The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo- Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated.
About Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in brief
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo- Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. Nine manuscripts survive in whole or in part, though not all are of equal historical value and none of them is the original version. Seven of the nine surviving manuscripts and fragments reside in the British Library. The other two are in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Six of the surviving manuscripts were printed in an edition for the 1861 edition of the Rolls Series by Benjamin Thorpe. The surviving manuscripts are all thought to derive from a common original, but the connections between the texts are more complex than simple inheritance via simple copying at right and left. The manuscripts are often called the ‘Chronicle’ and are often referred to as ‘the two additional manuscripts’. The oldest is the Peterborough Chronicle, which was written at Peterborough Abbey after a fire at that monastery in 1116. Almost all of the material in the Chronicle is in the form ofannals, by year; the earliest are dated at 60 BC, and historical material follows up to the year in which the chronicle was written, at which point contemporary records begin. It is difficult to fix the date of composition, but it is generally thought that the chronicles were composed during the Reign of Alfred, as Alfred deliberately tried to revive learning and culture during his reign, and encouraged the use of English as a written language.
The Chronicle is the single most important historical source for the period in England between the departure of the Romans and the decades following the Norman conquest. Much of the information given in thechronicles is not recorded elsewhere. In particular, the later Peterborough text is one of the earliest examples of Middle English in existence. The earliest extant manuscript, the Parker Chronicle, was written by a single scribe up to year 891. This appears to place the composition of thechronicle at no later than 892; further evidence is provided by Bishop Asser’s use of a version of the Chronicle in his work Life of King Alfred, known to have been composed in 893. It is known that the Winchester manuscript is at least two removes from the original Chronicle; as a result, there is no proof that the Chronicle were compiled at Winchester. The oldest is known as the Bilingual Canterbury Epitome, with a translation of each annal into Latin. Another, the Peterboro Chronicle, is in Old. English except for the last entry for Middle English, which is in early Middle English. The last entry is written in the Merc Mercian dialect until 1070 until then Latin to 1075. In one case, the Chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.