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9 Ranulph Higden d. 1365
Polychronicon, cum supplemente, usuque ad annum MCCCLXXX
Latin manuscript on vellum, 244 leaves, England, ca. 1380 (Plimpton 252)
Universal histories recording factual and legendary information about all known regions and times were enormously popular in the Middle Ages. The Polychronicon written by the English Benedictine monk Ranulf Higden was the most exhaustive such history known in the fourteenth century. In imitation of the seven days of Creation, Higden divides his history into seven parts, culling information from more than forty authorities. Emphasizing English concerns, Higden brought the history to 1327; it was continued to the year 1380 by two subsequent chroniclers. The first leaf of each section of this manuscript is decorated with ornate floral borders and elaborate initials in gold and colors; the folio volume is in its original binding of oak boards covered with deerskin. The Polychronicon was widely read for over two hundred years; three English translations were made within a century of Higden's death, and William Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde both issued editions of the English text.
Gift of George A. Plimpton

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