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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

IX. Latin Chroniclers from the Eleventh to the Thirteenth Centuries

§ 11. Benedict of Peterborough

Several of these names are of the first importance in the list of our Latin chroniclers. That of Benedict of Peterborough is associated with the most authoritative chronicle of the reign of Henry II, but only (as is now known) on the strength of the fact that one of the extand MSS. of the work was transcribed under his order. Benedict, however, was by no means a mere director of other men’s literary labours, for he is known to have either written or edited accounts of the passion and the miracles of Becket. The author of the chronicle so long ascribed to him still remains undiscovered. Begun in 1172, the work bears in the main all the marks of a contemporary narrative, and includes several important documents. Stubbs holds that the internal evidence is sufficient to prove not only that the chronicle was not by Benedict, but that it is not the work of a monastic writer at all.

  • It has not even in its most disjointed portion the disorderly form, the disproportionate details, the unimportant memoranda, the generally undigested character, of monastic annals. It displays no propension to monastic institutions, or to those principles and persons that were especially favoured by monks. The author did not even trouble himself to compose an original account of Becket’s martyrdom. Whatever positive indications are to be found point to a member of the king’s court rather than to a monk, or even a secular churchman.