|Born||2 May 1551|
|Died||9 November 1623 72) (aged|
|Occupation||Antiquarian, historian, topographer|
William Camden (2 May 1551 – 9 November 1623) was an English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and herald, best known as author of Britannia, the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Annales, the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.
Camden was born in London. His father Sampson Camden was a member of The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers. He attended Christ's Hospital and St Paul's School, and in 1566 entered Oxford (Magdalen College, Broadgates Hall, and finally Christ Church). At Christ Church, he became acquainted with Philip Sidney, who encouraged Camden's antiquarian interests. He returned to London in 1571 without a degree. In 1575, he became Usher of Westminster School, a position that gave him the freedom to travel and pursue his antiquarian researches during school vacations.
In 1577, with the encouragement of Abraham Ortelius, Camden began his great work Britannia, a topographical and historical survey of all of Great Britain and Ireland. His stated intention was to "restore antiquity to Britaine, and Britain to his antiquity".The first edition, written in Latin, was published in 1586. It proved very popular, and ran through five further Latin editions, of 1587, 1590, 1594, 1600 and 1607, each greatly enlarged from its predecessor in both textual content and illustrations. The 1607 edition included for the first time a full set of English county maps, based on the surveys of Christopher Saxton and John Norden, and engraved by William Kip and William Hole (who also engraved the fine frontispiece). The first English-language edition, translated by Philemon Holland, appeared in 1610, again with some additional content supplied by Camden.
Britannia is a county-by-county description of Great Britain and Ireland. It is a work of chorography: a study that relates landscape, geography, antiquarianism, and history. Rather than write a history, Camden wanted to describe in detail the Great Britain of the present, and to show how the traces of the past could be discerned in the existing landscape. By this method, he produced the first coherent picture of Roman Britain.
He continued to collect materials and to revise and expand Britannia throughout his life. He drew on the published and unpublished work of John Leland and William Lambarde, among others, and received the assistance of a large network of correspondents with similar interests. He also travelled throughout Great Britain to view documents, sites, and artefacts for himself: he is known to have visited East Anglia in 1578, Yorkshire and Lancashire in 1582, Devon in 1589, Wales in 1590, Salisbury, Wells and Oxford in 1596, and Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall in 1599.His fieldwork and firsthand research set new standards for the time. He even learned Welsh and Old English for the task: his tutor in Old English was Laurence Nowell.
In 1593 Camden became headmaster of Westminster School. He held the post for four years, but left when he was appointed Clarenceux King of Arms. By this time, largely because of the Britannia's reputation, he was a well-known and revered figure, and the appointment was meant to free him from the labour of teaching and to facilitate his research. The College of Arms at that time was not only a centre of genealogical and heraldic study, but also a centre of antiquarian study. The appointment, however, roused the jealousy of Ralph Brooke, York Herald, who, in retaliation, published an attack on Britannia, charging Camden with inaccuracy and plagiarism. Camden successfully defended himself against the charges in subsequent editions of the work.
Britannia was recognised as an important work of Renaissance scholarship, not only in England, but across the European "Republic of Letters". Camden considered having the 1586 Britannia printed in the Low Countries, and although that did not happen, the third edition of 1590, in addition to its London printing, was also published the same year in Frankfurt, and reprinted there in 1616. In 1612 parts were condemned by the Spanish Inquisition. An abridgement was published in Amsterdam in 1617 and reprinted in 1639; and versions of the text were also included in Joan Blaeu's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (published in Amsterdam in 1645) and in Jan Janssonius's Novus Atlas (again published in Amsterdam, in 1646).
In 1597, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley suggested that Camden write a history of Queen Elizabeth's reign. The degree of Burghley's subsequent influence on the work is unclear: Camden only specifically mentions John Fortescue of Salden, Elizabeth's last Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Henry Cuffe, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex's secretary, as sources.Camden began his work in 1607. The first part (books 1–3) of the Annales rerum Anglicarum et Hibernicarum regnante Elizabetha, ad annum salutis M.D. LXXXIX, covering the reign up to 1588, appeared in 1615. The second part (book 4, covering 1589–1603) was completed in 1617, but was not published until 1625 (Leiden edition), and 1627 (London edition), following Camden's death. The first translation into English of books 1–3 appeared in 1625, done by Abraham Darcie or Darcy (active 1625). Book 4 was translated into English by Thomas Browne, canon of Windsor, in 1629.
The Annales were not written in a continuous narrative, but in the style of earlier annals, giving the events of each year in a separate entry. Sometimes criticised as being too favourably disposed towards Elizabeth and James I, the Annales are one of the great works of English historiography and had a great impact on the later image of the Elizabethan age. Hugh Trevor-Roper said about them: "It is thanks to Camden that we ascribe to Queen Elizabeth a consistent policy of via media rather than an inconsequent series of unresolved conflicts and paralysed indecisions."
Camden's Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine was a collection of themed historical essays, conceived as a more popular companion to Britannia. This was the only book Camden wrote in English, and, contrary to his own misleading description of it in the first edition (1605) as being merely the "rude rubble and out-cast rubbish" of a greater and more serious work (i.e. Britannia), manuscript evidence clearly indicates that he planned this book early on and as a quite separate project. Remaines subsequently ran into many editions. The standard modern edition, edited by R. D. Dunn, is based on the surviving manuscript material and the three editions published in Camden's lifetime (1605, 1614, and 1623).Editions published after 1623 are unreliable and contain unauthentic material, especially the bowdlerized edition of 1636 by John Philipot. Thomas Moule's edition of 1870, of which many copies survive, is based on Philipot's 1674 edition.
Camden's Remaines is often the earliest or sole usage cited for a word in the Oxford English Dictionary ; and further significant early usages (including new words and antedatings) have since been identified.Remaines also contains the first-ever alphabetical list of English proverbs, since heavily exploited by the editors of the principal modern dictionaries of proverbs (including those of Burton Stevenson (1949), M. P. Tilley (1950) and the third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, edited by F. P. Wilson (1970)). Scattered through the book are a number of additional proverbs not recorded elsewhere.
In 1600 Camden published, anonymously, Reges, reginae, nobiles et alii in ecclesia collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii sepulti, a guidebook to the many tomb monuments and epitaphs of Westminster Abbey. Although slight, this was a highly innovative work, predating John Weever's Ancient Funerall Monuments by over thirty years. It proved popular with the public, and two expanded editions appeared in 1603 and in 1606.
Among Camden's other works were the Institutio Graecae grammatices compendiaria in usum regiae scholae Westmonasteriensis (1595), a Greek grammar which remained a standard school textbook for over a century; Actio in Henricum Garnetum, Societatis Jesuiticae in Anglia superiorem (1607), a Latin translation of the trial of the Gunpowder Plotters, aimed at an international readership; an unpublished essay on printing;and a number of Latin poems.
In 1609 Camden moved to Chislehurst in Kent, now south-east London.Though often in ill health, he continued to work diligently. In 1622 he founded an endowed lectureship in history at Oxford – the first in the world – which continues to this day as the Camden Chair in Ancient History. That same year he was struck with paralysis. He died at Chislehurst on 9 November 1623, and was buried at Westminster Abbey, where his monument, incorporating a demi-figure of Camden holding a copy of the Britannia, can still be seen in the south transept ("Poets' Corner").
Camden left his books to his former pupil and friend Sir Robert Cotton, the creator of the Cotton library.His circle of friends and acquaintances included Lord Burghley, Fulke Greville, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, John Stow, John Dee, Jacques de Thou and Ben Jonson, who was Camden's student at Westminster and who dedicated an early edition of Every Man in His Humour to him.
Camden's Britannia remained a standard and highly regarded authority for many years after his death. A lightly revised edition of Holland's 1610 translation was published in 1637. A new and greatly expanded translation, edited by Edmund Gibson, was published in 1695, and was reissued in revised editions in 1722, 1753 and 1772. Yet another new and further expanded translation by Richard Gough was published in 1789, followed by a second edition in 1806.In an address given in 1986, marking the original publication's 400th anniversary, George Boon commented that the work "still fundamentally colours the way in which we, as antiquaries, look at our country".
The lectureship in history at Oxford endowed by Camden survives as the Camden Chair in Ancient History. Since 1877 it has been attached to Brasenose College, and since 1910 has been limited to Roman history.
The Camden Society, named after Camden, was a text publication society founded in 1838 to publish early historical and literary materials. In 1897 it was absorbed into the Royal Historical Society, which continues to publish texts in what are now known as the Camden Series.
The Cambridge Camden Society, which also took its name from Camden, was a learned society founded in 1839 by undergraduates at Cambridge University to promote the study of Gothic architecture. In 1845 it moved to London, where it became known as the Ecclesiological Society, and was highly influential in the development of the 19th-century Gothic revival.
After Camden's death, his former home at Chislehurst became known as Camden Place. In the 18th century, it was acquired by Sir Charles Pratt, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and later Lord Chancellor, who in 1765 was elevated to the peerage with the title Baron Camden, of Camden Place. In 1786 he was created Earl Camden, and in 1812 his son became Marquess Camden. The family owned and developed land to the north of London, and so, by this circuitous route, William Camden's name survives in the names of Camden Town and the London Borough of Camden.
John Speed was an English cartographer, chronologer and historian of Cheshire origins. The son of a citizen and Merchant Taylor in London, he rose from his family occupation to accept the task of drawing together and revising the histories, topographies and maps of the Kingdoms of Great Britain as an exposition of the union of their monarchies in the person of King James I and VI. He accomplished this with remarkable success, with the support and assistance of the leading antiquarian scholars of his generation. He drew upon and improved the shire maps of Christopher Saxton, John Norden and others, being the first to incorporate the hundred-boundaries into them, and he was the surveyor and originator of many of the town or city plans inset within them. His work helped to define early modern concepts of British national identity. His Biblical genealogies were also formally associated with the first edition of the King James Bible. He is among the most famous of English mapmakers.
Richard Gough was a prominent and influential English antiquarian. He served as director of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1771 to 1791; published a major work on English church monuments; and translated and edited a new edition of William Camden's Britannia.
John Stow was an English historian and antiquarian. He wrote a series of chronicles of English history, published from 1565 onwards under such titles as The Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles, The Chronicles of England, and The Annales of England; and also A Survey of London. A. L. Rowse has described him as "one of the best historians of that age; indefatigable in the trouble he took, thorough and conscientious, accurate – above all things devoted to truth".
Richard Knolles was an English historian and translator, known for his historical account of the Ottoman Empire, the first major description in the English language.
Polydore Vergil or Virgil, widely known as Polydore Vergil of Urbino, was an Italian humanist scholar, historian, priest and diplomat, who spent much of his life in England. He is particularly remembered for his works the Proverbiorum libellus (1498), a collection of Latin proverbs; De inventoribus rerum (1499), a history of discoveries and origins; and the Anglica Historia, an influential history of England. He has been dubbed the "Father of English History".
Philemon Holland was an English schoolmaster, physician and translator. He is known for the first English translations of several works by Livy, Pliny the Elder, and Plutarch, and also for translating William Camden's Britannia into English.
Britannia Prima or Britannia I was one of the provinces of the Diocese of "the Britains" created during the Diocletian Reforms at the end of the 3rd century. It was probably created after the defeat of the usurper Allectus by Constantius Chlorus in AD 296 and was mentioned in the c. 312 Verona List of the Roman provinces. Its position and capital remain uncertain, although it was probably located closer to Rome than Britannia II. At present, most scholars place Britannia I in Wales, Cornwall, and the lands connecting them. On the basis of a recovered inscription, its capital is now usually placed at Corinium of the Dobunni (Cirencester) but some emendations of the list of bishops attending the 315 Council of Arles would place a provincial capital in Isca (Caerleon) or Deva (Chester), which were known legionary bases.
Britannia Secunda or Britannia II was one of the provinces of the Diocese of "the Britains" created during the Diocletian Reforms at the end of the 3rd century. It was probably created after the defeat of the usurper Allectus by Constantius Chlorus in AD 296 and was mentioned in the c. 312 Verona List of the Roman provinces. Its position and capital remain uncertain, although it probably lay further from Rome than Britannia I. At present, most scholars place Britannia II in Yorkshire and northern England. If so, its capital would have been Eboracum (York).
William Lambarde was an English antiquarian, writer on legal subjects, and politician. He is particularly remembered as the author of A Perambulation of Kent (1576), the first English county history; Eirenarcha (1581), a widely read manual on the office and role of justice of the peace; and Archeion, a discourse that sought to trace the Anglo-Saxon roots of English common law, prerogative and government.
Maxima Caesariensis, also known as Britannia Maxima, was one of the provinces of the Diocese of "the Britains" created during the Diocletian Reforms at the end of the 3rd century. It was probably created after the defeat of the usurper Allectus by Constantius Chlorus in AD 296 and was mentioned in the c. 312 Verona List of the Roman provinces. Its position and capital remain uncertain, although it was probably adjacent to Flavia Caesariensis. On the basis of its governor's eventual consular rank, it is now usually considered to have consisted of Augusta or Londinium (London) and southeastern England.
Flavia Caesariensis, sometimes known as Britannia Flavia, was one of the provinces of the Diocese of "the Britains" created during the Diocletian Reforms at the end of the 3rd century. It was probably created after the defeat of the usurper Allectus by Constantius Chlorus in AD 296 and was mentioned in the c. 312 Verona List of the Roman provinces. It seems to have been named after Chlorus's family and was probably located beside Maxima Caesariensis, but their positions and capitals remain uncertain. At present, most scholars place Flavia Caesariensis in the southern Pennines, possibly reaching the Irish Sea and including the lands of the Iceni. Its capital is sometimes placed at Lindum Colonia (Lincoln).
Valentia was probably one of the Roman provinces of the Diocese of "the Britains" in late Antiquity. Its position, capital, and even existence remain a matter of scholarly debate. It was not mentioned in the Verona List compiled around AD 312 and so was probably formed out of one or more of the other provinces established during the Diocletian Reforms. Some scholars propose Valentia was a new name for the entire diocese, but the List of Offices names it as a consular-rank province along with Maxima Caesariensis and the other equestrian-ranked provinces. Present hypotheses for the placement of Valentia include Wales, with its capital at Deva (Chester); Cumbria south of Hadrian's Wall, with its capital at Luguvalium (Carlisle), Modern scholars dismiss the old idea that it was the lands between the Antonine Wall and Hadrian's Wall, possibly with a capital at Habitancum (Risingham), because of the dearth of Roman finds in that area.
John Norden was an English cartographer, chorographer and antiquary. He planned a series of county maps and accompanying county histories of England, the Speculum Britanniae. He was also a prolific writer of devotional works.
Chorography is the art of describing or mapping a region or district, and by extension such a description or map. This term derives from the writings of the ancient geographer Pomponius Mela and Ptolemy, where it meant the geographical description of regions. However, its resonances of meaning have varied at different times. Richard Helgerson states that "chorography defines itself by opposition to chronicle. It is the genre devoted to place, and chronicle is the genre devoted to time". Darrell Rohl prefers a broad definition of "the representation of space or place".
Henry Lyte was an English botanist and antiquary. He is best known for two works, A niewe Herball (1578), which was a translation of the Cruydeboeck of Rembert Dodoens, and an antiquarian volume, The Light of Britayne (1588), both of which are dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I.
Sir Edward Leigh was an English lay writer, known particularly for his works on religious topics, and a politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1645 to 1648.
Ralph Brooke (1553–1625) was an English Officer of Arms in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. He is known for his critiques of the work of other members of the College of Arms, most particularly in A Discoverie of Certaine Errours Published in Print in the Much Commended 'Britannia' 1594, which touched off a feud with its author, the revered antiquarian and herald William Camden.
Robert Glover was an English Officer of Arms, genealogist and antiquarian in the reign of Elizabeth I. In the College of Arms, he rose to the rank of Somerset Herald of Arms, serving in that capacity from 1571 until his death in 1588. As marshal and deputy to his father-in-law, William Flower, Norroy King of Arms, he participated in heraldic visitations throughout northern England.
Augustine Vincent was an English herald and antiquary. He became involved in an antiquarian dispute between his friend William Camden and Ralph Brooke.
Elizabeth, Lady Berkeley, was an English courtier and patron of the arts.