'Kattendyke', een goed verpakte surprise
Janse, A. e.a. (eds.), Johan Huyssen van Kattendijke-kroniek. Die historie of die cronicke van Hollant, van Zeelant ende van Vrieslant ende van den Stichte van Utrecht (Den Haag 2005).
In search of the author of the 'Kattendyke Chronicle'
Dutch medieval history has always remained very much in the background and so have its chronicles. The latter are few and far between and rarely of high quality. The only really important ones are Melis Stoke’s Rijmkroniek (ca. 1300) written in Middle Dutch and Johannes de Beke’s Chronographia (ca. 1350) in Latin with its Middle Dutch anonymous sequels (the first one of which went as far as 1393). Works of comparable originality are absent for the 15th century, when chroniclers mostly confined themselves to repeating both Stoke and Beke, their trusted authorities, and expanding on them, mostly succinctly, to reflect upon their own times. The majority of these manuscripts still have to be edited. What a surprise it was then when the newly-discovered ‘Cronicke van Hollant, van Zeelant ende van Vrieslant ende van den Stichte van Utrecht’ suddenly appeared after lying undisturbed for centuries in the possession of a Dutch aristocratic family who have now given permission for this beautifully illustrated manuscript to be edited by an interdisciplinary team of scholars. In some major respects the Kattendyke chronicle is disappointing: although written in 1492 it fails to add any substantial new information of either a factual or ‘cultural’ nature. But given the scarcity of well-edited medieval Dutch chronicles we should appreciate the Kattendyke chronicle as a product of intellectual history and as a serious undertaking of a so far unidentified Dutchman during the crucial years of expanding Burgundian rule. The editors have done a remarkable job but may have given up too readily on solving the mystery of the chronicler’s identity, for which the present reviewer offers a suggestion.
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