The Historia Compostellana, its authors, and their times (1088-1148): an historiographical study.

Kawalek, James Peter Edward (2022). The Historia Compostellana, its authors, and their times (1088-1148): an historiographical study. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis provides an historiographical study of the Historia Compostellana, a twelfth-century serial record from the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest corner of Iberia. Produced in three stages between 1108 and 1148, and covering the years 1088-1139, the Historia Compostellana was a contemporaneously written history of the life and achievements of Archbishop Diego Gelmírez, produced by his partisans in the city’s cathedral scriptorium. By approaching this text as a piece of historical writing, this thesis provides a new, literary understanding of the Historia Compostellana, detailing its complex production history, its three differing authorial conceptions, and its overall unity as a final product. Compiled in a place and time experiencing rapid social and political change, the Historia Compostellana offers a window onto the many transformative processes of the age, touching on issues such as Church reform, inter-episcopal rivalry, Galician politics and society, and a Leonese-Castilian succession crisis. As a dynamically compiled serial record it also embodies this era of change, retaining within it some of the innovative ways in which twelfth-century compilers sought to refashion the past to serve their institutional ends. In order to foreground these changing contexts, the thesis is structured with respect to the work’s authorship and its three production phases (or registra), with Chapters One, Three, and Four concerning the conceptions of the Historia Compostellana (those of Munio Alfonso, Gerald, and Pedro Marcio) and Chapter Two examining Hugh’s furta sacra, a noteworthy narrative integrated into Munio Alfonso’s work. This thesis makes use of a narratological analysis and an examination of various literary features, namely authorial intention, genre, intended audience, and social, historical, and political contexts. By insisting on this culturally situated, socio-political reading, one that broadly avoids modern categorisations, the thesis provides a basis for understanding the Historia Compostellana that is closer to the authors’ own, while also giving an insight into the thoughtworlds they operated within. It argues that the final Historia Compostellana, that which one encounters today, is a largely incoherent text, whose differing styles, approaches, and perspectives reflect an unstable production history and a work subject to divergent institutional priorities, authors, and historical contexts. Ultimately, it provides scholars a tool with which they can understand the intrinsic subjectivity of the Historia Compostellana and offers a template for others wishing to conduct similar studies of medieval serial records.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
D History General and Old World > DP Spain


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