, several ^ chapters being omitted. It
was reprinted in the collection of English Historians, edited by
Corameline, under the title, " Rerum Britannicarum Scriptores
vetustiores ac preecipui," fol., Heidelb. 1587.

A more accurate edition was published in octavo, at Paris, in
1610, by Picard, who supplied the chapters in which the previous
edition was defective. The manuscript which he used was written
in what Picard styles Anglo-Saxon letters, and belonged to one
Rumet, an advocate in the senate at Paris. The notes are valuable;
they were reprinted by Hearne. Some copies bear the date of 1632,
but the body of the work is the same.

In 1719 Hearne issued an edition, in which he corrected
Picard's text by the use of a manuscript, the loan of which he had
obtained from Sir Thomas Sebright,^ and which at an earlier period
having belonged to the monastery of Newborough, is therefore
worthy of the highest regard ; yet it is scarcely entitled to the
enthusiastic commendations lavished upon it by Hearne, who has
preserved, with laborious trifling, the minutest particulars in which
it differs from Picard's text; and these vafiations, even when they
do not affect the sense, he is pleased to call corrections. The text,
which was defective in two places, some leaves having been lost,
was supplied by the Lambeth copy.

The English Historical Society has issued an edition in the
course of the present year (1856). It gives Hearne's text, collated
with the Lambeth manuscript, and a copy in the library of Corpus
Christi College, at Cambridge.

The present translation has been made from Hearne's text, and
that published by the English Historical Society ; for the loan of
the sheets of which, before they were issued to the public, the
translator begs to express his thanks.


§ 1. As it is impossible to understand the affairs of England
without reference to those of Normandy, with which they stand in
the most intimate relation, so it is impossible to understand the
affairs of Normandy without reference to the Chronicle of Robert
de Monte — the most important authority which we possess for the
history of the continental actions of the later Norman kings, and
the earlier monarchs of the house of Plantagenet.

§ 2. The author of this Chronicle, named Robert, was born at

' See note - on previons page.

- It had previously belonged to Sir Roger Twysden, who had procured it from
Sir Henry Spelman ; see Hearne's Preface, p. Ixiv.


Thorigny, a small town in Normandy. His family name, whatever
it may have been, was abandoned by him (as was usual) when, in
A.D. 1128, he entered the great Benedictine monastery of Bee; and
henceforth he was known only as Robert de Thorigny. Here he
continued as a simple monk until 1149, when he was advanced to
the dignity of prior. On the sixth of the kalends of June [27th
May], 1154, (p. 376,) he became prior of Mont St. Michel, where
he died on the eighth of the kalends of July [24th June], 1186.

§ 3. The circumstances of his life are such as to give proof of
the estimation in which he was held, and to afford a warrant for
the general accuracy^ of his statements.

In 1156 he received a visit from the archbishop of Rouen and
the bishop of Avranches (pp. 740, 741). Two years afterwards, the
kings of England and France came to Mont St. Michel, and were
entertained by him (p. 747). In 1161 he had the honour of stand-
ing as sponsor for one of the children of king Henry the Second,
who was born at Domfront (p. 756) ; and in the following year that
sovereign entrusted him with the temporary charge of the neigh-
bouring castle of Pontorson (ibid.^). He was summoned to attend
the council of Tours,^ in 1163; whence he proceeded to Rome, for
the purpose of obtaining bulls confirmatory of the privileges of his
monastery.* In 1169 he was present at Rennes, on the entry into
that city of Geoffrey, the son of our Henry the Second (p. 772).
He was engaged, in 1 177, in forwarding the election of Roland, dean
of Avranches, to the vacant see of Dol, in Brittany.^ Shortly after-
wards he visited England, on the affairs of Mont St. Michel. These
occupations, however, did not prevent him from devoting a con-
siderable portion of his time to literature, and he became the
author of several treatises," of which the most important is the
Chronicle which is here translated.

* Yet, despite the advantages which he thus enjoyed, he is not always correct in
his chronology, nor in the employment of his authorities, even in matters of which
he himself was personally concerned, or which occun-ed in his own immediate
neighbourhood. (See a.d. 1114, 1117, 1123, 1126, 1140, 1143, 1146 sqq. ; 1180,
1181, 1182.) Yet he is always truthful and honest; and his errors ai-e of such a
natm'e as not to detract materially from the general value of his narrative.

2 See also Gall. Christ, xi. App. p. 114.

^ See his account of Pope Alexander III., A.D. 1182, p. 804.

* Gall. Christ, xi. p. 520. » j^. xi. 506.

* These are —

(1) The History of Henry the First, referred to by him (p. 676), and hitherto
considered as the eighth book of the History of WUliam of Jumiege. A
translation of it will be given hereafter ia the present Series of Church

(2) A letter to Gervase ; printed by D'Achery, in Guiberti Opera, p. 715, (a. d.

(3) "De Immutatione Ordinis Monachorum in Normannia," a.d. 1154;
printed also by D'Achery, p. 811. Copies are frequent in the MSS. of the

(4) "Annales Montis Sancti Michaelis," (a.d. 1154 — 1159,) inserted in Eo-
bert's autograph in the Chartulary of that monastery ; now in the Public
Library at Avranches, No. 80.

(5) " Prologus in Flores S. Augustini," printed by D'Achery, p. 716.

(6) " Prologus in Plinium ab ipso correctum." This was sent, about two
hundred years ago, from Mont St. Michel to the Benedictine monks at
Paris, and was not returned. It is probably in the Royal Library at Paris.

^7) The Epistle, a translation of which is printed, p. 673.


§ 4. The process of the formation of this historical work was as
follows : —

Having borrowed from the bishop of Beauvais a manuscript
(possibly that of Notre Dame, at Paris, No, 94), which contained
Eusebius, Jerome, and Prosper, he transcribed these writers, with-
out alteration ; partly because he had few additions to make to the
period of history which they embraced, and partly because he did
not venture to meddle with authorities held in such high and
general estimation. Sigebert of Gemblours, also, he copied, omit-
ting nothing and changing nothing, but interpolating the history of
the archbishops of Rouen and the kings of England.

In 1150 he commenced' his own Chronicles, which form a con-
tinuation of Sigebert from the year 1100, but augmented by the
introduction of numerous passages from Henry of Huntingdon.^
His original intention was to continue them no further than the
year 1150;^ but he did not long adhere to this resolution, for,
while at Bes, he continued his work till 1154; and after his re-
moval to Mont St. Michel, he made additions to it as long as
he lived.

§ 5. Transcripts from Robert de Monte's original copy having
been obtained from time to time, we are in possession of various
classes or recensions of manuscripts. An examination of these,
checked with the variations of handwriting perceptible in the
original copy, which is yet extant, enables us to ascertain the
periods at which these several editions of the work — if that term
may be used — were issued. These occurred in the following years : —

A.D. 1156. Here end C, and the original hand in A and O.

A.D. 1157, towards the end of the year. Here end Z) and E; and
here Matthew Paris (p. 96) says the Chronicles of Robert, abbot of
Mont St. Michel, end.

A.D. 1169. Here end M, and the second hand in 0; also the
contracted texts in B; and so probably N and 0.

A.D. 1181. Here ends MS. 7, or P, for the two are identical.

A.D. 1182. At this period the author resolved, for the second
time, to close his labours, as is evinced by his Epistle to the abbot
of Bee (p. 763), and by his statement in the body of his Prologue
(p. 674). Here there is a change in the handwriting in A, and here
ends K. However, he once more changed his mind, and proceeded
onwards with his labour of love.

> See p. 690, note ^

- His authorities are briefly tlie following : — Henry of Huntingdon furnishes
him with all his English history. For the afiairs of Normandy he employs his
own History of Henry the First, Ordericus Vitalis, Fulcherius Carnotensis (chiefly
for the account of the Crusades) ; Milo Crispin's Life of Lanfranc (Acta SS. BoUand.,
Mail, tom. vi. p. 833 ; Mabill., Acta SS. VI. ii. 632) ; the Life of William, by the
same author (0pp. Lanfranc, IL 313, ed. Giles) ; Eadmer's Life of Anselm (0pp.
S. Anselmi, fol. Paris, 1721 ; Acta S. BoUand., April, tom. IL p. 865) ; ihe Miracles
of S.Wolfran (D'Acheiy, Spiceleg. II. 826) ; and the Origines Cistertienses.

' This was the date as it originally stood in A (see p. 676, note 7), and as it
stands in the manuscripts D, K, and 0. Ralph de Diceto (ap. Dec. Scriptores,
p. 432) says that Robert's Chronicles end A.D. 1147 ; but no such copy of the test
is known: probably the statement is an error. However, under a. D. 1148, the
" Annales Abbatiaj S. Edmundij" (MS. Harl. 447 of the thirteenth century) have this
entry — " Robertus abbas scripsit hue usque."


In 1183 he made an addition to the end of the year, and revised
the whole work, correcting it throughout. In 1184 he presented
the Chronicle thus improved to king Henry the Second, as he
himself states.* Here end N and Q; and here, doubtless, ended
O and R.

In 1185 he was again so employed ; and death found him thus
engaged in 1186.

§ 6. It now becomes necessary to enumerate the manuscripts
which have been employed in the formation of the text from which
the present translation is derived : —

A [E). The MS. of Mont St. Michel (St. Michael "de Periculo
Maris "), now No. 86 in the Public Library of Avranches, in Nor-
mandy ; it is in small folio, and written upon vellum. As far as
A.D. 1 156. it is a transcript from Robert's original MS. at Bee (now
lost), which is mentioned in the catalogue of the library of that
monastery, and alluded to in the letter addressed to tlie abbot
Roger (which may be seen at p. 763 of this volume), and which
contained Eusebius, Jerome, Prosper, and Sigebert, interpolated by
Robert, the present Annals from 1100 to 1153, and the treatise
" De Immutatione Ordinis Monachorum." The contents of MS. A
are as follows : —

On folios 1 and 2, which were prefixed to the volume after a. d.
1184, a hand of the twelfth century has written the " Tituli libro-
rum quos dedit Philippus,^ episcopus Baiocensis ecclesiee Becci,"
and the " Tituli librorum Beccensis armarii."

On the reverse of folio 3, which Robert de Monte inserted a. d.
1184, he has inscribed the following general title to his work: —
" In hoc volumine ista continentur
Cronica Eusebii Ceesariensis episcopi ....
Exinde idem leronimus perduxit . . .

Secuntur Cronica Prosperi in ordine historise, quae con-
tinent annos 77.

Sequitur exinde Cronographia Sigeberti, Gemblacensis
monachi, quam incepit anno 381 Dominicae Incarnationis, et
perduxit usque 1100 annum ejusdem Incarnationis Dominicae,
quo anno primus Henricus rex Anglorum cepit regnare.

Ab eodem anno Robertus, abbas S. Michaelis de Periculo
Maris fecit historiam, continentem res gestas Romanorum,
Francorum, Anglorum, usque ad prsesens tempus ; continen-
tem, scihcet, annos usque ad annum Dominicae Incarnationis
1184; quern librum praesentavit carissimo domino suo H. regi
Anglorum, continentem istam historiam et reliquas in hac
pagina notatas ; scilicet, Eusebii, leronimi, Prosperi, Sigiberti,
et propriam quae in fine ponitur.

De historia Orosii quam fecit de Ormesta mundi. ' Sunt

ab Adam primo homine et praedicatione Domini nostri

Jesu Christi anni 351.' "

' The years 1182 and 1183 are in the same hand; and at the same time was
made the alteration in the Prologue (p. 674), to the efifect that the work extends
to A.D. 1184.

2 Philip de Harcourt, from A.D. 1142 to 1164: see Robert de Monte, a.d.
1163, p. 759, note K


This volume, which consists of twenty-nine gatherings of vellum
(corresponding to the stitched sheets of paper in a printed book), is
written at various times, and presents several fluctuations in the
style of handwriting. It will be necessary to specify these with
some minuteness.

The transcript has at first been carried on, without break or
interruption, from the beginning of the volume as far as 1 1 56, early
in which year it was written. It is executed with considerable
neatness and care, although it exhibits a few corrections made
during the process of transcription, and at difierent times after-
v.'ards. So far, the names of the kings of England and the arch-
bishops of Rouen have been added, sometimes in the text, some-
times in the margin, and sometimes between the lines.

A change then takes place, yet the same ink is used ; and the
narrative is continued upon the same line. Minute but frequent
changes in the ink and style of the writing are visible.

In 1 157, a third variation commences with the word " Agarenes."
The ruling of the lines is no longer carried beyond the text into the
margin, as hitherto.

Near the beginning of the year 1161, another change may be

In 1167, near the beginning of the year, a fifth change occurs.
Instead of capital letters at the commencement of a sentence, the
sign § is employed.

In 1168, the first hand resumes the pen with the words, "In
the month of February," near the beginning of the year. The
whole gathering has been copied out at one and the same time, and,
consequently, presents no fluctuations.

In 1177, with the new gathering there is a change in the style
of the writing, although very unimportant.

In 1181, at the notice of the death of pope Alexander, another
variation occurs.

In 1182, at the word " Andronicus," an eighth change may be
detected, and the sign § is again employed.

The ninth and last closely resembles the writing which occurs on
the third folio of the MS., and which has been already described.
It commences, on a new gathering, with the words, " Our dearest
lord," and continues unchanged as far as 1183; at the end of
which year there commences a gradual enlargement of the writing,
until it concludes at the bottom of the last leaf of the gathering, a
•few lines from the end of the work.

Although so frequent, these changes by no means imply that
a new scribe was employed upon each several occasion. They are
neither more numerous nor more marked than might naturally be
expected to occur, when we bear in mind that the transcript in
which they are found covers a period of twenty years. After care-
fully examining the original manuscript, and comparing it with
others, formerly belonging to Mont St. Michel, in which the writing
of Robert de Monte occurs. Dr. Bethmann has come to the con-
clusion that the present work, from the year 1156 to the end, is
the author's autograph copy.


B (E 1), Arundel MS. 18, in the British Museum, upon vellum,
in folio, of the fourteenth century. It contains Eusebius, Jerome,
Prosper, and Sigebert; but proceeds no further than the year 1100.
C (E 2) ; originally belonging to the monastery of the Holy
Trinity, at Savigny, situated between Domfront and Mont St. Mi-
chel ;' afterwards in Colbert's collection, and now in the Royal
Library at Paris, No. 4862. It is written upon vellum, in an
elegant hand of the thirteenth century; and contains Eusebius,
Jerome, Prosper, and Sigebert ; followed by the Annals of Robert
de Monte, as far as a.d. 1156, near the commencement of which
it ends. Although its text is exceedingly curtailed, yet in some
places — for instance, under the years 1112, 1120, 1124, 1138,
1146, 1149, 1151, and 1152 — occur additions which are peculiar
to this copy.

Z) (E 3 a), a manuscript of the thirteenth century, belonging to
the church of Baieux, transcribed by three different hands from A.
It ends with the conclusion of the year 1157; after which follows
the treatise, " De Immutatione Ordinis Monachorum," and the
" Epistola Hugonis Rothomagensis." It is free from interpo-

J5; (E 3 Z»). The Harleian MS., 651 in the British Museum, in
folio, written upon vellum, in double columns, in the twelfth cen-
tury. A hand of the fifteenth century states that it then was " De
monasterio S. Mariae Radyngiae ;" but from a marginal note, which
occurs at fol. 153, it would appear to have been the property of
that monastery at least two centuries earlier. It closely follows the
Royal MS. L. The dates are frequently incorrect and doubtful,
having been tampered with by erasures and alterations. It ends

Online LibraryJoseph StevensonThe Church historians of England : Pre-Reformation period (Volume 4, p2) → online text (page 1 of 56)