The thrydde Preface to the storye. Capitulum quartum.
Truly viijthe thynges be profitable to men willenge to haue plenerly knowelege of this story presente, that is to [folio 20a] say, descripciones of places, states of thynges, distincciones of tymes. Successiones of gouernaunce, variaciones of cus|tomes, decursiones of ages, qualites of acciones and trewe supputaciones of yeres in alle these thynges. The firste of these is in the firste booke and oþer*. [oþer, other] See p. 63, note.] in other*. [oþer, other] See p. 63, note.] books be expressede. As vn to the secunde hit is to be attendede that þer be ij. states; oon state from þe begynnenge of the worlde to Criste, whiche is the state of deuiacion. The secunde is from Criste to the ende of the worlde, whiche is the state of reconsiliacion. As vn to the thrydde hit is to be attendede that there be iij. tymes; oon afore the lawe y-wryten. The secunde vnder the lawe wryten. The thrydde vnder grace. As vn to the iiijthe. hit is to be attendede, thauȝe þer were oþer while iiij. principalle realmes, as men of Assiria, of Persia, Grekes, and Romanes, neuerþelesse as after the course of the worlde and ordre of Holy Scripture the firste gouernayle was from Abraham Page 33, vol.1 to Moysen. The secunde was vnder Iugges from Moyses to Saul. The thrydde vnder Kynges from Saul vn to Zorobabel. The iiijthe vnder byschoppes, from Zorobabel vn to Criste. As vn to the vthe, hit is to be attendede that þere were v. rytes. The firste was in the firste age vnder*. [Ofv. rytes.] the lawe of nature commune to euery man. The secunde rite began in the secunde age, that was the rite of gentiles, when ydolatrye spronge vnder Nino. The thrydde ryte did aryse in the thrydde age vnder the lawe wryten, when þe lawe and circumcision made a distinccion betwene the Iewes and other folke. The iiijthe ryte is of Cristen men that began vnder Criste, when feithe and grace of sacramentes informede the life of theyme. The vthe rite is of Saracenys, whiche began under Machomete, as hit schalle be schewede after the tyme of Heraclius themperoure more plenerly. As vn to the vjthe, hit is to be attendede that there*. [Of vj. ages.] be vj. ages; the fyrste from Adam to Noe; the secunde from Noe to Abraham; the thrydde from Abraham to Dauid; the iiijthe from Dauid to þe transmigracion; the vthe from the transmigracion to Criste; the vjthe from Page 35, vol.1 Criste to the ende of the worlde. Hyt is to be attendede that the ages of the worlde be not diuersificate as anendes the equalites of yeres, but anendes somme mer|uellous thynge happenge in the begynnenge of that age; as the firste age began from the creation of man; the secunde of a meruellous invndacion of water; the [folio 20b] thrydde of a meruellous circumcision; the iiijthe from the begynnenge of reigne of kynges; the vthe of the transmigracion of peple; the vjthe of the incarnation off Criste. As vn to the vijthe hit is to be attended that vij. persones be redde whose gestes be remembrede ofte|tymes in storyes; that is to saye, the person of a prynce in his realme, of a knyȝte in batelle, of a iugge in his seete, of a byschoppe in the cleregye, off a politike man in the peple, of a howsebonde man in a howse, of a contemplatif man in the chirche. From whom vij. generalites of acciones doe procede corespondent to theyme, whiche be construcciones of cytes, victoryes of enmyes, sancciones of lawes, correcciones of crymes, com|posicion of a commune thynge, the disposicion of a thynge familier, the adquisicion of a hollesom merite in whom the rewardes of goode men schyne, and the peynes of ylle men. As vn to the viijthe hit is to be attendede Page 37, vol.1 that þer were viij. maneres to calcle yeres; iij. anendes men of Ebrewe, thre anendes the Grekes, oon at the Romanes, and oon now at Cristen men. Men of Ebrewe take theire yere in thre maneres. The vsualle yere is begynnenge from Ianuary anendes theyme whom thei vse in contractes. Also a lawefulle yere begynnenge from Marche, whom thei vse in cerimonyes. Also there is a yere emergente as anendes theyme begynnenge from May when thei wente from Egipte, whom thei vse in cronicles and calculaciones. The Grekes note theire yeres in thre maneres:—In the firste they cotede yeres at the glory of their victory from the captiuite of Troye. After that þe Olimpias begunne, thei assignede the nowmbre of þeire yeres after the nowmbre of theyme. In the thrydde maner, when thei began to haue dominacion, thei notede their yeres in thys maner:—In suche a yere in the reigne of men of Grewe, or in suche a yere, as hit is expressede in the bookes of Machabes. At the laste þe Romanes floryschenge ascribede theire yeres from the begynnenge of theire cite y-made. But nowe laste Cristen men suppute theire yeres from the Incarnacion of Criste. Wherefore hit is to be aduertisede that the calculation of Page 39, vol.1 Dionysius, whom Englonde and Fraunce doe folowe, hathe lesse then the computacion of Seynte Ierom by the nowmbre of xxtiij. yere. Also William Malmesburye dothe reherse in his booke of byschoppes the iiijthe that Ma|rianus a Scotte and a monke, included at a cyte callede Mangotia in Allemeyne, abowte the yere of grace mllxxvj., [folio 21a] serchede cronicles thro grete study and labour, aduertenge firste or sole the dissonaunce of the cicles after the cal|culation of litelle Dionise ageyn the trawthe of the Gos|pelle, whiche accomptenge euery yere from the begynnenge of the worlde addede to the foreseide cicles xxtiij. yere, makenge a harde and a diffusede cronicle, whose booke Roberte Byschoppe of Herefforde onornede splendidiously; wherefore commune cronicles folowenge Dionysius fayle and stumble alle day, Seynte Ierom wyttenes in the translacion of the cronicle of Eusebius, where x. yeres wonte betwene the passion of Criste and tyme of Vaspasian, and also xiiij. wonte abowte the tymes of Decius themperoure, as hit schalle be schewede under the vjthe age of the worlde. That erroure is moche encreased in so moche, that dayes Page 41, vol.1 and monethes be ouerskippede in whom hit is seyde kynges haue reignede by holle yeres; and also other spaces of tymes be neglecte betwene or amonge the endes off men reignenge and begynnenges of men folowenge. Where|fore y schalle ascribe how euery thynge hathe bene in the yere þer of after my powere in this presente wrytenge. In so moche that y schalle purpulle the mariantes nye the hedes of þe gestes with a dowble ordre of yeres. From Abraham vn to the cite off Rome y-made, the yere of the age of the worlde and of the duke and gouer|noure schalle be wryten. From the cite y-made to Criste, the yere of the age of the cite and of the transmigra|cion schalle be wryten. From Criste, the yere of grace and of the prynce reignenge that tyme schalle be wryten to gedre.