Coggeshall, Ralph of (DNB00)

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COGGESHALL, RALPH of (fl. 1207), chronicler, a native of Bernewell, Cambridgeshire, and a monk of the Cistercian abbey at Coggeshall, was chosen abbot in 1207, and about midsummer 1218, contrary to the wish of the convent, resigned the abbacy on account of ill-health. He took up the chronicle of Ralph Niger (edited by Colonel Robert Anstruther for the Caxton Society, 1851), who ended his work at 1161, corrected the expressions of indignation against Henry II with which the earlier writer concludes, and carried the chronicle down to 1178. The 'Chronicon Anglicanum' that bears the abbot's name begins at 1066. It contains several references to the affairs of the Cistercian order and to local events, such as those which concerned the monastery itself or its neighbourhood, and a large number of matters which were either told to the writer by visitors to the abbey, or which in various ways came under his notice and struck him as especially important or curious. Up to 1187 the entries are generally brief. After that date, when Ralph undertook the work, they become full, and are often of considerable importance. Although from an entry under 1207 it would seem as though the work was carried down to 1227, none of the copies of it extend beyond 1224. Manuscripts of the 'Chronicon' exist in the Cottonian collection in the British Museum, in the College of Arms, and in the National Library at Paris. From the imperfect Paris thirteenth-century manuscript, formerly belonging to the church of St. Victor, Martene printed the 'Chronicon' down to 1200, and from 1213-16 as distinct works in his 'Veterum Scriptorum . . . collectio,' v. 801-69, and nearly the whole is reprinted in 'Dom. Bouquet,' vol. xviii. The Cottonian MS., the author's autograph copy, has been followed by Mr. J. Stevenson in the edition he prepared for the Rolls Series in 1875. The 'Chronicon Terræ Sanctæ,' which has been ascribed to the author of the 'Coggeshall Chronicle,' is by another hand. Both the 'Chronicon Anglicanum' and the 'Chronicon Terræ Sanctæ' were printed by Mr. A. J. Donkin in 1856.

[R. de Coggeshall's Chronicon Anglicanum, preface, and 162, 163, 187, ed. Stevenson, Rolls Series; Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue, ii. 415, 541, iii. 65, Rolls Series.]

W. H.