Middle English Chronicle of the First Crusade - The Caxton Eracles
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The Eracles text, a condensed Crusader chronicle driving from William of Tyre’s A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, concerns the march to and campaigning in the Holy Land, focusing on the suffering and heroism of the First Crusaders as they sought to gain glory for God and establish a Christian state in a distant and misunderstood environment. In 1481, William Caxton produced a Middle English translation of this text, which he named A Boke Intituled Eracles, or Godeffroy of Boloyne. This two-volume set is the first treatment of Caxton’s work in over a century. It is the first ever modern English translation of the work, providing an easily accessible translation combined with contextual and critical information.
It examines two aspects of the Eracles chronicle. First, the book illuminates the history of the text by referring to the Latin and French ancestors of Caxton’s Eracles, as well as investigating Caxton’s methods, abilities and motivations. Previous treatments of the chronicle are examined, correcting discrepancies and providing alternative interpretations. Second, the book investigates the history in the text by using the latest research to further contextualize and clarify the military events described. The author has developed a striking new concept of understanding the interpersonal relationships between the Crusaders, allowing the reader to perceive the inner workings of the Crusade itself.
“This is a handsome, two-volume edition of a prized early printed book, William Caxton’s translation of the Old French (OF) account of the First Crusade, L’estoire de Eracles empereur et la conqueste de la terre d’Outremer, itself a translation of the first nine books of William of Tyre. Dana Cushing has provided a revised Middle English (ME) text and a facing-page modern English Translation, with the intention of making “accessible to the scholar of present day a text significant not only for its story but its history”(p.viii).” – Crusades, Volume 2 (Ashgate, Aldershot 2003)
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