This book is volume 1 in a series of 4 travel logs originally written by William Camden in 1586. Camden traveled extensively through England and Wales, but likely never set foot in Scotland or Ireland. He compiled Britannia through the use of his personal notes, as well as the writings and findings of other naturalists, academics, and writers. The books are very Anglo-centric, placing England at the heart and soul of "Britannia" as a nation. Camden uses these books to create a narrative history of the United Kingdom, with cultures and societies being mirrored in the history of the places in which they happened.
Camden wrote Britannia as a display of nationalistic pride and aimed to show that Britain's history, institutions, and inhabitants could be traced back to the Romans. In doing so, Camden sought to demonstrate and enhance England's standing among European nations by demonstrating the antiquity of its origins. It was also intended to show how Britain was going to be a part of the new Elizabethan world of scholarship. He even apologizes if at any point in the work he seems "too found and lavish in the praises of my own country," demonstrating his nationalism.
The first edition of Britannia consisted only of a rather small octavo of around 550 pages. Throughout Camden's lifetime, he added to them multiple times and each edition became larger and more ornate. After his death, other translators and naturalists added their own ideas and updates throughout subsequent editions. This set of volumes was published well after Camden's death and contains additions from an unknown number of translators, naturalists, and scholars.
Britannia is separated into three distinct sections, which are then further divided into subsections according to country and county. The first section is organized in a chronological way, while the second and third are topographical. He wrote in this way to truly attempt to reclaim and showcase the ancient topography and history lying beneath the current peoples of Britain.
The first section contains a chronological survey of British history that traces the origins of the peoples who formed British nationalities. In this section, Camden explores notable events in early British history, including Julius Caesar's (100 BC-44BC) invasions and the coming of the Normans. He creates a narrative history that shows the founding and consolidation of the English nation. He also uses this connection to show how Britain's borders were formed by the Romans and how they created the system of nobility and law courts of England.
The second and third sections are arranged topographically and contain narratives that link all regions of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the adjacent isles. These sections can be seen as narrative, annotated maps through each county. The place names act as rubrics in this part, denoting remarkable sites and serving as historical coordinates, making it possible to read the past topographically. In these sections, Camden attempts to connect the territorial districts of the pre-Roman Celtic inhabitants of Britain to the current (as of the time of writing) ones. He does this through a series of narrative tours through England, then Wales, Scotland, and finally, Ireland and the adjacent isles. He links the historical profiles of different cities and towns and makes note of specific historical events and unique features of the area.
Select plates of volumes 1, 3, and 4 have been digitized, with additional information about certain plates added to select records. The maps have also been digitized in situ. Note-the digitized plates in this volume are not in sequential order. All four books are available for in-person viewing by request at the Othmer Library.
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|Original file type||TIFF|
|Rights||Public Domain Mark 1.0|
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Camden, William, Richard Gough, and John Nichols. Britannia: or, a Chorographical Description of the Flourishing Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Islands Adjacent, Vol. 1. London, England: John Stockdale, 1806. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/6g35qcc.
This citation is automatically generated and may contain errors.
Britannia: or, a Chorographical Description of the Flourishing Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Islands Adjacent, Vol. 1
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