Although recent research has revealed much about the purpose of historiography and its relation to memory and identity, 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 authors, universal chronicle-writing has been considered rare or exceptional an endeavour within the historiography of twelfth-century England. By analysing Geoffrey of Ufford’s Scutum Bedae as extant in the manuscript London, British Library, Stowe 57, I intend to revise this view. Known since the twelfth century as Scutum Bedae, Stowe 57 comprises a miscellany collection of texts possibly produced in the area around Peterborough and attributed to the otherwise unknown Geoffrey of Ufford. Along with moral, grammatical, and rhetorical treatises and a multilingual glossary, the main text within Stowe 57 is a universal history in prose and verse spanning from Creation up to King Henry II’s coronation in 1154. The close analysis of the universal history shows that Geoffrey of Ufford conceived the textual assemblage extant in Stowe 57 as a sophisticated teaching compendium. By investigating the articulation of universal history and, specifically, the history of England within the ambitious scope of Geoffrey of Ufford’s Scutum Bedae, the goal is to reassess the role of universal history-writing in twelfth-century England and its capacity to shape political identity and intercept the vibrant intellectual culture of the time.
For further information on this seminar, please contact Institute Secretary Cynthia Watson at: email@example.com