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Dudo of St Quentin's Historia Normannorum

Dudo of St Quentin's Historia Normannorum: Tradition, Innovation and Memory

Benjamin Pohl
Henry Bainton
Lars Boje Mortensen
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Dudo of St Quentin's Historia Normannorum
    Book Description:

    When Dudo of St. Quentin's Historia Normannorum first appeared in or around 1015, written for the then Duke of Normandy, Richard II, Dudo created a text without precedent. By committing the lives and deeds of Richard II's ancestors to written memory for the first time since the foundation of Normandy under the Viking Rollo in 911, Dudo provided the Norman court at Rouen with both an official dynastic historiography and a treasured record of their collective past. The Historia Normannorum was conceived, from the outset, as an idiosyncratic text which purported to be both staunchly traditional and remarkably innovative. This book's analysis of the Historia uses historical and manuscript evidence, alongside literary theory and approaches from memory studies, to provide fresh insights into the text. It shows the Historia to be one of the most influential and important historical narratives of the Middle Ages, perhaps even the earliest surviving example of an illustrated chronicle from the entire Latin West. Benjamin Pohl is a DAAD Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. He is also a Research Associate at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-468-0
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations and Manuscript Sigla
    (pp. x-xi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-33)

    Writing the history of Normandy and committing the lives and deeds of its rulers to memory are tasks which were embarked upon by several generations of chroniclers and poets during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, both before and after the Norman Conquest of England.¹ The historiography of Normandy and its potentates can confidently be called ‘a living text’, perhaps even ‘a history without an end’,² due to its having been continuously reassessed, revised and rewritten by both ecclesiastical and secular writers including Serlo of Bayeux, Gilbert Crispin, William of Poitiers, Baldric of Dol, Orderic Vitalis, Robert of Torigni, Wace and...

  7. 1 The Manuscripts
    (pp. 34-108)

    Dudo’s work is usually considered the earliest full-length historiographical account of medieval Normandy and its rulers, which makes it an essential source for the investigation of Norman literary and cultural history.¹ Few of the standard textbooks and anthologies exploring the history and literature of what is commonly referred to as the ‘Anglo-Norman world’ can afford not to feature at least a handful of passages from theHN.² Past treatments range from rather general (sometimes even generalizing) remarks on Dudo and his ‘professional’ relationship with the Norman ducal court to more elaborate commentaries focusing on the text itself.³ Being widely recognized...

  8. 2 Tradition
    (pp. 109-155)

    In order to understand how theHNfunctions as a medium of cultural memory, we first must investigate the specific conditions of its composition. Having reassessed the manuscript tradition in the course of the previous chapter, it is now possible, and necessary, to reconsider the historical and literary context of Dudo’s work. I shall begin with a closer look at the author himself and his education.¹

    Not much is known today about the life of the man who wrote theHN. Scholars have already gathered, compiled and analysed what little reliable information there is on Dudo and his biography,² often...

  9. 3 Innovation
    (pp. 156-223)

    As I argued in Chapter 2, in hisHNDudo styled the Norman dukes of the early eleventh century as heirs to the Roman and Carolingian emperors. Underlying this literary conception of the Norman past, though, is a distinct notion oftranslatio et imitatio imperii, a political thought which Dudo cultivated throughout his career, both within Normandy as the author of theHNand, as dean of Saint-Quentin, without. This chapter explores the implications of this relationship for our understanding of theHN’s function and audience. Indeed, the difficult question as to for whom theHNwas originally intended continues...

  10. 4 Memory
    (pp. 224-251)

    It has long been recognized that texts, just like cultures, usually have a past of their own.¹ This past frequently became reassessed and exploited by successive generations of medieval writers, a process which perhaps can best be referred to as reinscription.² Reinscription represents one of the crucial mechanics of cultural memory, involving the rewriting of the past from a present perspective. Erwin Panofsky has argued for an essential difference in how such processes of reinscription were executed by Carolingian artists and by others in later periods.³ According to Panofsky, what differentiates Carolingian reinscriptions from those of the eleventh and twelfth...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 252-261)

    When Dudo published his work during the second decade of the eleventh century, he created a text without precedent. In theHN, the lives and deeds of Richard I of Normandy and his ancestors were committed to writing for the first time, providing the Norman rulers with an ‘official’ dynastic historiography and a treasured record of their collective past. In choosing to narrate the history of Normandy and its ruling family by means of a serial biography, which he composed in the complex and sophisticated style of the Latinprosimetrum, Dudo revealed himself to be a highly innovative writer. As...

  12. Appendix 1 Summary Table of Manuscripts in Alphabetical Order
    (pp. 262-262)
  13. Appendix 2 Summary Table of Manuscripts in Chronological Order
    (pp. 263-263)
  14. Appendix 3 Explanatory Rubrics in Manuscripts R, Cc, Lr and A
    (pp. 264-267)
  15. Appendix 4 Poems A–D According to HN, ed. Lair
    (pp. 268-269)
  16. Appendix 5 Synopsis of Poems A–D in Manuscripts R, Cc, Lr, A, Be and Ln
    (pp. 270-272)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-306)
  18. Index
    (pp. 307-313)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 314-314)