Catalogue description Public Record Office: Transcript of Waurin's Chronicle

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Details of PRO 31/15
Reference: PRO 31/15
Title: Public Record Office: Transcript of Waurin's Chronicle

This series consists of a collated transcript of that part of the chronicle of Jehan de Waurin (c 1394-?1474) which remains unpublished in the Rolls Series edition of the text. The range covered is from the fourth book of the first volume to the fourth book of the fourth volume.

Sir William Hardy's transcript was based on the copy of Waurin's chronicle commissioned for Louis de Bruges, Seigneur de Gruthuyse (created earl of Winchester by Edward IV). This was in six volumes, each bound in two parts. This copy, was probably completed after Waurin's death. The transcript was then collated with an incomplete copy, written probably about 1475 or 1476, and formerly belonging to Jacques d'Armagnac, duc de Nemours and comte de La Marche, from whom it passed to the French Crown.

Further texts were discovered in the course of putting the first part of Hardy's edition through the press; and their variant readings were brought together in an appendix rather than incorporated into the body of the work.

Waurin's chronicle, as originally conceived, was commissioned by his nephew, Waleran de Waurin, and was deliberately formulated as a chivalric history. The material for the first four books of Waurin's chronicle, which in print and transcript comprise the first and part of the second of the published volumes of William Hardy's edition and the twenty books of transcripts, were, in their original form, gathered together between about 1445 and 1455. They comprise a digest of English history from its supposed, and largely mythical, beginnings down to the death of Henry IV in 1413.

By about 1461 Waurin had compiled a fifth volume, taking his history down to 1443; a sixth volume, for which Waurin is an important and original source, continued the history down to the restoration of Edward IV in 1471, following the brief period of Henry VI's re-adeption. That portion of the chronicle which covers the fifteenth century comprises the greater part of the printed edition.

The first six books of Waurin's first volume are entirely derivative. They cover the period from the mythical Albina and the occupation of Albion by the giants, and continue through the common legend of the Brut to history: of the Anglo-Saxons, the Conquest, and thence to the reigns of Edward I and Edward II. These books have no independent value as a historical source; but in the differences they exhibit from versions of the Brut, Wace, Layamon, Geoffrey of Monmouth and others, have some value for historiographical exegesis, and may preserve an independent chronicle tradition.

For the later fourteenth century Froissart appears to be the main, although not the sole, source use by Waurin for his narrative. Froissart is at times quoted almost verbatim, with or without acknowledgement. For the fifteenth century until 1444 Waurin's chronicle is related to that of Enguerran de Monstrelet, but incorporates also material independent of all other known chronicles, based in part on his own experience and observation. Waurin's final volume contains much that is original, supplemented by material drawn from the archives of Charles, duke of Burgundy.

These books chronicle English history from the death of Cadwalladr in 688 to the deposition of Richard II in 1399

Date: 19th century

The transcript was written continuously in stock stationery books. For this reason the piece numbers do not break logically into discrete books of Waurin's manuscript chronicle; nor is the record of folio numbers (from B N Ms fr 6749-6755) consistent. For this reason the summary list of contents of the original books, included by Hardy as part of his introduction to the edition, is included here in abbreviated form:

Contents of the books of Waurin's chronicle:

  • Volume 1 (PRO 31/15/1-3)
  • 4th book (PRO 31/15/1): The Anglo-Saxons; the Norman Conquest
  • 5th book (PRO 31/15/1-2): William I - Edward I
  • 6th book (PRO 31/15/2-3): Edward II-Edward III's invasion of Scotland
  • Volume 2 (PRO 31/15/4-7)
  • 1st book (PRO 31/15/4): Origins of Hundred Years War; war to 1344
  • 2nd book (PRO 31/15/4-5): Hundred Years War: to Crecy, 1346
  • 3rd book (PRO 31/15/5): Hundred Years War: 1346-1357
  • 4th book (PRO 31/15/6): Hundred Years War: battle of Aurai and peace made with John de Montfort
  • 5th book (PRO 31/15/6-7): Deeds of Sir John Chandos; siege of Puirenon
  • 6th book (PRO 31/15/7): To deaths of the Black Prince and of Edward III, 1377
  • Volume 3 (PRO 31/15/8-14)
  • 1st book (PRO 31/15/8-9): Coronation of Richard II to death of Charles V, 1380
  • 2nd book (PRO 31/15/9-10): Wars between Spain and Portugal; return to England of John of Gaunt and the earl of Cambridge
  • 3rd book (PRO 31/15/10-11): Rebellion of Ghent and Flanders, to 1385
  • 4th book (PRO 31/15/12-13): Ends with the entry of the English into Spain
  • 5th book (PRO 31/15/13-14): The wars in Spain; the settlement of affairs between the king of Portugal and the duke of Lancaster
  • 6th book (PRO 31/15/14): To the embassy from the king of France to the duke of Brittany concerning the constable, Oliver de Clisson
  • Volume 4 (PRO 31/15/15-20)
  • 1st book (PRO 31/15/15-16): Dissension between Richard II and his uncles and the council; the unpopularity of Robert de Vere, duke of Ireland; an agreement between the king of France and the duke of Gueldres
  • 2nd book (PRO 31/15/16-17): To the extension of the treaty between France and England, and the partial recovery of Charles VI from his madness
  • 3rd book (PRO 31/15/18-19): To the deaths of the duke of Gloucester and the earl of Arundel
  • 4th book (PRO 31/15/19-20): To the abdication of Richard II in 1399

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: English

Sir William Hardy, Knight, 1807-1887

Physical description: 20 volume(s)
Publication note:

Part published (but not from these transcripts) as Anchiennes Croniques d'Engleterre par Jehan de Waurin, ed L E E Dupont (3 vols, Société de l'Histoire de France, 1858). See also Recueil des croniques et anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretaigne, à présent nommé Engleterre, par Jehan de Waurin, seigneur du Forestel, ed W Hardy, vol 1 (Rolls Series, London, 1864), covering until the year 688. The other 7 volumes (1868-1891) of this edition are a publication of Waurin's chronicles covering the years 1399-1471. The Rolls Series edition includes both a brief biography of Waurin, an analysis of his sources, and a brief list of the contents of each book and volume of the original manuscript, derived from the text used as a primary source.

Administrative / biographical background:

William Hardy began these transcriptions whilst clerk to the duchy of Lancaster. Hardy was appointed as Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in 1878 and knighted in 1883.

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