British Library Royal MS 14.C.2, f. 88, image of a standard
William Stubbs lists ten manuscripts in his edition, but the ones of greatest significance are as follows:
1. British Library Royal MS 14.C.2 (covers up to 1180, believed to have been written in the twelfth century)
2. Bodleian Library Laud MS 5 8 (covers from 1181 to 1201, written in the early thirteenth century)
3. BL Arundel MS 69 (full account, written before 1213)
See David Corner’s article from 1983 for a more recent treatment of the relationship and usage of these three MSS, which were A and B in Stubbs' edition.
"Rogerii de Hoveden annalium pars prior et posterior" in Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam praecipui (Frankfurt, 1601), 400-829.
Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houedene, ed. William Stubbs, 4 vol., (London, 1868-1871).
Riley, H.T.. The Annals of Roger de Hoveden, 2 vol., (London, 1853).
Finished in 1201, the Chronica, written by the ‘administrative historian’ Roger of Howden (sometimes Hoveden or Houeden), covers the years 732-1201 of English history. The Chronica is a massive undertaking of English historical compilation which William Stubbs, the text’s first and only modern editor, split into two divisions, in four volumes. The first part, which Roger based off the unpublished Historia post Bedam of Simeon of Durham and Henry of Huntingdon, picks up the history of England where Bede left off and continues up to 1148. The second, and arguably much more important contribution of Roger, records English history from the rise of King Henry II until Roger’s supposed death in 1201 early in the reign of John. Having accompanied Richard on the Third Crusade, Roger began writing his Chronica once he returned to England in 1192. A second major work written by Roger exists, though: the Gesta Henrici Secundi et Gesta Regis Ricardi, covering 1169-1192. This text was at first erroneously attributed to Benedict of Peterborough, though it is now known to have been written by Roger. The Gesta’s true significance has only more recently been discovered, though, by David Corner, who established convincingly that the Chronica is in fact, at least in part, a revision of the Gesta, and by John Gillingham, who concluded that the Gesta was, in a sense, Roger’s journal for the years 1169-1992, a “contemporary chronicle.” The Gesta Regis Ricardi, in particular, then provides an eyewitness record of the Third Crusade. The Chronica, as a revision of the Gesta, thus offers a well-written and researched history of England during the reign of Henry II and a thoroughly detailed and often personal account of the full reign of Richard I, highlighting the latter’s crusading.
Importance for the Study of Angevin History
The Chronica’s importance for the study of Angevin history is manifest. In it, Roger covers the beginning of Henry II’s reign and continues in great detail early into John’s. Roger, writing both in England and en route to / in the Holy Land, had to fill in the gaps left by his absences as best he could, so the parts that truly stand out are, naturally, the events for which he was present. For crusading history, as well as Angevin history, Roger is then an incredibly significant source. Additionally, as a formal royal clerk for Henry II (1174-1189), Roger’s writings provide a highly accurate image of the functions and processes in and around the Angevin court during the reigns of Henry and Richard. It is, however, Roger’s plainness and the straightforward nature of his style that makes him such an excellent source. He was not, as has been noted, writing solely as a “mouthpiece for the English kings,” (Staunton, 52) as many of his predecessors had done, and thus gives much insight into the more daily and regular happenings in the Angevin court. Roger, it seems, was primarily interested in being an historian, doing research, and recording the events to the best of his ability, though he was by no means perfect as becomes clear when he treats matters about which second-hand research was sparse or inaccurate. The sheer volume of writing that Roger produced, including full document citations and speeches, makes his Chronica a wealth of information of Angevin activities in the latter half of the twelfth century. Finally, comparing the Gesta and the Chronica offers an interesting glimpse into the process of writing history in late twelfth-century England. In this way, the Chronica shows how the past was glossed with present knowledge, such as of the failure of the Third Crusade, or even of the actions of Angevin kings (i.e. the Becket affair).
Barlow, Frank. “Roger of Howden.” English Historical Review 65 (1950): 352-360.
Corner, David. “The Earliest Surviving Manuscripts of Roger of Howden's ‘Chronica’.” English Historical Review 98 (1983): 297-310.
Gillingham, John. "Roger of Howden on Crusade", in Richard Cœur de Lion: Kingship, Chivalry and War in the Twelfth Century, 141-153. London: The Hambledon Press, 1994.
Hughes, Paul. “Roger of Howden’s Sailing Directions for the English Coast.” Historical Research 85 (2012): 576-596.
Staunton, Michael. “Roger of Howden: A Historian in Government,” in The Historians of Angevin England, 51-66. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Stenton, Doris M. "Roger of Howden and Benedict", English Historical Review 68 (1953): 574-582.