Richard Of Cirencester

, an English historian, so named from his birth-place, flourished in the fourteenth century. No (races of his family or connections can be discovered, but they appear to have been such as to afford him a liberal education. In 13 50 “he entered into the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter, Westminster, and his name occurs in various documents of that establishment in 1387, 1397, and 1399. He devoted his leisure hours to the study of British and Anglo-Saxon history and antiquities, in which he made such proficiency, that he is said to have been honoured with the name of the Historiographer. Pits informs us, without specifying his authority, that Richard visited different libraries and ecclesiastical establishments in England, in order to collect materials. It is at least certain that he obtained a licence to visit Rome, from his abbot, William of Colchester, in 1391, and there can be little doubt that a man of his curiosity would improve his knowledge on such an occasion. He is supposed to Have performed this journey in the interval between 1391 and 1397, for he appears to have been confined in the abbey infirmary in 1401, and died in that or the following year. His works are,” Historia ab Hengista ad ann. 1348,“in two parts. The first contains the period from the coming of the Saxons to the death of Harold, and is preserved in the public library of Cambridge. Whitaker, the historian of Manchester, speaks of this as evincing very little knowledge or judgment; the second part is probably a ms. in the library of the Royal Society, p. 137, with the title of” Britonum Anglorum et Saxonurn Historia.“In the library of Bene’t college, Cambridge, is” Epitome Chronic. Ric. Cor. West. Lib. I.“Other works of our author are supposed to be preserved in the Lambeth library, and at Oxford. His theological writings were,” Tractatus super Symbolum Majus et Minus,“and” Liber de Officiis Ecclesiasticis,“in the Peterborough library. But the treatise to which he owes his celebrity, is that on the ancient state of Great Britain,” De situ Britanniae,“first discovered by Charles Julius Bertram, professor of the English language in the royal marine academy at Copenhagen, who transmitted to Dr. Stukeley a transcript of the whole in letters, together with a copy of the map. From this transcript Stukeley published an analysis of the work, with the itinerary, first in a thin quarto, 1757, and afterwards in the second volume of his | ” Itinerarium Curiosum.“In the same year the original itself was published by professor Bertram at Copenhagen, in a small octavo volume, with the remains of Gildas and Nennius, under the title” Britannicarum gentium Historiae Antiquæ scriptores tres, Ricardns Corinensis, Gildas Badonicus, Nennius Banchorensis, &c.“This work has long been scarce, and in very few libraries; but in 1809, a new edition, with an English translation, &c. was published at London. To this the editor, Mr. Hatchard, has prefixed an account of Richard’s life, from which we have extracted the above particulars, and an able defence of his merit and fidelity as a historian, against the objections of certain writers. Among these we observe that Gibbon cannot be reckoned, for he says that Richard of Cirencester” shews a genuine knowledge of antiquity, very extraordinary for a monk of the fourteenth century.“This useful and accurate republication is entitled” The Description of Britain, translated from Richard of Cirencester; with the original treatise de situ Britanniæ; and a commentary on the Itinerary; illustrated with maps," 8vo. 1


Life ubi supra.