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Bibliographic information

Language: Latin

Covers years: 1132 B.C.–A.D. 1285.


  • Exeter, Cathedral Library, 3514, pp. 523–28 (s. xiiiex)

Chronica ante aduentum domini

The Chronica ante aduentum domini is the final text in Exeter, Cathedral Library, 3514, pp. 523–28. This is a late-thirteenth-century manuscript which contains a variety of historical, pseudohistorical and genealogical texts of both Welsh and universal interest. Its provenance is probably Whitland Abbey, possibly Neath; it was in Exeter by the fourteenth century, at which time it received a contents list. Paleographically, it is very nearly indistinguishable from English manuscripts of the period, which is why it went unidentified as a Welsh manuscript (verifiable in its contents and marginalia) until the 1940s.

This chronicle, separated from the preceding Cronicon de Wallia by a genealogy of the children of the Lord Rhys ap Gruffudd, covers a period from the Flood to 1285. Generally speaking, it tends to record more English information than the Welsh-centric Cronicon de Wallia. Its earliest entries are a very abbreviated version of Geoffrey of Monmouth, describing the foundation of the kingdom of Britain by Brutus, the building of its roads, and some of its early cities and kings. Following the passage of dominion from the Britons to the English, the text deviates from Geoffrey, mentioning the lives of some English saints, the arrival of the Normans, and then, in more detail, the activities of various English kings—with some reference to their interactions with the Welsh—down to 1285. The text closely follows the Chronicle of Bury St Edmunds as a source from 1172–1265, and then supplements this information with St Davids annals from 1274 to the end (Hughes, 16–18). It is written in Hand 2 of the nine scribal hands identified by Julia Crick. She argues that this hand was working ‘in or after 1285’; the manuscript ‘was thus copied in the decades on either side of the Edwardian conquest, probably in a milieu very close to the political centre.’ (Crick, p. 24).

Though the chronicle is called ‘Chronica de Anglia’ in the manuscript’s contents list, added in the fourteenth century, the title used in the chronicle itself is adopted here. The Chronica ante aduentum domini was edited in part by Thomas Jones in 1946 and has been edited in full by Henry Gough-Cooper; a new edition is currently in the works.

Georgia Henley

Editions & Translation

Secondary Scholarship

  • Julia Crick, ‘The Power and the Glory: Conquest and Cosmology in Edwardian Wales’, in Textual Cultures: Cultural Texts, ed. by Orietta Da Rold and Elaine Treharne (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2010), pp. 21–42.
  • Georgia Henley, ‘Rhetoric, Translation and Historiography: The Literary Qualities of Brut y Tywysogyo’, Quaestio Insularis: Selected Proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic,13 (2012), 78–103.
  • Georgia Henley, ‘The Use of English Annalistic Sources in Medieval Welsh Chronicles’, Haskins Society Journal,26 (2015, forthcoming).
  • Kathleen Hughes, ‘The Welsh Latin Chronicles: Annales Cambriae and Related Texts’, Proceedings of the British Academy,59 (1973), 233–58; repr. in her Celtic Britain in the Early Middle Ages, ed. by David N. Dumville (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1980), pp. 67–85.
  • J. E. Lloyd, ‘The Welsh Chronicles’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 14 (1928), 369–91.
  • Paul Russell, ‘“Go and look in the Latin books”: Latin and the Vernacular in Medieval Wales’, in Latin in Medieval Britain, ed. by Richard Ashdowne and Carolinne White, Proceedings of the British Academy (2016, forthcoming).
  • J. Beverley Smith, ‘The “Cronica de Wallia” and the Dynasty of Dinefwr’, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies,20 (1963–64), 261–82.

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