- folio 1, recto
- The celebrated Chronicles of England, or "Brut Chronicle", is the earliest prose chronicle in English and was the most popular history of England in the Middle Ages. The Chronicle traces the history of Britain from its earliest (mythical) time (Albinia), including stories of legendary kings such as Brutus of Troy (hence its name), Lear and Arthur, and is quite detailed for the period starting with the reign of Edward I. The medieval prose Brut is a legendary and historical chronicle of England named after its first hero, Brutus, a descendent of Aeneas and the epic founder of Britain. Espousing chivalric ideals and celebrating the deeds of knightly heroes, the Brut resembles aristocratic chronicles in content. History and romance are at times difficult to distinguish, especially in its earlier sections, which include the stories of King Lear, Merlin, Arthur, and others of legend. Yet even the descriptions of Edward III and Henry V are suffused with a concern for the noble and heroic. Later parts of the Brut draw much of their material from the urban chronicles of London, which were addressed to a different audience, and this material tends to reflect the political and practical concerns of wealthy merchants and civic leaders rather than those of the nobility. It is these sections that have received the most modern attention, primarily from historians seeking contemporary accounts of historical events, and yet the entire chronicle was no doubt read by its earliest audience as in some sense accurate history. The prose Brut survives today in several different forms. Current scholarship argues that it was first composed in Anglo-Norman sometime after 1272 by an anonymous compiler working from Latin sources. This Anglo-Norman version was later extended to 1333 and then, in about 1400, translated into English. The English version in turn received its own set of continuations, some extending as late as 1461. Most of these later additions, especially those of the fifteenth century, represent original English composition.
- University of Michigan MS 225 is a text of the Middle English Brut. It is an unruled paper manuscript measuring 288 x 205 mm. with no discernible watermarks. The writing block, roughly 210 x 130 mm., fluctuates slightly in size, each folio side typically consisting of 34-35 long lines. MS 225 contains only the Brut, which runs 135 leaves, though not carrying over to the final verso. The manuscript hand mixes Secretary and late Anglicana forms. Initials (usually 2-line) and rubrics in red begin unnumbered chapters. Space for initials and rubrics is left unfilled on folios 111r-v and 112r. Folios 92v and 93r are blank. Eleven folios (verso) have catchwords in the far lower right margin. The first 33 folios have frequent marginal references and notes in a more modern hand; thereafter, a few sporadic notes and pen trials. The four final leaves (136-139) contain various signatures and ownership inscriptions, the most legible names being Thomas Marshe, L. Philippus, and C. Howes. There is also an inscription on folio 111r. Two parchment leaves at the beginning and one at the end may have been part of the original binding. The name Thomas Marshe also appears on the recto of the second parchment leaf. The manuscript is presently in a nineteenth-century binding.
- circa 1420
241 images/descriptions are openly available.
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