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Chronicle Edited from British Library MS Lansdowne 204: Introduction


1 Notable accounts of Hardyng’s life and work include Kingsford, “First Version of Hardyng’s Chronicle”; Gransden, Historical Writing in England II; Kennedy, Chronicles and Other Historical Writing, pp. 2644–47; Peverley, “John Hardyng’s Chronicle” and “Hardyng, John”; Summerson, “Hardyng, John (b. 1377/8, d. in or after 1464).” Hardyng is referred to as a Northumbrian esquire and soldier in 1416 (Calendar of Close Rolls: Henry V, 1413–19, pp. 321–22, m. 13, 16 September 1416). In The National Archives of the UK (hereafter TNA): Public Record Office (hereafter PRO) E 101/330/9, he is referred to as a “gentilman.” Peverley discusses Hardyng’s possible association with the Hardyngs of Beadnell, Northumberland, particularly Sampson Hardyng, a prominent Northumbrian gentleman and Member of Parliament who had long-standing connections with the Percy and Umfraville families (see “John Hardyng’s Chronicle,” pp. 10–12). King has also identified a “John son of John Hardyng” who held land in Trickley, near Chillingham, who may have been a relation (“‘They Have the Hertes of the People by North,’” p. 148n50).

2 Hardyng provides this information in the prose passages of the second version of his Chronicle. See Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Arch. Selden B. 10, fols. 190r and 192r (which is currently being edited by Peverley), and Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, p. 353. For Henry Percy, nicknamed “Hotspur,” see Walker, “Percy, Sir Henry (1364–1403).”

3 Neville explores life on the Anglo-Scottish Marches in this period in Violence, Custom and Law. Hardyng provides information about the campaigns in the second version of the Chronicle (Arch. Selden B. 10 fol. 192r, Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, p. 351).

4 An instruction from Westminster telling the sheriffs of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Yorkshire to proclaim that all adherents of the Percies could sue for pardon before the Epiphany can be found in Thomas Rymer’s Foedera, conventiones, literæ, (8:338, dated 22 November 1403).

5 Details of Umfraville’s career can be found in Summerson, “Umfraville, Sir Robert (d. 1437).” For Hardyng’s claim to have been constable of Warkworth, see Arch. Selden B. 10, fol. 158v, Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, p. 361.

6 Hardyng claims to have fought with Umfraville at Harfleur (1415), Agincourt (1415), and on the Seine (1416); though plausible, extant muster rolls fail to verify his presence in the 1415 campaign. James Hamilton Wylie and William Templeton Waugh note that Hardyng’s “name occurs among others not bound by indentures” in Hunter’s study of Agincourt (Reign of Henry the Fifth, 2:192), and Robert Umfraville's retinue of twenty men-at-arms and forty archers is recorded in Nicolas, History of the Battle of Agincourt, p. 385. An indenture between the king and Umfraville for the relief of Harfleur survives in TNA: PRO E 101/69/8/540. The Close Rolls confirm that Umfraville and Hardyng were back in England by September 1416 following the battle on the Seine; Umfraville had to act as mainpernor for his esquires, Hardyng and Nicholas Rothdone, until he could prove that they had all returned with the sanction of John, duke of Bedford (see Calendar of Close Rolls: Henry V, 1413–19, pp. 321–22, m. 13, 16 September 1416).

7 The most recent study of Hardyng’s forgeries is Hiatt, Medieval Forgeries.

8 Reference to the presentation at Bois Vincennes is made in the second version of the Chronicle, see Arch. Selden B. 10, fols. 129r, 129v, and 135r, and Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, pp. 292, 293, 306.

9 Hardyng is styled as “of Kyme,” or associated with the county of Lincolnshire, in a number of documents dating between 1428 and 1467/68: see, for example, TNA: PRO C 241/225/6 (dated 14 November 1433, but referring to 22 January 1428); Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers: Papal Letters, 1427–47, p. 131 (22 June 1429); and Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI, 1429–36, p. 382, m. 25 (1434).

10 Henry Ellis believes that Hardyng traveled to Rome for his instruction (Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, p. vii), but Kingsford proposes that Cesarini tutored him during his visit to England as a papal envoy in 1426–27 (“First Version of Hardyng’s Chronicle,” p. 464).

11 Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers: Papal Letters, 1427–47, p. 131 (22 June 1429). Interestingly, the prior of the Augustinian priory at Kyme, Robert Ludburgh, and another John Hardyng, “donsel, of the diocese of Lincoln” were also granted portable altars in June 1429; though this may be a coincidence, the entries could indicate that all three men planned to travel together and that Hardyng’s namesake was related to him in some way.

12 Rotuli Parliamentorum, IV:421–22, and Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI, 1429–36, p. 382, m. 25 (1434).

13 Submissions mentioned in the first version of the Chronicle include a batch of documents presented to the king at Easthampstead Manor in 1440 (Prol.48–49), which is corroborated by Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI, 1436–1441, p. 431, m. 15 (15 July 1440), and a petition made to the king in 1451, which was thwarted by Cardinal John Kemp (Prol.113–33); there are no governmental records relating to the alleged petition of 1451, but it coincides with the fact that Hardyng’s annuity from Willoughton was resumed under the 1449 Resumption Act. The pending delivery of the documents Hardyng gave to the treasury in November 1457 is alluded to at Prol.149 and corroborated by TNA: PRO E 39/96/3 (15 November 1457) and Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI, 1452–61, p. 393, m. 8 (18 Nov 1457).

14 The forged safe conduct is extant in TNA: PRO E 39/2/9 (dated 10 March 1435). Summerson also agrees that Hardyng probably did not cross the border (see “Hardyng, John”).

15 The pipe rolls for the period 1440/1 to 1467/8 (TNA: PRO E 372/286 to E 372/313) contain detailed references to Hardyng’s annuity and the administrative processes associated with it. Despite some confusion with the original grant — the manor had already been issued to John Middleton in 1438 at a rent of ten pounds and on 12 September 1449, it was granted again to Henry, archbishop of Canterbury, and others — Hardyng appears to have received the award without difficulty until the manor was resumed in 1449. On 31 July 1441 the reversion of the manor was granted to the provost and scholars of King’s College, Cambridge, and the college was later granted exemption from the Resumption Acts of 1449 and 1450. Though investigations into the true value of Willoughton Manor were undertaken in the early 1450s, Hardyng appears to have continued claiming his annuity and paying his two-shilling rent until c. 1454, but annotations and additional entries in the pipe rolls concerning Richard Hansard and Richard Wenslow, escheators for Lincolnshire, suggest that he did not receive the income after that. The pipe rolls for the period 1454 to 1464 (TNA: PRO E 372/300 to E 372/309) and 1466 to 1468 (TNA: PRO E 372/312 to E 372/313) show an accrual of debt where Hardyng’s annual two-shilling rent is in arrears, though the exchequer annotations suggest that the copying of the terms of Hardyng’s grant up to 1468 had continued in error. On TNA: PRO E 372/309 the debt is paid off; on E 372/313 it is discharged. A petition from Hardyng to Henry VI (in French) and a grant under the sign manual relating to the annuity survive in TNA: PRO C 81/1432/53 and C 81/1432/54; see also Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI, 1436–1441, p. 431, m. 15 (15 July 1440). For the problems associated with the original grant of Willoughton Manor, see Calendar of Patent Rolls: Henry VI, 1436–1441, p. 490, m. 14 (1 December 1440), p. 484, m. 19 (22 December 1440), and p. 557, m. 18 (31 July 1441); Cambridge University, King’s College Archive Centre KCE/11 and KCE/136 (reversion of Willoughton, 1441); and TNA: PRO E 159/217 (King’s Remembrancer Memoranda Rolls, Hilary Term “Brevia Directa Baronibus”). Additional documents relating to the resumption of the manor and its value can be found in TNA: PRO E 101/330/9 and Cambridge University, King’s College Archive Centre KCE/20. Other documents relating to the manor in this period include Cambridge University, King’s College Archive Centre WIL/47 (accounts from 1450–54); WIL/48 (account of John Kydwell, bailiff, 29 September 1455); KCE/106 (accounts 1459–60); KCE/110 (accounts 1460–61); WIL/34 (two indentures for the lease of Willoughton by King’s College to Richard Langton, 1463).

16 Thompson, ed., Visitations in the Diocese of Lincoln, 2:168–170.

17 Kingsford suggests that parts of the text were written between 1447 and 1450, though the evidence he cites could also be interpreted in favor of a slightly later date, see “First Version of Hardyng’s Chronicle,” pp. 473–75. Riddy also speculates that Hardyng began writing in the mid 1440s, prompted by increased financial demands for his upkeep at the priory, but there is no evidence for this. Despite a complaint from Brother Durham about Hardyng only paying twelve pence a week for his corrody, there is no reference to Bishop Alnwick addressing the issue in the record of his visitation (see Riddy, “Wars of the Roses,” pp. 94–95). At any rate, Hardyng probably had sufficient surplus from his Willoughton annuity to cover additional expenses. If financial instability compelled Hardyng to begin writing, or to finish a work he had already begun, the resumption of his annuity in 1449 seems to provide a more likely stimulus.

18 See 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 (18 November 1457); and TNA: PRO E 159/234, the King’s Remembrancer Memoranda Rolls for Michaelmas 1457 (“Recorda” and “Brevia directa baronibus” sections). An indenture bearing Hardyng’s seal, dated 15 November 1457, records the delivery of several Scottish documents to the treasury (TNA: PRO E 39/96/3); see also Palgrave, Documents and Records, pp. 373–78 and Peverley, “John Hardyng’s Chronicle,” pp. 659–60 (with image). A transcript of a memorandum relating to the delivery occurs in Palgrave, Antient Kalendars and Inventories, II:234–35.

19 Only three accounts for the county farm for Lincolnshire are extant for this period: TNA: PRO E 199/23/37 (covering 1454–56), E 199/24/3 (covering 1464–66), and E 199/24/4 (1465–67). Of these, the first is irrelevant because Hardyng’s annuity had not been awarded. The second and third, dating from around the time of Hardyng’s death, are similarly unhelpful and do not contain any information pertinent to Hardyng, but he may have already passed away, or lost his second annuity when Edward acceded to the throne. Two of the pipe rolls concerning Hardyng’s 1440 annuity are, nevertheless, important to our understanding of the 1457 grant. The accounts for the sheriff’s farm in TNA: PRO E 372/307 (1461–62) and E 372/308 (1462–63) are incomplete, but at the top of the relevant section of E 372/307, there is a memorandum noting that the sheriff, Thomas Blount, had been pardoned for not returning a complete account. Although the documents relate to the reign of Edward IV, they raise the question of how well the Lincolnshire accounts were being kept and recorded. Griffiths has commented on the problems facing sheriffs in the mid–1450s, noting that problems with revenues seem “to have been most serious in Lincs” (Reign of Henry VI, p. 769n195).

20 The issue of Hardyng’s revision for York is discussed in Peverley, “Genealogy and John Hardyng’s Verse Chronicle” and “John Hardyng’s Chronicle.” For contemporary examples of Yorkist genealogical rolls see Allan, “Political Propaganda Employed by the House of York” and “Yorkist Propaganda.”

21 We have been unable to locate any records re-confirming Hardyng’s grant under Edward IV.

22 Arch. Selden B. 10, fol. 139v, and Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Ellis, p. 317. The documents appear to be copies of items previously given to Henry VI.

23 The last datable entry in the second version of the Chronicle — a reference to Edward IV’s queen Elizabeth Woodville — could not have been added before September 1464. The pipe roll entries concerning Hardyng’s Willoughton grant continue to mention the annuity until 1468, but they seem to have been copied in error and, unfortunately, cannot be taken as a reliable indicator that Hardyng was alive (or dead).

24 For the manuscripts see Edwards, “Manuscripts and Texts of the Second Version of John Hardyng’s Chronicle,” and Peverley, “John Hardyng’s Chronicle”, pp. 47–118; and “Adapting to Readeption in 1470–1471."

25 For recent studies of the gentry see Malcolm Mercer, Medieval Gentry, p. 4; and Radulescu and Truelove, eds., Gentry Culture in Late Medieval England.

26 Kingsford was the first to suggest this in “First Version of Hardyng’s Chronicle,” pp. 466, 468. Critics repeating Kingsford’s opinion include Gransden, Historical Writing in England II, pp. 276–77 (though Gransden does acknowledge the other dimensions of Hardyng’s work); Kennedy, “John Hardyng and the Holy Grail,” p. 190; Riddy, “Wars of the Roses,” p. 94; and MacDonald, “John Hardyng, Northumbrian Identity and the Scots,” p. 30. For an alternative view see Peverley, “Anglo-Scottish Relations.”

27 Hardyng’s decision to include the Latin letters to Pope Boniface is in keeping with other chroniclers’ use of, and response to, materials associated with Edward I’s “Great Cause.” The Chronicon de Lanercost, for example, uses Edward’s correspondence “almost verbatim” to describe the destruction of Hexham in 1296; Pierre de Langtoft, likewise bases his Political Letters on the documents and later includes them in his Anglo-Norman verse Chronicle; and Scottish chroniclers, like John of Fordun, incorporate articles issued in defence of the Scottish cause in their works. See the following entries in Dunphry, ed., Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle, Ruddick, “Chronicon de Lanercost,” 1:357–58; Summerfield, “Pierre de Langtoft,” 2:1216–17; and Kennedy, “John of Fordun,” 2:931–32.

28 Further discussion of, and information about, individual sources is provided in the Explanatory Notes. Peverley discusses the influence of late fifteenth-century polemic on the Chronicle in “Political Consciousness.” Hardyng’s use of Boethian works and occasional poetry is explored in her “Chronicling the Fortunes of Kings.”

29 For a more detailed discussion of Hardyng’s petitionary stance see Peverley, “Dynasty and Division,” and “Chronicling the Fortunes of Kings.” However, Peverley herewith revises the comments made in these articles about the pipe rolls testifying to Hardyng’s financial security; since the publication of these articles Peverley has identified additional entries in the rolls and located several other documents relating to the manor, which appear to indicate that Hardyng’s annuity was affected by the Resumption Act of 1449, and that he was not receiving an income from Willoughton by the mid to late 1450s, when the Chronicle was nearing completion and the petitionary prologue was being composed.

30 There are obvious connections with other writers’ use of the “wicked advisers” trope; for more on this see Rosenthal, “King’s ‘Wicked Advisers,’” and Peverley, “Political Consciousness,” p. 3.

31 See, for example, 2.1486–1492, 3.246m–280, 3.3962–68, 5.505m–518, 5.2344–64, 6.1575–88.

32 An overview of the period can be found in Wolffe, Henry VI; Griffiths, Reign of Henry VI; and Watts, Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship. York’s career is discussed in Johnson’s Duke Richard of York 1411–1460 and Watts, “Richard of York, third duke of York (1411–1460).”

33 For the concept of an “historical mythology of chivalry” in medieval texts see Keen, Chivalry, pp. 102–24. Part of the value of Hardyng’s Chronicle also lies in the insight it offers into the exploits of those Hardyng served. Offering information about fourteenth- and fifteenth-century affairs that is not available anywhere else, Hardyng presents the families of his former patrons as paragons of good conduct.

34 On this topic see Peverley, “Chronicling the Fortunes of Kings,” who discusses Hardyng’s use of poetry by Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate, and John Walton. Hardyng’s borrowings from Chaucer were first identified by Edwards in “Hardyng’s Chronicle and Troilus and Criseyde,” p. 156, and “Troilus and Criseyde and the First Version of Hardyng’s Chronicle,” pp. 12–13. For Hardyng’s use of Gower’s Cronica Tripertita see Moll, “Gower’s Cronica Tripertita and the Latin Glosses to Hardyng’s Chronicle,” and Peverley, “Dynasty and Division.”

35 Griffiths, Reign of Henry VI, p. 805.

36 Nicolas, ed., Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England, 6:290–91.

37 Riley, ed., Registrum Abbatiae Johannis Whethamstede, 1:295–96 [“sacro Evangelio teste, haberet omne regnum in se divisum, si non statim susciperet unionem, in desolationem ire”: “according to the sacred gospel, every kingdom divided against itself shall pass into desolation if it does not assume unity at once”]. Compare Matthew 12:25, Mark 3:25, and Luke 11:17.

38 Riley, ed., Registrum Abbatiae Johannis Whethamstede, 1:296–97.

39 An English Chronicle 1377–1461, p. 77.

40 Hardyng’s use of autobiographical material is comparable with that of Hoccleve in The Regiment of Princes.

41 Riddy, “Wars of the Roses,” p. 94.

42 Other descriptions of Lansdowne 204 have been published in Ellis and Douce, Catalogue of the Lansdowne Manuscripts, II:73; and the British Library’s Online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. We are particularly grateful to the staff of the Manuscripts Reading Room at the British Library for their kind assistance during our visits and for allowing Lansdowne 204 to be photographed. Special thanks go to Sarah J. Biggs and Christina Duffy for their assistance with, and execution of, the multispectral imaging.

43 The belief that Lansdowne 204 is Hardyng’s presentation copy is widely accepted among scholars; while we cannot be absolutely certain that Henry VI received, or even read, the manuscript, we are confident that it was made for the king and that Hardyng submitted it to him, or one of his officials, at the same time that he submitted his forgeries to the Treasury in 1457 (see “John Hardyng’s Life” above). The wording used to describe Hardyng’s activities in Scotland in the government records relating to the annuity granted to Hardyng in November 1457 appears to have been taken directly from the prologue and/or epilogue of the Chronicle (See 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, 18 November 1457); and TNA: PRO E 159/234, the King’s Remembrancer Memoranda Rolls for Michaelmas 1457 (“Recorda” and “Brevia directa baronibus” sections).

44 Hardyng occasionally produces six- and eight-line stanzas, with one stanza comprising nine lines; see Textual Notes 2.1–512, 2.513–21, 2.522–617, 3.883–90, 3.2004–09, and 3.2528–33. The six-line stanzas may indicate that Hardyng left several stanzas with blank lines, which he intended to complete later. Hand Two’s insertion of a seventh line into several six-line stanzas written by Hand One shows that Hardyng provided the missing lines for some verses, but failed to complete others. This practice matches what we know of the methods he employed when composing the second version of the Chronicle. Extant manuscripts of this version include blank lines that are “not necessary for sense, but essential to stanza form” and “most tricky in terms of rhyme,” suggesting that Hardyng left them for completion at a later stage (Edwards, “Manuscripts and Texts,” p. 83). The eight- and nine-line stanzas generally occur at the start of Book 2, with one occurring in Book 3, which could point to Hardyng’s drawing on a source using eight-line stanzas for this section of the text; see the Explanatory Notes covering the start of Book 2 for further discussion of possible sources and influences.

45 The current binding is too tight to confirm which leaf was excised, but iv seems likely. The parchment of this gathering is different from the parchment used for the rest of the manuscript; it is much thicker and coarser, but it is still a contemporary addition. The editors thank Dr. Laura Nuvoloni for her advice about the unusual construction of the first two quires and the binding of Lansdowne 204. It is our opinion that this quire was added to accommodate Hardyng’s prologue after the main text had been written. The incomplete nature of the contents page on fol. 4v suggests that the missing folio was the final leaf of the gathering.

46 The presence of quire signatures on fols. 6–9 (numbered iii–vi) and the sewing of the gathering between fol. 9 and fol. 10, with six leaves extant on the second half of the gathering (fols. 10–15) shows that this was once a quire of twelve leaves. Since there are no apparent gaps in the text of this gathering (or indeed any of the other quires), we conclude that the first leaf of the quire has been excised. It is not clear when the leaf was removed or what, if anything, it contained; if blank, it may have been removed when the previous quire was added to avoid having a blank folio between the contents page and main text.

47 Quire three, for example, is labelled “ii” on the first folio and contains quire signatures ai–aiv on the first four folios.

48 The form of the alphabet established by the late medieval period normally ended with the abbreviations for et, con, three tittles, and the words est amen. For forms and examples of medieval alphabets in manuscripts see Wolpe, “Florilegium Alphabeticum,” pp. 69–74; Orme, English Schools, p. 61, and “Children and Literature in Medieval England,” p. 226.

49 We would like to thank Dr. Ian Doyle for his help with our analysis of the Lansdowne scribe(s).

50 The absence of decorative ink initials on the folios copied by Hand Two, the lack of pen flourishes stemming from the first and last lines of his text, the ad hoc appearance of the prefatory matter, and the presence of ink smudges resulting from folios having been turned over before freshly written marginalia and chapter headings had dried, suggest that Hand Two took less care completing his contribution or that time or money for the project had expired and he finished in a hurry. The inferior appearance of the illuminated initial on folio 3r and the incomplete nature of several illuminated initials in the final quire may be indicative of the latter.

51 The final stanza of the prologue, which is now only visible under ultraviolet light, was squeezed into the bottom margin of fol. 4r; like the incomplete contents page, this may indicate that the space this hand had available to write in was limited when the prologue was added.

52 See, for example, Textual Notes 1.1m, 1.176m, and 2.1234m.

53 See, for example, Textual Notes 1.1m, 2.639m, 7.421–22, 7.449–55, 7.1331–37, and 7.1352–1414. Distinctions between the two hands are less clear in the following examples: 4.1817–19, 6.3365–66, 6.3372, and 6.3373. Multispectral imaging similarly reveals that both hands made corrections to the text, erasing and rewriting occasional lines, stanzas, and marginalia; see, for example, Figures 4–7 and 11.

54 The four-stanza dedication on fol. 2v was evidently an after-thought. Written by Hand Two on the reverse of the first leaf of quire one, no space has been left for a decorated or illuminated initial, which one would expect at the opening of a manuscript containing decorated initials at the start of every other section. Unlike the prologue that follows on fol. 3r, the dedication has black rhyme bands and no discernible frame ruling, indicating that it was added after the completion of the prologue. Several of the marginalia added by this hand also seem to have been inserted into the gutters of the inner margins after the manuscript had been bound.

55 Tite has noted that it is logical to assume that James added his note after Cotton’s because he names the “auter vnknown” as Hardyng. See “‘Lost or Stolen or Strayed,’” p. 281.

56 All of these are recorded in the Textual Notes beside the lines or stanzas against which they occur.

57 For the identification of Stow’s hand see Tite, “‘Lost or Stolen or Strayed,’” p. 303n127.

58 See Textual Notes 2.1128, 2.1185, 2.1689m, 2.2574, 3.39, 3.84, 3.86, 3.680–81, 3.2164, 3.2197, 3.3115m, 4.2651, 4.2670, 4.2702, 4.2755, 5.2312, and 6.1160–61. Other annotations that may belong to Stow include 4.3359–65, 6.2188–90, and 6.2325.

59 See Textual Notes 1.197–203, 3.4004, 4.42, 6.1, 6.295, 6.332, and 6.346.

60 See Textual Notes 4.3359–65, 5.2312, 6.1160–61, and 6.2188–90.

61 See Textual Notes 5.8 and 6.2345 respectively.

62 See Textual Notes 6.386.

63 See Textual Notes 6.3010m and 7.1107–1127.

64 Bowyer owned a number of manuscripts, including British Library Cotton Faustina A. ix, Harley 3776, Harley 4565, Cambridge Trinity College R.5.33 (724), and eleven manuscripts in the College of Arms. Several contain notes of ownership similar to that in Lansdowne 204; see, for example, Wright, Fontes Harleiani, p. 79, and Campbell and Steer, Catalogue of Manuscripts, pp. 196–217, 417. For a succinct account of Bowyer’s life and collection see Alsop, “Bowyer, William (d. 1569/70).”

65 See Textual Note 5.2716. It is also possible that this “name” is in fact related to the text, as it occurs beside a stanza dealing with Prince Edward, son of Henry III, later Edward I.

66 See Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:217–19. Spencer 19 contains a copy of Guillaume Deguileville’s Pilgrimage of the Soul, produced between 1413 and 1450, probably c. 1430. It was “in the hands of Sir Thomas Cumberworth of Somerby, Lincolnshire, sometime before February 1450” (Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:218; see also McGerr, ed., Pilgrimage of the Soul, pp. lxxx–lxxxiv).

67 Egerton 615 contains Guillaume Deguileville’s Pilgrimage of the Soul. It was produced c. 1450, slightly later than Spencer 19, but, like Lansdowne 204, comes from the “same shop, or at least from the same geographical area” as Spencer 19 (Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:218).

68 Wellcome 8004 is a medical and astrological compendium produced c. 1454. It contains “borders and a miniature by the artist of Spencer 19” (Kathleen Scott, private communication, 8 September 2003). The manuscript also has “internal and linguistic evidence [suggesting] that the writer came from the East Midlands, possibly from Lincolnshire”; see the Physician’s Handbook, a digital facsimile available online. The editors are grateful to Kathleen Scott for drawing our attention to Wellcome 8004 and for her comments about the Spencer group.

69 Laud Misc. 740 is a mid-fifteenth-century copy of Deguileville’s Pilgrimage of the Life of Man. According to Scott, the decoration in this manuscript is “distantly related to the preceding group,” but may have been executed by a second “trainee or associate of the Spencer Master” (Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:218). It has a linguistic profile belonging to north-west Lincolnshire or north-east Nottingham (McIntosh, Samuels, and Benskin, Linguistic Atlas, 1:150). Like Spencer 19, it may have belonged to Sir Thomas Cumberworth; see McGerr, ed., Pilgrimage of the Soul, p. xxiv, and Clark, Lincoln Diocese Documents 1450–1544, p. 48.

70 Harley 2885, produced in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, contains a Breviary (York use). In 1996 Scott suggested that the border artist of Egerton 615 was responsible for “most of the borders (except fol. 27)” in this manuscript (Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:218). However, in a private communication dated 8 September 2003, she revised her opinion, concluding that the decoration of Harley 2885 “appears to be from the same milieu or shop, if not precisely by the same limner.” For images see The British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, available online.

71 This manuscript was probably produced in Suffolk after 1461; it contains a pasted–down border on fol. 56 (c. 1450), which Scott believes is evidence of “another book from the Egerton-Lansdowne shop” (Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:218, and “Lydgate’s Lives of Saints Edmund and Fremund,” p. 347).

72 More famously known as The Wollaton Antiphonal, the manuscript was compiled c. 1430 in eastern England and owned by Sir Thomas Chaworth; see Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:204–206; Cole and Turville–Petre, “Sir Thomas Chaworth’s Books,” pp. 26–27, and Hanna and Turville-Petre, “The Catalogue,” p. 107a. Two other books owned by Chaworth — London, British Library MS Cotton Augustus A iv (John Lydgate’s Troy Book, c. 1430) and New York, Columbia University Library, MS Plimpton 263 (John Trevisa’s On the Properties of Things, c. 1425–50) — have been linked to the Wollaton Antiphonal through decoration, though neither manuscript is directly related to Lansdowne 204 (see Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:205–06). In Later Gothic Manuscripts (2:218), Scott highlights the possibility that the Myrror for Devote People, once owned by William Foyle (now Notre Dame, IN, University of Notre Dame MS 67), might also be related to the Spencer 19 group. However, since the publication, Scott has examined the manuscript and revised her opinion. In a private correspondence dated 31 March 2013, she confirms that the manuscript “does not belong to that group.” The manuscript, which also contains O Intemerata, and The Craft of Dying, was originally owned by John Scrope (d. 1455), fourth baron of Masham, and his wife Elizabeth Chaworth. For more information see Edwards, “Contexts of Notre Dame 67.”

73 Borders with gold balls made into daisies have also been found in other East Anglian manuscripts: Harley 2278 (Lydgate’s Lives of Saints Edmund and Fremund, c.1434, Suffolk; Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:225–29); Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Duke Humphrey b. 1 (John Capgrave's Commentarius in Exodum, compiled c. 1440–44, possibly at King's Lynn and presented to Humphrey, duke of Gloucester; Scott, Dated and Datable English Manuscript Borders, pp. 60–63); and San Marino, Huntingdon HM55 (Capgrave's Life of St Norbert, 1440, Norfolk; Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:219). Hatfield House, Marquis of Salisbury, Cecil Papers 270 (Deguileville's Pilgrimage of the Soul, probably produced in London), also contains “gold balls made to resemble daisies,” which suggests contact “possibly through the exemplar” with the Spencer group “or the geographical area in which the motif was used” (Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:221). Since the publication of Volume 1, Sarah Peverley has identified similar daisies in the borders of London, British Library MS Harley 2885 (Breviary, use of York, c. 1450–75, Northern England); Harley 3490 (John Gower's Confessio Amantis, c. 1444, Oxford, made for Edmund Rede the Younger (1413–89)); and San Marino, Huntington MS HM 268 (an incomplete copy of Lydgate's Fall of Princes, c. 1450, possibly from Bury St. Edmunds), which also contains twisted foliate.

74 For a discussion of motifs particular to the Lincolnshire and East Anglia region, and the production of manuscripts outside of the capital at this time, see Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1:33–34; and Dated and Datable English Manuscript Borders, p. 62. For an analysis of pigments used in this region and associated with the group see Porter, “Meaning of Colour and Why Analyse?” noted in Hanna and Turville-Petre, “The Catalogue,” p. 107a. Digital images of Spencer 19, Egerton 615, Wellcome 8004 and Laud Misc. 740 are available online at The New York Public Library Digital Gallery, The Digital Scriptorium, The British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, The Wellcome Library, and the Bodleian image collections.

75 The daisy sprays in Lansdowne 204 are closer to those in Spencer 19 and Laud Misc. 740.

76 The plain ink initials occur on fols. 223v, 225r, 225v, 226r, and 227v. The unfinished champs occur on fols. 227v and 230r. All occurrences of champ initials (finished or unfinished) are recorded in the Textual Notes.

77 Scott believes that “The Egerton Master,” the illustrator of Egerton 615, was “almost certainly” responsible for the seated monarchs in Lansdowne 204. The daisy borders were illuminated by a different individual, whose style is closer to the daisy sprays in Spencer 19 and Laud 740 rather than the “densely black, unattractive work in Egerton 615” (Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 2:218).

78 Images of the Pedigree taken at a wavelength of 420 nanometers (nm) on the electromagnetic spectrum reveal lines on the upper lip of the figures and white ‘skeletal’ detail on the hands. See Figures 8 and 9.

79 Details of the curls are most evident in a false color image and at a wavelength of 860 nm on the electromagnetic spectrum. Guide letters are visible beneath most of the blue initial letters of the royal names. See Figure 9.

80 Stripes in the red garments are faintly visible with the naked eye, but best observed at a wavelength of 560–580 nm on the electromagnetic spectrum. The elaborate folds on the robes are observed most clearly at a wavelength of 460 nm. See Figure 8.

81 The filigree pattern is observed best at a wavelength of 420 nm on the electromagnetic spectrum.

82 For scholarship on Hardyng’s map and its political significance, see Harvey, Medieval Maps, pp. 71 and 73; Delano-Smith and Kain, English Maps, p. 23; Hiatt, Medieval Forgeries, pp. 119–21 and “Beyond a Border,” pp. 87–88; and Peverley, “Anglo-Scottish Relations.”

83 This aspect of the map makes for an interesting comparison with the images of Scotland in Matthew Paris’s maps.

84 The buildings on the map are of the same design and coloring as those depicted in Spencer 19 and Laud Misc. 740. Multispectral imaging of the Lansdowne map reveals the original guidelines for the building structures. Viewing the map at a wavelength of 1000 nm reveals that the bottom of the towers at Stirling and Falkland were initially drawn straight; ridges and flared bases were added over the top (see figure 12). The tower at Tantallon was originally drawn with a closed, rather than open, top, which was altered when the tower was painted.

85 No limners’ marks or instructions were observed during the multispectral imaging undertaken on Lansdowne 204.

86 Multispectral imaging enhances the faded design at an electromagnetic wavelength of 420 nm. See Figure 10.

87 An erased stanza occurs after this. See Textual Note Prol.155–61. See Figure 3.

88 Stow later cites Hardyng as a source for his own historical works. For an overview of his life and interests see Beer, “Stow, John (1524/5–1605).”

89 Although there is “no record of the manuscript in any of the Cotton catalogues or loans lists to clinch the question of ownership or to indicate when it may have been lost,” the summaries provided by Cotton and James on fol. 2r suggest that the manuscript was with Cotton sometime before 1625, or at least between 1625, when Richard James was appointed as Cotton’s librarian, and 1631, when Cotton died (Tite, “‘Lost or Stolen or Strayed,’” p. 281).

90 Charles Gerard (c.1618–94) was promoted to the earldom of Macclesfield in 1679 by Charles II. Upon his death, his son, another Charles (c.1659–1701), became the second earl of Macclesfield.

91 For notice of the purchase see Burke, Annual Register, p. 321.

Born circa 1378, John Hardyng appears to have been the son of a Northumbrian gentleman.1 At the age of twelve he was placed in the household of Sir Henry Percy (1364–1403), son of Henry Percy, first earl of Northumberland (1342–1408), where he was brought up and educated as a squire.2 For the thirteen years he was with Percy, Hardyng’s activities were centered on the English Marches, defending the Anglo-Scottish border and fighting in numerous campaigns against the Scots, most notably at Homildon Hill (1402) and the Siege of Cocklaws Tower (1403).3 When his patron died rebelling against Henry IV at the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403), Hardyng, now twenty-five, was one of those lucky enough to survive and receive a pardon for fighting on the wrong side.4

Shortly after Percy’s demise, Hardying secured a place in the service of Sir Robert Umfraville, whom he would serve until 1437, first at Warkworth, Northumberland (c. 1406), as sub-constable of the castle, and later, after 1421, at South Kyme, Lincolnshire, presumably as constable of Kyme Castle.5 In addition to performing the administrative duties associated with his constableship(s), Hardyng continued to serve in a martial capacity, participating in further raids across the border, defending against Scottish incursions, and fighting abroad for Henry V’s French inheritance.6

Sometime around 1418, Hardyng was commissioned to spy for Henry V. He spent “Thre yere and halfe amonge the enmyté” in Scotland (Prol.44), gathering topographical information in anticipation of an invasion and acquiring documents pertaining to English sovereignty over the smaller realm (the majority of which he forged himself).7 By his own account, he presented the fruits of his labor to the treasurer at Bois de Vincennes, France, and the king promised him the Manor of Geddington in Northamptonshire as recompense for the “peryle” and “costages grete” that he had incurred (Prol.45–46).8 Unfortunately, Henry V’s premature death in August 1422 devastated Hardyng’s prospects, and he received nothing.

Between 1421, when Umfraville inherited the estates of his nephew Gilbert Umfraville, and 1428, Hardyng left Northumberland to take charge of Umfraville’s castle at Kyme in Lincolnshire, where he appears to have been based until his master’s death in January 1437.9 According to the Chronicle, Hardyng was actively pursuing his interest in history in 1424 when Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, arranged for Julian Cesarini to instruct him in Justin’s Epitome of Pompeius Trogus’s Philippic History.10 Several years later, on 22 June 1429, Hardyng was granted a portable altar, which may indicate that he was preparing to travel on military or other business,11 and in the summer of 1434, pursuant to an act of the 1433 parliament, he was one of seventy-three members of the Lincolnshire gentry required to take an oath “not to maintain peacebreakers.”12

In the years that followed, Hardyng sporadically delivered additional Scottish documents to Henry VI, petitioning him to honor the reward his father had pledged.13 He claims to have visited Scotland again in 1435, offering the king a forged safe conduct from James I as evidence of his trip, but the new items that he deposited in the treasury in July 1440 and November 1457 were counterfeit and it is unlikely that he left England.14 Hardyng was never gifted Geddington Manor, but after his submission of 1440 he secured an annuity of ten pounds from the Manor of Willoughton, Lincolnshire, which he appears to have received until the mid 1450s.15

By October 1440 Hardyng, now in his sixties, was ensconced at the Augustinian Priory of South Kyme as a corrodiary, paying twenty pence a week for his upkeep. As a long-term resident of Kyme, he was already familiar with the canons and regularly sat and ate with them in the frater, a liberty that gave Brother Thomas Durham, warden of the chapel of St. Thomas of Northolme (a cell of Kyme), grounds for complaint during Bishop Alnwick’s visitation to the house.16

We do not know the precise year that Hardyng began composing the first version of his history of Britain, but at 18,782 lines of verse and seven folios of prose, he undoubtedly spent the much of the 1450s, perhaps even some of the 1440s, working on it.17 The prologue indicates that it was completed in 1457, probably just before November, when it was apparently presented to Henry VI with six articles relating to English suzerainty in Scotland. Hardyng was rewarded with a yearly rent of twenty pounds out of the revenues of the county of Lincolnshire.18 Yet, whether the new award enriched or frustrated Hardyng is difficult to determine; while the Willoughton annuity is recorded repeatedly on the pipe rolls (sometimes even in error), the extant accounts of the county farm from which the 1457 grant was to be paid are so poor that it is impossible to tell whether Hardyng received the new income. Like others with similar grants in this period, it is feasible that the chronicler encountered difficulties because the annuity had been issued out of the overstretched Lincolnshire revenues.19

Equally opaque is the moment that Hardyng decided to rewrite the Chronicle for Richard, Duke of York. Having not long finished the first version, over which he had labored so long, he set about revising and condensing his history of Britain to promote York’s claim to the throne. Parts of the new text could only have been written between York’s election as Henry VI’s heir on 8 November 1460 and his death at the battle of Wakefield on 31 December 1460, but it is impossible to tell whether Hardyng commenced work before this. It is likely that he only started his second text after York’s election, yet anytime between November 1457 and December 1460 is feasible, especially when the Chronicle is considered alongside other items circulating in the late 1450s which explained and celebrated York’s genealogy.20

Undeterred by York’s death, and perhaps in hope of a new grant or the prolongation of his 1457 annuity (if he had been receiving it from the Lincolnshire revenues), Hardyng continued revising the work for York’s son and heir, Edward IV.21 Now in his eighties, he also submitted two Scottish documents to the king at Leicester.22 Ever persistent in his literary endeavors, he came close to completing over 12,400 lines of the new Chronicle before he died, presumably sometime around 1465.23

It was the second, unfinished version of Hardyng’s Chronicle that went on to enjoy a degree of popularity under the Yorkist and Tudor dynasties, surviving today in twelve manuscripts, several fragments, and two printed editions of 1543.24 The first version, arguably Hardyng’s greater achievement, remained relatively unknown, despite the fact that the Tudor historiographer and antiquarian John Stow drew upon it for his own works. Extant only in London, British Library MS Lansdowne 204, almost certainly Hardyng’s presentation copy, it is edited here in its entirety for the first time.


As one of only a handful of texts written in the twilight years of Henry VI’s reign, Hardyng’s first Chronicle offers a compelling insight into the tastes, hopes, and anxieties of a late fifteenth-century gentleman who had witnessed, and all too often participated in, each of the key events that defined his era. Hardyng’s interest in the kingdom’s past is typical of the gentry’s enthusiasm for works of an historical nature, while his ubiquitous concern with war, duty, and the restoration of “lawe and pese” (4.1676) reflects the importance of such matters to men of his rank, who served the nobility in martial and administrative roles and who were frequently relied upon to “dispense justice” for the crown.25 In lamenting the disorder in “every shire” (7.1009), the problems arising from maintenance (7.1044–50), the widespread neglect of the “pore mennes cause” (7.1013), the loss of territories abroad, and the threat of invasion, Hardyng’s work also captures the sense of exasperation at the aristocratic feuds and ineffectual governance that dominated the 1450s and that led, as the Chronicle forewarns, to Henry VI’s deposition (7.1030–36, 7.1058–64).

Yet for all this, the political immediacy of the Chronicle and its relationship with other fifteenth-century literature has been largely overshadowed by Hardyng’s decision to submit the work to his sovereign with six forged documents pertaining to Scotland’s vassal status. Many critics have claimed that the text’s association with the documents and its repeated engagement with the “Scottish issue” indicate that it was composed to provide a context for the forgeries and to strengthen Hardyng’s plea for remuneration for the services rendered to Henry V across the border.26 While there is no doubt that the Chronicle and the paratextual materials annexed to it, such as the map of Scotland, invasion plan, and Latin letters to Boniface VIII, are designed to justify England’s sovereignty over Scotland and equip Henry VI with everything he needs to assert his title as overlord, diplomatically or militarily, Hardyng’s disquiet at the unrest in England is too prominent for the text to have been written solely to endorse the conquest of Scotland and elicit a reward.27

Throughout the history, Scotland is representative of a much larger inheritance, portions of which are portrayed as lost or endangered. Drawing on Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, Robert Mannyng’s Chronicle, and a version of the Latin Prose Brut as his principal sources, Hardyng incorporates his knowledge of Scotland’s history, geography, and people alongside material from romance, hagiography, instructional and chivalric literature, polemic, occasional poetry, and Boethian tragedy to tell the story of Britain’s past and define the extent of the king’s dominion and obligations.28 Henry VI is heir to the thrones of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Jerusalem, heir to an ancient system of law that he is obliged to uphold, heir to a great nation of Christian souls that he is sworn to protect, and heir to a body of knights whose duty it is to help preserve peace and govern.

Each aspect of the king’s birthright has its own history woven into the more familiar account of Britain’s past or underlined in the marginalia accompanying the text. The basis of fifteenth-century law, for example, is said to date back to ancient Greece, the home of Albion’s founder, Albine, who invokes “the law and consuetude” of Greece with regards to the inheritance of property when claiming the island as her own. By plotting the evolution of British and, later, English law through the enhancements made to it by Brutus (2.667m–678, 2.807–834), Dunwallo (2.1521m), Marcian (2.1850m–1858), Constantine I (3.526m), Aurilius Ambrosius (3.1857–70), Uther Pendragon (3.2045–49), Arthur (3.2477–78, 3.2601–10, 3.2730–33, 3.3290m–3324), Galahad (3.3115–26), Edwin (4.754–81), Elfride (4.2395–2406), Edgar (4.2880–2889), Edward the Martyr (4.2916–20), Edmund Ironside (4.3184–90), William the Conqueror (5.242–52), William Rufus (5.388–92), Edward I (6.99–112, 127–61, 546–52), Edward II (6.1372–85), and Henry V (7.589–651), Hardyng is able to emphasize the seriousness of Henry VI’s role as “chefe justyse” of the realm (7.631) and encourage the king to prioritize a fair judicial system like his greatest ancestors did. Time and again, the Chronicle shows that rulers who fail to maintain “lawe and pese” (4.1676), like the last British king Cadwallader, court civil war, which ultimately results in the loss of their kingdom and invasion by foreign enemies.

Lest the immediacy of such episodes escapes his audience, Hardyng uses various rhetorical techniques, such as parallelism and exclamation, to highlight the similarities between episodes of lawlessness and accentuate the relevance of past losses to contemporary disturbances. The “compleynte and lamentacioun” of Cadwallader “at his departynge oute of Bretayne into his shyppe” (4.1657m), is a case in point. Hardyng alters his sources’ account of the king’s speech, allowing him to proclaim:
O God, mercy, I am defaute of alle
That chastysed not the friste rebellioun
Thrugh whiche this wo importable ys befalle
That we ere putte oute from oure regioun.
O lorde, seth I had keped unyoun
The lawe and pese with alle my hole pusance
Than had not falle on us this hiegh vengeance. (4.1671–77)


In blaming the ruin of Britain on Cadwallader’s failure to chastise “the friste rebellioun” that arose during his reign, Hardyng creates a marked correspondence with periods of civil strife in other epochs. Looking backwards, we are reminded of Albine and her sisters, who are exiled in a ship by the “right excellent” king of Greece as punishment for their rebellion against their husbands (1.2); soon after, the sisters lose control of their new home, Albion, as a result of their failure to imitate their father’s good rule and castigate the strife among their giant progeny. Looking forwards, Hardyng echoes Cadwallader’s lament when he advises Henry VI to reprimand “the firste mysreule and violence” occurring in his realm, because the earliest, unpunished violations of a monarch’s laws will develop into larger, unmanageable problems:
Principiis obsta ne deterius contingat
[Resist the first encroachments, lest worse should befall you]

Bot thus I drede fulle sore, withouten gabbe,
Of suche riottes shalle ryse a more mescheve
And thrugh the sores unheled wylle brede a skabbe
So grete that may noght bene restreynt in breve.
Wharfore, gode lorde, iff ye wylle gyffe me leve,
I wolde say thus unto youre excellence:
Withstonde the firste mysreule and violence.


Wythstonde, gode lorde, begynnynge of debate
And chastyse welle also the ryotours
That in eche shire bene now consociate
Agayn youre pese, and alle thaire maynetenours.
For treuly els wylle falle the fayrest flours
Of youre coroune and noble monarchy
Whiche God defende and kepe thrugh his mercy. (7.1023m–1036)

idle talk
greater harm


While Hardyng takes care to emphasize the destructive nature of disobedience and conflict, he also tempers the miserable periods of British history with positive portrayals of concord, or “pese.” Junctures where justice is privileged and administered impartially are depicted as supremely beneficial to the nation, for the peace that ensues from a contented people provides the foundation on which a monarch can build a more prosperous kingdom and expand his territories abroad. Cultivating stability at home, Hardyng suggests, will allow Henry VI to reclaim the lost parts of his territorial inheritance because, as is evidenced by Henry V’s successes in France, “The pese at home and law so wele conserved” are “rote and hede of alle grete conqueste” (7.603–04). As the Chronicle draws to a close, it promises that if the king takes care of England — his principal charge — the realm will unite behind him in his pursuit of former vassals, like Scotland, and none will withstand his “noble monarchy” (7.1078).

Read in this context, the two petitions for reward that frame the Chronicle, and encourage Henry VI to honor Hardyng’s outstanding remuneration, take on new meaning; Hardyng becomes an “Everyman” figure who has suffered great misfortune that only the king can assuage. Operating on a microcosmic and macrocosmic level, he represents both the individual plight of the loyal, long-suffering subject and all distressed Englishmen who desire justice. Just as it is in Henry VI’s power to alleviate the chronicler’s financial hardship by fulfilling his father’s promise of a reward, so it is in his power to alleviate England’s suffering by maintaining his father’s legacy and restoring justice and peace to the realm.29

Though Hardyng outlines his grievances to the king in the Prologue and Book 7, he does not explicitly lay the blame for existing wrongs with him. Instead, he censures the “lordes that suffre the law and pese mysledde” (3.253) for abusing their power and failing to assist the king in maintaining the realm.30 Communicating the rest of his grievances and advice to “prynces and lordes of hye estate” (2.1486) and “the lordes that have reule of kynges counsaylle” (5.505m), Hardyng underlines the importance of the nobility to the body politic and makes the aristocracy’s customary role as protectors of the common weal one of the Chronicle’s most prominent narrative threads.31 The hopes of the realm depend not only on Henry asserting his royal prerogative and punishing those who shape the law to meet their own needs, but also on all those in positions of power who put duty before personal gain.

The concept of a symbiotic relationship between king and aristocracy is introduced at the start of the Prologue, when Hardyng claims to be writing so that Henry VI, his wife, Margaret of Anjou, and his son, Prince Edward, will know the extent of Henry’s dominion and appreciate how the land has been “kept alway of greet pushance, / With baronage and lordes of dignyté” (Prol.10–11). From here in, readers can trace the illustrious history of the island’s nobility and its service to successive kings, beginning with the Trojan exiles who help Brutus to build “New Troy,” right down to the late fifteenth-century marcher lords protecting the Anglo-Scottish borders for Henry VI. Just as Hardyng uses historical exemplarity to highlight the best and worst characteristics of former sovereigns for his king, so he offers models of good and bad conduct for England’s lords. Members of contemporary chivalric orders, such as the Order of the Garter, are encouraged to see their own fraternities as the natural successors of earlier organizations like King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table or Galahad’s “ordour of Saynte Grale” (3.3038m), and all men of status are encouraged to imitate the chivalric conduct of Hardyng’s late patron, Sir Robert Umfraville, whom the Chronicle depicts as the best of knights.

Although the Chronicle draws on traditional representations of kingship and nobility, and is particularly indebted to “Mirrors for Princes” literature, Hardyng’s concern with the influence of overmighty magnates, his request that they refrain from avenging personal slights and cooperate peacefully, and his appeal to the king to take action against corruption reflect the unique circumstances of Henry VI’s reign and the root of the social and political unrest in the 1450s. As Hardyng notes, members of the Privy Council had wielded unprecedented power during the king’s long minority, but some council members were more dominant than others and friction had developed between them. When Henry began ruling independently, the authority of his councillors should have lessened, but he remained dependent on favorites, who retained immense power and often abused their influence for personal gain. Thrown into that mix was Richard, Duke of York, who, as the next in line for the throne until Henry produced an heir, became increasingly discontent with the roles assigned to him.32 The situation was exacerbated when the king suffered a mental collapse and was unable to govern; rivalry amongst the governing elite deepened under York’s protectorate and later erupted into open warfare at the battle of St. Albans (1455), the conflict commonly held to mark the start of The Wars of the Roses.

In reminding the Privy Council that the king has merely “lente” (5.514) the rule to them and that he has the power to bring them down if he discovers that they have abused their position, Hardyng appears to have penned at least part of Book 5 during such a moment of crisis, when the king was either too young or too sick to exercise his will unaided and the council had responsibility for the governance “everiche a dele,” or in every particular (5.514). Though this precise interjection could have been composed any time before Henry’s minority ended in 1437, its correspondence with other interjections bemoaning increased violence in the localities suggests that it was most likely written during one of Henry’s bouts of illness in 1453–54, or 1455–56, when the council officially oversaw matters for the king once again under York’s second protectorate.

The “historical mythology” that Hardyng creates for England’s lords teaches that the best periods in the country’s history occur when the body politic is healthy and harmonious: when the lower ranks are protected by those of higher status, and given fair recourse to justice, and when those of higher status work with the king for the greater good of the realm.33 On occasions when the body politic sickens on account of a deficient king or a self-serving noble, Hardyng often introduces snippets of Boethian philosophy from the works of English poets, such as Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, to accentuate the tragic nature of the situation and offer readers their own “Consolation of Philosophy.”34 Despite the fact that the Chronicle ends with England’s fortunes at an all time low — invoking images of the “world-turned-upside down” with murderers roaming free in the localities, barons maintaining malefactors, justices of the peace acting neither justly or peacefully, and wars being fought between Englishmen rather than against enemies abroad — the pattern established by the history, whereupon disaster follows prosperity and prosperity follows disaster, offers hope for the future: it suggests that Fortune’s wheel will turn upwards again once those in power champion the common weal. In reality, things only got worse for Henry VI, who was overthrown within a few years of Hardyng’s poignant appeal for action, but the Chronicle stands as a testament to the hope entertained by men like Hardyng that, despite all of the difficulties of his rule, the king could still restore order and be the figurehead the nation needed.

We cannot know for certain how Henry VI reacted to the Chronicle; the fact that Hardyng was rewarded with a second annuity after submitting the text and forged documents does not, unfortunately, prove that the king was delighted with the work, or that he even read it, merely that Hardyng’s earlier service to the crown in Scotland was acknowledged and compensated. Nevertheless, the timing of Hardyng’s presentation is crucial to our understanding of how topical the text was and how it might have been received. In November 1457, the same month that Hardyng was in London to put his seal to the indenture recording the Treasury’s receipt of his forgeries, the king’s Great Council convened at Westminster “to tackle the pressing political problems of the kingdom,” particularly, it seems, the on-going hostilities between the Yorkist lords and the heirs of those killed at St. Albans, and the threat of foreign invasion.35 When discussions could not be “fully concluded,” Henry VI arranged for the meeting to reconvene in January because the “wele” of the land and people remained “in greet juparte.”36 According to John Whethamstede, the king was inspired to seek peace between his magnates after reading several books of advice and Scripture. The theme of his address to the lords when the council assembled once again was based on the gospels’ warning that “Every kingdom divided amongst itself shall be made desolate.”37 In his speech Henry aligned his own desire for peace with that of God, citing examples of historic and recent kingdoms ruined through civil division, and emphasizing the susceptibility of war-torn realms to invasion.38 The reconciliation, or “Love Day” that followed on 25 March, once a settlement had been agreed between the lords, saw the Yorkist magnates and the heirs of the Lancastrians slain at St Albans process hand in hand around London in a public display of unity.

Though historians have noted the shallowness of York’s reunion with the court faction, which, according to another English writer, “endured nat long,”39 and though Whethamstede was no doubt indulging his poetic licence by claiming that the king was inspired to seek accord by books of advice and scripture, the events of November 1457 and the following four months highlight the social and political currency of Hardyng’s Chronicle and the significance that Hardyng’s contemporaries attached to the notion of supplying “good advice” to a sovereign. Embodying all of the topics touched upon in Henry VI’s alleged speech to his council, Hardyng’s first work, for all its reliance on traditional models of British history, could only have been borne out of the crises that troubled Henry’s reign. It is precisely the sort of book that Whetehamstede had in mind when he imagined Henry contemplating the troubles of his kingdom, and it is precisely the sort of book that Henry might have drawn examples from in his speech to reiterate the perils of civil war.

Instructional, inspiring, and anchored by the same rhetorical tropes, Boethian frame of reference, and rhyme-royal or “Chaucerian” stanza underpinning other fifteenth-century vernacular “public poetry,” the Chronicle uses historical exemplarity to highlight the transience of divided nations and the susceptibility of kings and highborn men to the vicissitudes of Fortune.40 Engaging with traditional, yet historically specific themes, such as war, lawlessness, justice, ineffectual leadership, and self-governance, it is far from being the product of a “self-serving” old man.41 More accurately, the first version of the Chronicle is the invention of a remarkable individual, who had lived through the reigns of four very different kings, witnessed the rise and fall of England’s fortunes at home and abroad, and felt the impact of peace degenerating into civil war. When he gifted the text to Henry, Hardyng could not have known that he would go on to revise his work for Henry VI’s political rival; instead he must have believed that his legacy would be that he advised “prynces and lordes of hye estate” (2.1486) how to reinvigorate the country’s “fayrest floures” of law and peace (7.1056).


London, British Library MS Lansdowne 204 is a mid-fifteenth-century manuscript consisting of 230 parchment folios, measuring 430 mm by 300 mm, and four unfoliated paper flyleaves (ii + 230 + ii).42 It was produced in Lincolnshire or the East Midlands in the 1450s and was probably commissioned by Hardyng as a presentation copy for Henry VI.43 The text of John Hardyng’s Chronicle, the only item in the manuscript, is written in single columns of verse with a height of approximately 320 mm; each column generally comprises six stanzas per folio, normally of seven lines each.44

Foliation occurs in the top right-hand corner of each leaf, written in ink by an early hand; it contains two leaves marked “25” in error. From folio 26 onwards a second, modern foliation occurs in pencil, correcting the earlier foliation. This edition follows the modern foliation. With the exception of folio 2v, each folio has frame ruling in red; prick marks can be seen on many leaves.


Two unfoliated paper flyleaves; one parchment leaf inserted in the seventeenth century containing the arms of Gerards, earls of Macclesfield (marked as fol. 1); quire 14–1 (fols. 2–4, one leaf excised, probably iv);45 quire 212–1 (fols. 5–15, i excised);46 quire 38 (fols. 16–23); quire 48 (fols. 24–31); quire 58 (fols. 32–39); quire 68 (fols. 40–47); quire 78 (fols. 48–55); quire 88 (fols. 56–63); quire 98 (fols. 64–71); quire 108 (fols. 72–79); quire 118 (fols. 80–87); quire 128 (fols. 88–95); quire 138 (fols. 96–103); quire 148 (fols. 104–111); quire 158 (fols. 112–119); quire 168 (fols. 120–127); quire 178 (fols. 128–135); quire 188 (fols. 136–143); quire 198 (fols. 144–151); quire 208 (fols. 152–159); quire 218 (fols. 160–167); quire 228 (fols. 168–175); quire 238 (fols. 176–183); quire 248 (fols. 184–191); quire 258 (fols. 192–199); quire 268 (fols. 200–207); quire 278 (fols. 208–215); quire 288 (fols. 216–223); quire 298–1 (fols. 224–230, one leaf excised, probably viii).

Quires 2 to 29 are numbered on the first folio of each quire (i–xxviii respectively). In addition to this, quire 2 has quire signatures on folios 6–9 (numbered iii–vi). Signatures in the first half of each gathering from quires 3 to 25 comprise an Arabic latter (a–i, k–t, w–z respectively) and a Roman numeral (i–iv).47 Signatures in quires 26 to 29 comprise et, con, yogh, and est respectively, and a Roman numeral (i–iv).48 Regular catchwords occur at the end of each quire in decorative scrolls.


The manuscript is bound in restored eighteenth-century brown calf, decorated with a frame of thin gilt-roll.


Two distinct hands are responsible for the text. Hand One, perhaps a legal scrivener, writes in a professional Common Law anglicana script and Hand Two in anglicana formata, with the occasional secretary form. It is difficult to state with absolute certainty whether the two hands belong to one scribe writing with varying degrees of care, or to two scribes sharing some similarities of script. On balance, it seems more likely that two individuals were involved, but both hands are inconsistent enough in their use of specific letter forms to belong to the same scribe working at different times, using different scripts, pens, and ink.

If there are two hands present, the principal hand (Hand One) is responsible for fols. 5r–225v (Books 1.1 to 7.1358, the main body of the Chronicle) and many of the marginalia that accompany the verse in thicker, red ink. 49 This hand is distinguished by a preference for a two-compartment a, anglicana w (with ascenders curling towards the right), anglicana d (with looped ascender), and the reversed, ovoid form of e (both open and closed). Lowercase graphs b, h, k, and l generally have looped ascenders; and lower case h has a limb that usually flicks to the right. However, the scribe intermittently uses a simpler secretary form of w (which leans to the left), secretary e, hooked, rather than looped, ascenders on b, h, k, and l (more common to anglicana formata script), and h with a limb that curls to the left. The size of the hand in question is similarly inconsistent, but always neater than Hand Two; at first it is very compact and formal, but as the work progresses it becomes more loose and cursive.

The copyist provides large calligraphic initials at the start of each of his folios, unless an illuminated initial occurs at the top of the page. The decorative initials have elaborate strap- and cadel-work and small, red guide letters included in the design for clarity. In addition, the scribe exaggerates the ascenders on the top line of each folio and extends them into the top margin; descenders on the bottom line similarly protrude deep into the lower margin and often end with an elaborate flourish and decorative pen-work.

Hand Two — if not Hand One writing at a later stage — appears to be responsible for those parts of the Chronicle that were added towards the end of production, possibly in haste, after Hand One had completed the main text.50 His contribution includes: fol. 2v (Prol.1–28, Hardyng’s dedication, with black rhyme bands and no discernible frame ruling); fols. 3r–4r (Prol.29–161, Hardyng’s prologue, with red rhyme bands);51 fol. 4v (an incomplete contents page in red ink); fols. 226r–230v (7.1359–1720, part of the itinerary, prose passages, and closing stanzas); the book and chapter divisions; the running heads at the top of each folio giving the name of the king(s) being discussed; and a considerable number of the marginalia (including some later additions to existing glosses by Hand One), all of which are written in red ink, some in red over black ink.52 Throughout the manuscript, Hand Two also appears to add to, erase, and alter occasional stanzas, words, lines, and marginalia written by Hand One, perhaps indicating that Hardyng was working closely with the scribe(s), supplying additional material, corrections, and lines for unfinished stanzas as production was underway.53 It looks as though aspects of the text, such as the prologue and book divisions had not been planned, or finalized, when Hand One commenced his contribution, which may explain why the first and final folios of the manuscript look less polished and more impromptu in terms of layout than the rest of the work and why some of the text written by Hand Two (including book and chapter divisions) had to be squeezed into the limited space available.54

At first glance, Hand Two prefers the simpler secretary forms of e, d (with unlooped ascender), and w (leaning to the left); in the dedication and prologue a preference for single-compartment a can also be seen. The scribe frequently uses thorns and the ascenders of his b, h, k, and l are regularly hooked rather than looped. The limb of lower case h often hooks round to the left. Nonetheless, closer inspection reveals that this hand also employs anglicana forms of e (reversed ovoid form), d, and w; two-compartment a; lowercase b, h, k, and l with looped ascenders; and h with a limb that flicks to the right.

Annotations, Graffiti, and Ownership Marks

There are numerous contemporary and post-medieval jottings present in the manuscript. The first flyleaf bears the following markings: “No. 200 204,” “$1510B,” “2511c,” “74i,” and “LXXIV.I”; the first number, occurring at the top of the folio, relates to the manuscript’s current shelfmark. On fol. 2r the hand of Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631), a previous owner of Lansdowne 204, writes “A Chronicel of Britane gathered out of diuers auters the auter vnknown.” Below this, his librarian, Richard James, provides a brief description of the manuscript’s contents (in Latin) and names Hardyng as the author.55

Several other hands have added intermittent marginal notes beside the verse, usually consisting of a single word or phrase concerning a famous king, event, battle, or source.56 The first of the hands belongs to the famous antiquarian John Stow (c. 1525–1605).57 Stow makes notes about the sources of Hardyng’s early history, religious artifacts, places, miracles, and events affecting the succession of the crown. His annotations demonstrate the nature of his interests and often emphasize the differences between the two versions of the Chronicle, which undoubtedly led to his criticism of Richard Grafton’s edition of the second version.58

The second hand, writing in a large secretary script belonging to the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, is responsible for five annotations on fols. 7r, 88v, 89r, 166v, 170r, and 170v.59 The third hand, a late fifteenth-century secretary, smaller and narrower than the previous hand, writes six notes on fols. 120r, 121r, 128v, 161v, 180r, and 192v.60 On fol. 134r, a sixteenth-century hand makes a note on the foundation of Battle Abbey and later writes “Italia” on fol. 194v.61 Another reader has drawn a manicule pointing to one of the stanzas on fol. 171r and added a note in the right-hand margin about the king’s sovereignty over Wales and Scotland.62 On fols. 203r and 223r an early hand, possibly of the sixteenth century, copies phrases from the text in an attempt to mimic the scribe.63

Several names occur in the manuscript: “John Clapsshan born the fourth day of [Januarie?] 1555,” and “London” are mentioned on fol. 2r; the name William Bowyer 1566 (“Sum Guiliel Bowyer 1566”) occurs at the top of fols. 3r and 5r, presumably added by William Bowyer (d. 1569/70), Keeper of the Records in the Tower;64 and “Edward Colwell” appears on fol. 166v.65 The first of the end flyleaves has “230 folios W. Lo Fran (?). G. C. T” written in pencil, doubtless added when the manuscript was acquired by the British Library.


The illumination of Lansdowne 204 has been linked stylistically and decoratively to a group of fifteenth-century manuscripts originating from Eastern England, most likely Lincolnshire or East Anglia: New York Library MS Spencer 19;66 London, British Library MSS Egerton 615;67 London, Wellcome Medical Library MS 8004;68 Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 740;69 London, British Library MS Harley 2885;70 Arundel Castle, John Lydgate’s Lives of Saints Edmund and Fremund;71 and, less directly, Nottingham, University Library MS 250.72 Decorative features distinguishing the group include: daisy flowers, green sprays, twisted acanthus leaves, and foliate columns.73 The illuminations in Lansdowne 204, Spencer 19, Egerton 615, Wellcome 8004, and Laud Misc. 740 also feature the same child-like figures; and Egerton 615 and Lansdowne include gold filigree sprays in the background of their scenes (see below).74

On fol. 5r of Lansdowne 204, there is a fine champ initial of five lines in height, in gold, with a pink, burgundy, and white foliated leaf at the center, on a blue and white ground. The initial has extended feathered sprays that fill the top and left-hand margins to form a partial border around the text; the sprays consist of green ball motifs, daisies with gold centers, squiggles, and twisted acanthus leaves, outlined in black, and colored either blue and white, red and white, or burgundy, red, and white; a small line of white dots embellishes the inside of the stems.75

Elsewhere champ initials of three lines in height are used to mark the beginning of each new chapter and a change of sovereign. The initials consist of a gold letter on a burgundy and blue quartered ground with white filigree work; they are decorated with small feathered sprays and daisies, with gold ball motifs, circular lobes tinted green, and squiggles. Several folios at the end of the manuscript contain unfinished champ initials, where only the burgundy quarters have been completed or spaces for champ initials that have been filled with large ink letters.76

A spectacular full-page illuminated pedigree of Edward III occurs on fol. 196r detailing the king’s entitlement to the French throne.77 The pedigree comprises eleven seated figures, each having a gold crown and scepter (except “Charles of Valoys, erle,” who has only a crown); they have simple faces, with eyes, noses, and lips highlighted in black, and other features, such as cheeks and hands, rendered in white and pink.78 Three of the figures (labelled “Philippe,” “Isabel,” and “Iohn”) have yellow curly hair; the rest have brown curly hair.79 All the figures are clothed in either red and blue or gold and blue, with ermine trim on their robes. The figures in gold and blue highlight the pure line of descent from “Saynt Lowys” through to his great-granddaughter “Isabel,” or Isabella of France (1295–1348), mother of Edward III. The remaining figures are depicted in stripy red garments and blue robes.80 Additional emphasis is given to the importance of Isabella, as she is the only figure to gaze directly forward; all of the other figures look towards her, with the exception of Edward III, who gestures towards King John of France, the usurper. Each figure is seated on a throne colored red, yellow, or purple; the thrones belonging to the “pure” line of descent have blue and/or gold ornamentation, and some seats are decorated with filigree sprays.81 The backgrounds behind the figures alternate between red and black and are filled with long gold filigree sprays or gold cross-hatching. Twisted foliate columns of leaves, in blue and white or two-tone green, decorate the golden bar frames around the figures in the top half of the folio, and clusters of feathered sprays consisting of daisies made from gold balls, circular green lobes, and twisted colored acanthus leaves (in red, blue, pink, and green) adorn the space around the pedigree.

A unique colored map of Scotland — the earliest independent cartographic representation of the realm — occurs on fols. 226v–227r. Oriented with west at the top, it is illuminated in gold, blue, pink, yellow, green, red, purple, and white, and it depicts the main fortifications and towns with an intriguing array of castles, walled towns, gatehouses, churches, and bridges.82 Forests and rivers are included and a blue and white ocean surrounds the land, giving Scotland an island-like appearance, separate from England.83 Many of the castles and churches bear an odd but fascinating resemblance to the real buildings, particularly those representing Glasgow, Tantalloon, and Dunfermline.84 Geographically speaking, the layout is compellingly accurate; it was clearly informed by someone with detailed knowledge of Scotland’s topography, and there is no reason to doubt Hardyng’s claim to have compiled it. It was drawn and illuminated by the same artist responsible for the Pedigree of France, and since there are no instructions to the limner beneath the painting, indicating where the toponyms, rivers, and forests should appear, the artist may have been working from a separate diagram provided by Hardyng.85

Small colored coats of arms occur infrequently in the margins beside the main text: on fol. 46v, the arms of Constantine (incorrectly painted gules, a cross argent instead of argent, a cross gules); on fol. 67v, the arms of King Arthur (gules, three crowns or); on fol. 129v, the arms of Edward the Confessor (azure, a cross or, four martlets or); and, on fol. 220r, the arms of Sir Robert Umfraville (gules, a cinquefoil, an orle of crosslets or). On fol. 217v, the arms of Margaret of Anjou, entitled “The Quene,” have been erased, but the outline can still be seen (quarterly of six: i barry of eight argent and gules; ii azure, semy fleurs-de-lis or, a label of three points gules; iii argent a cross potent between four crosses crosslet potent or; iv azure, semy fleurs-de-lis or, a bordure gules; v azure, semy of crosses crosslet fitchy, two barbels haurient addorsed or; vi or, on a bend gules, three alerions displayed argent). Quarters i, iv, v, and vi still have traces of the original design and colors (gules and azure).86 A second coat of arms, presumably belonging to Henry VI, may also have existed on fol. 217v in the small section that has been cut away from the margin.

There is one final decoration in Lansdowne 204 which is much later than the medieval illumination. On fol. 1v, the emblazoned arms of one of the previous owners, the earl of Macclesfield, occur, quarterly of six: i argent, on a saltire gules an imperial crown or; ii or, a mullet sable, on a broad fesse-wise a bordure componée argent and azure, quarterly France modern (azure, three fleur de lys or) and England (gules, three lions passant guardant or); iii per pale azure and gules, three lions rampant or; iv per fesse gules and argent, a canton argent; v argent, on a bend azure, three garbs or, a canton gules; vi argent, two chevrons gules, a canton gules; supporters, sinister and dexter a lion rampant crowned.


1. fol. 1r: Blank.

2. fol. 1v: The arms of the Gerard family, earls of Macclesfield.

3. fol. 2r: Originally blank, now contains notes by Robert Cotton and Richard James.

4. fol. 2v: Hardyng’s dedication to King Henry VI. Begins “O soverayne lord, be it to youre plesance” and ends “To byde forevere undir his hool proteccioun.”

5. fols. 3r–4r: Prologue addressing Hardyng’s grievance and the king’s sovereignty over Scotland. Begins “Who hath an hurte and wille it nought diskure” and ends “Me to rewarde as pleseth youre excellence.”87

6. fol. 4v: An incomplete table of contents. Begins “Of þe sustirs of Grece how thai came to this londe and called it Albion” and ends “Of Seynt Edward Confessor and Harolde, son of Godwyn.”

7. fols. 5r–230v: Books 1–7 of the Chronicle, from Albyne to Henry VI, including a commendation of Sir Robert Umfraville, an account of Hardyng’s grievance, advice on conquering Scotland, and evidence of the king’s entitlement to the Scottish throne. Begins “The while that Troy was regnyng in his myghte” and ends “Ne chaungen hew for thayre inequyté.”

8. fol. 196r: A full page illuminated pedigree of Edward III’s claim to France.

9. fols. 226v–227r: A double-page colored map of Scotland.

10. fols. 227v–230r: A Latin prose letter sent from Edward I to Pope Boniface VIII detailing his right to the sovereignty of Scotland. Begins “Sanctissimo in Christo patri domino Bonifacio” and ends “datur apud Westminster septimo die Maii anno domini mlccci et regni nostri vicesimo nono.”

11. fols. 230r–230v: A Latin prose letter from the lords and barons to Pope Boniface VIII regarding English sovereignty over Scotland. Begins “Sanctissimo in Christo Patri, domino Bonifacio” and ends “inquietudine pacifice possidere ac illibata percipere benignius permittatis.”


Aside from the few jottings mentioned above, there are no marks of medieval ownership. The quality of the volume, its lavish decoration, its association with Hardyng’s locale, and its dedication suggest that Hardyng commissioned the manuscript as a presentation copy for Henry VI, but whether the king ever saw, read, or retained it is unclear.

The presence of William Bowyer’s name on fols. 3r and 5r seems to indicate that he was in possession of Lansdowne 204 in 1566, while annotations by the antiquarian John Stow confirm that he read, and perhaps owned, it in the sixteenth century.88 Later, the manuscript found its way into the collection of Sir Robert Cotton, whose hand, along with that of his librarian Richard James, occurs on fol. 2r.89

It is unclear when Lansdowne 204 left the Cotton collection, but by the late seventeenth century it was in the possession of the Gerards, earls of Macclesfield, whose arms occur on fol. 1v.90 The manuscript was presumably owned by at least one other individual before it was acquired by William Petty, formerly Fitzmaurice (1737–1805), second earl of Shelburne and first marquess of Lansdowne. Petty was the last private owner of Lansdowne 204, and it is from his collection that the manuscript was purchased by the British Library (then the British Museum) in 1807.91


The aim of this edition of the longer version of John Hardyng’s Chronicle is twofold: (1) to reproduce the linguistic state of the text as accurately as we could; (2) to supply a text that is accessible to readers who might not have the highest level of expertise in Middle English.

The results of these two aims are by no means always consonant.

The following decisions derive from the desire for accurate linguistic representation of the text.

The spelling of the text is almost entirely the spelling of the manuscript, with minor adjustments noted below.

Punctuation is minimal. Commas are not inserted following modern practice. The large majority of Hardyng’s lines are end-stopped; we allow end-stopping to do the work of a comma. This seemed preferable to clogging up the text with punctuation marks when the meter is doing the work of visually supplying comma-level pauses in any case. Of course this occasionally means that an enjambed line needs to be understood differently, but that relatively rare inconsistency is preferable to consistency achieved at the cost of a clogged text. There is no need to punctuate this poetic text as if it were prose.

Hardyng’s syntax is loose; he characteristically creates long sentences made up of line-length strings of relative or adverbial clauses. Often it is unclear where one sentence precisely stops and another begins. This is not to say that the overall sense is often unclear. Our practice has been to insert full stops either when a syntactic unit of a sentence has clearly been achieved, or when a sentence has done quite enough work as it is. The result of this practice is a lack of complete conformity with modern standards of syntactic punctuation, since we occasionally begin a sentence with a relative clause.

The interests of accessibility have been served by the following decisions.

Caesural virgules, found consistently across the entire text, have been removed. All contractions have been silently expanded. Whether or not a mark constitutes an expansion has been decided on philological and metrical grounds, as well as by reference to the scribe’s standard practice. Capitalization conforms to modern usage. Speech markers have been introduced. Modern word division has been observed. The Tironian “and” has been expanded. Obsolete letter forms, just as letter forms for u/v/j, have been rendered by their modern equivalents. Where a final e is sounded as to rhyme with “hay,” the letter is given an acute accent. In the very rare cases where emendation is necessary, the emended word is silently corrected and an explanation is provided in the Textual Notes. The rare instances of scribal correction have been silently followed in the main body of the text, but recorded in the Textual Notes. The text has been glossed. We have tried to address the reader whose familiarity with Middle English vocabulary may be relatively new. Complete consistency in glossing is impossible and undesirable: parts of the text would, for example, require constant and consistent repetition of a single gloss.

Prose marginalia are for the most part presented in bold, between stanzas, in the vertical run of the text. We have attempted to show which stanza the marginalia occur beside by presenting them in the text before the stanza they accompany; in instances where more than one gloss occurs beside a stanza, we have endeavored to present them in the order that will make the most sense to our readers. In a few instances where a marginal “Nota” is located within the bounds of a stanza, it is placed before the stanza it accompanies and a record of the line number it occurs beside is given in the Textual Notes. Marginalia have been lightly punctuated according to modern standards. All marginal notation has been registered except for the very rare instances of sixteenth-century or later notations, which are recorded in the Textual Notes.

Original book and chapter numbering is preserved; line numbers are editorial. At the top of each folio of the manuscript, the book number and name of the monarch under consideration are provided as page headers in inconsistent forms. We have omitted the medieval page headers, but provided the names of the kings in our own headers to aid navigation.

Go To Dedication and Prologue