1902 Encyclopedia > Henry of Huntingdon

Henry of Huntingdon
English chronicler
(fl. 12th century AD)

HENRY OF HUNTINGDON, an English chronicler of the 12th century, born, it is likely, between 1080 and 1090, was the son of an ecclesiastic named Nicholas, who probably : held the office of archdeacon of Huntingdon, to which Henry I himself afterwards attained about 1120. The celibacy of the clergy not being enforced in England till 1102, this paternity was considered no disgrace, and our author in several passages of his writings refers to his father with much filial respect. Eeceived as a mere child into the household of Robert of Bloet, bishop of Lincoln, Henry not only continued to enjoy the advantages of its culture and affluence till the bishop's death in 1123, but he also secured the patronage and friendship of Alexander of Blois, who next succeeded to the see. There is reason to believe that he accompanied Alexander to Rome, probably in 1125 and 1144, and it was to him that he dedicated his Historia Anglorum, which was issued four times during the author's life, and in the last form came down to the accession of Henry II. (1154). The date of the author's death has not been preserved, but it is probable that the close of his life is approximately marked by the close of his history.

Henry of Huntingdon's Historia was first printed by Savile, Rerum Auglicarum Scriptores post Bcdam (London, 1586), and it was republished at Frankfort in 1603. Books i., ii., iv., v., and vi. were edited by Mr Petrie for the Record Commission Collection, vol. i., 1848; and the whole work has been prepared for the Rolls Series by T. Arnold, 1880. An English translation by Thomas Forester forms a volume of Bohn's Standard Library (1853). We have besides from Henry's pen an Epistle to Henry I. on the succession of the Jewish, Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman kings and emperors (written in 1130) ; an Epistle to Warin (one of his friends) contain-ing an epitome of the British History of Geoffrey of Monmouth, which he had discovered at Bee in Normandy; and, better known than either, an Epistle to his friend Walter On Contempt of the World or on Bishops and other Illustrious Men of the Age (written in 1135, and edited by Wharton in his Anglia Sacra, 1691). Nor must Henry's poetical pieces be forgotten, as they speak well for his culture and taste. Two MS. copies of his complete works preserved at Lambeth deserve to be specially mentioned ; and the British Museum possesses several important rescripts of the History. See Wright, Biogr. Brit. Litt., Anglo-Norman Period, 1846 ; Forester's Preface ; James Gairdner, Early Chroniclers of Europe: England (1879); and Arnold's elaborate introductions.

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