London Chronicles

   Although of uneven quality and concentrating on events in the capital and of interest to its citizens, the London chronicles, a series of narrative histories produced in the city in the fifteenth century, provide valuable information on the WARS OF THE ROSES, especially in regard to public opinion in LONDON. Most of these chronicles were the part-time projects of London merchants and were thus compiled for a merchant readership. Although portions of more than thirty London chronicles survive for the civil war period, the most useful are Gregory’s Chronicle and two narratives by Robert Fabyan (or Fabian)—The Great Chronicle of London and The New Chronicles of England and France.
   Robert Fabyan, who died in 1513, was a London cloth merchant and city alderman who wrote during the later years of HENRY VII. Published in 1516, The New Chronicles (also known as Fabyan’s Chronicle) cover events in both FRANCE and England but are less detailed than Fabyan’s Great Chronicle. Both works make rather uncritical use of a wide variety of sources, including other chronicles and Fabyan’s own experiences (e.g., he was an apprentice to Sir Thomas COOK when that merchant was implicated in the CORNELIUS PLOT in 1468). Aside from the Cook episode, the Great Chronicle provides detailed accounts of EDWARD IV’s secret marriage to Elizabeth WOODVILLE in 1464 and of the great tournament at Smithfield in 1467. The latter, involving the king’s brother-in-law, Anthony WOODVILLE, Lord Scales, and Anthony, the natural son of Duke PHILIP of BURGUNDY, was no doubt an event of particular importance to Londoners. Although writing in Henry VII’s reign, and thus obliged to write favorably of the house of TUDOR and critically of RICHARD III, Fabyan is reasonably balanced in his portrayal of Edward IV and more than just a purveyor of Tudor PROPAGANDA concerning Richard. Although the Great Chronicle’s coverage of Richard’s reign contains numerous errors, Fabyan recorded some valuable firsthand observations of moods and opinions in London during the period. Gregory’s Chronicle takes its name from William Gregory, a London skinner who likely wrote the portion of the narrative covering the 1440s. The rest of the chronicle, relating events between 1450 and 1469, was continued by an anonymous, perhaps clerical author, who probably wrote in the 1470s. Although containing the usual focus on London, with particularly detailed accounts of JACK CADE’S REBELLION in 1450 and the unpopularity in London of Edward IV’s 1465 debasement of the coinage, Gregory’s Chronicle offers rare personal perspectives and a somewhat broader discussion of national events in the 1460s.
   Further Reading: Fabyan, Robert, The Great Chronicle of London, edited by A. H. Thomas and I.D. Thornley (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Alan Sutton, 1983); Fabyan, Robert, The New Chronicles of England and France, edited by Henry Ellis (London: Printed for F.C. and J. Rivington, 1811); The Historical Collections of a Citizen of London in the Fifteenth Century [Gregory’s Chronicle], edited by James Gairdner (New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1965).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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