Book Series Toronto Medieval Latin Texts, vol. 26

A Book of British Kings, 1200 BC - 1399 AD

A.G. Rigg (ed)

  • Pages: 120 p.
  • Size:140 x 215 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2000

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-476-9
  • Paperback
  • Available


This book presents five texts that recount the history of Britain from the time of its legendary founding by Brutus in 1200 BC to the fall of Richard II in 1399 AD. All the texts are anonymous: the earliest was composed some time during the reign of Edward I (before 1307), the last early in the fifteenth century. The first text is the Harley Epitome, a prose account from Brutus to Henry III (1272); the second is the Metrical History, a versification of the Harley Epitome in end-rhymed hexameters; the third is a marginal prose commentary on the Metrical History; the fourth and fifth texts are a continuation of the Metrical History in elegiac couplets, from Edward I to Richard II (1272-1399), and a prose commentary on the continuation. Only a portion of the Metrical History has been printed before. While based on the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth and other English historians, these texts exhibit an interest in Scottish and northern English affairs that makes it certain they were composed in northern England, in the political context of the English-Scottish hostilities of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. The Latin of the prose is fairly simple, and that of the poetry is unadorned; strong arguments are put forth in the introduction to the volume that the texts could have formed part of a programme for elementary history teaching in fourteenth-century York. The introduction discusses the authorship, place of composition, and purpose of the works, as well as the manuscript tradition, the versification and the language of the texts. A select bibliography, explanatory and textual notes, and an index of sources complete the volume.