Hardyng’s Chronicle

   Written by John Hardyng (1378–c. 1465), a soldier and antiquarian, Hardyng’s Chronicle is an English verse account of the history of England from its beginnings to 1461. Although Hardyng’s Chronicle is of value for the reign of HENRY VI, historians of the WARS OF THE ROSES use the work cautiously because it exists in different versions and was rewritten at each change of regime to reflect the interests of the party in power.
   A northerner, Hardyng spent part of his youth in service to the Percy family (see North of England and the Wars of the Roses). He fought against the Scots in 1402 and in FRANCE at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. From 1418 to 1421, he traveled through SCOTLAND collecting evidence to prove that the Scots owed homage to England. The death of Henry V in 1422 ended the project, until Hardyng resumed his search for Henry VI in 1439. Hardyng eventually received grants totaling £30 per year for his services, even though the six documents relating to the matter that Hardyng gave to the Crown in 1457 were proven in the nineteenth century to be forgeries. The documents were probably created by Hardyng, whose antiquarian knowledge would have allowed him to produce convincing fakes.
   Hardyng’s Chronicle consists of seven-line verse stanzas rhyming according to the scheme ababbcc. In 1457, Hardyng, in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a royal grant, dedicated his Chronicle to Henry VI; to the king’s wife, Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU; and to the king’s son, Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER.Although favorable to the house of LANCASTER, this initial version obliquely criticizes Henry VI by informing the king of instances of civil unrest and local injustice. A second version, suitably revised to win the favor of the house of YORK, was dedicated to Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, some time between 1458 and 1460. While the first version contains no judgment on the abilities of Henry VI, the second questions the king’s wits and moral reasoning.
   He could little within his breast conceive, The good from evil he could not perceive. (Ellis, p. 394)
   Shortly before his death in about 1465, Hardyng presented yet another version of his chronicle to EDWARD IV. Although this version ends with the flight of the Lancastrian royal family into Scotland after the Battle of TOWTON in 1461, mention of Queen Elizabeth WOODVILLE dates completion of the manuscript to 1464, the year of Elizabeth’s marriage to the king. The best-known edition of Hardyng’s Chronicle was printed in 1543 by the Tudor chronicler Richard Grafton, who updated the work to his own time. Although his poetry is poor and his partisan purposes are clear, Hardyng is still a useful source for events of the 1450s that led up to the Wars of the Roses.
   See also Rous, John
   Further Reading: Ellis, Henry, ed., The Chronicle of John Hardyng Together with the Continuation of Richard Grafton (London, 1812); Hardyng, John, The Chronicle of John Hardyng, reprint ed. (New York: AMS Press, 1974); see the online Catholic Encyclopedia at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07136a.htm for a brief biography of John Hardyng.

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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