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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

§ 15. Richard of Devizes

That crusade has been described by several chroniclers, but by none more graphically than by a monkish writer whose History of King Richard I is one of the briefest of the many contemporary narratives penned in the twelfth century. Its author, Richard of Devizes, has, however, stamped upon his modest essay in history the impress of a personality which is altogether absent from many more ambitious productions. His work has a real literary interest, on account both of the author’s fondness for classical quotations and rhetorical ornament and of the vivid and picturesque force of his narrative. In a flowery letter of dedication, addressed to Robert, prior of the church of Winchester, Richard states that he has deliberatly chosen a limited period for himself, leaving a more comprehensive survey of events to those “who produce greater works.” “My narrative,” he says, “is for the living”; and he writes with a dramatic instinct and an eye to pictorial effect not unworthy of a modern journalist. No chronicle gives us a more vivid picture of the general social condition of England in Coeur de Lion’s time, or of the pageant of events in which the king took paramount part. The persecutions of the Jews, in particular, are described with a terrible faithfulness which reflects the author’s own avowed hatred of the race.