Higden, Ranulf


Higden, Ranulf
(Ralph Hikedon)
(ca. 1285–1364)
   Ranulf Higden was a Benedictine monk of Saint Werburgh’s Abbey in Chester, who wrote several theological texts but is best known for his Historia polychronica, or Polychronicon—a universal history in Latin prose.
   Higden entered the monastery in 1299. During his long tenure at Werburgh’s, he wrote Speculum curatorum (Mirror of curates) in 1340, a book on Latin grammar (Paedagogicon grammatices) and one on theology (Distinciones theologicae), and, about 1346, Ars componendi sermons (Art of preaching). This last text has gained some scholarly attention recently as a readable and concise manual for medieval preachers, owing much to contemporary rhetorical texts. By 1352, Higden had the position of keeper of the abbey library and head of St.Werburgh’s scriptorium. His death is recorded in 1364.
   Higden’s major literary contribution was his Polychronicon. The book is a compendium of the scientific, geographical, and historical knowledge of its time, and aims to be both instructive and entertaining. In its first edition Higden gives a history of the world, with a particular focus on Britain, down through the year 1327. It was written in seven books, the first of which concentrated on geography. The early version was circulated locally. Higden subsequently revised the text to bring the history down to 1352, and this later, longer version of the text gained widespread popularity through the 14th century. There were manuscripts in many religious houses, where the material was regularly updated.
   Higden’s text was translated into MIDDLE ENGLISH by John TREVISA in 1387. In this form it became even more popular. Trevisa’s translation was printed by William CAXTON in 1482, and went through two more printed editions by 1527. Higden’s fame as author of the Polychronicon led to the attribution of other texts to him that he almost certainly did not write. The best-known example of this is the popular myth that Higden, sometimes known as Ranulf of Chester, was the author of the CHESTER CYCLE of MYSTERY PLAYS. But there is no real evidence of this.
   Bibliography
   ■ Higden, Ranulf. Ars componendi sermons. Translated by Margaret Jennings and Sally A.Wilson, with an introduction and notes by Margaret Jennings. Paris: Peeters, 2003.
   ■ ———.Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden monachi Cestrensis: Together with the English translations of John Trevisa and of an unknown writer of the fifteenth century. Edited by Rev. Joseph Rawson Lumby. Published by the authority of the Lords commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, under the direction of the Master of the rolls. 9 vols. London: Longman and Co., 1865–86.
   ■ Jennings, Margaret. Higden’s Minor Writings and the Fourteenth-Century Church. Leeds, U.K.: Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, 1977.
   ■ Taylor, John. TheUniversal Chronicleof Ranulf Higden. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Higden, Ranulf — ▪ British historian Higden also spelled  Higdon   born c. 1280, , western England died March 12, 1364, Chester, Cheshire       English monk and chronicler remembered for his Polychronicon, a compilation of much of the knowledge of his age.… …   Universalium

  • Higden, Ranulf or Ralph — (d. 1364)    Chronicler, is believed to have been b. in the West of England, took the monastic vow (Benedictine), at Chester in 1299, and seems to have travelled over the North of England. His fame rests on his Polychronicon, a universal history… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Ranulf Higden —     Ranulf Higden     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Ranulf Higden     (HYDON, HYGDEN, HIKEDEN.)     Benedictine chronicler; died 1364. He was a west country man, and was professed a monk at the Abbey of St. Werburg, Chester, in 1299. Beyond this… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Ranulf Higden —   [ hɪgdən], englischer Geschichtsschreiber, Higden, Ranulf …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Ranulf Higden — Ranulf Higdon Ranulf Higdon (également appelé Higden) (né vers 1299 dans l´Ouest de l´Angleterre et décédé vers 1363) est un chroniqueur anglais et un moine bénédictin du monastère de Saint Weburg à Chester où il vécut, selon lui, pendant 64 ans …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ranulf higden — Ranulf Higdon Ranulf Higdon (également appelé Higden) (né vers 1299 dans l´Ouest de l´Angleterre et décédé vers 1363) est un chroniqueur anglais et un moine bénédictin du monastère de Saint Weburg à Chester où il vécut, selon lui, pendant 64 ans …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ranulf Higdon — (or Higden) (c. 1280 c. 1363), was an English chronicler and a Benedictine monk of the monastery of St. Werburgh in Chester, wherein he lived, it is said, for sixty four years, and died at a good old age, probably in 1363. He is believed to… …   Wikipedia

  • Higden —   [ hɪgdən], Higdon, Ranulf, englischer Geschichtsschreiber, ✝ Chester 12. 3. 1364; Benediktiner in der Abtei Saint Werburgh, Chester; verfasste neben exegetischen, homiletischen und anderen theologischen Werken, durch das Vorbild des Vinzenz von …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Ranulf Higdon — (également appelé Higden) (né vers 1299 dans l´Ouest de l´Angleterre et décédé vers 1363) est un chroniqueur anglais et un moine bénédictin du monastère de Saint Weburg à Chester où il vécut, selon lui, pendant 64 ans. Biographie La principale… …   Wikipédia en Français


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