Images of flood on the day of the battle
12 panoramas of the battle site
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John of Worcester
also knows as Florence of Worcester
John was a monk based in Worcester who died circa 1140 when his chronicle also ends. John is now accepted as the author of the ‘Chronicon ex Chronicis’ or Universal Chronicle. The work was formerly attributed to a monk who was known as ‘Florence of Worcester’. But Orderic Vitalis records ‘John’ as the scribe when he visited Worcester circa 1124.[i] This does not prove that others did not work in compiling the chronicle but modern scholarship favours John as the primary author.
Like all historians, the chroniclers of the time were relying on other sources including perhaps a lost version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other documents. We suspect this because William of Malmesbury includes some similar material for which the source cannot now be identified. Some of the leaves were removed from ASC D and remained at Worcester but were later restored; This conjours a wonderful image of early scholars 'borrowing' sections of precious texts. Modern scholars believe that such a lost section that somebody failed to return was a source for some of John’s writing.[ii]
The job of modern historians is to find and then assess the credibility and accuracy of material before synthesizing its contents. If something is not mentioned by near contemporary chroniclers, the challenge for scholars is to work out if one writer has made up a story which later historians have repeated. This uncharitable view is not taken here. The chroniclers might be accused of occasionally providing some favourable spin, especially on ecclesiastical matters, but the evidence is that they were slaves to the available written records. Therefore John’s record of the battle should be taken seriously.
This is the second mention of the ‘northern bank of the river Ouse’ in the surviving histories and follows Symeon’s information, although John does not record the source of this information. Worcester was, in 11th century terms, a long way from York. But there were ecclesiastical connections which might explain why two authors record that Riccall was the landing place for the invading fleet and also place the battle on the northern bank. Symeon was writing at least a decade before John took up his quill in the more distant Worcester, so John could have copied this information from Symeon. (John’s Chronicle also has Harold arriving ‘with many thousands of well armed men’ in York on Monday en route to Stamford Bridge, which matches Symeon.)
[i] Introduction to Oxford Medieval Texts version of John’s chronicles. R Darlington & P McGurk (0198222610 1995)
[ii] Ian Howard ‘Swein Forkbeard’s invasion and the Danish Conquest of England 991-1017’Appendix 2
[iii] Henry of Huntingdon. The author’s assisted translation, following P McGurk, derives from the Corpus Christi Oxford MS 157.
Related sites Facebook Twitter (@ helpsavefulford) Visiting Fulford Map York
There is a site devoted to saving the battlesite: The site has the story of the process that has allowed the site to be designated an access road to a Green Belt, floodplain housing estate.
And another website for the Fulford Tapestry that tells the story of the September 1066: This tells the story embroidered into the panels.
The author of the content is Chas Jones - email@example.com last updated June 2015