Recycling the Franks in Twelfth-Century England: Regino of Prüm, the Monks of Durham, and the Alexandrine Schism

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Abstract

In the Middle Ages, even more so than today, history writing could be an act of political engagement. In an era without formal representation, the ability to persuade audiences of particular views of the past could be a significant weapon for those seeking to gain rhetorical leverage in political disputes. Yet “useful” history could be compiled from existing works as well as written from scratch. Because of the technologies of transmission in the age before printing, texts were essentially unstable: even authoritative works were vulnerable to editing and repackaging by copyists in ways that could fundamentally alter their original meanings. Moreover, because of the organization of manuscript production, historical compilations were more likely to reflect the views of communities rather than individual authors. Modern historians have observed that the Carolingian and Anglo-Norman periods, both of which witnessed a revival of interest in the writing of new history, also saw surges in the production of historical compilations that functioned as responses to high-level political events and contributed to the formation of social identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-681
Number of pages33
JournalSpeculum
Volume87
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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