FROM DOT TO DOMESDAY
The ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’ (Chronicle of Chronicles) was composed, in Latin, at Worcester during the early-12th century. Its author used a universal chronicle compiled at Mainz, by Marianus Scotus, as the platform on which to build his work – expanding it, from the 5th century onwards, with material pertaining to English history, a major source being a now lost version of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’.
Traditionally, the author of the ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’ is identified as the monk FLORENCE OF WORCESTER. The reason for this view is a notice that appears in the annal for 1118:
“Dom Florence of Worcester, a monk of that monastery, died on the Nones of July [7th July]. His acute observation, and laborious and diligent studies, have rendered this Chronicle of Chronicles pre-eminent above all others.
His spirit to the skies, to earth his body given,
For ever may he reign with God's blest saints in heaven!”
During the entry for 1138 appears the verse:
“May Christian souls in everlasting rest
Be with the saints, their warfare ended, blest;
And John corrected, if there ought occur,
In which the reader finds his pages err!”
It would seem to be clear – after Florence's death in 1118, the work was continued by this John of Worcester. That, indeed, is the traditional view, but there is a fly in the ointment. The Anglo-Norman historian Orderic Vitalis concludes Book III of his ‘Historia Ecclesiastica’ (Ecclesiastical History) with the coronation of William the Conqueror on Christmas Day 1066. In the closing passages, Orderic, who had visited Worcester (he doesn't say when, but it would appear to have been no later than 1124) and seen John's work, writes:
“John of Worcester, a native of England and a monk from his childhood, of venerable character and great learning, in his continuation of the chronicles of Marianus Scotus, gives a faithful account of King William and of the events which took place during his reign, and those of his sons William Rufus and Henry to the present day... [John] by the order of the venerable Wulfstan, bishop and monk [bishop of Worcester, d.1095], appended his continuation to the Chronicle of Marianus ...”
So, Orderic makes no mention of Florence, and credits John with continuing the work of Marianus. Moreover, the ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’ exhibits no change of style after its notice of Florence's death in 1118, and entries before that year include material taken from Eadmer's ‘Historia Novorum in Anglia’ (History of Recent Events in England), which was not finalized until c.1123. The modern tendency, therefore, is to see John as the creative force behind the ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’, and to diminish Florence's role to little more than a labourer (carrying out the preliminary spadework). The fact remains, however, that Florence's obituary indicates his contribution to the project was certainly not inconsiderable.
The main manuscript of the ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’ (Oxford, Corpus Christi College MS 157) is believed to be the working copy of John of Worcester himself. Up to 1128 it is a fair copy (to mid-1101 it is the work of a single scribe). The entries for 1128 to 1131 have been rewritten, and the chronicle extended to 1140 (during which year it ends imperfectly), by a hand which is thought to be John's.* Copies were released at earlier stages in the work's development. Symeon of Durham makes use of a copy to 1118,* and most copies end with 1131.
Translations by Thomas Forester
The Irish monk and hermit Mael Brigte, known as Marianus Scotus, according to his own testimony, was born in 1028 and left Ireland in 1056. He lived on the Continent until his death in 1082/3, at Mainz. He compiled a chronicle, encompassing the whole known world, from the Creation to the end of his own days.  Marianus argued that the conventionally accepted date of the Incarnation, established in the 6th century by Dionysius Exiguus (see: Anno Domini), was twenty-two years too late. Consequently, he dated events according to his own reckoning and according to Dionysius – his own dates being twenty-two years later than the conventionally accepted, Dionysian, dates. The ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’ also adopts dual dating – years are given according to both the conventional system and Marianus' scheme (which, needless to say, did not catch on).
High resolution digital images of Corpus Christi College MS 157 can be viewed HERE, on the Oxford University website.
The last event mentioned by Eadmer is the death of Ralph d'Escures, archbishop of Canterbury, on 20th October 1122.
The second of the two chronicles embraced by the title ‘Historia Regum’ – traditionally attributed to Symeon of Durham – is based on the ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’ to 1118. Antonia Gransden (‘Historical Writing in England, c.550 to c.1307’ Chapter 8, 1974) says that: “The only independent evidence that there was a change of authorship [of the ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’] in 1118 is the fact that the Durham chronicle, the Historia Regum (History of the Kings), used a version to 1118.”
The internal evidence indicates that, having concluded Book III, Orderic moved on to Book IV in 1125.