by Rikke Agnete Olsen
This anonymous historical work is divided into two parts, traditionally called the Older and the Younger Chronicle of Zealand, which together cover the years 1028–1363. No medieval manuscript has survived, and the chronicle is only known through post-medieval copies and their copies, normally containing samples of other medieval works as well.
(1) The Older Chronicle
- MAGNUSSEN, A. 1695, Leipzig.
- LANGEBEK, J. 1773: SRD 2, Copenhagen.
- WAITZ, G. 1892: MGH SS 29, Hannover.
- GERTZ, M.CL. 1922: SMD 2, Copenhagen.
(2) The Younger Chronicle
- DE WESTPHALEN, E.J. 1731: Monumenta inedita I (to 1357), Leipzig.
- LANGEBEK, J. & SUHM, P.F. 1786: SRD 6 (to 1357), Copenhagen.
- LAPPENBERG, J.M. 1834: Archiv für Staats- und Kirchengechichte der Herzogthümer Schleswig, Holstein, Lauenburg 2 (1357–63), Altona.
(3) The Older and the Younger Chronicle
- ANNERSTEDT, C. 1876: SRS 3 (selections), Uppsala.
- JØRGENSEN, E. 1920: Annales Danici medii aevi, Copenhagen.
- KROMAN, E. 1980: Danmarks middelalderlige annaler, Copenhagen.
- JØRGENSEN, E. 1911: Valdemar Atterdag (selections), Copenhagen.
- JØRGENSEN, E. 1927: Erik Klipping og hans Sønner. Rigets Opløsning (selections), Copenhagen.
- OLSEN, R.A. 1981: Sjællandske krønike, Højbjerg.
Date and place
When looking for the oldest version of the Chronicle it is not possible to get beyond Copenhagen, Royal Library, F 42, which was used by Arne Magnussen and was also the source of Stockholm, Royal Library, K 3. This composite manuscript might be attributed to the Cistercian abbey of Sorø, where its varied content was compiled perhaps around 1400 (CHRISTENSEN 1969). If the Chronicle of Zealand was also written here, as most probably the Older Chronicle was, the author is to be found among the members of that monastic community. If the Younger Chronicle was not written there, the author will be hard to find. After all, we only know a minimal percentage of the persons of learning and importance in fourteenth-century Denmark, and it is not certain at all that his name is mentioned in the text. That he is so mentioned lay behind the suggestion (Erik Arup) that the author was Bo Falk of Vallø, one of the Zealandic magnates of the realm and not a man of the Church. It also partly motivated the suggestion (OLSEN 1981) of the cleric Mogens Jensen Grubbe, who became bishop first of Børglum and then of Ribe. Both men present possible profiles of an author of such a work, but the real man will certainly never be identified.
Summary of contents
The Older Chronicle falls into two different parts: 1028–1282 and 1283–1307, neither of them very original. Part 1 is based on different longer narrative sources such as Adam of Bremen, Saxo, the Vita of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and other Cistercian literature. The Cistercians and the two archbishops, Eskil and Absalon, are of importance in the text. Part 2 consists of short annalistic notes based mainly on the Annals of Essenbeck and the Danish translation of the Annals of Ryd. Arne Magnusson explains that the two parts were written by different hands, and that there were comments and corrections by other hands in the margins. These he prints in his edition after the main body of the text, which also has more ecclesiastical information than the Older Chronicle in F3.
The Younger Chronicle falls naturally into three parts: 1308–ca.1340, 1340–1358, and 1359–1363. Part 1 is to some extent dependent on the Annals of Ribe and Ryd, the rest rather independent, and appears contemporary with the events it deals with and is written by two centrally-placed persons with profound knowledge of what went on in the kingdom during the years they describe. This applies particularly to the author of the second part. It is very possible that the Younger Chronicle like the Older originally held more ecclesiastical information, but this and other differences between the original text and the copies cannot now be defined. Neither can it be explained what motivated the post-medieval copyists to make the changes they chose to make in the text.
However, the Younger Chronicle is one of the most interesting and important sources for the history of the reign of King Valdemar Atterdag (1340–1375). It is well formulated and rich in judgement of the events and the leading persons of its period. In this it differs from the other more typical annals and thus it wholly deserves the name of chronicle. Its preoccupation with worldly affairs and political life, the author's evidently profound knowledge of the topography of Zealand, and the absence of much ecclesiastical information have over the centuries prompted historians to discuss where the Chronicles of Zealand were written and also to look for an author.
Medieval reception and transmission
The oldest surviving copy, from the sixteenth century, is now in the Royal Library of Stockholm (F 3). Another and older copy from a composite work called F 42 in the Royal Library of Copenhagen, was used by Arne Magnusson for his edition of the Older Chronicle of Zealand, Leipzig 1695. This manuscript probably perished with so many others in the fire of Copenhagen in 1728.
- Stockholm, Royal Library, K3.
- Uppsala, University Library, DG XXV–XXIX, 25 (Stephanius).
- Copenhagen, Royal Library, Rostgaard 42, 4, p. 37, excerpted by Hans Svaning.
- CHRISTENSEN, C.A. 1969: “Yngre sjællandske krønikes proveniens,” HistTD ser. 12, vol. 4, 97 ff.
- CHRISTIANSEN, T.E. 1970: ”Yngre sjællandske krønikes sidste år,” Scandia 40, 5–33.
- CHRISTIANSEN, T.E. 1984: ”Bo Falk eller Mogens Jensen – Yngre sjællandske krønikes forfatter,” HistTD 84:1, 1–21.
- HØRBY, K. 1975: [review of] ”Leif Szomlaiski: Yngre Sjællandske Krønike,” HistTD 75, 133–40.
- ILSØE, H. 1965: ”Håndskriftet H 112 og de danske historikere,” HistTD ser. 12, vol. 1, 399–435.
- JØRGENSEN, E. 1931: Historieforskning og Historieskrivning i Danmark indtil Aar 1800, Copenhagen, 8, 11, 16–17,
- KRISTENSEN, A.K.G. 1969: Danmarks ældste Annalistik. Studier over lundensisk Annalskriving i 12. og 13. Århundrede, Copenhagen.
- SZOMLAISKI, L. 1973: Yngre sjællandske krønike, Odense.