Hardyng's Chronicle, Dedication and Prologue


ABBREVIATIONS: Alliterative Morte: Alliterative Morte Arthure, ed. Benson; Arthur: Arthur: A Short Sketch of His Life and History in English Verse; Bede: Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People; Brut: The Brut or The Chronicles of England, ed. Brie; CT: Canterbury Tales; CPL: Peter Langtoft, The Chronicle of Pierre de Langtoft; EH: Eulogium Historiarum sive Temporis, ed. Haydon; FH: Flores Historiarum, ed. Luard; FP: John Lydgate, Fall of Princes; HA: Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum; HB: Nennius, Historia Brittonum; HRB: Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Brittanniae; HRBVV: Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Brittanniae, Variant Version; JG: John of Glastonbury, The Chronicle of Glastonbury Abbey; LB: Layamon’s Brut, trans. Allen; m: marginalia; Mort Artu: La Morte Artu, ed. Lacy; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MO: Martin of Troppau, Martini Oppaviensis Chronicon Pontificum et Imperatorum; NC: Þe New Croniclis Compendiusli Ydrawe of Þe Gestis of Kyngis of Ingelond; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; OV: The Oldest Anglo-Norman Prose Brut Chronicle, ed. Marvin; P: Ranulf Higden, Polychronicon; PRO: Public Record Office; Queste: La Queste del Saint Graal, trans. Burns; RB: Wace, Roman de Brut; RMB: Robert Mannyng of Brunne, The Chronicle; TB: John Lydgate, Troy Book; TC: Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; TNA: The National Archives of the UK; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases.


1–14 O soverayne . . . withouten variance. The Chronicle is dedicated to King Henry VI (1421–71), his wife, Margaret of Anjou (1429–82), and their son, Edward of Lancaster (1453–71), prince of Wales. Hardyng appears to have based the opening line of his prologue on line 531 of John Lydgate’s “King Henry VI’s Triumphant Entry into London” (“O noble Meir! be yt vnto youre pleasaunce”); this is the first of several borrowings from the poem. For further discussion of Hardyng’s use of Middle English poetry in the Chronicle, see Introduction and Peverley, “Chronicling the Fortunes of Kings.”

2 of my symplicité. The term "symplicité" can mean "meekness," "plainness of style," or "lack of sophistication" (MED, simplicite (n.)). Hardyng’s affected modesty is a rhetorical topos common to medieval prologues.

4 Whiche no man hath in worlde bot oonly ye. This reference to the uniqueness of the Chronicle may be a rhetorical feature, but it also supports the assumption that Lansdowne 204 was the presentation copy made for Henry VI (see Manuscript Description).

11 With baronage and lordes. This is the first of many references to the nobility helping the king to govern effectively.

20–21 Of Scotland . . . prowdly straye. The topic of English hegemony over Scotland is raised frequently throughout the Chronicle (see Introduction and Peverley, “Anglo-Scottish Relations”). A number of English kings attempted to bring the smaller kingdom under English rule, the most important being Edward I, whom Hardyng mentions in the following stanza. For an overview of Anglo-Scottish relations in the Middle Ages see Stones, Anglo-Scottish Relations, Nicholson, Scotland, and Brown, Wars of Scotland.

22–28 Wythin thre . . . hool proteccioun. Hardyng’s optimistic estimation that the king could conquer Scotland within three years anticipates his account of how “the kynge may moste esely conquere Scotlonde” at the end of Book 7 (lines 1170–1330). Revised estimates are given at 7.1327 and 7.1426. For the Scottish campaigns waged by Edward I, see Prestwich, Edward I.

29–35 Who hath . . . an idyote. The medical metaphor employed here has its origins in Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, where Lady Philosophy advises the narrator to divulge his sorrows to her. It is common in medieval literature (see Whiting L173), but Hardyng probably encountered it in Book 1, Prosa 4 of John Walton’s Middle English translation of Boethius’s work (p. 29), or Chaucer’s TC 1.857–58, two texts that he utilizes elsewhere in the Chronicle. In this instance he uses it to heighten his appeal to Henry VI for the reward promised by the king’s father, Henry V. The sovereign is depicted as the only man capable of remunerating Hardyng and curing the metaphorical sickness brought about by his lack of reward. See Peverley, “Chronicling the Fortunes of Kings.”

33 erande. “Erande” refers to the reconnaissance Hardyng allegedly undertook for Henry V in Scotland between 1418 and 1421. (For further information see Introduction).

45 maymed. Hardyng is referring to an injury that he received during his Scottish mission.

49 Esthamstede. The patent rolls confirm that Hardyng presented documents to Henry VI at Easthampstead manor, and that he received an annuity of £10 from the king (Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI 1436–1441, p. 431, m. 15).

50–56 a lettre . . . sovereynté expressynge. The document referred to is the submission of the competitors for the Scottish crown at Norham in 1291, acknowledging their deference to Edward I. For this and other documents supposedly recovered in Scotland by Hardyng, see Stones and Simpson (Edward I and the Throne, II:385–87) and Hiatt (Medieval Forgeries, pp. 104, 112–13).

54 Long Shankes. Longshankes (literally “long legs”) was the soubriquet given to Edward I on account of his height.

57–63 two patents rial . . . made memory. Hardyng refers to two letters patent from David II of Scotland and Robert II of Scotland acknowledging English suzerainty. Several forged documents relating to David and Robert are associated with Hardyng: they survive in TNA: PRO E 39/2/5, E 39/96/4, E 39/96/5, E 39/97/4, and E 39/4/3a. For further information see Stones and Simpson (Edward I and the Throne, II:385–87) and Hiatt (Medieval Forgeries, pp. 103–11).

64–70 the relees . . . hieghness wroght. This is a reference to the Treaty of Northampton (1328), an Anglo-Scottish peace treaty that recognized Scotland as an independent nation; see Stones, Anglo-Scottish Relations, document 41a (pp. 323–27), and Hiatt (Medieval Forgeries, p. 105). In the second version of the Chronicle Hardyng also claims to have submitted a copy to Edward IV, most probably in 1463 (see Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Arch. Selden B. 10, fol. 139v, and Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, p. 317).

67 Umfrevile. Hardyng claims that the treaty was immersed in oil while in the custody of a member of the Umfraville family.

71–77 tho lettres . . . withoute difficulté. Hardyng refers to the forged letters of David Bruce that he retrieved exemplifying a charter of Alexander of Scotland in which English overlordship is acknowledged and the ecclesiastical rights of York and Durham are reserved. The document in question is preserved in TNA: PRO E 39/2/7 and in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 789, fols. 161r–161v (See Hiatt, “Forgeries of John Hardyng,” p. 9). Another reference to the rights of York occurs in the reign of King Arthur (3.2409m–2415).

76 Cuthbertes ryght. St. Cuthbert (circa 635–87) was bishop of Lindisfarne in the kingdom of Northumbria. Since Northumbria extended up to the Firth of Forth in Cuthbert’s time, his “ryght” refers to the powers that the episcopal see gave the saint over south-east Scotland. For Cuthbert’s life see Rollason and Dobson, “Cuthbert [St Cuthbert] (c.635–687).”

93 figure. The word figure refers to Hardyng’s map of Scotland occurring on fols. 226v–227r.

99–105 Now seth . . . verry demonstracioun. By emphasizing Henry VI’s descent from the celebrated Henry V, Hardyng implies that he inherits a responsibility to continue his father’s work, not only in the form of fulfilling his promise to reward Hardyng, but by continuing the successful campaigns of his father and following his example of good leadership (compare also Prol.134–47).

113 Sex yere now go. The Dedication and Prologue appear to have been composed after the main body of the Chronicle, but before the text was presented to Henry VI in 1457; “Sex yere now go” probably refers to 1451. Hardyng’s description of John Kemp seems to corroborate this date (see the Introduction and notes to Prol.120 and Prol.148–49).

114–15 lettres secretary . . . pryvy seel. Hardyng refers to the royal seals, particularly the king’s personal seal, indicating that his grant was authorized in the correct manner and should not have been canceled. The Privy Seal was originally the king’s personal seal, but over time it was adopted for other government functions, and new “secret” seals, most notably the Signet Seal, took its place to enable the king to exercise his authority and authenticate correspondence. The Signet Seal was kept by the king’s secretary, hence “lettres secretary”; for further information, see Otway-Ruthven, King’s Secretary and the Signet.

117 Gedyngtoun. Geddington Manor, Northamptonshire, is no longer extant. In the late medieval period it was a royal hunting lodge and was often granted to the queen of England as dowager land. See the second version of the Chronicle, where Hardyng attributes his loss of Geddington to Henry Beaufort and states that he was promised “recompense” (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Arch. Selden B. 10, fol. 129v; Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, p. 292). The estimated annual revenue of Geddington at this time was approximately £32 (Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, p. vi, and the Sheriffs’ accounts for 1436–41 in TNA: PRO E 199/32/19); it would therefore have been a substantial reward for Hardyng’s services.

120 noble chauncellere. John Kemp (c.1375–1454), cardinal (1439), archbishop of York (1425), archbishop of Canterbury (1452), and chancellor of England (1426–32 and 1450). Hardyng’s description of Kemp as “cardinall” of York (Prol.122) is a conflation of two of his titles. Given that he makes no reference to Kemp’s position as archbishop of Canterbury, it is likely that Hardyng is describing events that took place in 1451; at this time Kemp held the office of chancellor, cardinal, and archbishop of York, but was not yet archbishop of Canterbury (Kingsford, “First Version,” p. 465). However, see the Textual Notes for evidence that the scribe erased a previous line occupying the space of Prol.122 before adding the line that identified Kemp as Chancellor.

134–47 Bot undirnethe . . . thys cace. Once again Hardyng compares the rule of Henry VI with that of his father in order to demonstrate that Henry VI has the power to continue his father’s good rule.

148–49 Whiche evydence . . . yow take. Hardyng’s reference to the main body of the Chronicle being “afore comprised” suggests that the prologue was added after the history had been compiled and before it was presented to the king (other evidence supporting this assumption is discussed in the Manuscript Description).

These lines also suggest that the Chronicle and the documents that Hardyng delivered to the Treasury in November 1457 (the “other mo” mentioned at Prol.149) were meant to form a package attesting to Henry VI’s dominion, and that the Chronicle was submitted to the king at, or around, the same time as the forgeries. The Patent Roll entry recording Hardyng’s 1457 annuity further supports this: dated three days after Hardyng submitted the documents, it alludes to the content of the prologue, particularly James I’s bribery and Hardyng’s losses (see Introduction; Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI, 1452–61, p. 393. m. 8 [18 November 1457]; Calendar of Close Rolls: Henry VI, 1454–61, p. 235, m. 28; Kingsford, “First Version,” p. 465; and Riddy, “Wars of the Roses,” p. 96). For Hardyng’s repeated foregrounding of “the Scottish issue” and the relationship between the Chronicle and documents, see the Introduction, Hiatt, Medieval Forgeries, and Peverley, “Anglo-Scottish Relations.”

150 Foure hundre mark and fyfty. It is highly improbable that Hardyng had this much capital. Rather, he has inflated the cost to demonstrate the documents’ financial and figurative value to the English crown. His expenses contrast effectively with the alleged bribe offered to him by James I, which is more than double the amount paid by Hardyng. The distinction between the expenses and bribe similarly underscores Hardyng’s loyalty, despite a lack of financial recompense from his “natyfe” king, Henry VI (Prol.144).


Abbreviations:m: marginalia; MS: London, British Library MS Lansdowne 204 (base manuscript).

Throughout the manuscript, the marginalia, book and chapter headings, and the running heads featuring the names of the reigning kings, are written in red ink; often the first letter of each stanza of the main text is also written in red ink. Because of the consistency of the scribe’s use of red in these areas, we have only recorded exceptions to this rule in the notes. Other features, such as scribal corrections, illumination, annotations by other hands other than the scribe(s), and editiorial emendations are recorded as they occur.

Occasionally, background smudges and traces of letters or words occur behind the current text of Lansdowne 204. Though beyond the scope of this edition, a comprehensive study of each instance of smudging is desirable, as some may have been caused by underwriting, indicating that the scribe(s) altered the work. The British Library analyzed ten examples of potential underwriting for us, using multispectral imaging equipment and Digital USB microscopy. Our selections fell into one of three categories. 1) Examples that did contain underwriting: the background shadows were caused by the scribe scraping the parchment to remove a word or phrase and writing different text over the erasure (or, as in two cases, simply erasing text that was no longer required). In such instances, traces of the original iron gall ink burn-through have survived, leaving partial letter-forms or words visible at a wavelength of 420 nm on the electromagnetic spectrum; sadly, it is often impossible to discern complete letters or words, and ink burn-through from text overleaf further obscures the original writing, making it largely unrecoverable. 2) Examples that do not contain underwriting: the shadows behind the text are caused by ink-burn through from text overleaf, which, to the naked eye, gives the impression of underwriting. 3) Examples that do not contain underwriting: the shadows behind the text are again due to degradation caused by the iron gall ink flaking away from the surface of the parchment and leaving the shape of the original letter below; to the naked eye, the spread of the burn-through can look like underwriting beneath the thinner flakes of surviving ink. The following textual notes make references to confirmed instances of underwriting only; we do not highlight potential cases because, given the degradation of the ink, we feel that this could be misleading.

1–28 MS: The scribe adds rhyme bands in the same colored ink as the verse and draws lines between each stanza.

29–154 MS: The scribe adds red rhyme bands and draws each stanza. With the exception of line 29 (which begins with an illuminated initial), the first letter of each stanza has been written in the same black ink as the rest of the stanza, then written over again in red ink.

29 Who. MS: illuminated initial.

30 compleyne. MS: compley; the corner of the folio is missing.

71–93 The corner of the folio is missing. The text has been reconstructed using Charles Kingsford’s “Extracts” and the epilogue of Lansdowne 204 (7.1093–1169) as a guide.

122 MS: This line shows evidence of some alteration to the text. Before the present line was added, the parchment was scraped away removing the ink of a previous line. During the multispectral analysis carried out by the British Library, partial letters were observed in the underwriting, but the original text was unrecoverable. The nature of this particular change is important because it may indicate that Hardyng asked the scribe to add or correct the reference to John Kemp’s titles (“cardinalle” and archbishop of “York”) at a later stage of production.

155–61 MS: This stanza is partially legible under ultraviolent light and may have been intentionally erased by the scribe(s). Traces of the text are observed at a wavelength of 420 nanometers (nm) on the electromagnetic spectrum, but are not always legible. We have reconstructed illegible words speculatively. Evidence of red rhyme bands is present, and there is a small trace of red ink near the first letter of the stanza (visible in a false color image), suggesting that it was rendered in red ink like the stanzas covering Prol.29–54.
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Hardyng's Chronicle, Dedication and Prologue

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O soverayne lord, be it to youre plesance
This book to take of my symplicité
Thus newly made for rememorance,
Whiche no man hath in worlde bot oonly ye.
Whiche I compiled unto youre rialté
And to the quenes hertes consolacioun
To know the state of youre domynacioun.

And for the prynce to have playne conyshance
Of this regioun, in what nobilité
It hath been kept alway of greet pushance,
With baronage and lordes of dignyté
The whiche alway God graunte that ye and he
May so kepe forth undir youre governance
To Goddes plesire withouten variance.

Thus to yow thre rials in unyté
This book with hert and lowly obeishance
I present now with al benygnyté
To been everemore within youre governance
For soveraynté and youre inherytance
Of Scotland hool, whiche shuld your reule obaye
As sovereyn lorde, fro whiche thay prowdly straye.

Wythin thre yere thaire grete rebellioun
Ye myght oppresse and uttirly restrayne
And have it alle in youre possessioun
And to obeye youre myght make thaym ful fayne
As Kynge Edward the first with hungir and payne
Thaym conquerde hool to hys subjeccioun
To byde forevere undir his hool proteccioun.

Who hath an hurte and wille it nought diskure
And to his leche can nought his sore compleyne
In wo evermore withouten any cure
Alle helples forth he muste comporte his peyne.
And who his own erande forgatte to seyne
As alle thise wise men say alway and wote
Men calle a fool or elles an idyote.

Wherfore to yow, as prince moste excellent
I me compleyne, as resoun techeth me
That youre fadir gafe me in commaundement
In Scotlonde ryde for his regalyté
To seke his ryght thare of hys sovereynté
And evydence to gette and to espy
Appurtenant unto hys monarchy.

Whiche evydence, by labour and processe
Thre yere and halfe amonge the enmyté
On lyfes peryle, maymed in grete distresse
With costages grete, as was necessité
I boughte and gatte of grete autorité.
Of whiche I gafe unto youre excellence
At Esthamstede, parte of that evydence.

I gafe yow there a lettre of rialté
By whiche ten men claymyng the croun
Of Scotlond than boonde thaym by thaire agré
The juggement to bide and constitucioun
Of Kynge Edward, with Long Shankes by surnoun
Whiche of thaym shulde of Scotlonde been the kynge
Undre thaire seels hys sovereynté expressynge.

I gafe yow als other two patents rial
By whiche David and Robert the Scots kynges
Boonde thaym and al thaire haires in general
To holde Scotlond of Kyng Edward, expressynge
His soveraynté by clere and playn writynge
Undre thaire seels to bide perpetualy
As playnly is in thaym made memory.

I gafe yow als the relees that Edwarde
The thrid to Kyng Robert of Scotlond made
In tendre age, whiche whille it was in warde
Of Umfrevile was dreynt in oyl and defade
Sex woukes liggyng in it, as it abade.
But noght forthy it may hurte yow right noght
For it is alle agayn youre hieghness wroght.

In tho lettres is graunt Yorkes primacy
Thrugh alle Scotlonde, and to hys successours
To have and use above the prelacy
As dyd afore of olde hys predecessours
And also the hows of Durham of honours
And Cuthbertes ryght with alle the liberté
Thrugh all Scotlonde withoute difficulté.

Also that prynce of grete magnificence
Your fadir, so gafe me in commaundement
Scotlond to espy with alkyns diligence
How that it myght bene hostayde thurgh and brent
………….. wele to hys wille and intent
What kyns passage were for ane hoste to ryde
What toures ande towns stode on the este see-syde

Where that hys flete myght londe and with hym mete
With hys vitayle, gunnes and ordenance
Hys hoste to fresshe, and lygge in alle quyete
From stormes grete and wethyrs variance.
Whiche alle I dydde and putte in remembrance
At hys biddynge and rialle commaundement
Bot was nought rewarded aftyr hys intent.

Whiche remembrance now to youre sapience
Upon the ende of this boke in figure
Illumynde is for youre intelligence
Declared hool by wrytynge and lettrure
How lyghte were now unto your hiegh nature
For to conquere by rial assistence
And kepe it ever undir youre hiegh regence.

Now seth that prynce is gone, of excellence
In whom my helpe and makynge shulde have bene
I vouche it sauf, wyth alle benyvolence
On yow, gode lorde, hys sonne and hayre that bene
For to none other my complaynte can I mene
So lynyalle of hys generacioun
Ye bene discent by verry demonstracioun.

For other none wille favoure hys promyse
Ne none that wylle ought forther myne intente
Bot if it lyke unto youre owne avyse
Alle oonly of youre rial regymente
To comforte now withoute impedymente
Your pore subgite, maymed in hys servyse
Withoute rewarde or lyfelode any wyse.

Sex yere now go I pursewed to youre grace
And undirnethe youre lettres secretary
And pryvy seel that longeth in that cace
Ye graunted me to have perpetualy
The manere hool of Gedyngtoun treuly
To me and to myne hayres in heritage
With membres hool and other alle avauntage.

Bot so was sette youre noble chauncellere
He wolde nought suffre I had such warysoun
That cardinalle was of York withouten pere
That wolde noght parte with londe ne yit with toun
Bot rather wolde, ere I had Gedyngtoun,
Ye shulde forgo youre ryalle soveraynté
Of Scotlonde, whiche longe to youre rialté.

Youre patent cowthe I have in nokyns wyse
But if I sewed to alle youre grete counsayle
To whiche my purs no lengar myght suffyse.
So wente I home withoute any avayle.
Thus sette he me alle bakhalfe on the tayle
And alle youre grace fro me he dyd repelle.
Youre lettres bothe fro me he dyd cancelle.

Bot undirnethe youre fadirs magnifence
He durste nought so have lette hys righte falle doun
Ne layde o syde so rialle evydence
Appurtenant unto hys rialle croun
Who sonner wolde suche thre as Gedyngtoun
Hafe yove than so forgone that evydence
By whiche the Scottes obey shoulde hys regence.

For whiche Kynge James unto my warysoun
A thowsond marke me highte of Englysshe golde
Whiche I forsoke in myne oppynyoun
As natyfe birth and alkyns resoun wolde.
Sex and thretty yere I have it kepte, and holde
In truste ye wolde of youre haboundant grace
Youre fadirs promyse so favoure in thys cace.

Whiche evydence in this afore comprised
With other mo whiche I shal to yow take
Foure hundre mark and fyfty ful assised
Cost me treuly for youre fadir sake
With incurable mayme that maketh me wake.
Wherfore plese it of youre magnificence
Me to rewarde as pleseth youre excellence.

O soverayne lorde sette case I myghte suffyse
Myne evydence to get and to obtene.
How wold ye thenke that I should it advyse
[...] for your [...] it [...] nought bothe bene?
Your chaunsler doth revoke it alle so clene
That here me compleyne in this cace
Or els gette I never your intent, ne youre grace.
(see note); (t-note)
(see note)

(see note)


(see note)


royals together
good will

(see note)

(see note)


dwell; comprehensive (total)

sickness; uncover; (see note); (t-note)
; (t-note)
doctor; (t-note)

tell; (see note)




passing of time
injured; (see note)
At great expense

Easthampstead; (see note)

royal power; (see note)

bound; agreement

surname; (see note)


Letters Patent; (see note)


document of release; (see note)

immersed; faded; (see note)
Six weeks remaining

(see note)
; (t-note)

authority of a prelate

(see note)

all kinds of
plundered; burnt

What kind of; army

food; military supplies
army to restore; encamp

(see note)


since; (see note)

bestow it
in direct ancestral line
descended; proof



passed; made a formal plea; (see note)
(see note)

Geddington Manor; (see note)

all rights

(see note)

letter patent; by no means

he set me back

(see note)



every kind of


included earlier in this [book]; (see note)
(see note)

injury; weak



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