The sources of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to the annals of the 890s

Quanrud, John (2014) The sources of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to the annals of the 890s. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis examines the origins of a set of manuscripts which, for convenience, are known collectively as the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’. It will be suggested that a central tenet in traditional Chronicle theory may stand in need of revision. Aspects of the received interpretation are considered and assessed against the evidence, and an alternative is developed and put forward.

Chapter 1 considers a core assumption in Chronicle studies for over a century — that a single Chronicle archetype, compiled in the early 890s, was the source of all ASC-related entries in all works, both vernacular and Latin. Lexical and other evidence is reviewed suggesting a possible break in ASC at annal 878, perhaps marking the end of a ‘first Alfredian compilation’. Such a source, if it existed, consisted of ASC-related material, but was not ASC.

Chapter 2 explores other features relating to this type of entry, also ending at annal 878. The combined evidence appears to suggest that a set of texts, antecedent to the Common Stock, was written in south-western Wessex c. 878, largely from eyewitness testimony, and for purposes related to King Alfred’s presence in the region at that time. I call this hypothetical source ‘P’.

Chapter 3 extracts all P-type entries from ASC, and considers the remaining material. Certain unifying features in a majority of these entries may suggest that a set of annals, extending from 449–890 (and possibly earlier), was compiled after P, likely as part of Alfred’s programme of spiritual and educational renewal in the 880s and early 890s. I call this text ‘Q’. Q’s sources include Bede’s Epitome, P, regnal lists, Easter tables (perhaps), and more. Q dealt only with matters of great import to the Anglo-Saxons, presented as short, concise statements of fact entered year by year. I suggest SN derived its ASC-related entries from Q rather than a full Chronicle in the form of the Common Stock.

Chapter 4 suggests that yet another set of annals was written c. 892, concerning the activities in England and on the Continent of a viking army which ASC introduces at Fulham in 879. I call this source ‘R’. On the basis of my working hypothesis, I suggest that when Asser came to write his Life of Alfred in 893, rather than drawing upon PQR individually, a single document was prepared combining entries from PQR for the years 851–890, to aid him in writing his royal biography. I call this compilation ‘S’, and suggest that Asser, and, later, the Common Stock’s authors, drew upon S as their source of these annals.

Chapter 5 begins by suggesting that, alongside his copy of Asser’s Life, the SN compiler also consulted Q in his 851–887 annals, at times interpolating Asser’s text, and at times adding entire entries. I then consider SN 891- 895, proposing it may represent an early (or original) version of this account of Alfred’s final wars. ASC 891–896, by comparison, appears a much expanded and far more

complex revision of the source behind SN’s version. I call SN’s 891–895 hypothetical source ‘T’, and suggest that the Common Stock’s authors used T, along with PQRS, to produce their archetype.

Chapter 6 concludes with a summary of the preceding chapters, and offers some suggestions for possible lines of future research.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Carroll, Jayne
Lee, Christina
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 52829
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2018 07:29
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2022 07:07

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