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History and the Written Word in the Angevin Empire, (c. 1154 - c. 1200)

Bainton, Willliam Henry J. (2010) History and the Written Word in the Angevin Empire, (c. 1154 - c. 1200). PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

It is axiomatic that later twelfth-century England witnessed a growth in the sophistication of government and a related proliferation of written records. This period is also noted for its prolific and distinctive historical writing — which was often written by administrators and reproduced administrative documents. Taking these connected phenomena as its starting point, this study investigates how the changing uses of, access to and attitudes towards the written word affected the writing of history. Conversely, it also seeks to understand how historiography — which had long been associated with the written word — shaped contemporary assumptions about the written word itself. It assesses why historians quoted (and versified) so many documents in their histories, and traces structural similarities between chronicles and other contemporary forms of documentary collection. In doing so, it suggests that the apparently 'official' documents reproduced by histories are better thought of as social productions that told stories about the past, for and about those holding public office. It suggests that by rewriting documents as history, historical writing played a fundamental role in committing them to memory — and that it used historical narrative to explain the documents of the past to an imagined future. It also investigates why the period's historical writing is so attuned to the performances that surrounded the written word. By investigating the presentation of documentary practices in both Latin and vernacular historiography, and by reconstructing the multilingual milieu that historians and historiography inhabited, the study challenges the way that vernacular textual practices are associated primarily with orality and performance, and Latin textual practices with writing and the making of 'passive' records. In the process, it suggests that both vernacular and Latin (historical) writing presented a normative picture of the functions of the written word — and of the literati — in contemporary society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: medieval historiography, medieval historical writing, cultural memory, literacy, administration, bureaucracy, intellectual history, medieval literature, multilingualism, performance
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Depositing User: Mr Willliam Henry J. Bainton
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2012 08:56
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2014 10:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1233

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