Although recent research has revealed much about the purpose of historiography and its relation to liturgy, memory, and rhetoric, the writing of universal history remains to be properly expounded. Before Matthew Paris (d. 1259), the writing of universal history in twelfth-century England mainly rested upon the shoulders of historians such as John of Worcester (d. 1140), Ralph of Diceto (d. 1199/1200), and Ralph Niger (d. c. 1199). Apart from these well-known writers, universal chronicle writing has been considered a rare or exceptional endeavour within the historiography of twelfth-century England. However, the landscape outlined by manuscript transmission may reveal a different picture.
The seminar will sketch the transmission of universal chronicles in England in the long twelfth century by illustrating the preliminary results of a manuscript survey and the analysis of a case study. I will focus on a sample of manuscripts produced or transmitted in England between the first half of the twelfth century and the first quarter of the thirteenth currently preserved at Cambridge University Library, Parker Library, and British Library. As a case study, the seminar will address the Historia Omnimoda, a universal history since Creation, which opens the historiographical twelfth-century compilations extant in Cambridge, CCC, MS 139. The writing of universal history emerged at a time of great political and intellectual renewal in England and across western Europe. Manuscript investigation suggests new questions about the pervasiveness of universal history-writing in twelfth-century England and its capacity to intercept political preoccupations and intellectual debates of the time.
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Meeting ID: 830 2822 0053