Eulogium Historiarum, etc.

Title

  • Eulogium Historiarum, etc.
Location 
  • Trinity College Cambridge
Subject
  • The Eulogium Historiarum is a universal chronicle from the Creation to 1366 in Latin prose, drawn from various sources, some listed in a poem; probably written by a monk (to whom different names have been attached, although internal evidence suggests Thomas) at Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire. Five books cover biblical and secular history, with some geography and a monastic chronology.

Provenance
  • Probably from Malmesbury: events connected with that house receive special prominence throughout. Mr F. S. Haydon in his edition of the text in the Rolls Series advocates the view that this is the author's autograph, on what seem to be good grounds. Given to Trinity by George Willmer (d. 1626).
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Description
  • 30 lines to a page. In a curious, ugly, but plain hand. 
  • 24cm  x 16.5 cm
  • Vellum
  • Written in Latin
Age
  • 14th Century
Comment
  • The Eulogium Historiarum is a history of world from earliest times to the present written by a monk of Malmesbury in the mid-14th century. The account of global history is interspersed with references to the history of Malmesbury. The full text has never been translated into English but a printed edition of the Latin text was published in the 19th century. The Victorian editor identified the first name of the writer as Thomas. A close inspection suggests that his full name was Thomas of Bromham and that he joined the community at Malmesbury in the aftermath of the devastating Black Death in 1348-1349. The Eulogium includes an eye-witness account of the Black Death. The book also includes a remarkable autobiographical statement describing the tedium of monastic life and the fact that he was ordered to write the book as a form of therapy because of his unhappiness and susceptibility to immoral thoughts.

 Confined as I am to the cloister, I feel tired all the time, my senses are dulled, my attempts to be virtuous are frustrated, and I often fall prey to the worst kinds of thoughts. My feelings result from the length of our church services and the heavy burdens of our prayers, and because of my memories of the vain boasting and wicked deeds that I was once responsible for in the world, as well as the pleasure I took in my sins, and the abundance of my sins. Reflecting, therefore, how I might snuff out the temptations and fiery barbs of the Devil, who strives to inflict so many injuries upon the conscience of a monk, I decided in response to the requests of my superiors to compile as best I could a treatise gleaned from the works of various authors for the benefit of future generations. For on many occasions I had been asked by the prior of our monastery to undertake something in the manner of a chronicle dealing with the deeds of the ancients, nearby and faraway lands, miracles, wars, and the ancient deeds of Christians and pagans. My superiors thought this work would help me to abandon all the thoroughly unprofitable activities of my spare time without further thought. 

Ownership/Copyright
  • Copyright Trinity College Cambridge. Images reproduced with their permission.

Reference Information
  • Shelfmark R.7.2
  • James Number 740
More Information