Chronicles of the Kings of England

Welcome to the digital edition of the Henry II and Richard I chapters from Sir Richard Baker's Chronicles of the Kings of England (1665). This work was completed by Andrea Nichols, Kathleen Kokensparger, and Yiheng Song as part of our Digital Humanities work for ENGL 878: Digital Editions at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This work is copyrighted with Creative Commons license. You are welcome to read, cite, and use screenshots of the project in your research, but you must cite us.

Creative Commons License
Chronicle of the Kings of England by Sir Richard Baker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Author Biography:
Sir Richard Baker (c.1568-1645) was a religious writer, historian, and politician. Born in Sissinghurst, Kent, the son of John Baker and Catherine (nee Scott). He began attending Hart Hall at Oxford in 1584 to study law, but did not graduate. He left to travel the continent, and was granted an MA degree by decree in 1594, possibly due to his role in politics as he was a House of Commons member for Arundel in 1593 and East Grinstead in 1597. By 1603 he was the JP for Middlesex, and he was knighted by King James I. Baker had landholdings in Essex, Gloucestershire, Kent, and the manor of Middle Aston in Oxfordshire. He married Margaret (b. C. 1600)--daughter of Sir George Mainwaring of Ightfield, Shropshire--shortly after 1620-21, and had five children.
Of particular interest concerning his Chronicle, Baker gave security for his father-in-law's debts, leaving him a crown debtor by 1625, so that all of his land holdings were gone within the next 10 years, and he was placed in Fleet prison in London for the rest of his life, during which time he wrote the Chronicle.

Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

About Our Edition of the Chronicle of the Kings of England
Importance of Project
The British histories genre being examined in a digital edition project is a valuable contribution because early modern readers were interested in the content, not in valorizing one particular author as a canonical work. However, twentieth-century historians and literary scholars have focused so much on Raphael Holinshed as the source text for Shakespeare's history plays, and the lack of modern history writing methods in authors before William Camden (1551-1623), that Sir Richard Baker, John Stow, Robert Fabyan, and others have largely languished untouched by digital humanities projects and critical editions. The historical works of chronicles and annales were very popular in medieval and early modern Europe, but by the later 1600s, England dealt with censorship issues that emerged after the brief period of no censorship during the Civil War (1642-51) and the flourishing of periodicals (newspapers and magazines) which were harder to control and trace. These later developments were based on an audience desire to hear about recent strange, noteworthy, or salacious events, in addition to learning about national history (which was not taught in Renaissance schools, as classical Roman Latin histories were used). This fragmented the older form of annales ("a list of events ordered in chronological sequence") and chronicles (a narrative version of the chronological listing of events) into in the sixteenth-century broadsides and pamphlets, which later became periodicals, and a more professionalized form of history that analyzed events, recognized anachronism, and required primary sources that were evaluated themselves for bias. Sir Richard Baker's Chronicle sits on the bridge of these two movements, as he retained the fable alongside fact, cited sources (particularly in the list of 93 works in the front of the book), and recognized some narratives were untrue (Melusine, for example). Yet, he wrote this work while in prison for his father-in-law's debt, which shows the narrative was not only what he remembered from his earlier life's reading, but also was shaped by the books he could gain access to as sources while in prison (people were allowed to have books with them in prison). It is probable that his long list of 93 source books came from citing the books he did have, and citing those book's primary sources, even if he never had access to the originals. This rudimentary bibliography is useful, though, for showing how even with the rise of more modern methods of writing and analyzing history, Baker's book still relies upon (and is influenced by) the same English history books used by older chronicles and annales, while somewhat employing the recent moves towards analysis and narrative as seen in William Camden's work. This juxtaposition is further constrained by Fleet prison, as the narrative is fairly brief and quick on events (which has led to our edition's need for annotations to explain what the narrative is talking about), hinting towards moments when Baker had books available to check, as opposed to times when he was more likely working from memory or simply in a hurry to summarize and move on. Finally, it is worth keeping in mind that Baker's interpretive lens of the historical events would have been filtered through the context of the rising troubles with royal absolutism that led to the English Civil War in 1642 (three years before he died), the immediate environment of the Fleet prison (and likely his fellow prisoners interests and feedback on the project), and his background as a fairly well-educated person from Oxford (and perhaps the conversations with fellow Englishmen on things they learned or found interesting in the histories they read).

Sources: Hayden White, "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality" in Critical Inquiry (Autumn 1980), 9; and F. J. Levy, Tudor Historical Thought (1967, 2004).

Related Digital Humanities projects:
Translation and the Making of Early Modern English Print Culture (1473-1660)
The Holinshed Project
Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700

Embedded Google Map and Historical Map
One of the fascinating elements of this seventeenth-century history book is the 203 different places mentioned in the text. To make the geographic scope of the narrative visible, but using modern locations and names of these places, we have embedded a Google map below. You can also see the political lines during the year 1190, one year after Richard I came to the throne, by looking at this map from

Early Books
Movable printer type was invented in Mainz in the 1450s by a Johann Gutenberg, a goldsmith. The roles of printer, publisher, editor, and bookseller were initially little differentiated, but by the seventeenth century, there is some change happening, hence Baker's Chronicle has approval for printing by Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington and Secretary of State; the dedication by Edward Philips (which states he made the corrections and additions to the book); printed by Ellen Cotes for the booksellers G. Sawbridge and T. Williams. The author is not listed on the title page, but on the frontispiece (Merriam-Webster: a decorative illustration preceding and usually facing the title page). Other page layout items to be aware of are catchwords (a remnant of the medieval and early print area, when there were no page numbers, so the word that would start on the next page was placed at the bottom of the verso (right) side of pages, to alert book binders if they had the pages in the proper order), epistle to the reader (a precursor to the modern 'preface' and 'introduction'), the errata (list of items found to be incorrect after the book was printed, as the 'front matter' was made and printed separately), and signature marks ("those letters, numbers, and sometimes symbols at the bottom of the first portion of gatherings to help binders assemble the sheets of a book into the right order").
Further scholarly resources:
British Library
Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project
Early Modern Print
University of Oxford
University of Glasgow
Early Modern Printing: Senior Project
Washington State University
Northeastern University
Folger Shakespeare Library: The Collation
OhioLINK: William Caxton
University of Illinois Press

Edition Variations
The 1665 edition we have digitized is but one of nine editions made from 1643-1696, with an abridgement in 1684.

We have noted how the text changed from 1643 to this 1665 edition. See the XML encoding.

Editorial Decisions
Choosing a Text:
We chose Sir Richard Baker's Chronicle of the Kings of England (1665) due to its early modern authorship, historical subject matter, and the availability of the text in the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's Special Collections. The two chapters of the book were scanned with the UNL Special Collections' permission [call number: SPEC Folio DA30 .B16 1665].
Since Baker's Chronicle (1665) is over 895 pages, we have narrowed our focus to two chapters. This way, we have been able to dedicate ourselves to more in-depth coding and analysis, that can be then applied if more chapters are added in the future. We selected the chapter on the reign of Henry II and the subsequent chapter on the reign of Richard I. These chapters piqued our interest because of the role women like Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II and mother of Richard I, played in the narrative. We hope these chapters will also appeal to an audience of casual readers, since they describe well-known events, such as the murder of Thomas Becket and the Crusades, as well as more obscure events like the Norman conquest of Ireland and Henry II's son Henry the Young King who rebelled against him in 1173. These more obscure events or unclear descriptions in the text have been footnoted with further information.
Interpreting the Text:
We have edited this text with a modern, non-expert audience in mind. We have regularized spelling, person, and place names to make the text more easily readable and searchable. However, we chose not to modernize capitalization, since doing so would alter the original text without a significant increase in readability. We did remove the random italicization of words, as that would be confusing for modern audiences, as we do have foreign languages and quotations italicized, as modern English conventions dictate.
The quire marks and signatures have been XML-encoded, as have the textual divisions by chapter and subsection, which we have used to provide a comparison across the two reigns This comparison could be extended in the future to cross-edition comparison, because UNL Special Collections has the 1660 and 1679 editions; and the 1670, 1684, and 1732 editions are availble on or Google Books (see hyperlinked texts below). We have also encoded the running page header and page numbers even though our text does not retain the visual division by page. The woodcut initial capitals that provided a large capital letter for the start of paragraphs and chapters has been encoded as a droppedCapital. This website provides the printed annotations that appeared in the 1653 edition and the text that was added after 1643. The printed annotations will appear below each paragraph as blue hyperlinked text with ** mark and a corresponding ** mark showing where the note was originally anchored. The narrative text that was added in 1665 is italicized with an * before it, and it has not been moved out of its original position.
Our footnotes, achieved through TEI XML encoding, are focused on people, groups, and places, with some explanation of events and primary sources mentioned in the text. There are 203 places, 156 persons, 7 organizations, 17 nationalities, and 4 primary sources mentioned within the narrative, but the value and understandability of them comes with modern spelling and regularized naming that allows for searching by modern readers. Once a hyperlinked word is clicked, click the footnote to return, or, press the "back" button in your browser. Nevertheless, Baker's Chronicle is clearly rich in geographical and person data, and the value of this data can be better seen if the reader is given basic information (the regularized name, dates of life, importance in history, further reading resources) in a footnote. Through these linked footnotes, the comparative table of the two kings' reigns, and a Google map, we hope the digital medium will enhance a casual, modern reader's experience with the text. Men, women and thier family roles have also been tagged. In addition to that, the texts related to women and their family roles are bolded on the website.
Place names have been tagged with an emphasis on clear geographic locations in order to better create the Google map. For instance, Canterbury is tagged as a city whenever the Archbishop of Canterbury is mentioned, even though Canterbury in that context is an archdiocese, but one that is based in a city that can be clearly pinned on a map. The map points themselves are sometimes an estimated location, and, in the case of aristocratic titles, reflect the geographic location listed in the title and not the entire expanse of that aristocrat's lands. Future work could include placing a historical map onto the Google landscape, to make the borders more clear for modern readers; and drawing border lines to clearly locate the area of land owned by nobles and religious sees.
For more specialized scholars, we have included the original spellings in our XML document (available for download here) and images of the pages of the original 1653 text. While looking through the tagging, such scholars should note that non-specific role names without personal names attached (e.g. "the king") have not been tagged with PersName.
If you would like to access complete online editions of Baker's Chronicle, see the following linked texts. However, unlike our edition, these are photo scans of the pages, so they are not readable by the visually impaired, and Early English Books Online does not have a full-text version after the original 1643 edition. This lack of transcribed, digitized texts (or access to the fulltext due to paywalls on databases) means that OCR software cannot transform the file or website into an audible narrative that visually impaired individuals can hear.
Chronicle of the Kings of England (1665)
Chronicle of the Kings of England (1670)
Chronicle of the Kings of England (1684)
Chronicle of the Kings of England (1732)
The colloquial or idiomatic phrasing found within the narrative has been researched using Oxford English Dictionary online, to find the obsolete and obscure uses of words such as spleen. The OED dates the entries for obsolete meanings, so that you can find the meaning for the era in which you know the word was written, which for our book meant the seventeenth century.