An article in this month’s issue of History Today focuses on another Parker Library manuscript, CCCC MS 339. The first text in the manuscript is known as the ‘Winchester Annals’, a Latin chronicle which records events from 519-1139 and which was written at Winchester priory in the late twelfth century. The article, by George T. Beech, focuses on the annals’ account of the reign of Egbert (r. 802-839), king of Wessex and grandfather of Alfred the Great.
The text says that after the battle of Ellendun (825) in which Egbert defeated the Mercians, he had himself crowned king of all Britain and issued an edict proclaiming that the island should henceforth be known as England and its people, whether Jutes or Saxons, should be called English.
Veniunt Wintoniam clerus et populus et assensu omnium partium coronatus est Egbirtus in regem totius Britannie. Et dixit illa die rex Egbirtus ut insula in posterum uocaretur Anglia, et qui Iuti uel Saxones dicebantur, omnes communi nomine indifferenter [f. 12r] Angli vocarentur.
If true, this would be the earliest example of an English king calling his united kingdom ‘England’. Beech’s article assesses the reliability of this account, written some three and a half centuries after the event. He compares the annals with earlier accounts of Egbert’s reign, including that given in another Parker Library manuscript, the ‘A’ text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (CCCC MS 173), the earliest sections of which were also written at Winchester.
The full article is available on the History Today website.