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Writing Medieval Biography, 750-1250

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Biography is one of the oldest, most popular and most tenacious of literary forms. Perhaps the best attested narrative form of the Middle Ages, it continues to draw modern historians of the medieval period to its peculiar challenge to explicate the general through the particular: the biographer's decisions to impose or to resist the imposition of order on biographical remnants raise issues which go to the heart of historical method.
This collection, compiled in honour of a distinguished modern exponent of the art of biography, contains sixteen essays by leading scholars which examine the limits and possibilities of the genre for the period between 750AD and 1250AD. Ranging from pivotal figures such as Charlemagne, William the Conqueror and St Bernard, to the anonymous female skeleton in an Anglo-Saxon grave, from kings and queens to clerks and saints, and from individual to the collective biographies, this collection investigates both medieval biographical writings, and the issues surrounding the writing of medieval lives.

Professor DAVID BATES is Director of the Institute of Historical Research; Dr JULIA CRICK and Dr SARAH HAMILTON teach in the Department of History at the University of Exeter.

Contributors: JANET L. NELSON, ROBIN FLEMING, BARBARA YORKE, RICHARD ABELS, SIMON KEYNES, PAULINE STAFFORD, ELISABETH VAN HOUTS, DAVID BATES, JANE MARTINDALE, CHRISTOPHER HOLDSWORTH, LINDY GRANT, MARJORIE CHIBNALL, EDMUND KING, JOHN GILLINGHAM, DAVID CROUCH, NICHOLAS VINCENT

Reviews

It bespeaks the vibrancy of the subject and the guiding hands of the editors that, unusually for an edited collection, this one forms an intellectually and thematically coherent whole. EARLY MEDIEVAL EUROPE
[This] splendid book [...] provides a series of thought-provoking affirmations of the place of biography among the historical sciences. BIOGRAPHY: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY QUARTERLY
A fine volume. REVIEWS IN HISTORY
All in all, this is a volume which anyone who wishes to attempt the biography of a medieval individual should regard as essential reading, and anyone interested in medieval people as individuals should read as a matter of course ANN WILLIAMS, EHR
The articles [.] are uniformly excellent and immensely thoughtful. [.] Reading any of them will make one a better historian. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Details

First Published: 21 Sep 2006
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843832621
Pages: 276
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
Subject: Medieval History
BIC Class: HBLC1

Details updated on 17 Apr 2014

Contents

  • 1  Did Charlemagne Have a Private Life?
  • 2  Bones for Historians: Putting the Body back into Biography
  • 3  `Carriers of the Truth': Writing the Biographies of Anglo-Saxon Female Saints
  • 4  Alfred and His Biographers: Images and Imagination
  • 5  Re-reading King Æthelred the Unready
  • 6  Writing the Biography of Eleventh-Century Queens
  • 7  The Flemish Contribution to Biographical Writing in England in the Eleventh Century
  • 8  The Conqueror's Earliest Historians and the Writing of His Biography
  • 9  Secular Propaganda and Aristocratic Values: The Autobiographies of Count Fulk le Rechin of Anjou and Count William of Poitou, Duke of Aquitaine
  • 10  Reading the Signs: Bernard of Clairvaux and His Miracles
  • 11  Arnulf's Mentor: Geoffrey of Lèves, Bishop of Chartres
  • 12  The Empress Matilda as a Subject for Biography
  • 13  The Gesta Stephani
  • 14  Writing the Biography of Roger of Howden, King's Clerk and Chronicler
  • 15  Writing a Biography in the Thirteenth Century: the Construction and Composition of the `History of Willliam Marshal'
  • 16  The Strange Case of the Missing Biographies: The Lives of the Plantaganet Kings of England 1154-1272