Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

William of Newburgh

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Historian, b. at Bridlington, Yorkshire, 1136; d. at Newburgh, Yorkshire, 1198, where he went as a boy to the small and recently-founded Augustinian priory. There he remained to the end as an Augustinian canon. There is no evidence that he travelled, and hardly anything is known of what was probably a very uneventful life. It would appear that he wrote his history within a short period of his death; if this was the case he must have long been preparing his materials. His "Historia rerum anglicarum" opens with a short introductory sketch of the reigns of the Conqueror and his sons, followed by a fuller account of that of Stephen. The main purpose of the writer was to produce a philosophical commentary on the history of his own times, and books II-V cover the period 1154-98. They are more than a mere chronicle; they form a real history in which the connection of events is traced, a proper sense of proportion observed, and men and their actions judged from an intelligent and independent point of view.

William of Newburgh, with his contemporary Roger of Hoveden, belongs to the northern school of historians, who carried on the admirable traditions of the Venerable Bede. This was a spirit very unlike that which inspired Geoffrey of Monmouth's mythical "History of the British Kings" with its tales of King Arthur, and William attacks Geoffrey and his legends with great indignation, calling the latter "impudent and shameless lies". This striking illustration of his historic integrity won for him from Freeman the title of "the father of historical criticism ", and the compliment is not altogether undeserved. Living in a remote Yorkshire monastery William could not have had an intimate first-hand knowledge of public events, but he used his authorities, such as Symeon of Durham and Henry of Huntingdon, with excellent judgment. Though his chronology is confused and untrustworthy his work is of the greatest value, especially for the early years of the reign of Henry II. The best edition of the History is that edited by R. Howlett for the Rolls Series (Chronicles of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I , vols. I and II).


Shop Catholic - Buy One Get One 50% OFF

Mix and match any of these bestselling products and enjoy 50% off the second item!

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.


Act of Contrition PDF

Free Catholic Educational PDF Downloads and Resources

PDF educational resources for Students, Parents, and Teachers and it’s 100% FREE. How to Pray the Rosary, Hail Mary, Our Father, Saints, Prayers, Coloring Books, Novenas, Espanol and more. All FREE to download and faithful to the Magisterium. Download Now >

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.