Imagining History: Perspectives on late medieval vernacular historiography

Imagining History: Perspectives on late medieval vernacular historiography image

The first large-scale collaborative investigation of the manuscripts of the Middle English Prose Brut chronicle, arguably the most prolificly disemminated secular text of the English Middle Ages.


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The Middle English Prose Brut tells the history of Britain from its mythical foundation by the Trojan Prince Brutus. The "English Brut tradition" is central to our understanding of the historical imagination of the later medieval and early modern periods. The texts of the Brut tradition survive in more medieval and post-medieval manuscripts and early printed editions than almost any other English vernacular work produced as either verse or prose.

A general objective of the 'Imagining History' project is to establish a model of 'cultural mapping' that has both pragmatic and methodological aims: pragmatically it allows for contextualisation of literary works through manuscript geography, with explicit reference to the linguistic and political situatedness of such texts in specific regional contexts.


This resource is of interest to scholars of medieval historiography and vernacular literature.

The main database consists of short descriptions of the manuscripts of the ME Prose Brut. The descriptions include codicological information. Some descriptions link to more detailed, discursive descriptions in a Project Wiki. There is basic keyword searching for the database of descriptions and the wiki.

Special Characters

The resource includes the searchable special character thorn (รพ).

About the project

The project was led by Professor John Thompson and Stephen Kelly and received funding from the Arts and Humanities Resaerch Council. It is based at Queens University Belfast.


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Source Types

  • Literary Manuscripts


  • Manuscript Descriptions


  • medieval historiography
  • regional cultures


  • English


  • Free

Time Period



Queens University Belfast

Cite this page:

"Imagining History" Manuscripts Online (, version 1.0, 5 December 2023),