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Egerton MSS. 302 and 303: a Spanish chronicle cycle and its history

David Hook

Abstract

IMPORTANT works of late medieval Spanish historiography are contained in the sixteenth-century manuscripts from the British Library which are the subject of this study. The reign of Enrique IV, from 1454 to 1474, is the subject of the Memorial de diversas hazañas by Mosen Diego de Valera, which occupies Egerton 302; that of his successors Isabel and Fernando, the Catholic Monarchs, is covered in Valera's Crónica de los Reyes Católicos, which is the first text in Egerton 303, and in the Memorias de los Reyes Católicos by the bachiller Andres Bernaldez, parish priest {cura) of Los Palacios in Andalusia, which follows on from the text of the Crónica, occupying the rest of that manuscript. Although Valera's career spanned the three reigns of Juan II, Enrique IV and the Reyes Católicos, the historiography of this prominent courtier and royal servant contained in Egerton 302 and 303 is all Isabelline in date: the Memorial was written about 1486-7, and the Crónica covers the events from 1474 to 1488, the presumed year of the author's death. The works contained in Egerton 302 and 303 are accessible in modern editions and the existence of these two manuscripts was known to the editors concerned. It does not appear to have been noticed that these two manuscripts formerly constituted a single entity containing three separate texts; the codicological evidence on this point is, however, conclusive. It also shows clearly that this collection was not the product of a single copying operation, but was the final result of several phases of development. Additional interest attaches to the collection represented by Egerton 302 and 303 because of its association with the celebrated Aragonese historian Jerdnimo de Zurita (1512-80), whose autograph annotations appear in the margins of all three texts.

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