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also known as:
The Concordaunce of Hystoryes
(as titled by the Author).
 

Published in 1516 as
The new chronicles of England and of France
 
 

by
Robert Fabyan
 


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Robert Fabyan
 Born ?, died 1513. London merchant, clothier and member of the Draper company (trade guild). Alderman and then Sheriff of London 1492-1494. Served as an alderman again during the Cornish rebellion, and was tasked with the defense of the city with the other aldermen.  Resigned his position in 1502 claiming poverty even though he was quite wealthy by marriage. He left a meticulous will that testated a large estate. Survived by 6 children and his widow.
 

His chronicle is among one of the first of the modern era. Two volumes in one, it chronicles England and France from the founding and naming of Albion (Britain) by Brutus in the first century, through King Henry VII.   Sometimes graphical, mostly mundane, the chronicle is of great importance for its description of the ascensions of power of the rulers of England and the ruthlessness of the Sovereigns in attaining and retaining their seat.  Mundane political matters enlighten the reader as to the political situations of the common man; and descriptions of the pageantry and examples of prose provide the reader with insight as to the heraldry of the time.
 

Fabyan and his work are often criticized for lacking in originality and detail, of being of little more than a strung together chronology. Short-sighted critics forget that Fabyan's lifetime coincided with the end of the Dark Ages and beginning of the Modern Age. Very few men of that time were 'of letters', and even fewer of those well read. At this time printing in England was just emerging from it's infancy; at Fabyan's death there were only two major printers in all of England!   All in all though, these claims are not completely without merit as even Fabyan himself asserts that he is  naught more than a chronicler. Still, one must consider Fabyan's realization of the need for a concise, chronological history of his land and people; and his fulfilling of that realization with his Chronicle were seminal achievements in the field of historical literature. One cannot argue that he did not accomplish what he set about - to give the reader a chronicle of the history of the Isle of Britain from its founding though to its (then) current time.
 

While most of his chronicle is the compilation of the works of previous writers, when he approaches his more contemporary times he intersperses his own diary and public records of the latter 14th and 15th centuries to document specific political history.  Rarely going into explicit detail (although, the sometimes graphical descriptions of executions and tortures shocked many through and into the Victorian age),  his work still gives insight into the municipal workings and  politics of the time.  Only in recent times has it been recognized as a valuable historical record validating later historical accounts and studies of the various rulers and political events of England and France.  Numerous writers in both the historical and literary fields have used Fabian's Chronicle as a reference throughout the years,  Shakespeare and Thomas Gray among them.
 
 



 
 

Chronology of publication, and differences in the various editions
Fabian's chronicle was first published in 1516 by Richard Pynson.  The first edition ended with the Battle of Bosworth at which the reign of Richard the III ended and Henry the VII began.  Copies of this edition are very rare as it is claimed that it was ordered burnt by Cardinal Wolsey as it reflected on the wealth of the Church and clergy.

The second edition was printed by William Rastell in 1533, and added historical accounts of the reign and death of Henry the VII.  This amended material, was compiled and amended by Rastell and possibly others, as well as based on further writings of Fabyan prior to his death.  This edition includes a closing passage and poetic verse in Latin and English composed by Fabyan.

The third edition was published in 1542 by Reynes, Bonham and others. A much edited version which omitted much of the graphical descriptions of executions and tortures as well as amending and omitting sections that reflected negatively on the Church and Crown.

In 1559, Kingston published a fourth edition that restored the book to the content presented in the second edition, and added further historical accounts of the continuation of the Crown through Elizabeth I.

A 'modern', fifth edition was printed in 1811 by F.C. and J. Rivington, et al.; and edited by Henry Ellis. This edition  presents the historical record of the 1559 version, and adds biographical appendix, index and genealogical notes as well as sundry editorial comment and amendment.  While this edition diverges from presenting all of the original text and truly should be considered a version rather than a edition,  it is considered by most as the best presentation of the work.
 


Excerpts from Fabian's Chronicle
(Publisher and publication date are unknown for this edition as it is missing the title page).

Volume 1

Volume 2

Margin note details

Cover, Spine, watermarks, miscellaneous.

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