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The Cardinal Points and the Structure of Christian History in the Early-Twelfth Century

Wolever, Eric WS (2018) The Cardinal Points and the Structure of Christian History in the Early-Twelfth Century. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This dissertation evaluates the use of the cardinal points as a conceptual system that bridges historical, geographical and theological knowledge for authors of the first half of the twelfth century. Looking towards its use as a basis for identity construction within historical or historically driven texts, this thesis considers the broader function of this vocabulary across three different genres of text in two broad thematic sections. The first section focuses on the reception of geographical and exegetical knowledge from antiquity to the twelfth century, with the cardinal points serving as a device to analyse the way in which authors constructed and evaluated the geographical world which they inhabited. It pays particular attention to the way in which authors of the twelfth century actively engaged with and manipulated this tradition, particularly in the context of the northern French intellectual milieu of the early century. The second half focuses on narrative construction and identity formation through the application of spatial categories to history. It addresses this problem first in terms of genres. Through an analysis of three universal historians – Sigebert of Gembloux, Romuald of Salerno and Orderic Vitalis – it assesses their awareness and engagement with the language of the cardinal points, as a conceptual system, to spatially inflect their histories and underscore their broader narrative agendas. It then addresses this issue in terms of three case studies of spatially based identity formation, assessing particularly the role of the First Crusade and the construction of Normanitas in the construction of western and northern identities. The thesis argues overall that medieval authors were in constant conversation with a rich spatial system through which they conceptualised and constructed history in terms of mundus et saeculum, in a manner that has been frequently sidelined in previous scholarship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Depositing User: Mr Eric WS Wolever
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2019 16:14
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2019 16:14
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23068

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