Rozier Charlie, The importance of writing institutional history in the Anglo-Norman realm, c.1060-c.1142

Rozier Charlie, The importance of writing institutional history in the Anglo-Norman realm, c.1060-c.1142, with special reference to Eadmer’s Historia Novorum, Symeon of Durham’s Libellus de exordio, and the Historia Ecclesiastica of Orderic Vitalis, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. G. Gasper, R. Gameson, University of Durham)

Résumé/abstract :

This thesis examines the place of the past within the lives and works of three notable Anglo-Norman authors of history: Eadmer of Canterbury, Symeon of Durham, and Orderic Vitalis of the monastery of Saint-Évroul in Normandy. The first half of the twelfth century witnessed an unprecedented flowering of historical writing in England and Normandy. Scholarly interest and debate surrounding the historical texts produced in this context, and in particular the reasons for their composition, has grown significantly in recent years. This thesis examines the place of Eadmer’s, Symeon’s and Orderic’s historical writings within the wider corpus of works which they are known to have studied and composed, according to surviving manuscript evidence. Particular attention is placed on: their engagement with wider themes of learning such as exegesis and theology, Latin poetry and computistical studies; their participation in the organisation of monastic and ecclesiastical life, including record-keeping, revision and care of book-collections and their role as monastic cantors; and their experiences of training in and engagement with historical studies and resultant self-identification as authors of history. This thesis will argue that although all three authors had access to a concise framework through which medieval audiences understood the nature and purposes of historical studies (as shown in chapters three and four) the exact character and intended purposes of their historical texts was in fact heavily dependent on the degree to which each author interacted with the wider textual culture of contemporary Benedictine studies (as outlined in chapters five, six and seven). Conclusions will observe that the three examples considered demonstrate the multifaceted nature of historical studies in the medieval period, and especially the overlap between the various sub-genres of history, such as narrative text, annal, chronicle, and hagiography, and also reveal the resonances of the past within almost every aspect of monastic life and studies in the period.

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