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2 - The format and content of the M 9 chronicle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

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Summary

The format and content of the M 9 chronicle, as of any other text, are the result of authorial choices. As we have seen in Chapter 1, the authorship of the chronicle is complex. It is possible that the work as we have it was based on an earlier text by Peter Basset which may have focused exclusively on the wars of Henry V. In this chapter we shall look in detail at the format and content addressing key questions. To what extent does the chronicle show signs of being a ‘work of two halves’, divided by the change of king in 1422? William Worcester's incipit indicates that the chronicle was written for Sir John Fastolf. Does the content reflect that intention? What can we conclude on authorial choice in terms of the events covered and the people mentioned, both English and French? The chronicle provides a narrative of events but it is distinctive through its inclusion of many lists of partici-pants, both in a range of military actions and as holders of captaincies. How might such lists have been drawn up and for what purpose?

AWORK OFTWO HALVES?

The M 9 chronicle provides a narrative of the Anglo-French war from Henry V's capture of Harfleur in September 1415 (f. 31r) to the arrival of the French ‘in very great strength’ at the siege of Orléans in early May 1429 (f. 66r). The last sentence of the original text indicates that there was an intention to name those involved in this French force but no names are given after the customary indicator ‘Cestassavoir’. A later hand added seven names including that of ‘La Pucell’. Such a curtailment indicates that the work was intended to continue beyond this point, presumably for the whole period of English rule from Henry V's conquest to the loss of Normandy in 1450 – the thirty-five years mentioned by Worcester in the incipit. Two stray sheets of notes in the hand of Worcester, later bound within College of Arms MS M 9, echo the format of the chronicle, being replete with names of participants in 1432 and 1434–35. These suggest that Worcester had been collecting information about the military activity of later years for use in later sections of the chronicle.

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A Soldiers' Chronicle of the Hundred Years War
College of Arms Manuscript M9
, pp. 45 - 74
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2022

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