Ralph of Coggeshall

Ralph of Coggeshall or the abbot of Coggeshall (on the Blackwater, near Colchester, in Essex), from 1207 to 1218, is the author of a Latin chronicle which extends from the year 1066 to 1223 or 1224. This chronicle is a very meagre collection of facts till 1117 a.d. With this year however they became much fuller. The writer gives a great number of details relative to the third Crusade, some of which, such for example as that telling how the Syrian woman in Jerusalem kept king Richard posted up in all that was going on within the c'ty, are to be found nowhere else. This incident is perhaps mere legendary gossip ; but the account Ralph gives of the loss and recapture of Joppa (Aug. 1192) is, on the whole, as important as either of those given in this book. It was drawn from the lips of Hugh de Neville, who was present in the battle. More valuable still is Ralph's account of the king's adventures after leaving the Holy Land. This narrative too, as will be seen from the text, our author drew from the (probably verbal) account of Anselm, the king's chaplain, who accompanied Richard on his voyage home, and, as it seems, wrote a history of this king which is now, however, unfortunately lost. Of the facts of Ralph's life hardly anything is known. He is said to have resigned his office owing to ill-health, but the date of his death has not been ascertained.

Ralph of Coggeshall's Chronicon Anglicanum, like Richer' s History and Sigebert's Chronicle, is one of the comparatively speaking few mediaeval histories of which the author's autograph is preserved. In the parts relative to Richard's captivity the original MS. (Cotton Vespasian, 8 x.) has inserted an appeal to Anselm's authority in the margin ; and the many erasures and additions here are doubtless due to the author himelf, who availed himself of the occasion furnished by the chaplain's visit, to make his narrative fuller and more correct. A thirteenth century writer tells us that Anselm, the king's chaplain, " regis comes ubique intus et foris," wrote the Acta of Richard the First ; as also, according to the same authority, did Milo, abbot of le Pin, the king's almoner.

Bibliography:

Stevenson (J.), Radulphi de Coggeshall Chronicon Anglicanum, De expugnatione Terræ Sanctæ libellus, Thomas Agnellus De morte et sepultura Henrici regis Angliæ junioris, Gesta Fulconis filii Warini, excerpta ex Otiis imperialibus Gervasius Tileburiensis, London, 1875.

Corner (D.), "Coggeshall, Ralph of (1207–1226)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
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