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The Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346
Translated with notes by the Right Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell, Baronet (1913)


STUDENTS of English and Scottish history in the thirteenth ^ and fourteenth centuries have so long been familiar with the record known as The Chronicle of Lanercost that an English translation may seem to be a superfluity. But, whereas the tendency of modern education is to exchange the study of the classics for a diversity of other subjects reputed to be of greater utility, it is certain that a far smaller proportion of educated persons can read Latin easily in the twentieth century than could do so before that flexible language had ceased to be the common medium of scientific and literary intercourse. Now the writer or writers of this chronicle indulged in so many digressions from formal narrative, thereby casting so many sidelights upon the social conditions of his time, that an English translation may prove convenient for such readers as lack time for arduous historical research.

The Latin text was edited from the oldest extant MS.1 by the late Joseph Stevenson with his usual acumen and fidelity, and printed for the Maitland and Bannatyne Clubs in 1839. 'The whole Chronicle,' wrote Stevenson in his preface, 'as it now stands has been reduced to its present form, about the latest period of which it treats, by a writer who had before him materials of a varied character and of unequal merit.' In this form it has been appended as a continuation to Roger de
Hoveden's Annals.

In Stevenson's opinion there is no warrant for attributing the origin of this chronicle to the Priory of Lanercost. He judged from internal evidence that it was written by a Minorite Friar of Carlisle. That evidence has been analysed afresh by Dr. James Wilson, who has contributed an introductory chapter vindicating the claim in favour of the Augustinian Priory of Lanercost as the source of the chronicle. It still remains somewhat perplexing that an Austin Canon, or a succession of Austin Canons, should have been at the pains exhibited in this chronicle to exalt the renown of the Franciscan Order of Mendicants. The entire work covers the period from 1201 to 1346. The translation now presented only extends over the reigns of Edward I. and II. and part of the reign of Edward III., a period of perennial interest to Scotsmen, who, however, must not be offended at the bitter partisanship of a writer living just over the Border.

In preparing the translation for the press I have had the advantage of the literary acumen and historical erudition of Mr. George Neilson, LL.D., who, by undertaking the tedious task of reading my MS., has steered me clear of many pitfalls and pulled me out of others into which I had fallen.

HERBERT MAXWELL.
MONREITH,
1st March, 1913.

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