A chronicle (Latin: chronica, from Greek χρονικά chroniká, from χρόνος, chrónos – “time”) is a historical account of events arranged in chronological order, as in a time line. Typically, equal weight is given for historically important events and local events, the purpose being the recording of events that occurred, seen from the perspective of the chronicler. A chronicle which traces world history is a universal chronicle. This is in contrast to a narrative or history, in which an author chooses events to interpret and analyze and excludes those the author does not consider important or relevant.

The information sources for chronicles vary. Some are written from the chronicler’s direct knowledge, others from witnesses or participants in events, still others are accounts passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition.[1] Some used written material, such as charters, letters, and earlier chronicles.[1] Still others are tales of unknown origin that have mythical status.[1] Copyists also changed chronicles in creative copying, making corrections or in updating or continuing a chronicle with information not available to the original chronicler.[1] Determining the reliability of particular chronicles is important to historians.[1]

Many newspapers and other periodical literature have adopted “chronicle” as part of their name. Various fictional stories have also adopted “chronicle” as part of their title, to give an impression of epic proportion to their stories.


Scholars categorize the genre of chronicle into two subgroups: live chronicles, and dead chronicles. A dead chronicle is one where the author assembles a list of events up to the time of their writing, but does not record further events as they occur. A live chronicle is where one or more authors add to a chronicle in a regular fashion, recording contemporary events shortly after they occur. Because of the immediacy of the information, historians tend to value live chronicles, such as annals, over dead ones.

The term often refers to a book written by a chronicler in the Middle Ages describing historical events in a country, or the lives of a nobleman or a clergyman, although it is also applied to a record of public events. The earliest medieval chronicle to combine both retrospective (dead) and contemporary (live) entries, is the Chronicle of Ireland, which spans the years 431 to 911.[2]

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Chronicles are the predecessors of modern “time lines” rather than analytical histories. They represent accounts, in prose or verse, of local or distant events over a considerable period of time, both the lifetime of the individual chronicler and often those of several subsequent continuators. If the chronicles deal with events year by year, they are often called annals. Unlike the modern historian, most chroniclers tended to take their information as they found it, and made little attempt to separate fact from legend. The point of view of most chroniclers is highly localised, to the extent that many anonymous chroniclers can be sited in individual abbeys.

It is impossible to say how many chronicles exist, as the many ambiguities in the definition of the genre make it impossible to draw clear distinctions of what should or should not be included. However, the Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle lists some 2,500 items written between 300 and 1500 AD.

Citation of entries[edit]

Entries in chronicles are often cited using the abbreviation s.a., meaning sub anno (under the year), according to the year under which they are listed. For example, “ASC MS A, s.a. 855″ means the entry for the year 855 in manuscript A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The same event may be recorded under a different year in another manuscript of the chronicle, and may be cited for example as “ASC MS D, s.a. 857″.

English chronicles[edit]

The most important English chronicles are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, started under the patronage of King Alfred in the 9th century and continued until the 12th century, and the Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1577-87) by Raphael Holinshed and other writers; the latter documents were important sources of materials for Elizabethan drama.[3] Later 16th century Scottish chronicles, written after the Reformation, shape history according to Catholic or Protestant viewpoints.

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Alphabetical list of notable chronicles[edit]

  • History of Alam Aray Abbasi – Safavid dynasty
  • Alamgirnama – Mughal Empire
  • Altan Tobchi – Mongol Empire
  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – England
  • Annales Bertiniani – West Francia
  • Annales Cambriae – Wales
  • Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae – Poland
  • Annals of Inisfallen – Ireland
  • Annals of Lough Cé – Ireland
  • Annals of the Four Masters – Ireland
  • Annals of Spring and Autumn – China
  • Annals of Thutmose III – Ancient Egypt
  • The Annals of the Choson Dynasty – Korea
  • Babylonian Chronicles – Mesopotamia
  • Anonymous Bulgarian Chronicle – Bulgaria
  • Bodhi Vamsa – Sri Lanka
  • Books of Chronicles attributed to Ezra – Israel
  • Buranji – Ahoms, Assam, India
  • Cāmadevivaṃsa – Northern Thailand
  • Culavamsa – Sri Lanka
  • (Chronica Polonorum): see Gesta principum Polonorum
  • Cheitharol Kumbaba – Manipur, India
  • Chronica Gentis Scotorum
  • Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae – Poland
  • Chronicon of Eusebius
  • Chronicon Scotorum – Ireland
  • Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg
  • Chronicle (Crònica) by Ramon Muntaner – 13th/14th-century Crown of Aragon. Third and longest of the Grand Catalan Chronicles.
  • Chronicle of Finland (Chronicon Finlandiae) by Johannes Messenius – Finland
  • Dioclean Priest’s Chronicle – Europe
  • Chronicle of the Slavs – Europe
  • Chronicle of Greater Poland – Poland
  • Chronica Hungarorum – History of Hungary
  • Chronicle of Jean de Venette – France
  • Chronicle of the Bishops of England (De Gestis Pontificum Anglorum) by William of Malmesbury
  • Chronicle of the Kings of England (De Gestis Regum Anglorum) by William of Malmesbury
  • Chronographia – 11th century History of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) by Michael Psellos
  • Comentarios Reales de los Incas
  • Conversion of Kartli – Georgia
  • Cronaca[5]- Chronicle of Cyprus from the 4th up to the 15th century by Cypriot chronicler Leontios Machairas
  • Cronaca fiorentina – Chronicle of Florence up to the end of the 14th Century by Baldassarre Bonaiuti
  • Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum – Poland
  • Croyland Chronicle – England
  • Dawn-Breakers (Nabil’s Narrative) – Baháʼí Faith and Middle East
  • Dipavamsa – Sri Lanka
  • Divan of the Abkhazian Kings – Georgia
  • Eric Chronicles – Sweden
  • Eusebius Chronicle – Mediterranean and Middle East
  • Fragmentary Annals of Ireland – Ireland
  • Froissart’s Chronicles – France and Western Europe
  • Galician-Volhynian Chronicle – Ukraine
  • Georgian Chronicles – Georgia
  • Gesta Normannorum Ducum – Normandy
  • Gesta principum Polonorum
  • Grandes Chroniques de France – France
  • General Estoria by Alfonso X – c. 1275-1284 Castile, Spain.
  • Henry of Livona Chronicle – Eastern Europe
  • Historia Ecclesiastica – Norman England
  • Historia Scholastica by Petrus Comestor – 12th century France
  • The Historie and Chronicles of Scotland, Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie
  • History of the Prophets and Kings – Middle East and Mediterranean
  • Hustyn Chronicle – Eastern Europe
  • Jami’ al-tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani – Universal history
  • Jans der Enikel – Europe and Mediterranean
  • Jerome’s Chronicle – Mediterranean and Middle East
  • Jinakalamali – Northern Thailand
  • Joannis de Czarnkow chronicon Polonorum – Poland
  • Kaiserchronik – Central and southern Europe, Germany
  • Kano Chronicle – Nigeria
  • Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh by Sujan Rai – History of India
  • Khwaday-Namag – History of Persia
  • Kojiki – Japan
  • Lethrense Chronicle – Denmark
  • Libre dels Feyts – Book of the Deeds by James I of Aragon, first of the Grand Catalan Chronicles
  • Madala Panji – Chronicle of the Jagannath Temple in Puri, India, related to the History of Odisha
  • Mahavamsa – Sri Lanka
  • Manx Chronicle – Isle of Man
  • Nabonidus Chronicle – Mesopotamia
  • Nihon Shoki – Japan
  • Nuova Cronica – Florence
  • Nuremberg Chronicle
  • Paschale Chronicle – Mediterranean
  • Primary Chronicle – Eastern Europe
  • Puranas – India
  • Rajatarangini – Kashmir
  • Roit and Quheil of Tyme – Scotland, Adam Abell
  • Roskildense Chronicle – Denmark
  • Royal Frankish Annals – Frankish Empire
  • Scotichronicon – by the Scottish historian Walter Bower
  • Shahnama-yi-Al-i Osman by Fethullah Arifi Çelebi – Ottoman empire (1300 ac – the end of Sultan Suleyman I’s reign) which is the fifth volume of it Süleymanname
  • Skibby Chronicle – Danish Latin chronicle from the 1530s
  • Swiss illustrated chronicles – Switzerland
  • Timbuktu Chronicles – Mali
  • Zizhi Tongjian – China
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See also[edit]

  • Books of Chronicles
  • Chronicles of Nepal
  • List of English chronicles
  • Medieval Chronicle Society


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