Annales Rerum Gestarum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha, by William Camden
Annales Rerum Gestarum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha
By William Camden
1. When in 1597 Lord Burghley suggested to William Camden [1551 – 1623], the newly-appointed Clarencieux King of Arms, that he write a history of the reign of Elizabeth, and gave him access to his own personal records and also to the state papers of the government, one might have predicted that this former schoolmaster, distinguished for his antiquarian researches, resulting most memorably in his Britannia, might at best have produced some kind of documentary pastiche. Antiquarianism, after all, does not rise to the level of true history, because it is not interpretative and does not require a historian’s judgement. Yet, although it is true that Camden tells considerably more about pedigrees, ranks, honors, and privileges than at least a modern reader cares to learn about, in his Annales Rerum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha he produced a monument of historiography. Certainly, because of the enormous richness of the sources on which it is based, and also because of its intrinsic excellence, it has provided a solid foundation for all the histories of Elizabeth’s reign written subsequently, and it is regularly consulted by modern historians. Despite this, no Latin text has been issued since 1717, and the most recent complete English translation was printed in 1685 (although Wallace T. MacCaffrey’s drastically abridged one was published in 1970). NOTE 1 Nor, save for the editor’s Introduction to the 1970 abbreviation, has Camden’s Annales been an object of much study by modern scholarship. My purpose here, therefore, is to produce sound and readily accessible texts of this important work in its entirety, both in the original Latin and in a nearly contemporary English translation.
2. Some day, one hopes, the Annales will acquire a detailed commentary, and no doubt one of the major tasks for an annotator will be to identify Camden’s sources. Besides Burghley’s personal records and governmental archives, he informs us that he had access the important collection of historical and political manuscripts assembled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton [1571 – 1631]. In his initial address To the Reader he conveys some idea of the kinds of material he has examined: charters, letters patent, letters, minutes of the Privy Council, instructions to ambassadors, Acts of Parliament, items of legislation, parliamentary diaries, and royal edicts and proclamations, and this list is not complete (it omits, for example, diplomatic treaties and records of trials). And he no doubt drew on other sources as well. It is patent, for example, that when he writes of overseas expeditions, he gives us abridged Latin translations of accounts published in Richard Haklyut’s The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques and discoveries of the English nation. Then too, some of what he writes (for instance in his narratives of the trials of the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Essex) are personal accounts of events the historian himself witnessed. In his Address to the Reader Camden states that he will eschew the custom of ancient historians of placing invented speeches in the mouths of his characters. In their place, he substitutes liberal quotation of source-documents, frequently allowing his characters to speak in their own words.
3. But, of course, richness of source material does not guarantee a good history; sound judgment in selection, arrangement, and evaluation are requisite. Since Camden’s qualities as a historian have been evaluated at length by MacCaffrey, the reader may be referred to that discussion, and I shall limit myself to a few remarks meant as a corrective to MacCaffrey’s appraisal, and then turn to an appraisal of the Annales was a work of literature. Briefly, then, despite the historian’s obligatory initial promise to write sine ira et studio, Camden is very much a loyalist, in terms of both religion and politics, although he was not so fanatic that he could not write approvingly of individual Catholics when they deserved it (most notably, perhaps, in his obituary of the theologian Thomas Stapleton at 1598.22). In general, Elizabeth is presented as virtuous, wise, and benevolent, yet this portrait of the Queen rarely lapses into uncritical flattery. Perhaps the only point where this can be said to occur is at 1588.26, where she is absurdly given credit for the idea of sending in fireboats against the Armada ships harbored at Calais, which uncomfortably reminds one of Comrade Stalin taking personal credit for some victory by the Red Army. In fact, if obsequiousness undermines historical judgement, this involves James, not Elizabeth, and one might fairly think that desire to maintain favor with the King induced him to paint an unnaturally roseate portrait of his mother Mary Queen of Scots (and even more so of his father Lord Darnley). And indeed, he is carried so far by this prejudice in writing of Elizabeth in her dealings with Mary and James he presents an unfriendly characterization of the Queen strikingly at variance with his overall favorable appraisal. But more about this in a later context.
4. MacCaffrey (pp. xxixf.) has harsh things to say about Camden’s selection of the annalistic format, concluding:
Camden…falls back on the strategy of discontinuous narrative; each annal contains another fragment of narrative history, its length arbitrarily determined by the calendar. The reader’s attention is distracted by the interruption of the narrative and his understanding of the significance of events is blurred by the lack of focus.
Then why did he adopt this awkward format? Partly, no doubt, as a matter of pure practicality: one imagines that sorting his source-material on a year-by-year basis was necessary to control and make sense of the massive amount of documentary evidence at his disposal. Then too, because most previous English histories were annalistic. But the choice of the annalistic format was primarily an artistic decision, made out of a desire to imitate the great imperial Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus (as Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, for example, already had in his 1575 account of the War of Grenada). This decision is best understood when it is seen against the background of contemporary literary developments. At the end of the sixteenth century there arose the so-called Anti-Ciceronian movement, in which Latin writers of the Silver Age came to replace Golden Age ones as objects of study and models for imitation. It should be understood that, although this movement is usually discussed primarly as a stylistic trend, NOTE 3 since it involved imitation of new classical models, it also led to new directions in genre and content. Thus, for example, there arose a vogue for imitating Martial’s short, barbed epigrams, by such vernacular writers as Sir John Harington, and such Anglo-Latin ones as Thomas Campion, Charles Fitzgeoffrey, and John Owen. One sees a marked upsurge of interest in Seneca’s prose works, very instrumental in the development of the essay as a literary form. Then too, there was something of a vogue for Tacitus. This originated on the Continent with Tacitus’ great advocate Justus Lipsius [1547 – 1606]. In the seventeenth century, it has been pointed out (Croll p. 194), Tacitus was greatly admired “because of his mastery of statecraft and court wisdom, his poignant significance of utterance, his moral sententiousness, and his individualism.” More locally, Tacitus had achieved enhanced visibility in England thanks in large part to the work of Sir Henry Savile, who in 1591 issued his The Ende of Nero and Beginning of Galba. Fower Bookes of the Histories, a work popular enough to require reprinting in 1598, 1604, 1612, and 1639. Increased interest in Tacitus can also be seen from the fact that playwrights began to turn to the historian as a source for plots. Besides, of course, Jonson’s Sejanus his Fall, one can mention such other Tacitus-based plays as Matthew Gwinne’s 1603 Nero. In his initial introduction To the Reader, Camden repeatedly invokes Tacitus, both by name and by the insertion of quotations from his Annales. Tacitus (rather than Livy, or even Thucydides) is cited as a classical precedent for use of an annalistic structure. But this scarcely exhausts Camden’s indebtedness to his Roman model. Many of the elements in his Annales are frankly imitative of Tacitus. In the following paragraphs I shall enumerate some of the more important.
5. One such feature is the use of mordant maxims, epigrams, and other forms of generalizing observations. It is to such, one presumes, that Camden refers in his address To the Reader, when he writes Sententiolas rarius adspersi, nec observationibus illis, quas Graeci epitaseis apposite vocant, narrationes exornavi, dum occulte animum erudire satego. [“Short Sentences I have seldome interlaced, nor adorned my discourses with those observations which the Grecians aptly term epitasais, whilest I have laboured privily to instruct the minde.”] Yet from time to time he shows himself quite capable of manufacturing sententiolae in the Tacitean manner. I cite a few: Nec certe homines plerique omnes, quicquid prae se ferunt, plus in publicis sentiunt, quam quantum ad res privatas pertineat. [“And certainely the most sort of men, whatsoever they pretend, have no more feeling in publicke matters then concerneth their owne private.”] (1565.11); sed quis calamitosis gratus repertus? [“but who hath ever beene found thankfull to men in calamity?”] (1572.33); Veruntamen hi libri (insito humanae curiositatis vitio) quia prohibiti, lectitati; donec (quod fieri assolet) sperti exoluerint. [“Neverthelesse these books (through the naturall curiosity of men) because they were prohibited were often red, untill (as many times commeth to passe), being contemned they grew out of request.”] (1573.3); Haec nobilissimi viri mors veneni suspicione non caruit apud vulgus (qui semper quos charos habent, veneno extinctos suspicantur) [“This death of so noble a man was not without suspicion of poyson amongst the vulgar sort (who alwayes suspect them to be poysoned whom they hold deere)”] (1576.8); Sed dissidentes in religione animi et probitatis et veritatis lumini nimio plus utrinque officunt, et profugos ex odio et obtrectandi studio multa comminisci quis ignorat? [“But mindes differing in religion doe too much obscure the light of honesty and truth on both sides, and who knoweth not that fugitives doe devise many things out of hatred, and a desire to slander and backbite?”] (1578.4); rarus enim inter magnos duces amor [“for love is rare among great Captaines”] (1580.33); and Sed scelus semel conceptum etiam perspicassimis animi aciem perstringit. [“But a wicked deede once conceived doth many times dull the sharpest witts.”] (1585.3).
6. Stylistically akin to these sententiolae are brief pithy character appraisals, sometimes offered in the context of a necrology, also very much in the Tacitean manner. A few examples may be quoted by way of illustration. Henry VIII — Princeps magnanimus, in cuius maximo ingenio inerant, confuso quodam temperamento, virtutes magnae et vitia non minora. [“A magnanimous Prince, in whose great wit were confusedly tempered great vertues, and no less vices.”] (Apparatus 7); the Earl of Morton — Mortonius accendendis offensionibus artifex [“Morton, being a man skilled in kindling of displeasures”] (1567.6); the Earl of Bothwell — Bothwellius homo nequam, ambitione obcoecatus, et inde ad audendum proiectus [“Bothwell being a wicked-minded man, blinded with ambition, and thereby desperately hardy to attempt”] (1567.9); Don Juan of Austria — stolidam ambitionem cum vita exuit [“ (he) resigned his fond ambition, together with his life”] (1578.5); and the Irish rebel James Fitzmorris — Ille…cui nulla nisi in turbis quies [“This man…who had no rest but in troubles”] (1579.9). Some lengthier character appraisals provided in obituaries also have a distinctly Tacitean flavor: as examples one may cite those of the Earl of Moray (1570.3), Nicholas Throckmorton (1570.25), and the Earl of Leicester (1588.37).
7. Another characteristic feature of Tacitus is an attempt to penetrate the hidden motives of his characters. His frequent tactic for doing this is to cite the ostensible reason for an action, and then indicate other possible motives, attributed to anonymous contemporary observers or reported as rumors, in such a way that the reader is given a choice between a creditable or at least innocent motive and one or more that are more selfish, shabby, or sinister, thus allowing the reader to select, if he wishes, an interpretatio prava of the deed in question. Or the historian may simply suggest an interpretatio prava on his own authority. At a number of points Camden employs these techniques. A few illustrative examples may be cited. The first involves the wooing of the princess Elizabeth by Henri II of France (Apparatus 13): Interea Henricus II rex Galliarum clandestinis literis amore plenissimis recreat, multa et magna pollicitus in Galliam evocat; an ex amore, aut dolo ut maius periculum crearet, Scotorumque reginae nurui destinatae viam ad Angliae coronam post Mariam muniret, non dixero. [“In the meane while Henry the second King of France, by secret letters most full of love, comforteth her, and promising her many and great matters, allureth her into France, whether out of love I will not say, or cunning intent to worke her greater perill, and make way for the Queene of Scots (who was appointed to be his daughter in law) to the Crowne of England after Queen Mary.”] A second touches on Elizabeth’s reasons for suspending an investigation into the allegations leveled against Mary Queene of Scots by her Scottish enemies (1568.17): regarding these charges,
Elizabetha vix fidem adhibuit licet muliebris aemulatio (quae illum sexum tranverssisimum agit) intercesserit; satisque habuit quod ex his accusationibus aliquid probri Scotorum reginae adhaeresceret
[“Queene Elizabeth scarcely gave credit to them, though there were betweene them a womanish emulation, wherewith that sexe is much transported; and she held it sufficient that by meanes of these accusations some scandall would sticke upon the Queene of Scots.”]
In another, Camden diagnosed the inner motivation of Henri III’s policy towards the Protestants on the eve of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1572.27):
In Gallia protestantibus blanda hoc tempore illuxit serenitas, animusque Caroli regis in bellum Belgicum, quasi unicum belli intestini remedium, ut prae se tulit, totus conversus erat, et hoc quaesito colore, cum Germaniae principibus et Angliae regina in argumentum propensae suae erga protestantes (quos tamen occulte exitio destinarat) benevolentiae se velle foedus inire simulavit.
[“In France at this time the Protestants had flattering faire Weather, and King Charles his minde was wholly bent (as he pretended) uppon the Low-Country Warre, as the onely remedy for civill Warre at home, and under this colour he dissembled that hee would enter into Confederacy with the Princes of Germany and the Queene of England, in testimony of his kinde inclination towards the Protestants, whom notwithstanding hee had privily appointed to the slaughter.”]
And in yet one more, our historian supplies a range of possible motives for Sir John Norris to have unnecessarily protracted the war in Ireland (1595.25 — “Tir-Oen” is Tyrone):
Norrisius cum iusto exercitu in Ultonia mansit, nec quicquam expectatione dignum gessit; sive ex aemulatione in proregem (quae ex aula insigni simulatione perniciose alebatur) dum hic parem, ille superiorem non ferret, sive ex militarium virorum artibus quibus bellum trahi placet, quandoquidem haud ulterius aestimantur quam dum sunt usui, sive ex favore quo tantum in Tir-Oenium ille propendit quantum prorex in odium.
[“Norris stayed with a strong Army in Ulster, and did nothing answerable to the expectation raised of him, either out of emulation against the Lord Deputy (which was perniciously cherished from the Chourt with egregious dissimulation), while the one could not brooke an equall, the other a superiour; or out of the cunning of military men, who are pleased that warre be drawne out at length, knowing they are no longer esteemed then they are of use, or else out of his favourable inclination to Tir-Oen, which was no lesse then was the hatred of the Lord Deputy against him.”]
8. If the characters in Camden’s history sometimes according to hidden motives, the same is at least occasionally true of the Queen herself, as we have just seen. Tacitus (Annales II.xxxvi) wrote that there are such things as arcana imperii, secret imperial motives and intentions impenetrable to the historian, and at several points Camden acknowledges that similar things existed in the case of Elizabeth. Into these, like Tacitus, he forbears to inquire. In the initial address To the Reader, he writes, adding a significant quotation from his Roman predecessor:
Manifesta non reticui, dubia mollius sum interpretatus, occultiora non indagavi. “Abditos principum sensus (inquit magnus ille historiarum antesignanus) et si quod occultius parant, exquirere illicitum; anceps nec ideo assequare. Atque cum Halycarnassaeo curiosulis succenseo, qui plura quam legibus permissum, quaerere, aut cognoscere volunt.
[“Things most secret I have not pryed into. ‘The hidden meanings of Princes’ (saith that great Ringleader or Antesignane of Histories), and if they worke any thing more secretly, to search them out, it is unlawfull; it is doubtfull and dangerous: pursue not therefore the search therof.’ And with Halycarnasseus, I am angry with those curious inquisitive people, which will seeke and know more then by the lawes is permitted.”]
This sentiment is repeated several times, for instance at 1568.7, abditos enim principum sensus quis assequatur? et prudentes tacito sinu cogitationes coercent. [“For who can dive into the secret meanings of Princes? And wise man doe keepe their thoughts locked up within the clozet of their brests.”] And at 1579.3, when he again refuses to scrutinize Elizabeth’s motives, he is moved to exclaim arcana principum sit labyrinthus inextricabilis [“the secrets of Princes are an inextricable labyrinth”]. We can observe her actions, and sometimes her calculated inactivity, but often we cannot be quite sure what inner calculations transpire in her mind. And there are times when the secret motives of Elizabeth herself are liable to an interpretatio prava.
9. For, although in all other respects Elizabeth may be portrayed as a paragon of all the virtues, in her relations with Mary Queen of Scots and her son James VI this is far from the case. An old idea that Camden rewrote the Annales to make it more sympathetic to Mary and James has long since been exploded: NOTE 2 his bias towards the monarch currently occupying the throne, and also towards his mother, is too deeply woven into the fabric of his entire history to have been added as an afterthought. Camden’s portrait of Mary is very flattering, and her massive lack of judgment (reflected most memorably in her marriage to Bothwell and her cooperation with the Babington conspirators) is glossed over. Indeed, Camden’s partiality to James and his parents goes so far that at 1565.1 he describes the King’s father, Lord Darnley, as iuvenis forma imperio dignissima, aptissima membrorum compositione, ingenio mitissimo, et moribus suavissimisa [“a young Gentleman of a beauty most worthy of a Crowne, of very goodly personage, a most milde disposition, and sweetest manners”], a character-appraisal that it cannot help eliciting a grin from the reader better informed concerning the actual facts. Contrariwise, in her dealings with Mary and James, Elizabeth is constantly represented as bullying, mendacious, and unreliable. This portrayal attains its height in connection with the publication of Mary’s death sentence at 1586.86, when Camden writes:
…mense Decembre publica praeconis voce per urbem Londinum praetore, senatu, et selectissimis civibus praesentibus, posteaque per reliquum regnum promulgatur. In programmate regina promulgationem hanc non sine summa animi anxietate, ex quadam necessitate et vehementissimis ordinum regni obtestationibus extortam fuisse serio protestata est, etsi erant qui hoc ex arte muliebri existimarunt, quae quod percupiunt, semper malint coactae videri.
[“…it was publiquely proclaimed all over the City of London, the Lord Maior, the Aldermen and principall officers and Citizens being present and afterward throughout the whole realme. In the proclamation the Queene seriously protested that this publication was extorted from her not without exceeding griefe of minde, out of a certeine necessitie, and the most vehement prayers and obtestations of the Estates of the realme, though there were which thought this to proceede of womens cunning, who though they much desire a thing, will alwayes seeme rather to be constrained unto it.”]
This attribution of a interpretatio prava to anonymous observers is thoroughly Tacitean. Likewise, in his chapter on 1587 Camden more than hints at the extreme cynicism of Elizabeth’s attempt to shift the blame for Mary’s actual execution onto a relatively minor court functionary. His conclusion (1587.27):
Ita Davisonus, vir ingenue bonus, in auleis artibus minus versatus, in scenam aulicam ex composito, ut plerique eximistimaverunt, inductus, ut huic personae in ista tragaedia tantisper serviret, detracta mox persona, quasi extremo actu defecisset, e scaena extrusus, et non sine multorum commiseratione in carcere diu conclusus.
[“Thus was Davison, a man ingenuously good and simply practised in Court artes, brought upon the Court stage, of purpose (as most men thought) to act for a time this person in this tragedy; and soone after, this person being taken away, as if hee had failed in the last acte, hee was thrust downe from the stage and, not without pitty of many, shutt up a long time in prison.”]
10. In all matters not pertaining to Scotland, Elizabeth is represented as the very embodiment of an ideal sovereign. Still — as if the Queen bore no moral or operational responsibility for the behavior of the courtiers that surrounded her — Camden sometimes manages to make the world of English high politics and the royal Court seem as dark and sinister as their Roman equivalents in the pages of Tacitus. The Court is populated by jealous and vindictive strivers, and existence in their ambit can be no less perilous than was the imperial court of the Caesars. The most frightening examples of the destructive power of courtiers involved the downfalls of Lord Dacre (admittedly under Henry VIII), described at 1594.25, and John Perot, narrated in a passage beginning at 1592.4. The slippery nature of existence at Court, where royal favor can be bestowed and withdrawn with seeming caprice, is vividly described in a passage at 1600.25:
Praetera pro prudentia intelligere res in aula non uno eodemque axe diu rotari; periodos esse odii, amoris, suspicionis, severitatis, et clementiae, etsi nobis ignotas. Neminem nosse an cras amore vel odio dignus habeatur.
[“Besides, in their wisedome they understood that the affaires in Court were not long wheeled bout one Axell-tree; that there are periods of hatred, love, suspition, and clemency, though to us unknowne. That no man knoweth whether to morrow hee may be thought worthy of love or hatred.”]
11. One individual surpasses all others in maliciously adroit exercise of the courtier’s arts: (1588.37) aulicus habebatur omnibus numeris absolutus, lautus et largus, viris militaribus et studiosis beneficus, tempori et suo commodo inservire gnarus, ingenio obsequioso, in aemulos insidioso [“Hee was esteemed a most accomplished Courtiour, neate, free and bountifull to Martiall men and Students, skilfull to serve the time and his owne commodity; of an obsequious disposition, guilefull towards his adversaries”]. This is Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who is consistently portrayed as the evil genius of Elizabeth’s Court. The power of his sinister influence over the Queen so baffled Camden that in two passages he felt severely tempted to fall back on an astrological explanation (1560.10, 1588.37). Camden gives a number of descriptions of his malevolence towards people whom he perceived as rivals or threats to his unbounded ambitions. One example may serve to illustrate his proficiency at working harm, his scheme to encompass the destruction of Walter Devereaux, first Earl of Essex (1576.8):
Etenim postquam laudabili in Hibernia instituto desistere adactus fuerit, patrimonio admodum imminuto, in Angliam reversus aperte Leicestrio minaretur, quem iniuriarum suspectum habuit; aulicis eiusdem artibus qui ab illo timuit, et peculiari aulae mysterio homines per honores feriendi et evertendi, in Hiberniam rursus cum inani comitis marescalli Hiberniae titulo ablegatus erat. Ubi maerore contabescens ex dysenteria cum gravissimis tormentibus animam Christo pie reddidit.
[“For after he was constrained to give over his laudable enterprize in Ireland, he returned into England, having much wasted his patrimonie, where openly threatning Leicester, whom he suspected to have done him injuries, he was by his cunning Court tricks, who stood in feare of him, and by a peculiar mysterie of the Court, to strike and overthrow men by honours, sent backe againe into Ireland with the vaine Title of Earle Marshall of Ireland. Where pining away with griefe and sorrow, he piously rendred his soule to Christ.”]
Another example of Leicester’s agility at exercising the courtier’s arts to deflect threats to himself and turn them back on his opponents occurred when Lord Buckhurst was sent to Holland to investigate allegations of his fiscal mismanagement and military incompetence (1587.38):
Illa ad rem examinandam et componendam, et animos de pace cum Hispano tentandos, Thomam Sackvillum baronem Buckhurstum, in sanctius consilium Leicestrio absente nuper adscitum, Norrisium, et Bartholomaeum Clercum mittit, qui in haec fideliter incubuerunt. Verum cum officiosa Buckhursti sedulitas Leicestrio insidiosa videretur, eius ira, et firmata apud reginam gratia ita valuerunt, ut Buckhurstus reversus plures menses domi se continere iuberetur.
[“The Queene, for the examining and compounding of the matter, and to feele their minds touching a peace with the Spanyard, sent Thomas Sackvill Lord Buckhurst (lately made one of the Privy Councell in Leicesters absence), Norris, and Bartholomew Clerk, who laboured these matters. But whereas Buckhursts officious diligence seemed to tend to the intrapping of Leicester, Leicesters displeasure against him, and setled favour with the Queene, prevailed so farre that Buckhurst at his returne was commanded to keep his house the space of many months.”]
In the pages of Camden’s Annales, Leicester’s villainy twice leads him to recommend making an abrupt ending to the thorny problems posed by Mary Queen of Scots, by the simple device of murdering her (1584.19, 1586.45). In the former of these passages, Camden passes on a rumor that his motive was to disrupt the order of succession (qui credebatur de praevertenda legitima successione cogitare). In whose favor? We are not told he himself was so ambitious as to aim at the throne of England, but in view of the absolute authority he subsequently arrogated for himself as Captain General of Holland, that so agitated Elizabeth (1586.1 et seqq.), and of the the near-absolute power he came within an ace of achieving in England on the eve of his death (1588.37), it is not impossible to guess that such is supposed to have been his inner purpose. And Camden is not behindhand in passing on rumors that Leicester was actually a murderer, perhaps repeatedly (1576.8). No doubt Camden genuinely loathed Leicester (although his attitude towards the second Earl of Essex is remarkably positive, albeit in many ways Leicester and Essex were considerably more alike than he cared to acknowledge). But at the same time one cannot help notice that his portrayal of Leicester has a certain literary value: it provides the Annales with an arch-villain comparable to Tacitus’ Tiberius.
12. Like Tacitus, Camden was very ready to record rumors, or otherwise insinuate that there may be more to a story than he is telling. A fine example of rumor-mongering occurs in connection with the death of the Earl of Arundel in the Tower, officially ruled a suicide (1585.10):
Certe boni quamplurimi tum quod natura nobilitati faveant, tum quod praeclaram fortitudinis laudem retulisset, tantum virum tam misera et miseranda morte periisse indoluerunt. Quae suspicaces profugi de Ballivo quondam ex Hattoni famulis, qui paulo ante comiti custos adhibitus, missitarunt ut parum compertum omitto, nec ex vanis auditionibus aliquid intexere visum est.
[“What the suspicious fugitives muttered of one Bailife that was one of Hatton’s men, and was a litle before appoynted to be the Earle’s keeper, I omitt as being a matter altogether unknowne unto me, and I think it not meete to insert any thing upon vaine heere-saies.”]
And again, in narrating the death of the first Earl of Essex, immediately after informing us that the Earl’s attending physicians excluded the possibility of poisoning, Camden cannot forbear to supply contradictory information in the next breath (1576.8):
Medicis autem male inter se convenisse, nihil tamen contra vim veneni adhibuisse, pocillatorem vero de * * * in aqua intincto, vinoque admisto, falso fuisse insimulatum. Vidimus tamen, hominem tanquam venenarium digito publice demonstrari. Suspicionem auxit, quod Leicestrius mox Douglasiam Shefeldiam (amasiam an uxorem non dixero) pecunia et ingentibus promissis amoverit, e qua filium procreaverat, et amorem in Laetitiam Essexiae viduam apertius prae se tulerit.
[“…but the Phisitians agreed not well together, yet applyed they nothing against the force of poyson; but that he who waited on his Cup was falsely accused of infusing * * * in water, and mingled it with his wine. Yet have we seene the man openly pointed at for a poysoner. This increased the suspition that Leicester presently with mony and great promises put away Douglasse Shefeld (whether his Paramour, or his wife I cannot say) on whom hee had begotten a Sonne, and now openly showed love to Letice Essex his Widow.”]
Likewise, Camden insinuates that Mary Queen of Scots’ secretaries, whose testimony was very instrumental in her condemnation, may have been bribed into giving false evidence (1586.43): An hi pretio hand ad rem adducti fuerint, non dixero. [“Whether these Secretaries were drawne hereunto by corruption, I cannot say.”] Furthermore, we have already seen that Camden noted that “This death of so noble a man was not without suspicion of poyson amongst the vulgar sort (who alwayes suspect them to be poysoned whom they hold deere).” This perception scarcely inhibited him from recording such rumors in association with the demises of a number of individuals: Edward VI (Apparatus 8), Nicholas Throckmorton (1570.25), William Maitland Lord Lidington (1573.13 and 1581.11), Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex (1576.8), Leicester’s mistress, or possibly even secret wife, Douglas Shefield (ib.), the Earl of Athol (1578.12), and Ferdinand Stanley, Earl of Derby (1594.24).
13. One must admit that Camden made no attempt to imitate the characteristically obscure, contorted, and enigmatic style of Tacitus’ Annales. He did not fall into the trap of imitating Tacitus’ idiosyncracies as a writer. Nevertheless, although the style he himself affects is by comparison pellucid and easy, he manages to appropriate the essence of Tacitus’ technique as a historian. Why this sustained and programmatic imitatio? Partially, as indicated above, because that Roman model was currently fashionable. But surely there is a deeper reason having to do with Camden’s concept of the historian’s calling. We have recently been reminded that: NOTE 4
…Tacitus conceives that history should be moralistic and instructive (Annales 3.65.1). Therefore he looks for examples of good or bad conduct, regularly praises and censures, and quite seriously attempts to probe the psychology of historical characters and discover their motives. Unfortunately, the thoughts of persons long since dead are rarely recoverable, and Tacitus imputes motives for which no evidence can exist, often very discreditable ones…Tacitus was more than [an entertaining rhetorician] because he also attempted to explain and interpret the events he narrates, and did not invariably accept easy and plausible explanations.
Camden too was of the opinion that the historian’s task is not only to record events but to understand their causes. This is why he very frequently records a debate occurring before some important step is taken, setting out the pros and cons at considerable length, so that the reader can gain some insight into the decision-making process. But his problem vis-a-vis Elizabeth and her Privy Council was not substantially different from Tacitus’ in trying to understand the thinking of emperors and governing circles of imperial Rome: in both cases, such decisions were made by powerful individuals or small groups who were not always interested in candidly explaining their motives to their contemporaries, or in recording them for posterity. To the outsider, therefore, their motivation could easily look mysterious, and sometimes sinister. It is therefore natural and understandable that Camden should be have been attracted to, and learned much from, a Roman historian who was no less interested than he himself in penetrating the veils of obscurity and understanding the causes standing behind history’s surface events, and the inner motivations of its actors. Tacitus furnished him with the optimum tools for doing this.
14. The Annales were written and published in two parts. The first, containing introductory material and chapters for the years 1558 – 1588, was first printed at London, by S. Waterson, in 1615, and was reprinted at Frankfurt in the following year. Although Camden completed the second part, covering the years 1589 – 1603, in 1617, for some reason, perhaps having to do with a reluctance to issue the rest because the first part had been subjected to some unfriendly criticism, this part was only published posthumously. In 1625, thanks to the efforts of Camden’s friend Pierre Dupuy, the complete Annales were printed at Leiden, and two years later Waterson brought out a companion volume containing the second part only. Further seventeenth century reprintings appeared in 1629 (London), 1634 (London), 1639 (Leiden), and 1677 (Amsterdam). The most recent edition is Hearne’s 1717 Oxford one, which represented a distinct improvement on its predecessors because it was produced with reference to a copy of the editio princeps (of the first part only) hand-corrected by the author, and also by Camden’s partially-preserved early drafts and fair-copy manuscripts, which again pertain only to the first part (British Library, Cottonian ms. Faustina F. i – x).
15. The Annales have been the subject of no less than five whole or partial translations. The earliest was P. de Bellegent’s translation of the first part only. A. Darcie produced an English translation of this French version under the (1625, reprinted 1629 and 1634), and, as a supplement to Darcie’s version, Thomas Browne put out a translation of the second part in 1629. The first translation of the complete Annales, made directly from Camden’s Latin, was published in 1630 by Richard Norton (reprinted later the same year, issued in an expanded “third edition” in 1635). Finally, a new anonymous translation appeared in 1675 (reprinted 1688). The only modern version of Camden’s Annales is an abridged version of this last translation, edited by Wallace T. MacCaffrey. This volume contains Camden’s initial address To the Reader and chapters for the years 1558 – 1560, 1567 – 1569, and 1581 – 1588, i. e. about a third of the whole. It is prefaced by an Editor’s Introduction, which is, as far as I am aware, the only serious modern attempt to describe and evaluate Camden’s achievement as a historian. This is very unfortunate, for because of his new approach based on steady reliance on source documents (which deserves to be called “scientific”), his Annales is an important milestone in the development of British, and possibly even of European, historiography, and is also, I believe, a literary masterpiece of the first order.
16. The present edition is based on Waterson’s two-volume London text. The reader may be surprised that the manifestly superior 1717 Hearn text was not selected. The choice was a matter of convenience: the Waterson version was readily accessible (Early English Books microfilm series, reel 1372), whereas the Hearne version was not. But the loss is not especially great, since Waterson’s text of the first part is on the whole quite good, and contains relatively few printer’s errors, which can be corrected in a very straightforward way. Being posthumous, the text of the second part is markedly inferior and requires considerably more correction, but for these chapters the Hearne version has no useful evidence to offer. I am therefore confident that a satisfactorily sound edition can be founded on the Waterson one. Altered readings are indicated in textual notes, and occasional missing words or phrases are supplied in angular brackets. Modern punctuation has been silently imposed, but Camden’s orthography has not been disturbed (hence caepit or coepit occasionally represents cepit, or vice versa). The copy of Waterson’s 1627 edition of the second part selected for reproduction in the Early English Books series contains a number of marginal corrections made by an anonymous early reader; almost all of these improvements are incorporated in this edition, with acknowledgement made in individual textual notes.
17. The English translation selected for reproduction here is that of Richard Norton, in its original, unexpanded form (a digital reproduction of the volume is available here). This decision was made, not only because part of the 1675 one has been published by MacCaffrey, but also because Norton’s contemporary English style is very much like Camden’s own, and so he manages to reproduce his “voice” in a way that could scarcely be expected from a Restoration translator. Norton’s translation requires editorial treatment no less than Camden’s original. Here too, many textual errors have been corrected, and modern punctuation has been silently imposed. Very often Norton used Arabic numerals, but failed to distinguish between cardinal and ordinal numbers; here the distinction is made. Norton also introduced his own paragraphing, which is sometimes superior to Camden’s in terms of explicating rhetorical articulation. Nevertheless, in view of the purpose to which his translation is put here, it seemed preferable to make its paragraphing conform to that of the Latin original.
18. In writing annalistic history, one must first decide when the year begins. Camden had three options, January 1, the traditional New Years Day; March 25, the beginning of the official year in the old-style calendar; and November 17, the day of Elizabeth’s accession, used for reckoning regnal years in dating official documents and registering Acts of Parliament. Since for unexplained reasons Camden elected to begin his years with January 1, he is in conformity with our modern system of identifying years, although one must bear in mind that events transpiring prior to March 25 of any given year were assigned to the previous year by Camden’s contemporaries, who used the old style calendar. Norton’s translation, however, presents greater difficulties. At the head of each chapter, the year in question is identified as THE Nth YEERE OF HER RAIGNE, in such a way that 1558 is counted as the first year, 1559 the second year, and so forth. This is accurate enough, as long as one understands it to indicate the first calendar year of her reign, but entails two problems. First, there exists the danger of confusing this manner of reckoning with the count by regnal years, since all but the last 45 days of any calendar year of Elizabeth’s reign belong to the previous regnal year: 1559, for example, was the second calendar year to see her on the throne, yet most of it fell in her first regnal year. Second, for the purpose of understanding the dates of official documents and Acts of Parliament, counting calendar years is usually misleading, as every such item originating before November 17 seems to emanate from the previous calendar year. It would seem that Norton eventually sensed these difficulties, because (like a soldier doing a little skip to get back in step with his marching mates) he concluded his second volume by identifying 1580 as the twenty-third year of Elizabeth’s reign, and commenced his third volume by also designating 1581 as her twenty-third year; in other words, in the middle of his project he tacitly shifted from calendar years to regnal years. Henceforth, therefore, each year is wrongly identified according to the reckoning of calendar years. What is a poor editor to do? One could intervene and make all the chapter headings conform to the one system or to the other, but neither choice is especially appetizing, since both contain a certain potential for manufacturing confusion. NOTE 5 It seems better to dodge the issue altogether and simply imitate Camden’s practice of heading each chapter with the unadorned calendar date.
19. My sole and very limited aim in preparing this edition has been to produce a reliable text and translation. Hence annotations are almost exclusively devoted to textual issues and (where I have been successful) the identification of Scriptural and literary quotations. A comprehensive commentary on Camden’s Annales would of course be highly desirable. But in view of the author’s wide-ranging interests and the richness of his sources, one imagines that the production of such a commentary would occupy the attention of a committee of specialist-historians for no small time. Comprehensive annotation, therefore, is best reserved for the future. There is no harm, however, in adding Sir Francis Bacon’s notes preserved in the British Library Cottonian ms. Faustina F.viii.ix, which were printed in Vol VI of The Works of Francis Bacon (ex. James Spedding et al., London, 1878, pp. 349 – 63, which commence with the year 1589; the English translations supplied are taken from that volume.
NOTE 1 Wallace T. MacCaffrey under the title The History of the Most Renowned and Victorious Princess Elizabeth, Late Queen of England (Chicago, 1970).
NOTE 2 By Edward Maunde Thompson, in his Dictionary of National Biography article on Camden. Thompson provides a detailed account of the writing of the Annales.
NOTE 3 For English literature see, most notably “Attic” and Baroque Prose Style. The Anti-Ciceronian Movement. Essays by Morris W. Croll (edited by J. Max Patrick and Robert O. Evans, with John M. Wallace, Princeton, 1966), and George Williamson,The Senecan Amble; A Study in Prose Form from Bacon to Collier (Chicago, 1966). It will be observed that these two studies deal with the so-called “anti-Ciceronian” movement only insofar as at affected style. This approach is incredibly poverty-stricken, since the movement also involved turning to Silver Age writers both as objects of study, models for imitation, play-source, and so forth. A decently comprehensive study of how the movement impinged on English literature, written both in Latin and in the vernacular, remains to be written
NOTE 4 F. R. D. Goodyear, The Cambridge History of Classical Literature II.649.
NOTE 5 The sharp-eyed reader may notice that in two official documents emanating from the year 1586 quoted at 1586.45 and 1586.74, that year is identified as the twenty-seventh of Elizabeth’s reign, but in her speech at 1586.76 the Queen calls it her twenty-eighth, either because the speech was delivered after November 17, or because she is thinking in terms of calendar rather than regnal years. This may, perhaps, be taken as a sign of the mischievous ambiguity created by the use of these competing systems.
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