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Bibliographic information:

Language: Latin

Covers years: 1230 B.C.–A.D. 1375


  • Aberystwyth, NLW, Peniarth 32, ff. 112v–114v (c. 1404).
  • London, British Library, Cotton Titus D. xxii, ff. 22r–37r (1429).
  • London, British Library, Cotton Nero A. iv, ff. 2r–7v (s. xv/xvi).
  • London, British Library, Harley 3725, ff. 40v–65v (s. xv)

Epitome Historiae Britanniae

This short Latin chronicle survives in two full copies and one abbreviated copy. The full copies survive in London, British Library, Cotton Titus D. xxi, the copy of the chronicle which gives the date of writing as 1429, and London, British Library, Cotton Nero A. iv, written by a hand of the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, but copying a version of the chronicle written in 1399. The abbreviated copy of the chronicle appears in Aberystwyth, NLW, Peniarth 32, otherwise known as Y Llyfr Teg, the chronicle which was written in 1404. The copy in Cotton Titus D. xxi appears to have been written for a religious audience in the diocese of Llandaf, South Wales, while the copy in Cotton Nero A. iv would appear to be written for a Ludlow audience, given that it prefaces a Ludlow annal. The abbreviation would appear to have been made from the point of view of the Cistercian Llantarnam Abbey, perhaps suggesting the provenance of Peniarth 32.

The Epitome Historiae Britanniae provides a summary of events from a Glamorgan perspective from the arrival of Brutus in Britain, an event dated to 1230 B.C., to the second half of the fourteenth century. Diana Luft has divided the chronicle into four sections, each of which used different sources. The first section, from Brutus to the death of Cadwaladr in 689, draws chiefly on Geoffrey of Monmouth, supplemented by other sources such as the texts in the Book of Llandaf (particularly the First Life of St Dyfrig) and Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica. The second section continues to the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282, and is largely taken from book 1, chapters 2–3 of Gerald of Wales’ Descriptio Kambriae. The third section describes the aftermath of Llywelyn’s death, taken from a source linked to the Waverley and Worcester annals, and then provides an account of events from a Glamorgan perspective that run into the fourteenth century. The fourth section provides computational matter and a description of the divisions of the world, related to material found in the Gildasian recension of the Historia Brittonum. The second and third sections are almost identical to the relevant parts of the ‘Register and Chronicle of the Abbey of Aberconwy’, compiled in Hailes Abbey (in a fifteenth-century manuscript, London, British Library, Harley 3725), and the latter may have used a version of Epitome Historiae Britanniae as a source.

Ben Guy, revised by Georgia Henley

Editions & Translation

Secondary Scholarship
  • Chris Given-Wilson, ‘Chronicles of the Mortimer family, c. 1250–1450’, in Family and Dynasty in Late Medieval England: Proceedings of the 1997 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. Richard Eales and Shaun Tyas (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2003), pp. 67–86.
  • Ben Guy, ‘Historical Scholars and Dishonest Charlatans: Studying the Chronicles of Medieval Wales’, in The Chronicles of Medieval Wales and the March: New Contexts, Studies and Texts, ed. Ben Guy, Georgia Henley, Owain Wyn Jones, and Rebecca Thomas, Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 31 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020), 69–106, at 105.
  • Georgia Henley, Reimagining the Past in the Medieval Anglo-Welsh Borderlands (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
  • Huws, Daniel, A Repertory of Welsh Manuscripts and Scribes, c.800–c.1800, 3 vols (Aberystwyth: The National Library of Wales and University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, 2022).
  • David Stephenson, The Aberconwy Chronicle (Cambridge: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, 2002).
  • A. W. Wade-Evans, Vitae sanctorum Britanniae et genealogiae / The Lives and Genealogies of the Welsh Saints, Board of Celtic Studies, University of Wales, History and Law Series, 9 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press Board, 1944), pp. xv–xviii.

Secondary Scholarship


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