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18 July 2023

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St Hugh’s Post Graduate research student throws new light on Elizabeth I

St Hugh’s Post Graduate Research Student, Helena Rutkowska is working with the British Library using a new state of the art technique to uncover passage of Camden’s Annals, the first official account of Elizabeth I’s reign. Helena’s research is part of a Collaborative Doctoral Award at the University of Oxford in partnership with the British Library and Open University, and it represents a significant finding in early modern historical scholarship.

Camden’s Annals is one of the most valuable sources on early modern Britain, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth’s successor, King James I. But, for 400 years, no one has been able to read passages on hundreds of pages of this manuscript because they had been so heavily revised and self-censored by their 17th-century author, apparently to avoid punishment for offending his patron. The handwritten manuscript drafts are being analysed in detail, with the previously hidden sections being revealed for the first time and translated from Latin into English.

Helena said, ‘William Camden’s Annals has long been regarded the first history of Elizabeth’s reign and it’s been a thrill to have the chance to use new imaging technology thanks to my collaborative PhD with the British Library to explore hundreds of previously covered passages in Camden’s text for the first time. While historians have studied the Annals in print before, an in-depth analysis of the manuscript drafts has never been done and the sheer amount of new information we have been able to discover regarding Elizabeth’s reign has been astounding.’

For more information visit: the British Library.

Photo courtesy of The British Library


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