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The Reign of Henry II, in 'History of the English' by William of Newburgh

The Reign of Henry II, in 'History of the English' by William of Newburgh

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1200

Shelfmark: Stowe MS 62

Item number: f. 29r

Length: 27

Width: 18

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

A copy of the 'History of the English' ('Historia Rerum Anglicanum') by William of Newburgh (1136-1198), the manuscript was owned by the Augustinian priory at Newburgh where the author was a canon. Probably it was copied from his rough draft. William wrote history in the tradition of Bede. He tried to connect events and evaluate the characters and actions that brought them about but avoided filling out a narrative with legends like his contemporary Geoffrey of Monmouth, of whom he was scathingly critical. His 'History' covers the reigns of English kings from William the Conqueror to Richard the Lionheart, 1066 to 1198.

On this page, the list of chapters for Section II ends, and the history itself continues with the lively red decorated shape of the letter 'A'. Section II concerns the reign of Henry II (1154-1189). William was writing about contemporary events or events within living memory through most of his book, another thing that separates his work from that of other 12th-century historians, who began with the Creation or ancient mythic British kings.

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