WILLIAM CAMDEN (2 May 1551 in
* 1 Early years * 2 Britannia * 3 Annales * 4 Remaines Concerning Britain * 5 Reges, reginae * 6 Other writings * 7 Final years * 8 Legacy * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 External links
Camden was born in London. His father Sampson Camden was a member of
Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers . He attended Christ\'s
Hospital and St Paul\'s School , and in 1566 entered Oxford (Magdalen
College , Broadgates Hall , and finally Christ Church ). At Christ
Church, he became acquainted with
Philip Sidney , who encouraged
Camden's antiquarian interests. He returned to
In 1577, with the encouragement of
Britannia is a county-by-county description of Great Britain and
Ireland. It is a work of chorography : a study that relates landscape,
geography, antiquarianism, and history. Rather than write a history,
Camden wanted to describe in detail the Great Britain of the present,
and to show how the traces of the past could be discerned in the
existing landscape. By this method, he produced the first coherent
He continued to collect materials and to revise and expand Britannia
throughout his life. He drew on the published and unpublished work of
John Leland and
William Lambarde , among others, and received the
assistance of a large network of correspondents with similar
interests. He also travelled throughout Great Britain to view
documents, sites, and artefacts for himself: he is known to have
visited East Anglia in 1578, Yorkshire and Lancashire in 1582, Devon
in 1589, Wales in 1590, Salisbury, Wells and Oxford in 1596, and
Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall in 1599. His fieldwork and firsthand
research set new standards for the time. He even learned Welsh and Old
English for the task: his tutor in
In 1593 Camden became headmaster of
Westminster School . He held the
post for four years, but left when he was appointed Clarenceux King of
Arms . By this time, largely because of the Britannia's reputation, he
was a well-known and revered figure, and the appointment was meant to
free him from the labour of teaching and to facilitate his research.
College of Arms at that time was not only a centre of genealogical
and heraldic study, but also a centre of antiquarian study. The
appointment, however, roused the jealousy of
Ralph Brooke , York
Britannia was recognised as an important work of Renaissance
scholarship, not only in England, but across the European "Republic of
Letters ". Camden considered having the 1586 Britannia printed in the
Frontispiece from a 1675 edition of the Annales
In 1597, Lord Burghley suggested that Camden write a history of Queen
Elizabeth's reign. The degree of Burghley's subsequent influence on
the work is unclear: Camden only specifically mentions Sir John
Fortescue , Elizabeth's last
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Annales were not written in a continuous narrative, but in the style of earlier annals, giving the events of each year in a separate entry. Sometimes criticised as being too favourably disposed towards Elizabeth and James I , the Annales are one of the great works of English historiography and had a great impact on the later image of the Elizabethan age . Hugh Trevor-Roper said about them: "It is thanks to Camden that we ascribe to Queen Elizabeth a consistent policy of via media rather than an inconsequent series of unresolved conflicts and paralysed indecisions."
REMAINES CONCERNING BRITAIN
Camden's Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine was a collection of themed historical essays, conceived as a more popular companion to Britannia. This was the only book Camden wrote in English, and, contrary to his own misleading description of it in the first edition (1605) as being merely the "rude rubble and out-cast rubbish" of a greater and more serious work (i.e. Britannia), manuscript evidence clearly indicates that he planned this book early on and as a quite separate project. Remaines subsequently ran into many editions. The standard modern edition, edited by R. D. Dunn, is based on the surviving manuscript material and the three editions published in Camden's lifetime (1605, 1614, and 1623). Editions published after 1623 are unreliable and contain unauthentic material, especially the bowdlerized edition of 1636 by John Philipot . Thomas Moule 's edition of 1870, of which many copies survive, is based on Philipot's 1674 edition.
Camden's Remaines is often the earliest or sole usage cited for a
word in the
Oxford English Dictionary
In 1600 Camden published, anonymously, Reges, reginae, nobiles et alii in ecclesia collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii sepulti, a guidebook to the many tomb monuments and epitaphs of Westminster Abbey . Although slight, this was a highly innovative work, predating John Weever 's Ancient Funerall Monuments by over thirty years. It proved popular with the public, and two expanded editions appeared in 1603 and in 1606.
Among Camden's other works were the Institutio Graecae grammatices
compendiaria in usum regiae scholae Westmonasteriensis (1595), a Greek
grammar which remained a standard school textbook for over a century;
Actio in Henricum Garnetum, Societatis Jesuiticae in Anglia superiorem
Camden (by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger , 1609)
In 1609 Camden moved to Chislehurst in Kent, now south-east London. Though often in ill health, he continued to work diligently. In 1622 he founded an endowed lectureship in History at Oxford – the first in the world – which continues to this day as the Camden Chair in Ancient History . That same year he was struck with paralysis . He died in Chislehurst on 9 November 1623, and was buried at Westminster Abbey, where his monument, incorporating a demi-figure of Camden holding a copy of the Britannia, can still be seen in the south transept.
Camden left his books to his former pupil and friend, Sir Robert Cotton , the creator of the Cotton library . His circle of friends and acquaintances included Lord Burghley , Fulke Greville , Philip Sidney , Edmund Spenser , John Stow , John Dee , Jacques de Thou and Ben Jonson , who was Camden's student at Westminster and who dedicated an early edition of Every Man in His Humour to him.
Camden's Britannia remained a standard and highly regarded authority for many years after his death. A lightly revised edition of Holland's 1610 translation was published in 1637. A new and greatly expanded translation, edited by Edmund Gibson , was published in 1695, and was reissued in revised editions in 1722, 1753 and 1772. Yet another new and expanded translation by Richard Gough was published in 1789, followed by a second edition in 1806. In an address given in 1986, marking the original publication's 400th anniversary, George Boon commented that the work "still fundamentally colours the way in which we, as antiquaries, look at our country".
The lectureship in History at Oxford endowed by Camden survives as the Camden Chair in Ancient History . Since 1877 it has been attached to Brasenose College , and since 1910 has been limited to Roman history.
The Camden Society , a text publication society founded in 1838 to publish early historical and literary materials, took its name from Camden. In 1897 it was absorbed into the Royal Historical Society , which continues to publish texts in what are now known as the Camden Series.
The Cambridge Camden Society , which also took its name from Camden, was a learned society founded in 1839 by undergraduates at Cambridge University to promote the study of Gothic architecture . In 1845 it moved to London, where it became known as the Ecclesiological Society, and was highly influential in the development of the 19th-century Gothic revival .
After Camden's death, his former home at Chislehurst became known as Camden Place. In the 18th century, it was acquired by Sir Charles Pratt , Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and later Lord Chancellor , who in 1765 was elevated to the peerage with the title Baron Camden, of Camden Place. In 1786 he was created Earl Camden, and in 1812 his son became Marquess Camden . The family owned and developed land to the north of London, and so, by this circuitous route, William Camden's name survives in the names of Camden Town and the London Borough of Camden .
* ^ Camden, William (1610). "The Author to the Reader". Britain, or
a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes,
England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Ilands adjoyning, out of the
depth of Antiquitie. Translated by Holland, Philemon . London.
* ^ Levy 1964.
* ^ A B Piggott 1976.
* ^ Harris 2015.
* ^ Dates of excursions based on DeMolen 1984, p. 328; the date of
the northern trip corrected from 1600 to 1599 based on Hepple 1999.
* ^ Harris 2015, pp. 281–3.
* ^ Adams pp. 53, 64
* ^ A B Kenyon p. 10
* ^ Camden, William (1984). Dunn, R. D., ed. Remains Concerning
Britain. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-2457-2 .
* ^ Dunn, R. D. (1986). "Additions to OED from William Camden's
Remains 1605, 1614, 1623".
Notes and Queries . 231 (4): 451–460.
* ^ Dunn, R. D. (1986). "English Proverbs from William Camden's
Remains Concerning Britain".
Huntington Library Quarterly . 49 (3).
* ^ Dunn, R. D., ed. (1986). "Fragment of an Unpublished Essay on
Printing by William Camden". British Library Journal. 12: 145–9.
* ^ Johnston, George Burke, ed. (1975). "Poems by William Camden:
with notes and translations from the Latin". Studies in Philology. 72
* Adams, Simon (2002). Leicester and the Court: Essays on
Elizabethan Politics. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN
* Boon, G.C. (1987). "Camden and the Britannia". Archaeologia
Cambrensis. 136: 1–19.
* Collinson, Patrick (1998). "One of us?
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