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The contents of the present volume are writings Scarcity of illustrative of the time of Henry the Seventh from hui1or.ical
m , , i materials
the pens of his contemporaries. In no period of the for the English annals are the sources of history so scanty. 2e^ry Vtj Since the days of Chaucer English literature had declined, and become a perfect blank. There was not a poet even of Lydgate's standing. There was hardly an original prose writer whose name survives at this day. The monkish chronicles generally cease long before the close of the fifteenth century; and there is nothing to supply their place for some time after.
It is true, there were countervailing influences from abroad. The study of ancient learning was beginning to revive. Italy had sent forth eminent scholars, and classical literature was admired and imitated. The movement spread from South to North, giving a new vitality to thought in every country where it was received; but it was late in reaching England. At the commencement of the Tudor period, the only writers of note were one or two foreigners who wrote in Latin, and it is from their works, not from the works of Englishmen, that we derive our principal knowledge of the history of the times.
Contempo. Of these foreign writers Polydore Vergil and Bernard thorities. André chiefly claim the historian's attention. Fabyan is almost the only other, either English or foreign, who is used as an authority; and his information is meagre in the extreme. The later chronicle of Hall, so far as it relates to this reign, is little more than a translation of Polydore Vergil; and Polydore, though he was in England in Henry the Seventh's time, could not have written much of his history before the succeeding reign. As a strictly contemporary record, therefore, of the days of Henry the Seventh, the historical writings of Bernard André may be said to stand alone.
Life of Of the life of this author very little is known.1 His AndriT1 own writings show that he was a native of Toulouse, and a friar of the order of St. Augustine. One of his contemporaries2 tells us he came of a distinguished family. He probably came into England along with Henry VII.; for he was not there during the Wars of the Roses,3 but was present at Henry's triumphant entry into London after Bosworth field. He was blind, whether from infancy or not we have no means of judging, but certainly from the earliest time at which we have any notice of his being in England ;* and this fact he frequently alludes to in his writings, excusing himself for not describing more fully things which his privation had made him incapable of witnessing. But whether blind in youth or not, he evidently must have had the advantage of excellent
1 The notices of him in Bale, Pamphilus, Crusenius, Elssius, and others, are all extremely inaccurate and unsatisfactory. Tanner is only a little more full, having gathered some notes of his preferments from episcopal registers.
! Johannes Opicius, who describes him as " ortu claro," MS.
* See p. 19.
• See pp. 32, 35.