Henry of Huntingdon

Henry of Huntingdon (Latin: Henricus Huntindoniensis; c. 1088 – c. AD 1157), the son of a canon in the diocese of Lincoln, was a 12th-century English historian, the author of a history of England, the Historia Anglorum, "the most important Anglo-Norman historian to emerge from the secular clergy". He served as archdeacon of Huntingdon. The few details of Henry's life that are known originated from his own works and from a number of official records. He was brought up in the wealthy court of Robert Bloet of Lincoln, who became his patron.

At the request of Bloet's successor, Alexander of Lincoln, Henry began to write his Historia Anglorum, first published around 1129, an account of the history of England from its beginnings up to the year 1154.

Henry was born in about 1088 and died about 1157. He succeeded his father Nicholas as archdeacon Diocese of Lincoln in 1110. No personal correspondence or anecdotes survived him and it seemed that no one considered him important enough to have written a memorial. His biography depends upon a few notices scattered through his own work and in a few places where he left his name in the course of his official duties. The identity of his mother is unknown. His father Nicholas, the first archdeacon of Huntingdon, was a clerk in holy orders, who had enough influence with the Bishop of Lincoln to secure the succession of his title for his son, a substantial inheritance for a man who had not yet reached thirty. Nicholas was canon of Lincoln for over thirty years until his death in 1110.

He was received as a little boy into the familia of Robert Bloet of Lincoln and grew up in luxury, living in the wealth and splendour of England's richest episcopal court. His upbringing gave him a positive outlook towards the world, but in later years he learned to feel a certain recoil distrust of contemptus mundi, "contempt for the world", a feeling which encompasses much of his mature literary work. Bishop Bloet's successor, Alexander of Lincoln, became sensible of Henry's aptitude for business and employed him frequently for important affairs, though it remains clear that Henry owed his promotion to the patronage of Bishop Bloet. It was at Bishop Alexander's request that Henry began to write his Historia Anglorum ('The History of The English'). The formal Prologue of his History, which was addressed to Bishop Alexander, was written in a floridly dense high style that allowed him to parade himself, before retreating into dutiful obscurity behind the chroniclers he had used. It was written as an elaborate defence of the writing of history and to show off his degree of education.

Over the years, his contempt for the world grew and became the informing spirit of his literary work and spiritual life. During his travels, he began to notice that people were more worried about taking care of their belongings rather than themselves. This led him to write a long poem on De contemptu visibilum.

Overall, the little known information about him is concrete and suggestive, hinting at a life lived just below the first ranks of property and talent in an age of personal reticence. He mentions Lanfranc as having been "famous in our own time", which places Henry's birthdate a few years before 1089, the year Lanfranc died. His Historia Anglorum leaves off in 1154, with the promise of another book for the new reign; however since that book was never written it may be assumed that Henry died shortly afterwards.

This page was last edited on 30 November 2017, at 19:02.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_of_Huntingdon under CC BY-SA license.

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