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New Medieval Books: Chronicle of King Pedro

Chronicle of King Pedro / Cronica del rey don Pedro

By Pero López de Ayala

Translated by Peter Such

Liverpool University Press
ISBN: 978-1-78962-134-1

This three-volume set contains an edition and English translation of Pero Lopez de Ayala’s chronicle of the reign of King Pedro the Cruel of Castile. Covering the years 1350 to 1369, it details the extremely turbulent times of Pedro, which includes fighting with his neighbours and Castile’s own civil war.

Excerpt from the beginning of the work:

In the name of God, Amen. Here begins the chronicle of the noble kings of Castile, who were as follows: first there begins the chronicle of King Pedro and afterwards that of his brother King Enrique; they were sons of King Alfonso, who won the battle of Tarifa. There then follows the chronicle of King Juan, son of King Enrique, as is related in full in a more detailed account in the said volume.


Who is this book for?

Many historians will want to read through this book – it’s the first English translation of the chronicle and the most important source we have of Pedro the Cruel. Moreover, it is not just for those interested in the history of Spain, as the story also involves the Hundred Years’ War, with England and France both getting involved in the Iberian wars. The work is a little ‘dry’ as Pero López de Ayala usually reports everything in a matter-of-fact way, but it also really shows how King Pedro got the moniker ‘the Cruel’. The price of the three-volume set means that it will be purchased mostly by libraries, but it is a book you want to consult. Also, a new translation of The Chronicles of Fernão Lopes is being published in 2023, and this would make a good companion text to the Chronicle of King Pedro.

The author:

Peter Such was Head of Modern Languages and Director of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Sherborne School. After his retirement in 2011, he moved to Spain and began translating medieval texts. This is his fourth translation. You can find Peter on LinkedIn.


You can learn more about this three-volume work from the publisher’s website

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