The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.
§ 5. Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners
Tudor prose owes its foundations to three men of affairs who took to literature late in life. Next to Caxton and Malory stands Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners. Like Malory, he was an active soldier, but, unlike him, a well-known and prosperous man, a politician and courtier. He belonged to the influential Bourchier clan, Yorkists till the death of Edward IV, and had earned and experienced the gratitude of Henry VII. But he had the less good fortune to attract the favour of Henry VIII, and, late in life, suffered from that monarch’s customary harshness. It was partly to solace his anxieties while captain of Calais, as well as “to eschew idleness, the mother of all the vices,” that he executed the series of translations which secure to him the credit of a remarkable three fold achievement. Berners was the first to introduce to our literature the subsequently famous figure of Oberon, the fairy king; he was the first to attempt in English the ornate prose style which shortly became fashionable; and he gave to historians at once a new source-book and a new model in his famous rendering of the Chronicles of Froissart.