In the 1587 edition of “Holinshed’s” Chronicles, in a section subsequently excised by order of the Privy Council, there is a description of the celebrations in London that followed the apprehension of the Babington Plot conspirators. The chronicler (who at this point in the narrative seems to have been Abraham Fleming) puts great emphasis on the popular consensus against the conspirators, and claims the occasion as a moment of social harmony, a festival of which the government would approve:

Beyond this the well affected of the citie did passe certeine degrees: for besides that some wearied themselves with pulling at the bellropes, which were roong both daie and night, as upon the daie of hir maiesties coronation; so other devised a further testification of joie, insomuch that although wood was then at a sore extent of price, yet they spared not their stacks or piles, were the same little or great; but brought (we thinke in conscience)everie house a portion, where fires

might conveniently be made and without danger. Memorandum that none were more forward herein than the meaner sort of people, who rather than they would omit to ad little or much to a fire, being unprovided of fuell, parted with a penie or two to buie a few stiks by retaile. Insomuch that now by common consent this action grew to be generall.1 (italics added)

An important part of the effect here is that of personal reportage and eyewitness testimony; the “generall” distribution of the bonfires is “by count of the writer hereof, who went of purpose to view them, and indeed did note them all.” As is well known, this technique is of great antiquity in claiming authenticity for a historical work. It is used throughout those parts of the Chronicles that deal with the reigns of recent monarchs, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth. And since many eyewitnesses were involved, either the author-compilers themselves or the original authors of documents the chroniclers chose to include, the total effect of all these first-person testimonies is highly complex and interesting. In contemporary critical terminology we would call this effect “multivocality.”