About the Annals of the Four Masters


When reading materials for my books and looking for documentation to improve context, locations and historical background, I faced a complex question: what do I want to do with History (note the capital h on history).

If I have to be strict and adhere to History with no twists or drifts, I may face dead ends in some plots, or even discard interesting opportunities on characters or events. But if I write forward taking history (note that I’m not putting the capital h here) not as seriously as I have, one of my premises writing stories — let it develop in our world, and in our main timelines —, may weaken. The answer to this question may appear obvious to everyone: just try to keep things in, but don’t limitate yourself in taking non-historical approaches.

Annals

Well, I agree. This is the right answer for me. But how and when do I have to apply control to what my mind is demanding me to write? and… when is it important — mandatory I may say —, to stay on History (again with capital)? Fortunately I’m lucky, as Human History has a lot of resources that it is not necessary to modify a lot of things to fit.

The Annals of the Four Masters is a chronicle of the history of Ireland, that we may consider were compiled, starting in 1632, by the Franciscan Monastery of Contae Dhún na nGall (County Donegal). It is a compilation, as includes some writings from XII century and even previous ones.

If we have to believe and trust what we read in these Annals, they cover Human History since the Deluge (the biblical one, yes) on 2242 BC to the year 1616 AD. And starting with the first date, we should feel this book is interesting, as is giving us a date for the Deluge, so we can create a chronological line counting years from this event. If we join this Annals with the Leabhar Ghabhála Érenn (The Book of Invasions), we can extract a lot of valuable materials around Ireland, of course, but about biblical histories too.

Na Ceithre Máistrí, The Four Masters

Both readings, the Annals and the Leabhar Ghabhála are the source of inspiration for multiple plots and characters I love. But again, History vs history — and I promise I take these things seriously —, it is a must to check and verify every detail againts the Bible (Christian, the Torah), The Histories from Herodotus and some other texts. Because I want to balance between both approaches to History. So, for me the Deluge dates and plotline, and starting from this landmark, all the (legendary) story of Ireland, were worth the reading.

In one of my future posts I’ll talk in detail about The Annals and the Leabhar Ghabhála, my idea with this introduction was just to take a second to think about the decissions we may face when trying to write a book.

References:

The Annals of the Four Masters

Leabhar Ghabhála Érenn

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