[SAVILE, Sir Henry, ed.]

[SAVILE, Sir Henry, ed.] Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam praecipui, ex vetustissimis codicibus manuscriptis nunc primum in lucem editi.

London, excudebant G. Bishop, R. Nuberie, & R. Barker, 1596


FIRST EDITION. Folio. ff. [ii], 520, [xxx]: [par.]², A-R , S , T-2D , 2E , 2F-4R , 4S , *-2* , 3* , ²A-H². “”Willielmi monachi Malmesburiensis, De gestis regum Anglorum, libri quinque”, “Henrici archidiaconi Huntindoniensis Historiarum libri octo”, “Rogeri de Houeden Annalium pars prior, & posterior”, and “Chronicorum Ethelvverdi libri IIII. Ingulphi abbatis Croylandensis Historiarum, lib. vnus” each have separate dated title page.” ESTC. Roman letter, some Black and Italic. Small woodcut device on general t-p, sectional titles within beautiful architectural woodcut border, (Mekerrow and Ferguson 148), large historiated woodcut initials, grotesque woodcut head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, “Sorte Contentus. Exlib: Trelawny” on title, occasional marginal annotation in same hand, engraved armorial bookplate of ‘Jolliffe’ on pastedown. Light age yellowing, general title a little dusty, narrow waterstain to upper blank margins, affecting upper edge on some ll. A very good copy in slightly later speckled calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, rebacked, spine, remounted, raised bands, a.e.r. a little rubbed.

First edition of Savile’s texts of seven early English post Bede chronicles, comprising William of Malmesbury’s ‘Gesta Regum Anglorum’, ‘Historia Novella’ and ‘Gesta Pontificum Anglorum’; Henry of Huntingdon’s ‘Historia Anglorum’, Roger of Hoveden’s (or Howden’s) ‘Annals’, Ethelwerd’s ‘Chronicle’, and the ‘Croyland History’ formerly ascribed to Ingulf. In each case Savile was the first editor (except for book V of the ‘Gesta Pontificum’ which did not appear in print until it was included in Gale’s ‘Scriptores Rerum Anglicarum’). In his dedication to Queen Elizabeth he alludes to the merits and defects of more recent historians, criticising Polydore Vergil for his dreary style and for mingling facts with falsehood, and stating his purpose of rehabilitating the older writers (disparaged by the Italian Polydore), preference being given to those who are reliable rather than merely eloquent. With regard to the ‘Croyland History’ he was unfortunately deceived, for it has long since been proved to be a forgery of the C14th or C15th, Ingulf having lived in the C11th; but with respect to the other writers Savile performed a real service to historiography. William of Malmesbury’s ‘Gesta Regum’, covering the period 449-1127, justifies to a large extent the author’s claim to be the successor of Bede: it contains much information not found elsewhere; “for the reign of William Rufus and the early years of Henry I, contained in book iv, William is practically a contemporary authority, and from the opening of book v he is…..strictly…..contemporary” (DNB). The sequel, the ‘Historia Novella’, is a prime source for the reign of Stephen. Henry of Huntingdon’s work, too, is important for that reign and the last 8 years of the preceding one, since he was describing current events. Roger of Hoveden’s ‘Annals’ (or ‘Chronica’) run from 732 to 1201, the approximate date of the author’s death: they are extremely valuable for the years 1192-1201, paying much attention to legal and constitutional details and giving much accurate information on foreign affairs. The short C10th ‘Chronicle’ of Ethelwerd, compiled partly from a vanished text of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, is important for throwing light on how the latter work was written. It uniquely preserves the text of Æthelweard’s Chronicle, of which the only manuscript was almost entirely destroyed in the Cotton Library fire of 1731. Sir Henry Savile was the most learned Englishman in secular literature of the reign of Elizabeth, and to this he added the distinction of being one of the translators of the Authorised Version. He also published i.a. an edition of Chrysostom and founded the chairs of geometry and astronomy at Oxford which bear his name.

ESTC S121919 STC (2nd ed.), 21783. Lowndes 2195. Brunet V 156. Graesse VI 279.
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