SSL Certificate

Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

Victoria University in the University of Toronto

Henry Savile’s Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam (London, 1596)

RERVM ANGLICARVM SCRIPTORES POST BEDAM PRAECIPVI, EX VETVSTISSIMIS CODICIBVS MANVSCRIPTIS NVNC PRIMVM IN LVCEM EDITI. WILLIELMI Monachi Malmesburiensis de gestis regum Anglorum lib. V. Eiusdem Historiæ Nouellæ lib. II. Eiusdem de gestis Pontificum Angl. Lib. IIII. HENRICI Archidiaconi Huntidoniensis Historiarum lib. VIII. ROGERI HOVEDENI Annalium pars prior & posterior. Chronicorum ETHELWERDI lib. IIII. INGVLPHI Abbatis Croylandensis historiarum lib. I. Adiecta ad finem CHRONOLOGIA. LONDINI, Excudebant G. BISHOP, R. NVBERIE, & R. BARKER Typographi Regii Deputati. Anno ab incarnatione, [1596].

Translation: The principal writers on English affairs after Bede, edited from the most ancient manuscript codices and now appearing for the first time. William of Malmesbury, On the Deeds of the English Kings, in five books; by the same author, The New History, in two books; by the same author, On the Deeds of the English Bishops, in four books; Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon, Histories, in eight books; Roger of Howden, Annals, the first and second parts; The Chronicles of Ethelwerd, in four books; Ingulf, Abbott of Crowland, Histories, in one book. A chronology is appended at the end. Issued at London by G. Bishop [George Bishop], R. Nuberie [Ralph Newbery], & R. Barker [Robert Barker], printers by royal appointment. In the year since the Incarnation 1596.

STC 21783
Collation: Folio. ¶² A–R⁶ S⁸ T–Dd⁶ Ee⁴ Ff–Rrrr⁶ Ssss⁴ *⁴–**⁴ ***⁶ A²–H².
Pagination: [2], 520, [30] leaves.

Background and Content

Henry Savile was born on November 30, 1549 in Over Bradley, West Riding of Yorkshire, the son of a relatively prosperous landowner, also Henry Savile. Savile was brought up to value learning and was tutored in the classics, reading Terence, Ovid, Virgil, Horace and Cicero in his childhood before attending Oxford University. He matriculated at Brasenose College at the age of twelve, where he excelled in mathematics and astronomy. He graduated BA on January 14, 1566 and MA on May 30, 1570. By this point, he had already been elected to a fellowship at Merton College and later held a number of college offices, including second dean, principal postmaster, and third bursar. He controversially became warden of Merton in 1585 and provost of Eton in 1596, largely due to his close relationship with Elizabeth I, resulting from his appointment in 1582 as her Greek tutor.

As a scholar, Savile is best known as the translator of Tacitus and editor of John Chrysostom, though he wrote numerous theological and mathematical texts of his own. In 1604, he was knighted by King James and appointed to work on the Authorized Version of the Bible, eventually heading the “fifth company” in translating the gospels, Acts of Apostles, and Book of Revelation. Savile is also remembered as a great contributor to the Oxford libraries and as having improved both the Eton and Merton libraries. In the latter, he tripled its holdings of printed books and introduced the continental style of bookstacking (where books stand up rather than lie flat, in the usual English style); these bookshelves remain intact. Despite an initial disagreement, Savile was great friends with Thomas Bodley, who required his assistance many times in the Bodleian Library’s early days. Savile was one of the first donors to the Bodleian and ensured the completion of that library after Bodley’s death in 1613.

In 1596, Savile published Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam, a collection of English chronicles and histories after Bede. Although the work was poorly received, it contains our only text of Æthelweard’s Chronicle. The manuscript of that work was destroyed in the 1731 Cotton Library fire.

Bibliographic Description

See collation and pagination above for more detail.

The quires are generally comprised of six leaves, though some have two, four, or eight. There is one additional leaf that was added to this copy, glued at the front of the text and dating from at least 1789, which lists the contents of the book and is signed by various hands (see photos two and three in Flickr stream). The title page is signed “Sydney 1597” (see photos four and six).

Many of the leaves are mis-numbered, including: 14 for 18 (corrected in ink, late nineteenth-century, see photo seven), 106 for 107, 112–118 for 118–122, 169–173 for 170–174 (172 and 174 corrected in pencil, modern hand), 204 for 203, 232–234 for 238–240 (corrected in pencil, see photo eight), 326 for 336, 374 for 380, 458 for 459, and 469 for 470. Likewise, two of the catchwords are incorrectly printed: “occisis” (187v) for “decim” (188r) and “¶ Henricus” (281r) for “☙ Rogeri” (281v).

Signatures are mixed Roman and Arabic numerals and in roman and italic fonts, to match the preceding text. Signature “Piii” is mis-printed as “Oiii” and “Qq3” as “Q3.”

As it is common for sixteenth-century texts to have stop-press variants, there are likely several in a volume of this size. At least one is known: Biii, line 8 of this copy, DA170.R47 1596 Large cop. 2, reads “inuenum” and the CRRS’s other copy, DA170.R47 1596 Large, reads “iuuenum.”

Line numbers are printed in the inner margins of each page (see photo twelve) and notes are sometimes printed in the outer margins.

Binding and Provenance

This copy of Savile’s Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam originally belonged to Sir Robert Sidney (1563–1626), younger brother of poet Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586), father of poet Lady Mary Wroth (c.1587–1651 or 1653), and good friend to Henry Savile, with whom he travelled. Known to have been an honourable and successful courtier, Robert Sidney also had scholarly aspirations and, although he is overshadowed by his elder brother, was himself a poet. His collection of poems remains the longest autograph manuscript from an Elizabethan poet and is thus an important example of Elizabethan literary history and culture, showing an extensive process of writing and revision. Around the time Sidney acquired Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam, he began compiling commonplace books on political matters, drawing from historical episodes he organized by theme. Presumably, this copy was one source of those histories.

According to Warkentin, Black and Bowen, Rowland Whyte’s accounts, dated November 1596, indicate that Sidney paid 13s 6d “for Mr Saviles storie of England for your Lordship.” The book is also listed in the Sidney family library catalogue (c. 1665). It was later owned by Charles Ferguson (1789); Arthur Taylor (1816); E.S. Shuckburgh (1882, a classical scholar who produced an edition of An Apologie for Poetrie); The King’s School, Macclesfield (dates unknown); and, finally, Germaine Warkentin (2003, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto and former director of the CRRS), who generously donated the text to the CRRS in the fall of 2011. Prof. Warkentin has just finished editing the catalogue of the Sidney family library, together with William R. Bowen (also former director of CRRS) and Joseph L. Black. A project started in 1984, their edition will be published this year by the University of Toronto Press.

According to Unsworths Booksellers catalogue listing, the binding is seventeenth-century calf, rebacked, with an Italianate blind stamp at the centre of each cover. See pictures above for more detail.


The text illustrates marginalia from a variety of hands, ranging from Robert Sidney’s signature on the title page to twentieth-century marginal notes and corrections. Mis-numbered leafs are corrected by at least two different hands, one of which appears to be Shuckburgh’s (approximately 1882) and a modern hand.

There are two inserted, hand-written notes, between leaves 172 and 173 and leaves 432 and 433, dating from at least the nineteenth century (see photo eleven).


Croft, Pauline. “The Emergence of the King James Version of the Bible, 1611.” Theology 114 (4), 2011: 243-250.

Goulding, R.D. “Savile, Sir Henry (1549–1622).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online (ODNB). [N.B. Goulding records Savile as having published Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam in 1598 rather than 1596.]

Shephard, Robert. “Sidney, Robert (1563-1626).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB).

Warkentin, Germaine, Joseph L. Black and William R. Bowen. The Library of the Sidneys of Penshurst Place, c.1665.

The ESTC lists 76 copies of Rerum Anglicarum scriptores post Bedam (not including the CRRS’s copies or three others housed at the University of Toronto Libraries, one at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and two at Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies).

This article was prepared by Elisa Tersigni (PhD student, English and Book History & Print Culture), with many thanks to John MacCormick (PhD student, Classics) for the translation of the title, to Prof. Germaine Warkentin for her extensive notes, to Prof. Joseph L. Black for helpful suggestions, and Prof. Randall McLeod for consultation.


Comments are closed.