Back to top

Making History: Chronicles, Legends and Anecdotes

This collection brings together works of history by medieval authors. Some concern the writer's own time, while others reach back much further into the past, to where legend, history, and religion become more difficult to distinguish.

An example of a medieval historian writing about his own age is Fernão Lopes, whose prologue to the Chronicle of King Peter is included in this collection. Other texts seek to tell the entire history of the world, including material we would usually consider religious rather than historical (examples of this include the Chronicle [Prologue] by Jakob Twinger and the Prologue to the Book of Histories). Yet other texts retell events in ancient or legendary history, for example, the Trojan War or the death of King Arthur of Britain. Reading these works can help us to understand both how the genre of historical writing developed through time and how medieval people thought about the history of the world: its patterns, its form, and even its meaning.