Historical Methods

Early-modern scholars said that history had two eyes: geography and chronology. Aubrey’s geography largely took the form of original county histories. His chronology was equally innovative. In his Monumenta Britannica manuscript, he also pondered the more recent ‘monuments’ of old buildings and old manuscripts. These sections he titled ‘Chronologia Architectonica’, ‘Chronologia Graphica’, ‘Chronologia Vestiaria’, and ‘Chronologia Aspidologica’. Each consisted of a short, heavily illustrated essay on the chronological development of style, first architectural, then of writing, and finally of clothing and of shields, the last two categories chiefly concerning themselves with the forms of illustration found in church windows and on church monuments. In short, Aubrey was proposing that monuments and even scripts can be dated if the observer has an appropriate collection of dated examples to hand, and Aubrey was providing his reader with models of such collections.

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