Textual Histories

Textual Histories: Readings in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

THOMAS A. BREDEHOFT
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442680463
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Textual Histories
    Book Description:

    What modern scholars have been too willing to dismiss as a scattershot collection of unrelated annals, is, Bredehoft argues, a tool created to forge, through linking literature and history, a patriotic Anglo Saxon national identity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8046-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. LIST OF PLATES
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    One should, perhaps, respond to my title as Shakespeare’s Benedick responds to Beatrice’s invitation to dine: ‘There’s a double meaning in that.’ For indeed there is a double meaning: the readings of theAnglo-Saxon ChronicleI offer here concern both the textual history of theChronicle’s texts and the textuality of history as embodied in theChronicle. The force of my argument, as a consequence, has a double thrust. On the one hand, I investigate the textual presentation of theChroniclemanuscripts, frequently examining neglected textual features such as pointing, layout, and capitalization in order to interpret the function and...

  7. 1 The Common Stock Genealogies
    (pp. 14-38)

    One of the most remarkable features of the Common Stock of theAnglo-Saxon Chronicleis its inclusion of a large number of alliterating genealogies. Twenty separate genealogical passages were entered into the Common Stock in nineteen separate annals; the fact that ten of these passages record West Saxon genealogies must urge us to think about their presence in political terms.¹ To understand the genealogies of the Common Stock, however, we must investigate the role of the genealogies in the historical documents that precede theChronicle. In this chapter, then, I investigate not only the Common Stock, but also the genealogies...

  8. 2 Cynewulf and Cyneheard in the Context of the Common Stock
    (pp. 39-60)

    The well-known ‘Cynewulf and Cyneheard’ narrative contained in the Common Stock’s 755 annal has long been subject to two complementary strands of critical response. On the one hand, the narrative is generally read for its political force, as taking some position on the potential for conflict between family-based loyalties andcomitatusloyalty. On the other, the narrative’s exceptional length (in comparison to other annals of the eighth century), its prose style, and its placement (in 755, rather than 784, where the same events are recorded a second time) have led to its being identified as an interpolation consisting of material...

  9. 3 The Post-Alfredian Annals
    (pp. 61-71)

    As I have suggested in chapters 1 and 2, the Common Stock of theChroniclewas a pervasively Alfredian production, one deeply influenced by contemporary political concerns. The extensive collection of genealogies and the Cynewulf and Cyneheard material worked together to define for theChroniclean abiding concern with West Saxon political legitimacy and the West Saxon succession. The degree to which these concerns pervade theChroniclemight well be read as deriving from an anxiety about the West Saxon succession during Alfred’s time. If so, such anxieties would appear to have been well founded. At Alfred’s own death, the...

  10. 4 The Chronicle Poems
    (pp. 72-118)

    The inclusion ofThe Battle of Brunanburhwithin the pages of theChroniclehas frequently been seen as the remarkable intrusion of one genre into another: the insertion of a (literary) poem into a (historical) chronicle. The initial verse ofBrunanburh, ‘Her Æþelstan cyning’ (937A, 1) has been seen as metrically suspect at least since the edition of Campbell, and the entire poem has often been identified as an interpolation into theChronicle.¹ Yet the strategies employed by theBrunanburhpoet resonate powerfully with the textual/historiographic strategies employed by preceding chroniclers, and the poem itself is best read in the...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 5 Latin in the Chronicle
    (pp. 119-136)

    To a much greater degree than is usually recognized, theAnglo-Saxon Chronicleis a bilingual production, if such a term can can be used to designate its use of two languages rather than one. At least brief passages of Latin appear in all of the surviving manuscripts. Three manuscripts have relatively extensive Latin components: we see thirty-eight annals or parts of annals in Latin in manuscript E;¹ F is thoroughly bilingual, with each Old English annal followed immediately by a Latin version of the same material; and the Parker Chronicle’s Old English annal for 1070 is followed by Latin annalistic...

  13. 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 137-154)

    When I began this project, I planned to write a book on theChronicleas a record of Anglo-Saxon literate practice. TheChronicle’s record of Old English prose, poetry, genealogy, and even Latin across a span of two and a half centuries seemed to make it a perfect testing ground for discussing the influence of orality and the influence of Latinity on the remarkable vernacular literary culture of the later centuries of the Anglo-Saxon period. Yet, as even this brief summary makes clear, the investigation of literate practice inevitably led to an investigation of the various genres recorded in the...

  14. APPENDIX The Texts of Annal 755
    (pp. 155-170)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 171-212)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-220)
  17. Index of Annals and Manuscripts
    (pp. 221-224)
  18. Subject Index
    (pp. 225-229)