In search of the medieval ‘Anonymous’

In search of the medieval ‘Anonymous’books

J.D.E. de Vries

Research Master History: Societies and Institutions: ‘Medieval and Early Modern European History’ Thesis (December 2012)


Two examples of substantial thirteenth-century history works are the Brabantse Yeesten and the Rijmkroniek from Melis Stoke. These works are published and can be accessed and read by the modern public. They are large works, but made accessible by editions and modern publications. Less attention, however, has been paid to history works from the later Middle Ages. Johannes Beke’s chronicle of Holland and Utrecht is a large chronicle from the fourteenth century which has also been published in the twentieth century. And recently more chronicles, like Jan van Naaldwijk’s chronicle or the works of the Heraut van Beieren have received more detailed attention. Compared to the growing corpus of history texts in the fifteenth century, however, more scholarly attention for late medieval historiography is desired. A number of large and well-known works, like the chronicles of Johannes a Leydis, still lack an edition.

Even though some editions and a lot of research are required for those medieval historians named above, there is another group of writers that has received even less attention. During the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth century an ever growing amount of history works were produced. Some names are well-known and therefore more visible, but in between those few we all know, many more anonymous authors were writing. Because these authors are unnamed their work often remains unknown as well, for they are hard to interpret and value without the context of their origin.

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