Taylor, Louisa (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis investigates the claims of some historians that we cannot consider histories composed in Latin and the vernacular Anglo-Norman as part of one corpus of historical narratives, due to their linguistic differences. Historians often perceive Latin histories to be scholarly and religious, seeing vernacular histories as more influenced by lay aristocratic culture. This study investigates if this separation is justified. To do this, it compares three vernacular histories and three Latin histories composed in twelfth century England. It focuses specifically on the patronage of these histories and the literary trend for ‘courtly’ writing which some scholars have seen as reflecting lay aristocratic culture. This comparison demonstrates that these histories were influenced by networks of both lay and religious aristocrats. It discusses how so called ‘courtly elements’ in vernacular histories, which are seen as the result of lay aristocratic influence, were also present in Latin histories. Vernacular histories could also include classical references, pious asides, and an extensive use of Latin source material. They are thus the product of many influences, including the historian’s education, their piety and the way in which they intend to use the past. They cannot be defined by the language they are composed in.
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