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Walters Ms. W.793, Henry of Huntingdon's Historia Anglorum

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Henry of Huntingdon's Historia Anglorum

Text title
Historia Anglorum


Authority name: Henry, of Huntingdon, 1084?-1155


Produced in the early thirteenth century, this manuscript is an important textual witness to the Historia Anglorum, the History of the English People, by Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon. The first version of Henry of Huntingdon’s text had a terminal date of 1129, though there were four more updates containing events through 1135, 1138, 1148, and 1154. Walters W.793 represents the fourth version, covering the events from Britain’s first leaders up to 1148, in which the number of books was increased from eight to ten and three letters by the author were added. The text contains several colored foliate initials, though it is especially notable for its line drawing of King Stephen (d. 1154), grandson of William the Conqueror, and his earls before the Battle of Lincoln on February 2, 1141 (fol. 105r). It is closely related to British Library, Arundel Ms. 48, which is believed to have been the model from which Walters W.793 was copied. Both copies may have been based on a prototype extant during the lifetime of Henry of Blois (d. 1171). Of the approximately three dozen surviving manuscript copies of the Historia Anglorum, only eight predate W.793. It and Arundel 48 are the only known illustrated exemplars.


First half of the 13th century CE


Winchester (?), England






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin. The secondary language of this manuscript is English, Middle (1100-1500).

Support material


Medium-weight parchment with several imperfections, hair follicles visible; trimmed slightly with small losses to marginal commentary; endleaves covered in yellow embroidered silk


Foliation: iii+107+iii

Flyleaves modern; nineteenth-century trapezoidal parchment fragment pasted on second flyleaf; modern pencil foliation upper right corners, rectos


Formula: iii, 1-7(10), 8(10,-4,7), 9-10(10), 11(10,-10)

Catchwords: Catchwords present at ends of gatherings, lower left margins, versos

Signatures: Quire numbers in Roman numerals mark ends of gatherings, bottom center versos of last folios

Comments: Quires begin at fols. 1(1), 11(2), 21(3), 31(4), 41(5), 51(6), 61(7), 71(8), 79(9), 89(10), 99(11); a bifolium is missing in quire 8; the last leaf is cancelled


20.0 cm wide by 28.8 cm high

Written surface

15.0 cm wide by 22.2 cm high

  1. Columns: 2
  2. Ruled lines: 38
  3. Ruled in pale gray ink; some prickings visible at outer page edges

fols. 1r - 107v:
  1. Title: Historia Anglorum
  2. Author: Henry, of Huntingdon, 1084?-1155
  3. Contents: Incomplete; two leaves from quire VIII are absent (between fols. 73 and 74 and between fols. 75 and 76); text comprises a Preface (fol. 1r), Prologue addressed to Bishop Alexander of Lincoln (fols. 1v-2r), Book 1 (fols. 2r-13v), Book 2 (fols. 13v-23v), Book 3 (fols. 23v-37r), Book 4 (fols. 37r-47r), Book 5 (fols. 47r-57v), Book 6 (fols. 57v-68v), Book 7 (fols. 68v-77v), Book 8 (fols. 77v-93r), Book 9 (fols. 93r-102r), Book 10 (fols. 102r-107v), letters to Henry I (fol. 78v-86r), Warinus (fol. 86r-89v), and Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford (fol. 89v-93r); contemporary corrections and annotations in red or brown ink including two registers of English kings: one in the margins (fols. 106v-107v) and one added to the text block (fol. 107v); later corrections, annotations, and marginal pointing hand sketches in brown ink; main text probably copied from a manuscript containing the same text in the British Library (Arundel MS 48)
  4. Hand note: Pre-Gothic bookhand; lists of kings in margins of fols. 106v-107v by different hands in late anglicana script
  5. Decoration note: Large initials (6 to 7 lines) at the beginning of major text divisions (Preface, Prologue, Books 1-3, 7, 8) in red, blue, and green ink filled with foliage and calligraphic flourishes ending in hairpin loops; red initials with green pen flourishes (2-3 lines); lower line text with decorative descenders (4 to 11 lines); brown ink drawing (fol. 105r); Nigel Morgan suggests that the artist of the line drawing is also responsible for a Bestiary, Cambridge, University Library Ms. Ii.4.26, and the Guthlac Roll, London, British Library Harley Ms. Roll Y.6.
fols. 1r - 1r:
  1. Title: Preface
  2. Author: Henry, of Huntingdon, 1084?-1155
  3. Rubric: In hoc volumine continentur historia anglorum noviter edita ab henrico huntendunensi archidiacono libri x
  4. Incipit: Primus liber est de regno romanorum in britannia
fols. 1r - 2r:
  1. Title: Prologue
  2. Rubric: Incipit hystoria anglorum edita a venerabili archidiacono huntendone henrico. Que quidem a primo adventu romanorum in angliam. qui in ea optinuerunt dominatum: usque ad tercium decimum annum regis stephani pro tenditur
  3. Incipit: Cum in omni fere litterarum studio dulce laboris
fols. 2r - 107v:
  1. Title: Historia Anglorum
  2. Rubric: De situ et statu britannie maioris in anglie
  3. Incipit: Britannia igitur beatissima est
  4. Text note: Incomplete: missing parts of Book 7 (from "Misit autem rex in mare" to "Tenet igitur curiam suam," and from "confligens cepit comitem predictum" to "moiorem dums. Pipinus Karolini"
fols. 107v - 107v:
  1. Title: Register of Kings in Latin
  2. Contents: Register of English kings beginning with "Alfridus" and ending with Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester (d. 1477); appended to the final column of the original text
fols. 106v - 107r:
  1. Title: Register of Kings in Middle English
  2. Contents: Fifteenth-century marginal list in Middle English of the rulers of England, from Lud to Hubba, taken from the Brut chronicles (The Brute or The Chronicles of England, ed. Friedrich Brie, pt. I, Early English Text Society no. 131, 1906, pp. 30-100); identified as such by Charles F. Briggs


fol. 1r:

  1. W.793, fol. 1r
  2. Title: Decorated initial "P"
  3. Form: Initial "P," 20 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Preface

fol. 1v:

  1. W.793, fol. 1v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "C"
  3. Form: Initial "C," 6 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Preface

fol. 2r:

  1. W.793, fol. 2r
  2. Title: Decorated initial "B"
  3. Form: Initial "B," 7 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 1

fol. 13v:

  1. W.793, fol. 13v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "T"
  3. Form: initial "T," 6 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 2

fol. 23v:

  1. W.793, fol. 23v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "A"
  3. Form: Initial "A," 7 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 3

fol. 39r:

  1. W.793, fol. 39r
  2. Title: Initial "I"
  3. Form: Initial "I," 9 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 4

fol. 48v:

  1. W.793, fol. 48v
  2. Title: Initial "I"
  3. Form: Initial "I," 28 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 5

fol. 57v:

  1. W.793, fol. 57v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "M"
  3. Form: Initial "M," 7 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 6

fol. 68v:

  1. W.793, fol. 68v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "H"
  3. Form: Initial "H," 12 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 7

fol. 77v:

  1. W.793, fol. 77v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "H"
  3. Form: Initial "H," 11 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 8

fol. 93r:

  1. W.793, fol. 93r
  2. Title: Initial "D"
  3. Form: Initial D, 2 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 9

fol. 102r:

  1. W.793, fol. 102r
  2. Title: Decorated initial "D"
  3. Form: Initial "D," 3 lines
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 10

fol. 105r:

  1. W.793, fol. 105r
  2. Title: King Stephen directs Baldwin FitzGilbert to address the army before the Battle of Lincoln
  3. Form: Column line drawing
  4. Text: Historia Anglorum, Book 10
  5. Label: This depicts an event more thoroughly recorded in Henry of Huntingdon's History than elsewhere, in which King Stephen, before the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, asks Baldwin FitzGilbert to address the troops because his own voice was too weak.


The binding is not original.

Nineteenth-century English binding, wooden boards covered with brown velvet edged with twentieth-century brown morocco; central embossed silver shield with Grosvenor garb and pierced sheet-silver corner guards and clasp hinge


Thomas Dakcomb, Winchester priest and canon (1496-1572?): "liber domini Thome dakcomb 1548 pr[ecium]..." inscribed on fol. 1 (partly effaced)

Probably Robert Grosvenor, Second Earl Grosvenor and first Marquis of Westminster (1767-1845): note attached to front pastedown dated September 1812 mentions "your Lordship's manuscript" and evidence of binding

Nineteenth-century book-dealer note (?) attached to front flyleaf describing manuscript contents

Sotheby's, sale of July 11, 1966, lot 227

Major John Roland Abbey (1894-1969); his bookplate on first flyleaf

Sotheby's, sale of June 20, 1978, lot 2978


Walters Art Museum purchase, Dorothy Miner Memorial purchase, 1978


Henry of Huntingdon. Historia Anglorum: The History of the English People, ed. Diane E. Greenway. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

De Hamel, C. “Bestiary.” In P. Binski and S. Panayotova, eds., The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West. London: Harvey Miller, 2010, p. 310.

Randall, L.M.C. “Dorothy Miner Memorial Purchase: Historia Anglorum by Henry of Huntingdon.” The Walters Art Gallery Bulletin 31, no. 1 (November 1978).

Collard, J. “Henry I’s Dream in John of Worcester’s Chronicle (Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 157) and the Illustration of Twelfth-Century English Chronicles.” Journal of Medieval History 36 (2010): pp. 105-125, at pp. 115, 119-21.

Morgan, N.J. Early Gothic Manuscripts (1): 1190-1250. A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, Volume 4, London: Harvey Miller, 1982, pp. 67, 138.

Greenway, D.E. “Henry of Huntingdon and the Manuscripts of His Historia Anglorum.” In R. Allen Brown, ed., Anglo-Norman Studies IX: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1986, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1987, pp. 103-26, at p. 103 n.9

Kleinbauer, W.E. “Recent Major Acquisitions of Medieval Art by American Museums: Number Three.” Gesta 20, no. 2 (1981), p. 365.


Principal catalogers: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William; Smith, Kathryn

Catalogers: Grollemond, Larisa; Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editors: Dibble, Charles; Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William

Copy editor: Bockrath, Diane

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Dutschke, Consuelo; Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.