Anglo-Saxon Chronicle manuscript C


The third oldest version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is known as ‘Manuscript C’. It is traditionally thought to have been produced at Abingdon Abbey in the mid-1040s, with continuations into the mid-1060s. The manuscript breaks off in the middle of the events of 1066, as if a process of composition or copying had been interrupted.

This manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is notable for the range of material it includes. The compilers used material created in Mercia in the late 10th century. The text also includes a compelling account of the reigns of Æthelred the Unready (978–1016) and his son, Edmund Ironside (1016), extending into the early years of the reign of King Cnut (1016–1035). This part of its account, which may have originated in London, was very unfavourable to both Æthelred and the Scandinavian forces. This is the earliest surviving copy of this very important set of annals.

This copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is preceded by two poems. One, called the Menologium, is a poem on the months and days of the year. It is a source for Old English names of the month, and it also describes saints’ feast days associated with different times of the year.

The second poem, known today as Maxims II, is composed of wise sayings, such as ‘Truth is the trickiest’ and ‘Woe is wondrously clingy: clouds keep rolling’. The poem describes how nature and society should be ordered: ‘The dragon should be in his barrow, old, proud in his treasure. The fish must be in water… the king in the hall.’

Today, these works are bound with an early 11th-century copy of the Old English adaptation of Orosius’s Historia adversus paganos (History against the pagans). This translation has been associated with the court of King Alfred. An added passage mentions the explorer Ohthere describing northern Scandinavia to Alfred’s advisors.

Full title:
Old English translation of Orosius, Historiae adversus paganos; Menologium; Maxims II; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, C-text
1st half 11th century–2nd half 12th century
Old English
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Tiberius B I

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