Croyland Chronicle

Croyland Chronicle
   For the period 1459 to 1485, the two accounts known as the First and Second Continuations of the Croyland Chronicle are valuable sources of information. While the First Continuation supplies details for events in the 1460s, the Second Continuation is the single most important source for the period of Yorkist rule. The Benedictine abbey of Crowland (or Croyland) in Lincolnshire produced a medieval chronicle for which the two fifteenth-century works were contemporary continuations. The First Continuation, written by an anonymous prior of Crowland, concludes in January 1470 and pertains mainly to the history of the abbey. Its relevance to the struggle between the houses of LANCASTER and YORK is therefore limited, although the author adopted a more national perspective when writing about the 1460s. The chronicler detested northerners, and he particularly castigated their behavior during Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU’s MARCH ON LONDON in 1461. This prejudice resurfaces in the description of the ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION and other northern uprisings in 1469, a year when EDWARD IV’s capture in Lincolnshire by Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, brought national events to the vicinity of Crowland. Although the tone of the First Continuation is moderately Yorkist, the author was critical of the influence exercised on the king by Queen ELIZABETHWOODVILLE and the WOODVILLE FAMILY.
   The Second Continuation was, according to its author, written at Crowland in April 1486. It is the only continuous, contemporary political narrative of the Yorkist years, overlapping the First Continuation by covering the period from October 1459 to 1485. It is also not Yorkist PROPAGANDA, but a sophisticated historical narrative that was intended to be an accurate and objective account of events. The author described himself as a doctor of canon law, a member of Edward IV’s COUNCIL, and an ambassador to BURGUNDY in 1471. He was clearly familiar with the workings of English government, personally acquainted with Edward IV and RICHARD III, and an eyewitness to many of the events described. Although generally friendly to Edward IV, the writer was critical of the king’s financial exactions; of his destruction of his brother, George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence; and of his aggressive policy toward SCOTLAND in the 1480s.
   The writer was far more critical of Richard III, disapproving of the USURPATION OF 1483; of the execution of William HASTINGS, Lord Hastings; and of the king’s behavior after the death of his wife, Anne NEVILLE, especially in regard to his niece, ELIZABETH OF YORK. The author also applauded the victory of HENRY VII at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD in 1485. Given what the writer reveals about himself, a possible (but by no means the only) candidate for authorship of the Second Continuation is John RUSSELL, bishop of Lincoln, who was keeper of the privy seal for Edward IV and chancellor under Richard III.
   Further Reading: Pronay, Nicholas, and John Cox, eds., The Crowland Chronicle Continuations: 1459-1486 (London: Richard III and Yorkist History Trust, 1986); the text of the Second Continuation of the Croyland Chronicle is available on the Richard III Society Web site at

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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