Annales rerum Anglicarum, et Hibernicarum, regnante Elizabetha ad annum saultis M. D. LXXIX

Chrzanowski 1615cThe last years of Elizabeth’s rule were difficult for the Queen and her subjects. Her long-trusted advisors were passing away, and courtiers of the new generation were impatient. They did not provide her the admiration and loyalty that their seniors had. The long conflict with Spain had ended, but unemployment and inflation were high. Parliament expected Elizabeth to address economic issues on November 30, 1601. Instead, the Queen presented “The Golden Speech,” in which she spoke of her love and respect for the country and members of Parliament and of her position as queen “over such a thankful people.” Queen Elizabeth was sadly mourned at her passing in April 1603.

The reign of James I, a very learned man, continued the golden age of English literature, and economic times were good. He believed, however, in the absolute authority of a monarch under God, rampantly sold honors for monetary gain, delegated power to incompetent favorites, and in 1610 dissolved Parliament over a dispute. A generation in the future such behavior would lead to civil war and execution of his son, King Charles I. It is not surprising that some looked back at Elizabeth’s rule as a golden age.

As his last major work, William Camden, the great antiquary, wrote the Annales of Queen Elizabeth. As explained to his readers in the book’s preface, he aimed to celebrate “the memory of that Princess (which amongst Englishmen ought ever to be grateful and sacred).” Camden chose not to praise the merits of the Queen directly but to prepare a scholarly work based on evidence such as state documents and lay out the Queen’s record of achievement year by year. In 1597 William Cecil, chief advisor to the Queen over most of her reign, made his papers available to Camden; it is unclear, however, to what extent they were used in this project. Camden did depend heavily on the work of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, a fellow antiquary and namesake of the Cottonian library. Cotton was a good friend of Camden, who had first taught him when he was a student at Westminster school, and he had helped John Speed in compiling his History of England (1611).

Camden began work on the Annales in 1607. The present copy is the first part of the Annales—covering the reign up to 1598—which appeared in 1615. The second part was completed in 1617, but it was not issued until after the author’s death. The first edition of both parts in English was published in 1625.

Chrzanowski 1615c *

STC 4496

Title List

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