The Historia Roffensis (History of Rochester) is a biographical chronicle in Latin, written at Rochester Cathedral Priory and attributed to William de la Dene, a public notary who worked between 1317 and 1354. The text provides a chronological narrative that describes events concerning the city of Rochester and the rest of England between the years 1320 and 1350. It covers the circumstances around the deposition of Edward II (r. 1307–1327) and the coronation of Edward III (r. 1327–1377) and the events that led up to the Hundred Years’ War between England and France.
The manuscript also provides a first-hand account of the Black Death, a devastating plague that resulted in the deaths of millions in Europe during the mid-14th century. For example, the chronicler describes how the disease ravaged the city of Rochester (image no. 1), killing so many people that relatives of the dead had to carry the corpses themselves to bury them in open mass graves.
- Article by:
- Alixe Bovey
By exploring illuminations depicting rural life, Dr Alixe Bovey examines the role of the peasant in medieval society, and discusses the changes sparked by the Black Death.