Here endeth this presente cronycle of Englonde with the fruyte of tymes

Chrzanowski 1515sChronicles of England, or Brut, is the earliest “comprehensive” history of England—beginning with the legendary founder, Brutus, great-grandson of Aeneas of Troy. Among the many other legendary stories are those of Lear and Arthur, and the chronicle is quite detailed starting with the reign of Edward I (1239-1307). Chronicles of England‘s 12th-century roots are Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae, which was the source for both the Anglo-French Roman de Brut by Wace in 1155 and Layamon’s Middle English poem Brut in the early 13th century. An anonymous 14th-century prose version of Brut that updated events to 1377 subsequently became widely popular. Some 181 manuscripts of it survive. They vary in dialect, content, and material added in intervening years.

William Caxton first printed Chronicles of England in 1480 using a text that was updated to the 1461 Battle of Towton, the bloodiest encounter in the War of Roses in which the armies of Edward IV soundly defeated the Lancastrian forces. That same year, Caxton printed Description of Britain as a supplement to the Chronicles, and the two books are usually bound together. This geographical description of Britain was extracted from another widely popular medieval chronicle, Ranulf Higden’s Polychronicon.

About 1485, the printer at St. Albans published a version of Chronicles that integrated in a history of the Popes and ecclesiastical matters. Altogether, there were 13 printings of Chronicles (or its St. Albans variant) between 1480 and 1529, and subsequent Tudor chronicles of English history drew heavily on these early editions. Other early printers of Chronicles include Wynkyn de Worde, William de Machlinia, Gerard de Leew, Julian Notary, and Richard Pynson. It was not printed again until 1906.

The present copy, the seventh edition and the third printed by Wynkyn de Worde, consists of St. Albans Chronicle and Description of England. It has the leather bookplate of William Foyle, founder (with his brother) of the renowned bookstore on Charing Cross Road. The copy is lacking five leaves (plus a final blank): four from the index that follows the title page and one text leaf pertaining to Church history.

Chrzanowski 1515s *

STC 10000.5

Title List

1479–1550 | 1551–1580 | 1583–1608 | 1609–1675