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2002 articles 1992 articles

Camden, Cotton and the chronicles of the Norman Conquest of England

Elisabeth M. C. van Houts

Abstract

The collaboration between William Camden (1551-1623), the Clarenceux King of Arms, and his pupil Sir Robert Cotton (1571-1631) in antiquarian studies is well known. Whereas Camden developed the principles on which the study of history should be based. Cotton provided the raw material by gathering together what, judged by quality rather than quantity, was the most important collection of medieval manuscripts owned by a single person. The range of his collection of medieval chronicles was unrivalled in Western Europe and his generosity towards scholars enabled them to borrow his manuscripts in order to print their texts and make them available to a larger public. In some cases these early editions are now our only witnesses for texts of which no manuscripts any longer survive. In this article I shall discuss the contributions made by Camden and Cotton to the process of editing and publishing the chronicles of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

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