Royal Responsibility in Anglo-Norman Historical Writing

ISBN : 9780198812388

Emily A. Winkler
352 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Nov 2017
Oxford Historical Monographs
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It has long been established that the crisis of 1066 generated a florescence of historical writing in the first half of the twelfth century. Emily A. Winkler presents a new perspective on previously unqueried matters, investigating how historians' individual motivations and assumptions produced changes in the kind of history written across the Conquest. She argues that responses to the Danish Conquest of 1016 and the Norman Conquest of 1066 changed dramatically within two generations of the latter conquest. Repeated conquest could signal repeated failures and sin across the orders of society, yet early twelfth-century historians in England not only extract English kings and people from a history of failure, but also establish English kingship as a worthy office on a European scale. Royal Responsibility in Anglo-Norman Historical Writing illuminates the consistent historical agendas of four historians: William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, John of Worcester, and Geffrei Gaimar. In their narratives of England's eleventh-century history, these twelfth-century historians expanded their approach to historical explanation to include individual responsibility and accountability within a framework of providential history. In this regard, they made substantial departures from their sources. These historians share a view of royal responsibility independent both of their sources (primarily the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) and of any political agenda that placed English and Norman allegiances in opposition. Although the accounts diverge widely in the interpretation of character, all four are concerned more with the effectiveness of England's kings than with the legitimacy of their origins. Their new, shared view of royal responsibility represents a distinct phenomenon in England's twelfth-century historiography.


Part I - Structures of Historiography and Royal Responsibility
1 Introduction
2 The Foundations of Conditional Kingship
3 Invasion, Explanation, and Responsibility in Anglo-Saxon England

Part II - Twelfth-Century England
4 Within the Providential Plan: William and Henry
5 The Challenge to Providence: John and Gaimar

Part III - Royal Responsibility and the English
6 Conditional Kingship: Expanding the Nature of the Succession
7 Conditional Kingship: Expectations for Kings
8 Redeeming the English Past
9 Conclusions - Conquest and Rulership

About the author: 

Emily A. Winkler is the John Cowdrey Junior Research Fellow in Medieval History at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, and Departmental Lecturer in Medieval History at the Faculty of History and Balliol College, University of Oxford. She has published articles on historical writing, political thought, and the reception of the classics in the early and central Middle Ages, with particular reference to the British Isles, the North Sea zone, and the Anglo-Norman world. Dr Winkler is also a Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at University College London.

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