Henry of Huntingdon

Henry of Huntingdon (c. 10801160) was an English historian of the 12th century and archdeacon of Huntingdon.

Most well known for his Historia Anglorum (History of the English) covering the period from the Roman invasion in 43 BC to the accession of Henry II in 1154. It has been estimated that about seventy-five percent derives directly from others' work through direct quotation, translation or summarization, of which about forty percent comes from Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum for the earlier period. It is 'original' for the years 1126–1154, some of the events of which he was often a personal witness, including the reigns of Henry I and Henry II, and the anarchy of King Stephen. His history is full of dramatic stories and was extremely popular and influential with other historians. Yet his work's popularity should not diminish the sense of the Historia as rigorous history, nor of its careful crafting as a contribution to ongoing political debates about ethnicity, nationality, and the justification of rule over England and Wales.

Henry segmented English history according to the five great invasions by the Romans, Picts and Scots, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans. The Historia was organized, in its 1135 version, into seven books entitled:

  1. The Rule of the Romans in Britain
  2. The Coming of the English
  3. The Conversion of the English
  4. The Rule of the English
  5. The Danish Wars
  6. The Coming of the Normans
  7. The Rule of the Normans

Later versions of the Historia included up to 3 additional books, on saints' lives and other miracles (including a spectacularly gory description of the rotting of Henry I's corpse), and a summary of portions of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae.

Henry coined the periodization term Heptarchy.


  • Diana Greenway (translator), Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon: Historia Anglorum - The History of the English People 1000-1154 (Oxford World's Classics) , Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0192840754.
  • Thomas Forester (translator), The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon, London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853; George Bell and Sons, 1876.


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