Robert Of Gloucester - Encyclopedia

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ROBERT OF GLOUCESTER, English chronicler, is known only through his connexion with the work which bears his name. This is a vernacular history of England, from the days of the legendary Brut to the year 1270, and is written in rhymed couplets. The lines are of fourteen syllables, with a break after the eighth syllable. The author gives his name as Robert; the dialect which he uses, and his acquaintance with local traditions, justify the supposition that he was a monk of Gloucester. He describes, from his own recollections, the bad weather which prevailed in the neighbourhood of Evesham on the day of the battle between the Montfortians and Prince Edward (1265). He also alluded to the canonization of Louis IX. of France, which took place in 1297. He probably wrote about the year 1300. The earlier part of his chronicle (up to 1135) may be from another hand, since it occurs in some manuscripts in a shorter form, and with an exceedingly brief continuation by an anonymous versifier. There is no good reason. for the theory that this part was translated from a French original; nor does it contain any undoubted borrowings from French sources. The authorities employed for the earlier part were Geoffrey of Monmouth, Henry of Huntingdon, William of Malmesbury, the English Chronicles, and some minor sources; Robert, in making his recension of it, also used the Brut of Layamon. From 1135 to 1256 Robert is still a compiler, although references to oral tradition become more frequent as he approaches his own time. From 1256 to 1270 he has the value of a contemporary authority. But he is more important to the philologist than to the historian. His chronicle is one of the last works written in Old English.

Robert's chronicle was first edited by T. Hearne (2 vols., Oxford, 1724); but this text is now superseded by that of W. Aldis Wright (2 vols., Rolls Series, 1887). Minor works attributed to the author are: a Life of St Alban in verse (MS. Ashmole 43); a Life of St Patrick, also in verse (MS. Tanner 17); a Life of St Bridget (MS. C.C.C. Cambridge, 145); and a Life of St Alphege (MS. Cott., Julius D. ix). A Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket and a Life of St Brendan, both attributed to Robert, were printed by the Percy Society in 1845.

See T. D. Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue of MSS. i. 25, 68, iii. 181-9, 623; K. Brossman, Uber die Quellen der Chronik des R. von Gloucester (Striegau, 1887); W. Ellmer in Anglia (1888), x. 1-37, 291-322; H. Strohmeyer, Der Stil der Reimchronik R. von Gloucester (Berlin, 1891). (H. W. C. D.)

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