Geffrei Gaimar's Estoire des Engleis is the oldest surviving example of historiography in the French vernacular. It was written in Lincolnshire c.1136-37 and is, in large part, an Anglo-Norman verse adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Its narrative covers the period from the sixth century until the death of the Conqueror's son William Rufus in 1100. This is an important text in historiographic terms, less as an historical source than as an early example of informative literature written in a secular perspective for a predominantly baronial audience. It illustrates the multilingualism and multiculturalism of twelfth-century Anglo-Norman Britain, and shows the descendants of the Norman conquerors seeking to integrate themselves culturally into their adoptive homeland during the 1130s. It also ranks among the earliest extant witnesses of the rise of courtly literature in French, and of named female literary patronage. This edition offers a critical text of one of the chronicle's four extant manuscripts. There is an introduction placing the poem in its social and literary contexts, followed by the medieval text, edited according to critical interventionist principles and comprising 6532 rhyming octosyllables. A facing modern English prose translation, the first concern of which is accuracy, aims also to convey the tone and style of the original rather than provide a strictly literal rendering of it. The extensive explanatory notes to the text are followed by a bibliography and a complete index of place and personal names.
Geffrei Gaimar's Estoire des Engleis is the oldest surviving example of historiography in the French vernacular. It was written in Lincolnshire c.1136-37 and is, in large part, an Anglo-Norman verse adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Its narrative covers the period from the sixth century until the death of the Conqueror's son William Rufus in 1100. This is an important text in historiographic terms, less as an historical source than as an early example of informative literature written in a secular perspective for a predominantly baronial audience. It illustrates the multilingualism and m.
Portrayal of the Past in Old French and Latin Historical Narrative of the Anglo-Norman Regnum
Author: Jean Blacker
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Category: Literary Criticism
The twelfth century witnessed the sudden appearance and virtual disappearance of an important literary genre—the Old French verse chronicle. These poetic histories of the British kings, which today are treated as fiction, were written contemporaneously with Latin prose narratives, which are regarded as historical accounts. In this pathfinding study, however, Jean Blacker asserts that twelfth-century authors and readers viewed both genres as factual history. Blacker examines four Old French verse chronicles—Gaimar's Estoire des Engleis (c. 1135), Wace's Roman de Brut (c. 1155) and Roman de Rou (c. 1160–1174), and Benoît de Sainte-Maure's Chronique des Ducs de Normandie (c. 1174–1180) and four Latin narratives—William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum (c. 1118–1143) and Historia Novella (c. 1140–1143), Orderic Vitalis's Historia Ecclesiastica (c. 1118–1140), and Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae (c. 1138). She compares their similarity in three areas—the authors' stated intentions, their methods of characterization and narrative development, and the possible influences of patronage and audience expectation on the presentation of characters and events. This exploration reveals remarkable similarity among the texts, including their idealization of historical and even legendary figures, such as King Arthur. It opens fruitful lines of inquiry into the role these writers played in the creation of the Anglo-Norman regnum and suggests that the Old French verse chronicles filled political, psychic, and aesthetic needs unaddressed by Latin historical writing of the period.
Influence, Legitimacy, and Power in Medieval Society
Author: Sini Kangas
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Category: Literary Criticism
Medievalists reading and writing about and around authority-related themes lack clear definitions of its actual meanings in the medieval context. Authorities in the Middle Ages offers answers to this thorny issue through specialized investigations. This book considers the concept of authority and explores the various practices of creating authority in medieval society. In their studies sixteen scholars investigate the definition, formation, establishment, maintenance, and collapse of what we understand in terms of medieval struggles for authority, influence and power. The interdisciplinary nature of this volume resonates with the multi-faceted field of medieval culture, its social structures, and forms of communication. The fields of expertise include history, legal studies, theology, philosophy, politics, literature and art history. The scope of inquiry extends from late antiquity to the mid-fifteenth century, from the Church Fathers debating with pagans to the rapacious ghosts ruining the life of the living in the Sagas. There is a special emphasis on such exciting but understudied areas as the Balkans, Iceland and the eastern fringes of Scandinavia.
Why did the Vikings sail to England? Were they indiscriminate raiders, motivated solely by bloodlust and plunder? One narrative, the stereotypical one, might have it so. But locked away in the buried history of the British Isles are other, far richer and more nuanced, stories; and these hidden tales paint a picture very different from the ferocious pillagers of popular repute. Eleanor Parker here unlocks secrets that point to more complex motivations within the marauding army that in the late ninth century voyaged to the shores of eastern England in its sleek, dragon-prowed longships. Exploring legends from forgotten medieval texts, and across the varied Anglo-Saxon regions, she depicts Vikings who came not just to raid but also to settle personal feuds, intervene in English politics and find a place to call home. Native tales reveal the links to famous Vikings like Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons; Cnut; and Havelok the Dane. Each myth shows how the legacy of the newcomers can still be traced in landscape, place-names and local history. This book uncovers the remarkable degree to which England is Viking to its core.
New Perspectives on Warfare and Memory in Medieval Europe
Author: Máire Ní Mhaonaigh
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Battles have long featured prominently in historical consciousness, as moments when the balance of power was seen to have tipped, or when aspects of collective identity were shaped. But how have perspectives on warfare changed? How similar are present day ideologies of warfare to those of the medieval period? Looking back over a thousand years of British, Irish and Scandinavian battles, this significant collection of essays examines how different times and cultures have reacted to war, considering the changing roles of religion and technology in the experience and memorialisation of conflict. While fighting and killing have been deplored, glorified and everything in between across the ages, Writing Battles reminds us of the visceral impact left on those who come after.
Henry II and the Politics of Vernacular Historiography
Author: Charity Urbanski
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Writing History for the King is at once a reassessment of the reign of Henry II of England (1133–1189) and an original contribution to our understanding of the rise of vernacular historiography in the high Middle Ages. Charity Urbanski focuses on two dynastic histories commissioned by Henry: Wace's Roman de Rou (c. 1160–1174) and Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Chronique des ducs de Normandie (c. 1174–1189). In both cases, Henry adopted the new genre of vernacular historical writing in Old French verse in an effort to disseminate a royalist version of the past that would help secure a grip on power for himself and his children. Wace was the first to be commissioned, but in 1174 the king abruptly fired him, turning the task over to Benoît de Sainte-Maure. Urbanski examines these histories as part of a single enterprise intended to cement the king’s authority by enhancing the prestige of Henry II’s dynasty. In a close reading of Wace’s Rou, she shows that it presented a less than flattering picture of Henry’s predecessors, in effect challenging his policies and casting a shadow over the legitimacy of his rule. Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Chronique, in contrast, mounted a staunchly royalist defense of Anglo-Norman kingship. Urbanski reads both works in the context of Henry’s reign, arguing that as part of his drive to curb baronial power he sought a history that would memorialize his dynasty and solidify its claim to England and Normandy.