John Trevisa and the English Polychronicon

Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (ASMAR), Vol. 37

John Trevisa and the English Polychronicon

By Jane Beal
2012 | 172 + xvi pp. | 978-0-86698-485-0 | Hardcover 6 x 9 in
MRTS 437 | $54 | €60

In this new academic monograph, Jane Beal examines the rhetorical strategies John Trevisa used to establish his authority and justify his translation of Ranulf Higden’s Latin Polychronicon into English. She pays particular attention to the translator’s use of paratextual material, which includes two prefaces — “A Dialogue between the Lord in the Clerk on Translation” and a prefatory letter of dedication to Trevisa’s patron, Lord Thomas Berkeley — and numerous intertextual notes.

By considering the reception history of key manuscripts and later printed editions of the English Polychronicon, Beal also demonstrates the wider significance of Trevisa’s translation. While the Constitutions of Arundel in 1409 denied English readers a complete Bible in English, Trevisa’s translation of the universal history given in the Polychronicon provided English readers with fundamental and accessible biblical paraphrases. In addition to shedding new light on Trevisa’s remarkable translation, this book will cause scholars of medieval literature, history, and theology to think differently about the impact of translation on late-medieval culture.