CAPGRAVE, JOHN (1393-1464), English chronicler and hagiologist, was born at Lynn in Norfolk on the 21st of April 1393. He became a priest, took the degree of D.D. at Oxford, where he lectured on theology, and subsequently joined the order of Augustinian hermits. Most of his life he spent in the house of the order at Lynn, of which he probably became prior; he was certainly provincial of his order in England, which involved visits to other friaries, and he made at least one journey to Rome. He died on the 12th of August 1464.
Capgrave was an indefatigable student, and was reputed one of the most learned men of his age. The bulk of his works are theological: sermons, commentaries and lives of saints. His reputation as a hagiologist rests on his Nova legenda Angliae, or Catalogus of the English saints, but this was no more than a recension of the Sanctilogium which the chronicler John of Tinmouth, a monk of St Albans, had completed in 1366, which in its turn was largely borrowed from the Sanctilogium of Guido, abbot of St Denis. The Nova legenda was printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1516 and again in 1527. Capgrave's historical works are The Chronicle of England (from the Creation to 1417), written in English and unfinished at his death, and the Liber de illustribus Henricis, completed between 1446 and 1453. The latter is a collection of lives of German emperors (918-1198), English kings (1100-1446) and other famous Henries in various parts of the world (1031-1406). The portion devoted to Henry VI. of England is a contemporary record, but consists mainly of ejaculations in praise of the pious king. The accounts of the other English Henries are transferred from various well-known chroniclers. The Chronicle was edited for the "Rolls" Series by Francis Charles Hingeston (London, 1858); the Liber de illustrious Henricis was edited (London, 1858) for the same series by F.C. Hingeston, who published an English translation the same year. The editing of both the works is very uncritical and bad.
See Potthast, Bibliotheka Med. Aev.; and U. Chevalier, Répertoire des sources hist. Bio-bibliographie, s.v.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)