This article is part of my reassessment of the theoretical importance of "Holinshed's" Chronicles, the huge Elizabethan chronicle that appeared in two editions a decade apart (1577 and 1587). The Chronicles are unusually pertinent to negotiations now taking place between disciplines that earlier proceeded in partial ignorance or disdain of each other-law, political history and theory, economics, anthropology, and literary studies. The Chronicles convey significant information in all of these areas and on their convergences, which may have been greater in early modem England than they later were perceived to be in modem academic thought.
I would argue that the Chronicles, which were collaborative projects, were compiled according to several protocols that run counter to certain modem historiographical ideals. These protocols may be summarized as follows. First, one of the functions of a national history was to discover, salvage, and preserve in print ephemeral, manuscript, or otherwise endangered records. In other words, the Chronicles were conceived from the start as "documentary history," as much a part of the national archive as were the enrolled statutes stored in the Tower of London. Among ephemeral records, apparently, were previously published pamphlets, such as Sir John Cheke's Hurt of Sedicion (1549) or Thomas Churchyard's account of the 1578 festivities for Elizabeth on her progress to Suffolk and Norfolk, which, the chronicler tells us, "it were better to record ... than ... to let it perish in three halfepenie pamphlets, and so die in oblivion."'
"For Words Only": From Treason Trial to Liberal Legend in Early Modern England,
Yale J.L. & Human.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlh/vol5/iss2/6