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be found exempt from the same obscurity.* Gervase of Canterbury, early in the thirteenth century, lamented the confusion, which had been introduced into history by the diversity of computation, prevalent in his time, when chronicles were multiplied almost to infinity, and when authors assumed the liberty of reckoning the current year according to their own peculiar notions or local customs. Some began the year at the Annunciation ; some at the Nativity; others at the Circumcision; and many commenced it at the Passion. In addition to this source of perplexity, was the Cycle of the Indiction, which was extended three years before the vulgar era, and which took its course in different places, from different periods of the year. This annalist had formed a design of regulating his own chronology by the Annunciation, but, abandoning that intention lest he should falsify dates, he acquiesced in the practice of his predecessors, who, for the most part, he says, began the new year with the Nativity.S
The difficulties of determining, with precision, the chronological indications of our ancestors are, by no means diminished, by the extravagant number of names which they conferred
upon one and the same day and week, and which Dates from were derived partly from local events and customs, and local cus, partly from religious ceremonies and offices, as well as from ceremonies the kalendar of the church, itself overteeming with festivals.
Memory, however prodigious its strength, refuses to retain them; and terms, once familiar in the mouth of the rustic, are now enigmas in the study of the learned.|| Lawyers
L'Art de vérifier les Dates, Tom. I., p. 17, Ed. Paris, 1818. + See Gloss. Art. Years of Christ; Braggot Sunday; Woodmunday, fc.
# See Gloss. Art. Cycle and Julian Period. Gervase very properly inquires, “How can both computations be true, when one begins the years of the incarnation at the opening, and the other at the end, of the solar year ?" The difference was seven days.
See Mr. Ingram on Anglo-Saxon Chronology, Introduction to Saxon Chronicle, p. xv.
|| Dr. Samuel Pegge, whose profound erudition entitles him to be treated with the highest respect, endeavouring to explain the word Brandon, as an
and genealogists, to whom minute accuracy is often of the utmost importance, must, it is conceived, be sometimes annoyed in their researches by this diversity, since the manner of dating, even by well known terms, has been productive of errors in professional antiquaries,* and of much confusion
appellation of the first Sunday in Lent, represents Parascere, one of the names of Good Friday, as the eve of Easter.—Gent. Mag., Nov. 1754. Mr. Ingram translating the words, y he ateopde ærest on þone æfen Le tania Maior. þ is. vi. kl. Mai; renders them thus, “ It appeared first on the eve called Litania Major, that is, on the 8th day before the kalends of May." -Sax. Chron., p. 257. There is no eve or vigil of that name in the kalendar; but Litania Major was the denomination of the 7th day before the kalends of May, and the comet, which the Saxon annalist believes to have presaged the Norman conquest, appeared as clearly stated in the original, on the eve of Litania Major, which of course was the 8th day before the kalends of that month. Many other instances might easily be adduced, but are deferred to the Glossary.-See Caput Kalendarum ; Festum Sanctæ Hedgiga ; Letemes Tile, c.
Some remarkable blunders of this kind are exhibited in a professional work by Sir William Dugdale. In mentioning the battle of Banbury in 1469, Hume says, “ Having seized Pembroke, they took immediate revenge upon him for the death of their leader.”—Vol. III., ch. 22. This is correct, and amply sufficient for a general history; but in the “Baronagium,” we require and look for more exact information. The battle was fought July 26, 9 Edward IV, and the earl was then taken prisoner. The day following, he made his will, which Sir William quotes, as well as the inquisition taken after his death, and fixing the execution on Thursday next ensuing the feast of St. James the Apostle. On this date, the knightly herald observes, “ which Saint's day falls out upon the 25th July, so that 'tis like he was beheaded three or four days after the battle.”— Baronag., Vol. II., p. 257. Now, the 25th July in this year fell on Tuesday, the battle was fought on Wednesday, and on Thursday the earl made his will, and was beheaded the same day. Again, Sir William says, that Ranulph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester, died 16 Hen. III., 50 Cal. Nov., which is probably a typographical error.–Vol. I., p. 44. But, speaking of a funeral in 1219, he says, “ The body was solemnly interred on Ascension Day, being 27 Cal. April.-Ib., p. 602. Not only is it an impossible date, but the alteration of 27 to 17 or 7 will not make it agree with the fact, for Ascension Day fell on 17 Cal. Junii, or May 16. The festival of St. James has also occasioned an erroneous, or, at least, an improper marginal note to the “Chronicon de Mailros,” in which the battle of Bovines in 1274, is said to have been fought on Sunday next after the feast of St. James, on the 6th day before the kalends of August, which Gale seems to expound July 25, instead of July 27.-Script. Angl., Tom. I., p. 187.
among those who employed this style. * A small collection
of obscure dates and chronological terms was made by the Glossaries learned Benedictine authors of L'Art de vérifier les Dates, of dates.
with a view to remove this serious obstacle to the free and advantageous perusal of mediæval compositions. The introduction of obsolete English terms, and a large addition of Latin, French, and Anglo-Norman dates, in the succeeding Glossary, are, it is presumed, an extension of that design, which is still further enlarged by compendious explanations of the leading principles of chronology. The little controversies, with which this science has been clouded, are carefully avoided, and no more is attempted than Locke seems to have recommended.+
* Roger Wendover and Matthew Paris, both living near the time, in naming the important battle of Muret, which was fought on Thursday, September 12, 1213, date it on Friday after the octaves of the Nativity of St. Mary; which Friday was September 20, making an error of eight days. Petrus Lodovensis dates it on Thursday, the eve of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross; that is September 13. Gul. de Podio Laurentii makes the date the day of the Exaltation itself; that is September 14; but Arnold, Bishop of Narbonne, the legate against the Albigenses, announces the event from the field of slaughter, “on the morrow of the glorious victory, the sixth day (feria) within the octaves of the Virgin's Nativity,” which corresponds with Friday, September 13. The passages are quoted at length by Archbishop Usher, whose business, however, did not require him to notice these inaccuracies.---Tract. de Christ. Eccles. Success., cap. X., s. 39, p. 168. Wilhelm Wyrcester, under the year 1433, mentions the marriage of the Duke of Bedford, on the day of St. Botulph, April 22; and Hearne, in a note on the passage, states from Serenus Cressy, in Hist. Eccl. Brit., p. 375, that the feast was celebrated on the 10th of May, according to English martyrology. -Lib. Nigr. Scaccarii, p. 457. The annalist of Waverley says,-In this year, 1239, in the month of June, on the morrow of St. Botulph, was born at London a son to Henry king of England by his queen Eleanora, and he was called Edward.-Gale, Tom. II., p. 199. It is generally agreed that Edward the First was born June 16, which according to the best ancient kalendars and martyrologies, is the vigil of St. Botulph; and this date agreeing with Butler and others, seems to be correct.
+ Works, Vol. III., p. 84, Ed. Lond. Fol. 1722. The philosopher commends the “ Breviarium Chronologicum” of Dr. Strauchius, as the best calculated to convey the leading principles of this branch of learning. The Breviarium was afterwards translated by Sault, who improved his original
For those who are disinclined to enter into the abstrusities of general chronology, it may be sufficient to notice, that the age of the world, and the number of years which General
chronology have elapsed from the Creation to the Nativity of Christ, are involved in difficulties from which they appear to be inextricable. On the latter question alone there are no fewer than one hundred and forty different hypotheses, founded, in the opinion of the learned Petavius, upon mere conjectures and not upon solid argument. Some fix the epoch of Epoch of the Nativity in the year of the world 3616, while others go
tivity. back to the year 6484, and others adopt intermediate years.* The variations in the principal copies of the Old Testament have occasioned this diversity of opinion. The Hebrew codex, to which preference is generally assigned, fixes the deluge in the year of the world 1656, the Samaritan codex in 1307, and the Greek codex, or septuagint version, in 2262.+ The period which follows the deluge for nine generations, the number computed from the creation, does not offer smaller variations; the Hebrew codex gives 262 years, the Samaritan 942, and the Septuagint 1972. The system most accredited in the present day, is that of Archbishop Usher, which is founded on the Hebrew codex, and fixing the epoch of the Nativity in the year of the world 4000. After all, Moses himself, the inspired historian of the creation, to whose authority it is futile to oppose the hap-hazard conjectures of his annotators, makes no attempt to give a date; it was sufficient for him, one of the wisest of men, and possessing divine information, to state that the world arose in the beginning of all things, and that beginning, the discoveries of modern science have placed far
by adding to it the more important parts of the chronological treatises of Beveridge and Holder; but by far the most complete work on this subject is unquestionably the “ Art de vérifier les Dates."
See a curious table in Strauch. Brev. Chron., IV., c. 1. + Jackson, Chronol. Antiquit., Vol. I. Strauch. Brev. Chron., IV., c. 3. # Jackson, ibid.
M. Koch, Liv. cit., Tom. I., p. 38.
BOOK beyond the hypotheses of European chronologists.* The
opinions on the duration of the world from the Creation to
4004 Riccioli .. .. 4063
. 3984 The Alphonsine Tables 6934 The year of the Nativity, as already noticed, is also dis
puted, aud authors differ from seven to eight years.+ Dates from Dr. Johnson's remark on a custom of the Hebridians is customs &
applicable to the chronological notation of the middle ages with regard to the smaller divisions of time:-“ Their only registers are stated observances and practical representations. For this reason an age of ignorance is an age of ceremony. Pageants and processions and commemorations, gradually shrink away, as better methods came into use of recording events, and preserving rights.” To this reason, no doubt, is to be ascribed the origin of the greater part of the names, which occupy the Glossary; another portion, however, to which no inconsiderable space is necessarily allotted, consisting of introits, or incipient words of offices on those particular days, which they designate, must be attributed as much to devotion as to ignorance. The use of them in dating events was not wholly abandoned even in the seventeenth century,I when more orderly, if not
more exact, methods had long been practised. Charters.
The dates of historical events are not so likely to cause difficulty as those of charters: the former may frequently be determined by the course of narration, or by comparison of different accounts, where the manner of dating is different; but the latter stand alone, and the enquirer can seldom derive assistance from contemporary documents. It often
* Burnet, Archæol. Philosoph., Cap. VIII., p. 306. Buckland, Geol. and Mineral., Vol. I., p. 18. + Encyclopedie Française, Departm. Antiquit., Tom. I., p. 195.
See Gloss. Art. Reddite quæ sunt Cæsaris Cæsari.