Gesta Herwardi


Gesta Herwardi

The "Gesta Herwardi" is a manuscript written in about 1260 as a copy of a Latin edition of about 1160-70 by Hugh Candidus. The latter was a translation of an earlier work in English from about 1110, with gaps in the damaged original filled out from oral history. The document was bound into a book with others relating to Peterborough Abbey which was kept at the abbey and latterly, at Peterborough Cathedral, in the same premises. It is now kept in the Seeley Historical Library of the University of Cambridge. The whole book is known by variants of the name 'Robert of Swaffham's Book'. The "Gesta" text is about the deeds and character of Hereward.

Compilation history

Most of what is known of the work's earlier history comes from its first chapter. It was originally written in Early English by Leofric the Deacon, a priest of Hereward's household, who became one of his companions in arms during Hereward's resistance against William I's annexation of property in England. His work of around 1110, may have been precipitated by Hereward's death. If so, the latter will have died in his early seventies. From Hugh's description of the original document, it was badly damaged though not destroyed, by the fire at Peterborough abbey, in 1116.Hugh Candidus was a monk of Peterborough virtually all his life and by his death which DNB dates as c.1160, was a senior member of the community. He should not be confused with Hugh of Remiremont. His abbot instructed him to seek out the remains of Leofric's work and to translate it into Latin. This he did but owing to the damage from dripping water and heat (though he does not specify the nature of the latter), he had at his abbot's insistence, to fill in the lacunae from oral history.The document which exists today is a transcription of this work, made in around 1260, by or under the instruction of Robert of Swaffham, another monk of Peterborough. It was bound into a book containing several charters and other material relating to the abbey and known as Robert of Swapham's Book and similar names. Other folios, unrelated to the Hereward story, were added at a later rebinding. In recent years, there have been several translations into modern English but they seem to be based on that by W. D. Sweeting, serially published from 1895, as a supplement to Fenland Notes and Queries, a quarterly magazine in the form of a snail mail version of a modern internet forum. Sweeting used a transcription of Robert's work made at some time around 1890, by S. H. Miller. The transcription and translation appear in parallel columns. This therefore, is the best relatively accessible source of the Hereward story since, where Sweeting's translation is open to question in small matters, generally, so are those of his followers.

References

* De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis (The Exploits of Hereward the Saxon) published as a supplement to Fenland Notes and Queries, editor: W. D. Sweeting, at Peterborough by Geo. C. Caster, Market Place. 1895. from Part 25, April 1895. A transcription of this supplement can be found at the external link below.
* Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Hugh Candidus.
* Symon Gunton and Symon Patrick. The History of the Church of Peterborough. Richard Chiswell, London 1686. Facsimile edition Clay, Tyas, Watkins and Clay, Peterborough and Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-13-5.
* Janet D. Martin., The Cartularies and Registers of Peterborough Abbey. Northamptonshire Record Society 1978. ISBN 0-901275-39-5

External links

* [http://boar.org.uk/ariwxo3FNQsupTitle.htm The text together with a translation and commentary] .


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