Basset, Peter (DNB00)

BASSET, PETER (fl. 1421), biographer of Henry V, is stated by Bale to have been the chamberlain and intimate friend of Henry V, and to have written in English a detailed and interesting life of his patron under the title of 'Acta Regis Henrici Quinti.' Tanner ascribes to Basset another historical work, called 'De Actis Armorum et Conquestus Regni Franciæ ducatus Normanniæ, ducatus Alenconiæ, ducatus Andegaviæ et Cenomanniæ, etc. Ad nobilem virum Johannem Falstolf, baronem de Cyllyequotem.' Edward Hall, the chronicler of the wars of the Roses, writing before 1542, mentions 'Ihon Basset' among the English writers whose works he had consulted, and this reference almost certainly applies to Peter Basset, whom Pits likewise miscalls 'John.' Hall quotes 'Peter Basset, esquire, which at the time of his death was his chamberlayn,' as his authority for the statement that Henry V 'died of a plurisis.' Thomas Hearne, in the preface to his edition of Thomas Elmham's 'Vita et Gesta Henrici V' (1727, p. 31), describes, among the extant accounts of Henry V's actions in France, a work in manuscript entitled 'Petri Basseti et Christophori Hansoni adversaria.'

Both Tanner and Hearne speak of Basset's historical works as lying in manuscript at the College of Arms, but no distinct mention of them is made in W. H. Black's catalogue of the chief historical (the Arundel) manuscripts which are now preserved there. Mr. W. D. Macray is of opinion that an incomplete history of Henry V's wars in France, written in French, which is now in the College of Arms (Arundel MS. xlviii. art. 66), may possibly prove to be one of Basset's compilations. Both Bale and Tanner distinctly state, however, that Basset's history of Henry V was written in English. It is probable that Hall, who was obviously acquainted with Basset's work, made liberal use of it in his well-known chronicle.

[Bale's Script. Cent. 1557, p. 568; Tanner's Bibliotheca Brit.; Biog. Brit.; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 424 (by J. G. Nichols), 512 (by W. D. Macray).]

S. L. L.