In comparison with the passages from the Canterbury Tales, Text (4) dates from the very earliest part of the ME period. The Peterborough Chronicle (MS Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 636) is a version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which was copied and continued after the Norman Conquest. It thus spans the transition between OE and ME, and indeed there are parts of the Peterborough Chronicle which seem to be more OE than ME in character. The passage given below is the annal for the year 1135, part of the so-called Final Continuation to the Peterborough Chronicle. Examination of the passage soon reveals many features which point back to the OE period, notably in word-order; but there are also features which point forward. Thus in spelling, w and uu appear instead of the OE “wynn”; there are features which indicate that the OE ancestor of the dialect of the Peterborough Chronicle was not West Saxon but Old Anglian (eg. ald OLD for WS eald); there are French loanwords, eg. Pais PEACE; and even in word-order there are indications of new patterns (eg. se king Henri THE KING HENRY beside Henri cyng; cf OE Ælfred cyning KING ALFRED). The author of the Final Continuation was not a simple, objective annalist of events; he had a particular (monastic, local) point of view to put across and this sometimes led him into exaggeration. But the annals for this period, when combined with evidence from other sources, indicate that the mid-twelfth century was indeed a turbulent time when, as a phrase from elsewhere in the Peterborough Chronicle puts it, Christ slep, and his halechen CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT. The standard edition of the text is that by C.Clark (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970). The text here differs only in some minor details of presentation; eg. for the “Tyrrhonian” 7 AND, and appears throughout this passage. A literal translation of this passage appears immediately after it. There are three biographical notes, signalled by small Roman numerals in the text (eg. (i), (ii) etc.), appended after the translation.
(i) se king Henri Henry I (1068-1135), youngest son of William the Conqueror. Posthumously (and rather generously) styled Beauclerc SCHOLAR, Henry was an able if somewhat grasping monarch whose reign saw the establishment of certain significant institutions of government, such as the Exchequer. The blending of OE se with the ME word-order se king Henri is notable; cf characteristically OE constructions such as Ælfred cyning.
(ii) Stephne de Blais King Stephen (c.1097-1154) was a grandson of William the Conqueror. Contemporaries regarded him as too genial to make a successful king, and his kingship was contested by Henry I’s allegedly somewhat ferocious daughter, Matilda.
Dauid king of Scotland David I (c.1080-1153) was one of the great
reforming Kings of Scots. During his reign, monarchical authority
was asserted, the first royal coinage struck, a Scottish common law
produced, the Scottish church reformed, trade encouraged and the system
of fortifications known as the “burgh”-system was developed. David
also owned lands in England, and was therefore for part of his property
a vassal of the English rulers; as such he played an important part
in the affairs of the neighbouring kingdom.