20
20

PROPERTY OF AN ENGLISH PRIVATE COLLECTION

Higden, Ranulph.
POLYCRONICON. [WESTMINSTER:] WILLIAM CAXTON, [BETWEEN 2 JULY AND 20 NOVEMBER 1482] 
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 60,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
20

PROPERTY OF AN ENGLISH PRIVATE COLLECTION

Higden, Ranulph.
POLYCRONICON. [WESTMINSTER:] WILLIAM CAXTON, [BETWEEN 2 JULY AND 20 NOVEMBER 1482] 
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 60,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations

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London

Higden, Ranulph.
POLYCRONICON. [WESTMINSTER:] WILLIAM CAXTON, [BETWEEN 2 JULY AND 20 NOVEMBER 1482] 

folio (269 x 199mm.), 423 out of 430 leaves (lacking 4 blank leaves and 3 leaves of text), first edition,  translated into English by John Trevisa, with a continuation by William Caxton, rubricated and underlined in red throughout, numerous marginal annotations in black and red ink throughout in an early hand, printed in Bastarda type 4:95, 40 lines to a column plus headline, late eighteenth or early nineteenth century diced russia, inner dentelles, all edges gilt, Brynkinalt Library bookplate, lacking 3 leaves of text (52/1, 52/8, 55/6) and 4 blank leaves (a1, 1/1, 1/5, [x]2), repairs to holes in margins of early leaves, repairs to some other leaves, chiefly to margins but sometimes affecting text  (e.g. a2,  29/4, 33/5, 40/7, 40/8, 44/1, 46/2, 47/4, 47/5, 47/6, 50/1), a few other marginal tears (e.g. 41/2), final leaf 55/8 repaired and mounted, some other occasional staining or markings to text, occasional slight shaving or cropping of marginal annotations, rebacked preserving most of the original spine, joints slightly worn (upper joint very slightly cracked at head), some further wear to extremities of binding

collation (of a complete copy):  a-b8, c4, 1-288, [x]2, 29-488,  494,  508, 52-558


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Provenance

Sir Roger Manwood of Sandwich (1524/5-1592), inscription on first page of Prologue; "M.H.", elaborate notorial mark on final leaf; Charles Edward, 3rd Baron Trevor (1863-1950), of Brynkinalt, Wales, bookplate

The first page of the prologue is inscribed in the upper margin 'This booke was given me by my cosen Roger Manwood of San[dwich]...at his house there ye 20th. of November. Ano. 1590': i.e. it was once owned by Sir Roger Manwood (1524/5-1592), Chief Baron of the Exchequer, who, despite occasional controversial judgments, was one of the most distinguished and respected judges of his time.

This copy is also from the library at Brynkinalt, the seat of the Barons Trevor since 924. The Trevors are direct descendants of a union which took place in 942 between Tudur Trevor, King of Gloucester, and Angharad, daughter of Howel Dda, King of Wales.

Literature

STC  13438;   Hain 8659;   Duff 172;  Needham Cx 52; Pforzheimer 489; De Ricci Census 49.31; Goff H267; Blades 44; HC 8659 

Catalogue Note

first edition of the most influential universal chronicle in britain of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with a very distinguished family provenance.

The Polychronicon as originally written by the Benedictine monk Ranulf Higden (d. 1354) was a world history from Creation to 1360. Written in seven books, in imitation of the seven days of Genesis, it offered a clear and original picture of that history based on medieval tradition, with an added emphasis on antiquity (particularly the Roman world) and the relation of early British history to the wider context. As such it serves as a national history, with its focus on the Norman conquest and subsequent English history.

The Polychronicon went through a number of manuscript editions in Higden's lifetime, with the history continued by a number of writers in the second half of the fourteenth century, the most important of whom was John Malvern. The English translation of John Trevisa (c.1330-1412), was commissioned by Thomas, Lord Berkeley, and completed on 18 April 1387. This considerably extended the influence of the work. For his first printed edition in English Caxton modernised Trevisa's translation and also added a final book to bring the history up to date.  Trevisa's translation of the Polychronicon was perfectly suited to the mission of England's first printer: the original author was an Englishman, the text was available in English, it was a chronicle, and it was very popular. Only the edition of Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend exceeds the Polychronicon for length of text among Caxton's printed editions.

The Annotations
The volume is heavily annotated throughout in at least three different contemporary or sixteenth-century secretary hands. One hand, which is probably also responsible for the rubrication of occasional initials and paragraph symbols and a considerable amount of underlining, has added a series of marginal sidenotes chiefly in red ink. These repeat phrases in the printed text or summarise passages ('A prophecie of Englond', 'How many childryn Adam begat', etc.), which serve as signposts to subject matter treated in the text added for ready reference. Other similar sidenotes in black ink may be in the same hand, as well as the numbering of chapters in both text and preliminary table of contents. These additions are interspersed with yet further sidenotes in two or more Tudor cursive secretary hands, signalling topics of particular interest to the readers, the first heading the opening page of the main text 'A disputacon between the Lord & the Clarke for the Translatinge of Ranulphes woorkes into Englishe'. While the first section, relating to biblical and other ancient history, including that of Britain, bears particularly heavy annotation, occasional summaries and indications of subject matter continue throughout the volume, as well as frequent historical dates and other numbering in red ink.

Neither is the volume exempt from casual jottings and scribbling, which include an early drawing of a dog chasing a rabbit (41/1v) and a quatrain of verse beginning 'Of pences I had good store' (23/3v).

These various annotations, some of which are of an extrapolatory nature reminiscent of the generalised headings that appear in commonplace books ('the effect of praise', etc.), are witness to a remarkable degree of attention, as well as interpretation, paid to this volume by a series of readers over a period of at least half a century from its date of publication.

English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations

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London