For centuries, dozens of passages in the original manuscript drafts of William Camden’s Annals have been invisible to the naked eye. Often, pieces of paper were pasted over the original text and the passages over-written, implying that Camden was concerned not to offend his patron, King James.
Now, thanks to advances in enhanced imaging, these concealed lines can be read for the first time using transmitted light, offering a deeper insight into the political machinations of Elizabeth’s court.
Camden’s Annals is one of the most valuable sources on early modern Britain and is considered the official contemporary account of Elizabeth I’s reign (1558–1603). Often regarded as the most important source in shaping the image of Elizabeth I and her reign, modern historians have relied on the manuscript to be an impartial and supposedly accurate record.
This new research reveals that key sections of the Annals were revised before publication, implying that the manuscript was deliberately rewritten to present a version of Elizabeth’s reign that was more favourable to her successor.
The handwritten manuscript drafts are still being analysed in detail, with the previously hidden sections being revealed for the first time and translated from Latin into English. Here are some of them:
Image : British Library
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