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Ordericus Vitalis as historian in the Europe of the early Twelfth-Century Renaissance.

Ordericus Vitalis, and his near contemporary William of Malmesbury, whose name will inevitably come up from time to time in this article, had a more optimistic view of history than their great forebears, Augustine and Orosius, (1) and saw some value in trying to tease out the thread of where history was properly going in the short term, this side of the Apocalypse. Both Orderic, in his Ecclesiastical History, and William, in his Gesta Regum Anglorum, though working to some extent far from the major centres of action in their world (Malmesbury and St Evroult abbeys), nevertheless displayed great keenness to learn from the history of their larger environments, English in the case of William, and Norman in the case of Orderic. Although by no means the only historians of their century, these two were the greatest of their period and modern historians owe most to their selfless zeal in collecting historical information and in placing it into a credible and useful context. (2)

Historiography, it turns out, seems indeed to have been an important aspect of the twelfth-century Renaissance, as intellectuals in troubled and changing times sought to understand or fashion their present in terms of their own and their country or region's past. We need only mention Otto of Freising, about whom Sverre Bagge has written so perceptively, (3) and William of Tyre, about whom opinions seem somewhat divided, (4) to appreciate the calibre of historical thinking during the twelfth century. Ordericus Vitalis was a voluminous historian in just such changing times and we seek here to examine what he thought history was, why it should be written, for whom, and why he compiled it the way he did. A consideration of these matters in some detail will, I hope, assist the modern historian to confront the challenge of making sense, in our own context, of Orderic's relatively novel attitudes. (5) I am not claiming here that Orderic is special in any particular way, though he is interestingly different from the clearly 'fictional' historical writers of his and later days. (6) He is fully aware of the rhetorical devices used by contemporaries and other medieval historians to vivify and impart credible 'reality' to their narratives, (7) and his notion that history is witness to God's activity on earth (8) is a common foundation for medieval historiography. (9) My major aim in this article will be to draw attention to Orderic's methodologies and achievements 'close-up', so to speak, and to encourage modern historians to re-think their tasks in the light of Orderic's presentation of his past.

The study of Ordericus Vitalis, monk in the Norman monastery of St Evroult, (10) English by birth, with a Norman father and an English mother, and writing his great history between c. 1114 and 1141, is currently something of a growth industry. There has been a recent European conference on Orderic, (11) and the six-volume edition and translation of Orderic's work by the late Marjorie Chibnall invites much further research. Amanda Jane Hingst's The Written Word: Past and Place in the Work of Orderic Vitalis, (12) is a good example of new work on Orderic. We should not need any prompting to read the work of Orderic, because it is a uniquely valuable experience, even though there are many topics which he does not choose to include in his work, such as the succession of world empires, (13) the world significance of the reign of Augustus, (14) the matching disorder of history and narrative, (15) the mutability of human affairs, (16) 'allegorical readings and interpretations appropriate to human conduct', (17) or the 'ambitious schemes of world history comparable to those of Hugh of St Victor and Otto of Freising'. (18) Just how and why Orderic decided to put into his Historia Ecclesiastica what he did, however, still requires judgement and analysis, because it is not easily described, yet is fundamental for any understanding of how the twelfth-century historian constructed his subject. Orderic's relatively peripheral geographical position in Europe warrants consideration and the great historiographical project he set before himself in such a remote place further promotes our interest. (19) Behind any reading of Orderic, lies the very wide-ranging historian William of Malmesbury, who died around the same time as Orderic and was born perhaps a decade or so later. Comparisons with William are always implicit when we talk about Orderic, and a few remarks here might elaborate this perspective.

Both William and Orderic had mixed parentage, they both spent their lives in a relatively marginal monastic environment, largely avoided high office there, and devoted themselves to reading, writing, excerpting, annotating, seeking for and copying manuscripts, while they cared for, or upgraded the contents and scope of their abbey libraries. They both travelled, though William perhaps more extensively than Orderic-at least within England -and they both wrote works other than their main historical compilations, though again William was far more exhaustive here than Orderic. They both indulged in digressions, (20) which they carefully noted for the reader's better understanding of when and where the main thread of their histories was being resumed; they were both very good at telling their reader why and what they were doing at each stage of their historical writings; they were both devoted to including in their histories as many actual letters, charters, (21) and speeches (22) as possible; they both loved poetry-and Orderic wrote a lot of it and included it in his history; (23) they were both attentive to women and the role women played in history; (24) they both admired and desired strong kingship, reserving particular-but not entirely uncritical-praise for Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror, and Henry I. They both included very substantial histories of the crusading movement in their work; (25) they were not averse to stringent criticisms and interesting assessments of the character of certain peoples-particularly the Normans, the people of Maine, the Welsh, (26) the Scots, the Franks, the English, (27) though in regard to the Jews, William was far more anti-Semitic than Orderic who does not betray any anti-Semitism at all. (28) They were both severely critical of foppish fashions and the degenerate morals of their contemporaries, and they were both given to including in their histories entirely improbable but vigorously authenticated stories, such as, in Orderic's case, the fabulous tale of the priest Walkelin concerning Herlequin or Herlechin or Hennequin's hunt-an individual who sold himself to the devil and who was compelled to return every year at Advent to hunt with his huntsmen and dogs during the storms of the night. (29) Chibnall describes this 'as much a moral and social tract or sermon, coloured by the penitential teaching of the early twelfth century, as a piece of folklore' and 'It is also one of the most unforgettable passages in the Ecclesiastical History'. (30) Such inclusions are perhaps more noticeable in Orderic's work, than in William's: Orderic certainly seems to have studiously avoided the fabulous tales about figures such as Gerbert of Rheims, or Pope Gregory VII that William saw fit to include in his works.

Finally, both historians were devoted to reading the works of their predecessors, especially Bede, and for Orderic, Eusebius and Jerome, whose works they saw themselves as continuing. Orderic was far more scrupulous thanWilliam in telling us what works he was using and how he was using them: he 'either used, cited, or mentioned over a hundred sources, quite apart from charters and canons of councils' in the course of writing his History. (31) It is, however, often asserted that William was more selective and better focused than Orderic when it came to writing his histories, (32) an assertion portions of the present article will contest. William also had a clearer idea of where he thought history was-or should be-going, (33) towards a more developed type of civilisation, far removed from the barbarism that characterised peoples much earlier in time than his own day. Orderic has, by comparison, a more apocalyptic view of history than William, (34) whose reading was nevertheless wider, whose interests were broader and whose contacts with the real world were better than those of Orderic.

Orderic has, though, received very mixed reception among modern historians. The early nineteenth-century French politician, historian, and medievalist, Francois Guizot, thought very poorly of Orderic's confused historical method:
   It is plain enough that the way in which his work was put together
   has contributed in no small degree to the confusion which reigns
   throughout the writings of the monk of St Evroult: his whole object
   having been to make collections from all quarters, of facts,
   traditions, adventures, acts and letters, his work repeatedly
   changed its form and its object while under his hands, and he gave
   himself but little trouble, except to find a place in it, no matter
   in what order, for all the stores of information he had gathered.
   Accordingly, on more than one occasion his materials seem thrown
   together pell-mell ... sometimes he interrupts the course of his
   narrative by dividing the account of a particular event into
   distinct portions, separated by long intervals; and, at others, he
   repeats the same story in different parts of his work ... No sort
   of art or method appears to have been used in combining this
   prodigious mass of facts, and when the work is considered as a
   whole, from a single point of view, one cannot fail, on a first
   impression, of being most sensible of this striking confusion. (35)


He also wrote:
   No book contains so much and such valuable information on the
   history of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, on the political,
   civil and religious state of society in the West, and on the
   manners of the age, whether feudal, monastic or popular. In his
   genuine honesty and native frankness, Ordericus makes no attempt to
   argue anything, to conceal anything: he tells his story, and gives
   his opinions; he blames or approves, without any other idea but
   that of publishing what he knows and what he thinks. Simple,
   credulous, and having no pretensions to be considered a sagacious
   observer, or a critic, still he was independent and sincere-rare
   merits among the monkish chroniclers of his own age, who, besides,
   are quite as deficient as himself in those qualities wherein he
   failed. (36)


This view is echoed by Chibnall who says of Books III and IV that 'As a social history of the eleventh century [Orderic's work] is unparalleled'. (37) In regard to the later period, she writes: 'Even though his chronology is often shaky, he provides by far the fullest and most reliable account of events in Normandy during the reign of Henry I and the early years of Stephen.' (38) Emily Albu calls the Historia Ecclesiastica a 'masterwork', a 'masterpiece of the Norman historical tradition'. (39) Perhaps the most recent to write about Orderic, at least in book form, Amanda Hingst, has this to say:
   Orderic's significance lies simply in who he was, a man of the
   eleventh and twelfth centuries--an educated man, yes, an
   intelligent man, perceptive, eloquent, creative, sympathetic,
   judgemental, hopeful, worried, joyous, tormented, and at peace, but
   still just a man ... not a king, a bishop, a heretic, a criminal, a
   soldier or a saint.... an ordinary person, and that is why he
   should matter. His thoughts were as complicated, fragmented, and
   inconsistent as those of any other individual, his loves and hates
   as arbitrary and as passionate.... Orderic is important because he
   cared enough to spend a lifetime writing history for anyone who
   would listen. The fact that people didn't listen then does not mean
   that we shouldn't listen now.


Despite any shortcomings Orderic's work reveals when compared to the historical writings of William of Malmesbury, Orderic's very existence makes it easier to understand the existence and nature of someone like William. In the first half of the twelfth century, the so-called 'Golden Age' of Benedictine monasticism, we may see the monasteries as the chief custodians of historical consciousness. (40) In a basic sense, they were devoted to the historical record as in some sense the story of God's work, and in a connected sense, full of moral lessons and examples of good and bad behaviour to follow and avoid. (41) A good example here is Orderic's story of the priest Walkelin, already mentioned. Orderic habitually introduced biblical exempla into his narration of speeches and events he wished to record from his own day or the immediate past, (42) and he often supplemented these with references to classical figures, such as Julius Caesar. As Sigbjorn Sonnesyn writes:
   History filled the important function of bringing the people of the
   past to the mind's eye ... Historical figures could ... function as
   moral examples in an additional way to the elucidation of specific
   points of moral doctrine ... William did not shape his works as
   easily accessible works of reference in which individual historical
   facts could be found; he provided the material for contemplating
   what history meant and how it could be used for living better in
   the future. (43)


To complement this observation, we should cite M. C. D'Arcy's The Sense of History, Secular and Sacred:
   A very simple but almost fully fledged philosophy of history makes
   its appearance as soon as man believes that God's justice will work
   itself out in the mortal life of man. God will see to it that the
   good flourish and the wicked perish. (44)


This monastic history, then, is not our idea of history. (45) Accuracy and impartiality were seldom looked for. As the notes to Thomas Forester's 1853-56 translation make clear, Orderic made errors of two types all over the place. Some were intentional, such as his omission of the well-known story at the siege of Gerberoi (1079), of William I's son Robert wounding and dismounting his father in one of the chivalrous encounters under the walls of Gerberoi, and, discovering him by his voice, remounting him on his own horse after vainly imploring his forgiveness. (46) Some were unintentional, such as Orderic's mixing up of the subject of Henry IV of Germany's wives. (47) Despite their aims as historians, both William and Orderic often lapsed into mere chronicling-earthquakes, floods, famines, bad winters, and the like (48) -demonstrating their interest in annals as such and in the very existence of an historical record. Orderic began his historical activity, in fact, chronicling the history of his monastery at St Evroult, (49) and inserting additions to William of Jumieges's Gesta Normannorum Ducum. (50)

Nevertheless, their major contribution to historiography was the bringing of the past into the present, by livening it up, and telling anecdotes from it of interest. (51) The most notable feature of Orderic's history is the extent to which he enlivens his narrative by inventing speeches. We are all familiar with this practice, going back as it does to Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Most medieval historians, on this principle, insert a fictitious speech of Urban II into their accounts of the first crusade and we are all familiar with the extraordinary speech of Kerbogha's mother before the great battle of Antioch recorded in the Gesta Francorum. (52)

No medieval historian, however, to my knowledge, so frequently introduces speeches into his narrative as Orderic. (53) Although at one point our historian tells us that he cannot give us what Henry I and his brother Robert Curthose actually said to each other on an important occasion because he was not present and had to learn what went on from what he heard from others, (54) he introduces elaborate speeches on all sorts of occasions at which he cannot possibly have been present. Some good examples may be cited here.

At one point, addressing Henry I, 'Serlo, the venerable bishop of Seez' delivers a discourse so powerfully denouncing the violence and disorder in contemporary Normandy, that Henry replied to him 'In God's name, I will not shrink from toiling earnestly for the restoration of peace, and with your aid will use my best endeavours to give tranquillity to the church'. (55) Of course, Serlo's speech contained very much Orderic's view of what should happen and what was wrong with current affairs!

Another great speech is that of Orderic's father to Roger of Montgomery, founder of the Abbey of Shrewsbury. In the course of this speech, Orderic not only delivers a powerful encomium of monasticism, but also refers to himself as an exile for God:
   When ... I reflect on the conduct of all classes of persons who
   inhabit this earth, and especially examine the lives of hermits and
   canons, I consider them all to be inferior to monks, who live
   canonically and observe the rules of their order ... [and] I
   surrender my eldest son for the love of my saviour, and destine him
   to banishment over the sea, that, a voluntary exile, he may enter
   the service of the King of Heaven among foreigners, where, free
   from all family ties and hurtful affections, he may be the more
   devoted to monastic duties and the worship of the Lord. All this, I
   have long wished, by God's inward motions, and have above all
   things desired to devote myself and my children to this way of life
   that I may be found worthy by God's grace to be numbered with them
   among the elect at the day of account. (56)


Orderic thus refers movingly to his father's sending of himself into Normandy forty-two years previously 'as if I had been a hateful step-son, into exile'.

Let us also in this connection hearken to Guitmund, 'venerable monk of the monastery called La Croix d'Helton', in his 'long letter' to William the Conqueror, who wanted him to take up high religious office in England. (57) In the course of this letter, Guitmund complains that the English are to him barbarous in language and manners, and
   A wretched people, whose fathers and near relations and friends
   have either fallen by your sword, or have been disinherited by you,
   driven into exile, imprisoned, or subjected to an unjust and
   intolerable slavery ... I look upon England as altogether one vast
   heap of booty, and I am afraid to touch it and its treasures as if
   it were a burning fire. (58)


The community to be governed should in any case carry out ecclesiastical elections:
   How can that which you have wrung from the people by war and
   bloodshed be innocently conferred on myself and others who despise
   the world and have voluntarily stripped ourselves of our own
   substance for Christ's sake? (59)


In the course of his discourse, Guitmund uses exempla from the Bible, ancient Persia and Babylonia, Greece and Troy, Macedonia, the Romans, the Franks and Anglo-Saxons, the Gepids, Goths, Vandals, Turks, Huns and Heruli! Indeed,
   When Guitmund returned to the enclosure of his own monastery, it
   was noised abroad that he had preferred monastic poverty to
   episcopal wealth, and, further, that he had, in the presence of the
   king and his nobles, stigmatised the conquest of England with the
   character of robbery, and accused of rapacity all the bishops and
   abbots who had obtained preferment in England against the feeling
   of the natives. (60)


This speech, accompanied by several historical errors and inaccuracies, nevertheless included many ideas dear to Orderic's heart, such as the superiority of the monastic way of life, canonical elections, and his view of the Norman conquest of England as rape and pillage!

Our final example here is the extraordinary eleven-page discourse of William the Conqueror on his deathbed, in which he recapitulates the principal events of his life and the disposition of his treasure and estates. (61) In the course of this speech, which the king never made and which, even if he had made it, Orderic would never have been in a position to hear, we find a remarkable characterisation of the Normans:
   The Normans, when under the rule of a kind but firm master, are a
   most valiant people, excelling all others in the invincible courage
   with which they meet difficulties, and strive to conquer every
   enemy. But under other circumstances they rend in pieces and ruin
   each other. They are eager for rebellion, ripe for tumults, and
   ready for every sort of crime. They must therefore be restrained by
   the strong hand of justice, and compelled to walk in the right way
   by the reins of discipline. But if they are allowed to take their
   own course without any yoke and like an untamed colt [indomitus
   onager], they and their princes will be overwhelmed with poverty,
   shame, and confusion.


I shall refer later in this article to another collection of marvellous speeches, in connection with Bohemund's escape, early in the twelfth century, from a Turkish prison. (62) In these and on many other matters, the speeches express ideas and views that Orderic held as his own, and it is very distinctive that he should have chosen this mode of expressing them. They demonstrate more effectively, perhaps, than anything else, the rhetorical/humanistic approach of early twelfth-century historians to which Sverre Bagge has drawn attention. (63) Not only did such speeches bring history alive, but they showed the manipulative politics of the great historical actors in the full view, as it were, of those who were meant to draw lessons of behaviour from such exempla.

Orderic often introduces details that render his narrative extremely vivid, but which leave the modern historian wondering how he came to acquire such detail. (64) He will also skate over the facts in order to provide a vivid and morally advantageous encounter with those whom he considers the best kings (William the Conqueror or Henry I), though he will often point out their failings as well as their virtues. (65) But many leaders, for example, Robert Curthose, are roundly dismissed and even some of their good deeds are ignored, such as Robert's encounter with his brother Henry at the siege of Gerberoi. (66)

Like Prosper Merimee (who said 'In history I care only for anecdotes' (67)) or Eugene Onegin, (68) both William of Malmesbury and Ordericus Vitalis were keen on anecdotes. Ansold, son of Peter, Lord of Maule, is cited by Orderic as one who had admirable virtues as a knight, orator, philosopher, and ascetic: 'He studied history in the works of ancient writers, diligently investigating their learned records, and committing the lives of the men of old, which he heard related, to his tenacious memory.' (69) A little later Orderic says
   This man of arms might have been taken for a model even by persons
   living under the monastic rule; such was the frugality with which
   he led all who associated with him to a prudent course of life, and
   such the limits of temperance to which he restricted himself. (70)


Such a man not only learned from the examples of the past, but was himself an example for Orderic. In this respect, Orderic must be distinguished from William of Malmesbury, who fills his Polyhistor with numerous anecdotes, very few of which have any discernible moral purpose. Both William and Orderic claim only to relate the truth from reliable sources, (71) but they are less than scrupulous here and William less so than Orderic. Nevertheless, both are deeply devoted and overwhelmingly committed to handing down the past for the benefit of posterity, though they differed in terms of what constituted the past and how they went about incorporating it into the works they wrote.

Orderic's understanding of history is perhaps best described in the great introduction that he wrote to Book VI of his Historia Ecclesiastica, on history, morals, and God's careful ordering of all things: (72)
   The sharp point of our human talent, [he wrote], needs to be always
   competently exercised by a useful sedimental foundation, (73) and
   by reworking past events and grubbing through present ones, to be
   taught with what virtues to happily face the future. Each of us
   ought to learn daily how to live, and to seize upon the bold
   examples of heroic figures who have passed away, for our own
   advantage.


Incredible and novel things can sometimes only be explained by careful investigations of the past:
   Learned people [studiosi] therefore investigate things that are
   hidden, and think about piously and evaluate highly whatever they
   dare to imagine will profit a well-disposed mind. They are
   motivated by goodwill to mankind and they show past things to
   posterity without any axe to grind, though they often suffer from
   the wolfish envy of others, and some give up on their task through
   the fangs of envy, and the world suffers a sad loss of knowledge
   about the past.


In the course of this majestic preface, Orderic enumerates what he thinks are the true subjects of history: 'Status humanus' (74); 'Lapsus humanus' (75); 'Volubilitas labentis seculi' (76); 'Vicissitudo prelatorum principumque nostrorum | Pax et bellum et multimode res qui non deficiunt casibus terrigenarum (77); and 'Miracula et prodigia sanctorum'. (78)
   With our mind on all these things, [Orderic concludes], we must
   write truthfully about the course of secular history and human
   affairs and a cronographya must be sunk into the ground in praise
   of the creator and just governor of all things, for the eternal
   founder works continuously and arranges everything wondrously, (79)
   and each of us should in accordance with our ability and desire put
   forward piously concerning God's glorious acts what divinity will
   have inspired us with. (80)


From what subject matters, though, did Orderic make up his history? Although he called his work the Historia Ecclesiastica, Albu, citing Chibnall's paper 'Feudal Society in Orderic Vitalis', (81) says 'fully "five-sixths of it deals with the emergence of the duchy of Normandy and the great Norman expansion into England, southern Italy, Spain and Antioch"; that is, 'secular' history.

Now this is not quite accurate. We know that Orderic began his historical writing on his own abbey and onWilliam of Jumieges's history of the Norman dukes. (82) Normandy is obviously an initial focus, but his scope expanded to include the fate of the Norman dukes in England, and related peoples and areas-Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Scandinavia, France, together with Norman and other adventurers in Italy and on the crusades.

Hingst has put Orderic's process of composition for the Historia Ecclesiastica quite nicely: (83)
   it took Orderic almost thirty years to complete his thirteen books.
   The first two (which received their current designations as books
   III and IV after Orderic organized his work in 1136 or 1137) were
   composed between 1114 and 1125 and dealt primarily with his abbey
   and its political surroundings. Orderic next, around 1127, set out
   in book V the lineage of the archbishops of Rouen, Normandy's only
   archiepiscopal see. The early 1130s saw the composition of the bulk
   of book VI, again with a focus on the abbey, and also books VII and
   VIII on the Anglo-Norman world. Book IX, which covered the first
   crusade, was written no later than 1135, the year that Orderic also
   took up again the history of England, Normandy, and the Holy Land
   in book X. Books XI and XII continue in the same vein, a history of
   Christendom as Orderic knew it, and were written in large part
   between 1135 and 1137. At the same time, Orderic compiled the new
   book I, which began with a vita Christi based on the Gospels and
   continued with a chronicle of ecclesiastical and secular affairs,
   and also worked on book II on the acts of the apostles and the
   lineage of the pope. The historian then capped off his Historia
   Ecclesiastica around 1137 with a prologue at the beginning to
   introduce the work and book XIII at the end, which continued the
   story of Christendom's history. The bulk of the Historia
   Ecclesiastica was thus complete by 1137, when Orderic was 62 years
   old. He added some material up until 1141, and probably died soon
   after.


Orderic's first two books are very odd indeed, but they do not make of the Historia Ecclesiastica a universal chronicle, as some suppose, (84) and as Otto of Freising put together in his Chronica. (85) The latter work is two books down before Otto gets to the point at which Orderic starts in his Historia Ecclesiastica. Even then, all Otto says is 'At this time Jesus Christ, the son of God, but according to the flesh a son of David, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem at Judaea'.86 What Otto deals with as an almost incidental event under the heading of the world peace introduced by the Romans, in the 42nd year of Augustus's reign, the 752nd from the foundation of the city, in the 193rd Olympiad, and 5,500 years since Adam was born (where Otto began his Chronica), and when an alien was ruling in Judaea, one Herod, son of Antipater, Orderic made the foundation stone of his Historia Ecclesiastica. His Book I begins with the birth of Christ and then builds up a life of Christ and a history of the early church in Christ's time (Hist. Eccles. I. 1 to I. 21), at which point he takes stock and sets down a list of imperial rulers, western and eastern, which somehow transforms itself around I. 24 into a list of western rulers, ending with Henry I of England. Book II takes us back to I. 21 and deals with the history of the church from Christ's ascension, through the early apostles and, later, saints and martyrs, ending with the popes down to Innocent II. To produce these two books, Orderic has harmonised the Gospels, Jerome, Isidore, Bede, Augustine, and a variety of other sources. (87) As Chibnall remarks, 'There is nothing quite like it elsewhere'. (88) It represents a closely focused and intensive programme of summary and extracting from a variety of sources, to make up a very carefully selected story, which he calls a chronographyam. (89) We may use here Lars Boje Mortensens remarks to the effect that medieval historians were 'conscious manipulators who had every right to make the choices' that they make in their histories; (90) it was their task 'to use their privileged access to knowledge, language, poetics and parchment in order to make the lasting version of the local past', to construct 'sanctified beginnings of historical writing'. (91)

What led Orderic to suppose that he should 'complete' his work by adding two volumes on the history of the church from the birth of Christ, unless to imitate Eusebius? (92) Let us first see what percentage of his work as a whole is 'ecclesiastical'. Surprisingly, using the pages in the Forester translations as a guide, there are 1005.75 pages of ecclesiastical history and 690.25 pages of secular history, together with 26 pages of what I have called 'method', where Orderic explains his purpose. In other words, nearly 60 per cent of the work is ecclesiastical. Admittedly, I have classified all of the crusading history as ecclesiastical-because that is how Orderic-and his contemporaries-saw it.

No one will suppose that Orderic was entirely systematic about what he thought history was and what he thought his history should be, and he probably began to think about and compile Books I and II while working on Books VI to X. At II. 18 he says:
   Since I have determined to weave together a chronographyam
   according to the writings of my forbears [scripta priscorum] and
   beginning an ecclesiastical narration at the head of which I have
   briefly placed certain things concerning the holy apostles, I
   strive now, with God's help to put forward a continued series of
   Roman bishops, and I will strive to begin from the blessed apostle
   Peter to whom Christ gave the keys to the kingdom of the heavens.


In other words, there is no clear idea here. We have, mixed up, a chronology, an ecclesiastical history, and a list of Roman bishops, the latter being seen as a sort of continuation of the second category. We can put all this together only if we see even secular history as a kind of ecclesiastical history, for it is a history of what God has allowed to happen in the world, as both a lesson to posterity and a series of pay-outs by God one way or another, and God's ways are inscrutable. (93) Orderic sees his own role as the one who puts the record of God's work together for posterity as far as the areas he has knowledge of are concerned. He weaves what we would call secular and ecclesiastical together in a seamless way, and he spells out the lessons from time to time and at other times he allows us, his readers, to gather what we feel we should from what he says. He frequently points to the problems Normandy faces: its people are ferocious and competitive, its actual rulers are often incompetent, and its real rulers, the kings of England, are too often preoccupied elsewhere.

Orderic has no doubts that Normandy must be ruled by the English kings and he has a clear idea-like William of Malmesbury-of what a ruler should be. He should be just, and he should favour the Church and especially monasticism. He should be faithful to his wife, avoid strollers, buffoons, dancing girls and excessive drink, keep the castle-owning nobility under firm control, display great military strength, resoluteness in battle, and a diplomatic ability to conciliate his own nobility and to mould them to right purposes. In this regard, Orderic eulogises Henry I of England (Hist. Eccles. X. 15), who 'distinguished himself above all the lords and kings of the West, and obtained the favour both of the clergy and the laity, who were delighted to find themselves governed with reason'.94 In the same way Gilbert, Bishop of Evreux, spoke eloquently at the funeral of William the Conqueror, expatiating
   On William's having extended by his valour the bounds of the Norman
   dominion, and raised his people to a pitch of greatness surpassing
   the times of any of his predecessors; and on his having maintained
   peace and justice in all his states, wisely chastising thieves and
   robbers with the scourge of law, while he firmly defended the
   clergy and monks, and defenceless people, with his meritorious
   sword. (95)


Even if such eulogies were not entirely accurate, they certainly served as a worthwhile model and a standard. Their opposite is equally beguiling, for example, Orderic's vilification of the German King/ Emperor Henry IV. (96)

LikeWilliam of Malmesbury, Orderic often believed in putting everything before his reader: floods, famines, earthquakes, riots, Church, and state, all in together. He allowed his reader no choice in what he saw, which is less the case for William of Malmesbury, who carefully compiled different things in different volumes for different purposes, thereby allowing his reader some choice in what to read and absorb.

We do not know exactly what purpose Orderic, or those whom he claimed instructed him to compile his histories, had in mind for his work. Chibnall says passages would have been read aloud in the monastic liturgy (97) and no doubt many monks would have been encouraged to read the autograph volumes of the Historia Ecclesiastica which were kept at St Evroult, and punctuated to suit reading aloud.

The best and fullest exploration of this 'audience' has been provided by R. D. Ray. (98) Ray sees the monastic audience as the major audience that Orderic had always in mind. He stresses that Orderic saw history as unequivocally the work of God; (99) he felt that God should be praised in and through the works of men. Orderic, he says
   was speaking directly to monks in cloister, refectory, chapter
   house or choir, all involved at least bodily in the act of
   Benedictine lectio; (100) ... to Orderic's readers ... "simple
   history" ... signified something divinely imprinted in itself which
   might lead on to allegorical, tropological, maybe even anagogical
   insights into the history of salvation; the Historia was written
   under pressure from its anticipated Benedictine audience. It was
   composed, in other words, not just for any reading, but precisely
   for entonement at lectio divina, maybe at collatio, certainly at
   table, and conceivably in some parts of Divine Office. (101)


However, Orderic was not nearly as well integrated into the leading nobility of the land as was William of Malmesbury and as a result the manuscript survival of his work is sparse compared with the survival of William's Gesta Regum, for example. (102) There seem to have been around four medieval manuscripts of the work (a twelfth-century autograph, and copies each from the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries), full or partial, and five or six sixteenth-century copies. As Chibnall observes, the work was 'too cumbrous to be widely circulated'. Hingst comments:
   The Historia, in both size and content, was apparently too weighty
   to circulate widely, though it did have some limited appeal. For
   all Orderic's talk about future generations it was the modern
   world, not the medieval, that would be touched by his words and
   would thank him for daring to record both the good and bad of his
   age. (103)


This is a great shame because the work is surprisingly vivid, readable, and instructive. There are some very fine moments, such as the description of Lanfranc (104) and the poet Hildebert; (105) the marvellous, almost romantic or fictional, story of Bohemond's escape from captivity, as a result of a battle very early in the twelfth century in which Danismand, Daliman, Dolimannus, or Kumushtakin, as the Turkish emir is severally called, captured and imprisoned Bohemond and other Christian combatants; (106) the very vivid description of tumult at the synod at Rouen where 'clerical commerce with females of any description' was banned (1119; Hist. Eccles. XII. 25);107 the tragic, powerful, and vividly told story of the sinking of the Blanche-Nef in the same chapter (1 120), (108) and the disasters and troubles that attended it. Chibnall points to other episodes she thinks are 'unforgettable'. (109)

Of all these episodes, we confine ourselves here to Bohemond's escape from capture by the Turks. The note in the Forester translation of Orderic reads:
   Bohemond and his cousin, Richard de Principatu, were on their way
   to relieve the Christian city of Melitene, now called Malathia,
   when they fell into the hands of the Turcoman emir, Danismand. They
   were kept in captivity four years, and there is no authentic
   account of the manner of their escaping from it, for the romantic
   legend preserved by our author cannot be considered as history.
   (110)


A little later our modern editor writes:
   No one can for a moment attach the character of authenticity to the
   details of his [Ordericus's] narrative. As M. Guizot remarks ...
   Ordericus made collections from all quarters of traditions and
   adventures as well as facts and we are not disposed to complain
   that among the stories of information gathered by his industry he
   has left us a very interesting specimen of the romance of the
   middle ages. (111)


Well, that is not what Orderic thought. He tells his story as if it were as factual as anything he has recorded, and a fine example of God helping those who trust in him (many Biblical exempla are adduced to prove this benevolence on God s part). I summarise Orderic's story here as it is an extraordinarily effective example of twelfth-century historiographical values and procedures. (112) Orderic tells us that Melaz, the daughter (113) of Daliman,
   was a beautiful and accomplished princess, and possessed great
   power in all her father's house, having the command of abundant
   wealth and a number of slaves to do her will. Hearing of the
   bravery of the Franks, she conceived a high regard for them, and
   sought their intimacy so ardently, that, bribing the gaolers
   liberally, she frequently descended into their dungeons, and held
   acute discussions with the prisoners concerning the Christian faith
   and the true religion, sometimes mingling deep sighs with the
   investigations she made. Their gentle and kind deportment placed
   them higher in her affections than even her parents, and she took
   care to supply them with all that was needful for food and
   clothing.


Two years later a struggle broke out between Daliman and his 'brother',114 and Melaz sought to get the Franks to take her father's side in battle. They politely agreed to do so and she organised for them, having returned to her father's castle, hopefully successful, to take power there until the father should accept what had happened. Melaz beseeched her Frankish friends to do this and asserted that she loved them like her own soul. She duly took off their fetters and armed them, making in the process many fine speeches, which, like the Frankish replies, Orderic has carefully preserved for us, having previously said that he can only report speeches that he has himself heard! Upon the Normans' return, all happened as Melaz had prophesied and the Normans took complete control of Daliman's palace and all its treasures, awaiting the daughter's command before harming anyone.

In the course of post-battle discussions, Melaz delivered a number of speeches to Daliman and his councillors, advising them to release all Christian captives throughout Daliman's dominions, for she herself had become a Christian, would no longer stay with her father and claimed that 'The faith of the Christians is holy and pure, while yours is full of vanity, and polluted with all uncleannness'. (115) As the Turks did not take these remarks kindly, Melaz released Bohemond from the oath he had previously sworn her, to do nothing without her command, and advised him to capture all her father's men and shut them up in a small chamber, while sending to Antioch for a force of Christian militia to help them make his and his men's escape. 'From this time', she said, 'I shall be inseparably your sister and will share cheerfully your success or misfortunes in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ'. (116) Daliman then came to agree with his daughter's point of view, cursed Mahomet and befriended Bohemond, receiving much good advice on this subject from his own (Daliman's!) men, who even quoted Terence's Andria to him! (117)

Peace was then sworn between Christians and Moslems, all Christians in Daliman's dominions were freed and given riches and clothes, and the Normans marched in great style to Antioch, accompanied by Melaz, her eunuchs, and her splendid household. Upon arrival, Melaz was admitted to the Christian church through baptism, and Bohemond made a grand speech to her, saying that although Daliman had betrothed him to her, it would not be fair to admit her to the difficult and embattled lifestyle that Bohemond would be forced to endure, and he apologised to her and called her his sister and daughter (rather than wife-to-be). He also offered her as husband his cousin, Roger, son of Richard de Principatu, as he was young, handsome, Bohemond's equal in birth, wealth, and power, yet not doomed to live Bohemond's embattled life: (118) 'In consequence, Roger's happy nuptials with Melaz were celebrated with great honours, and to the universal joy of the people of Antioch. Bohemond himself served as steward of the feast, with the principal lords of the country.' (119)

So much for Orderic's claims to have written 'history'. How could he claim that such a 'romance' was 'history'? Either we are mistaken and he received it more or less fresh from Bohemond's companions, or he simply made it up out of things they said to him. Ralph Bailey Yewdale, in his biography of Bohemond, (120) has what we actually know of Bohemond's release, due, it seems to the raising of a ransom and the release from Frankish captivity of the daughter of Yagi Siyan. Yewdale calls Orderic's account 'very fanciful', but then admits that the three major stories of Bohemond's release, that of Albert of Aachen, that of (allegedly) Waleran, Bishop of Nuremburg, and that of Orderic, have 'extremely interesting ... similarities'. Even Chibnall says Orderic probably got the story 'directly or indirectly from one of Bohemond's retinue after his pilgrimage to the shrine of St Leonard and marriage at Chartres in 1106'. (121) Whatever the case, we have here a clear case of history being effectively made up at the margins, and given a flavour which adds up to plain but attractive and verisimilar Christian propaganda, but also displays the way character, conversation, and bearing can operate to reverse seemingly impossible circumstances.

Jean Flori has much to say of Orderic's story. (122) He describes Bohemond's escape as 'La romanesque liberation' and feels Orderic's text 'merits much attention', not so much for its historical value-though that might not be insignificant-but for its instructive glorification of Bohemond as a wise knight without reproach, who embodies chivalric virtues and by his courage, military capacity, and the protection of God, secures the liberation of himself and his companions and establishes an entente with Christianity's dangerous enemies. 'Bohemond appears here at once as an epic hero, a courtly knight and a model crusader', (123) in contrast to the most un-epic (in western eyes) Byzantine ruler. We have here the core of Bohemond's later crusading propaganda and something developed out of the seeds conveyed to Orderic by those participants to whom he spoke on the subject. Flori concludes his chapter on the escape with the remark: 'La legende de Bohemond est en marche. Elle grandira.' (124)

In the end, despite all the above shortcomings-and even, perhaps, because of them-we come, like Guizot, to love and admire Ordericus-Vitalis, for his austerity and loss of family and father (he never mentions his mother), for his devotion to history and to his task of recording it, for his innocent simplicity, his belief and trust in God's protective goodness, for the lively readability of his narrative, for his prideful mastery of prosaic Latin verse and prose, and for his love of the memorable and the cautionary. His location at the margins, so to speak, not only gave him the leisure and the motive to think historically and to write history at all, and certainly to shape history as 'ecclesiastical history', but it located him where most history was written from: the margins. There are exceptions to this rule here (Thucydides, Caesar, Ammianus Marcellinus, Snorri Sturluson, Lord Acton, Roy Jenkins, Winston Churchill, and others), but history in the main is the work of those who do not make it, and in the case of both William and Orderic, their particular margin equipped them in very special ways to reflect on the past, to read the vast Latin writings on and about the past and then to couch their own writings in a language all intellectuals could and would want to read, and which has lasted down to our own day, while encouraging the greatest of our historians and people of letters to translate and copiously annotate it.

Both William of Malmesbury and Ordericus Vitalis were convinced that history did demonstrate God's providential control of world events, while assigning fate and fortune a considerable role. They did not recast their materials as thoroughly as Leonardo Bruni did, (125) and they did not stress human manipulation and political behaviour the way Snorri did. However, they assigned much oratorical vividness to their depiction of historical events and they did not let an apocalyptic or Augustinian perspective blunt their view of the significance of the tales they told. They seem to have assigned to history an important ethical role and also believed that the telling of the past had much to contribute to the shaping of the political present and future. Each medieval historian has indeed to be evaluated in terms of the goals each set himself, the regimes each chose to chronicle, and the particular aspects of literary and historiographical inheritance each chose to emphasise. The overall control of God did not prevent much that could be learned from chronicling human behaviour and character, but it was God's role that made history seem worthwhile as a subject of study, even if few contexts and situations provided the leisure, resources, and audience necessary to promote such study. Though most medieval historians worked from the margins, and their 'centres' were the regime[s] they chose to chronicle, and though their notion of historical truth is not ours, we can learn much from considering it afresh. In this task, the works of Ordericus Vitalis provide a most valuable first port of call.

The University of Sydney

(1) On Augustine and Orosius, see Matthew Kempshall, Rhetoric and the Writing of History 400-1500 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), pp. 64-78; see also Leah Shopkow, History and Community: Norman Historical Writing in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1997), pp. 249-51. I would like to thank here the two generous Parergon readers who examined the original version of the present article. They provided valuable criticism and much bibliographical help and I have tried to avail myself of most of it in the present version of the paper. Sigbjorn Sonnesyn of Bergen has also assisted much in sending me ideas and copies of various relevant papers.

(2) I have commented extensively on William of Malmesbury in 'William of Malmesbury: Chronicler, Antiquarian or Historian?', in The Creation of Medieval Northern Europe: Christianization, Social Transformations, and Historiography; Essays in Honour of Sverre Bagge, eds Leidulf Melve and Sigbjorn Sonnesyn (Oslo: Dreyer Forlag, 2012), pp. 271-313, and will make only occasional references to William in the present article. For further on William, readers might choose to consult Kirsten Fenton, Gender, Nation and Conquest in the Works of William of Malmesbury (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2008). Shopkow (p. 160) claims Orderic did not know William, but William may 'have known of Orderic, even if he had not read the Ecclesiastical History' (p. 233).

(3) Bagge, Kings, Politics and the Right Order of the World in German Historiography c. 950-1150 (Leiden: Brill, 2002), chap. 6; cf. also the bibliography of Sverre Bagge, in Creation of Medieval Northern Europe, eds Melve and Sonnesyn, pp. 389-99, no. 84, p. 393 and no. 159, p. 397.

(4) Peter W Edbury and John Gordon Rowe (William of Tyre: Historian of the Latin East (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)) seem not as enthusiastic about William's achievement as they might be.

(5) See Shopkow, pp. 31-32, and note her remark p. 206: 'In his valuation of history as a way of understanding and as a positive good in itself, independent of the instrumental purposes it might serve, Orderic, of all the Norman historians, comes closest to modern abstract attitudes about the value and purpose of history'.

(6) Geoffrey of Monmouth and Saxo Grammaticus, to take two obvious examples, on whom, see Saxo Grammaticus, The History of the Danes, trans. Peter Fisher, ed. Hilda Ellis Davidson, 2 vols (Cambridge: Brewer, Rowan and Littlefield, 1979-80); Karsten Friis-Jensen, 'In the Presence of the Dead: Saint Canute the Duke in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum, in The Making of Christian Myths in the Periphery of Latin Christendom (c. 1000-1300), ed. Lars Boje Mortensen (Copenhagen: Tusculanum, 2006), pp. 195-216; William F. Hansen, Saxo Grammaticus and the Life of Hamlet: A Translation, History and Commentary (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983); P. M. Mehtonen, 'Speak, Fiction: The Rhetorical Fabrication of Narrative in Geoffrey of Monmouth', in Medieval Narratives between History and Fiction: From the Centre to the Periphery of Europe, c. 1100-1400, eds Panagiotis A. Agapitos and Lars Boje Mortensen (Copenhagen: Tusculanum Press, 2012), pp. 81-101; and Lars Boje Mortensen, 'The Status of the "Mythical" Past in Nordic Latin Historiography (c. 1170-1220)', in ibid., pp. 103-29.

(7) For instance, speeches, on which see below at nn. 43, 52; see also Mehtonen, passim; and for Orderic's formulaic 'rejection of rhetorical artfulness', see Shopkow, p. 136.

(8) See n. 100 below; and Shopkow, pp. 202, 205.

(9) See Mortensen, 'The Status of the "Mythical" Past'; and Lars Boje Mortensen, 'Sanctified Beginnings and Mythopoietic Moments: The First Wave of Writing on the Past in Norway, Denmark, and Hungary, c. 1000-1230', in The Making of Christian Myths, ed. Mortensen, pp. 247-74.

(10) Sometimes spelt in English without the 't'.

(11) Orderic Vitalis: 'New Perspectives on the Historian and his World', St John's College, Durham University, 9-11 April 2013.

(12) Hingst, The Written Word: Past and Place in the Work of Orderic Vitalis (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009). Hingst perhaps makes of Orderic a more sophisticated historian than he in fact was, and without ever mentioning Thomas Forester's translation (see below n. 19). Her bibliography also does not mention R. D. Ray, 'Orderic Vitalis and his Readers', Studia Monastica, 14 (1972), 17-23. With Orderic, compare the greater sophistication of Henry of Huntingdon, writing c. 1123-54: Kempshall, Rhetoric and the Writing of History, pp. 81, 252; Janet Coleman, Ancient and Medieval Memories: Studies in the Reconstruction of the Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992; repr. 1995), pp. 318-20, and on William of Newburgh and Geoffrey of Monmouth, pp. 320-24); and the remarks of Sigbjorn Sonnesyn, 'Obedient Creativity and Idiosyncratic Copying: Tradition and Individuality in the Works of William of Malmesbury and John of Salisbury', in Modes of Authorship in the Middle Ages, ed. Slavica Rankovic (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2012), pp. 113-32. Jean Blacker (The Faces of Time: Portrayal of the Past in Old French and Latin Historical Narrative of the Anglo-Norman Regnum (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994) deals briefly with William of Malmesbury, Ordericus Vitalis, and Geoffrey of Monmouth. For Orderic, see pp. 10-17, 66-77, 153-60. See also Richard E. Barton, 'Emotions and Power in Orderic Vitalis', Anglo-Norman Studies: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 33 (2010), 41-59.

(13) Kempshall, pp. 69, 72.

(14) Kempshall, p. 70.

(15) Kempshall, p. 75.

(16) Kempshall, p. 107.

(17) Kempshall, p. 404.

(18) I am citing here a conference paper delivered in Bergen in 2011 by Michael Staunton, 'Interpreting the Recent Past in Angevin England', mentioned to me by an anonymous reader of my article and supplied by the kindness of Sigbjorn Sonnesyn.

(19) Hereafter Hist. Eccles., with book and chapter references, both in text and notes, where appropriate. I have found most useful Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy by Ordericus Vitalis, trans. Thomas Forester, 4 vols (London: Bohn, 1853-56) (hereafter Forester), the only complete translation into English available. Wherever possible, I have checked the Forester translation against the Latin and translation in The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, ed. and trans. Marjorie Chibnall, 6 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969-80) (hereafter Chibnall). On the theme of 'Centre' and 'Periphery' in medieval historiography, see Sverre Bagge, Society and Politics in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla' (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), esp. chap. 6 and 'Conclusion', pp. 232-51; and Lars Boje Mortensen, 'Introduction', in The Making of Christian Myths, ed. Mortensen, pp. 7-16 (esp. pp. 13-15); Agapitos and Mortensen, 'Introduction', in Medieval Narratives, eds Agapitos and Mortensen, pp. 1-24 (esp. pp. 6-7).

(20) See Sverre Bagge, 'Theodoricus Monachus: The Kingdom of Norway and the History of Salvation', in Historical Narratives and Christian Identity on a European Periphery: Early History Writing in Northern, East-Central, and Eastern Europe (c. 1070-1200), ed. Ildar H. Garipzanov (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), pp. 71-90 (p. 85: 'digressions ... fill more than half of Theodoricus' account of Olav'; pp. 89-90 sum up well Monachus's 'attempts at a theological interpretation of the history of his country').

(21) Julia Barrow, 'William of Malmesbury's Use of Charters', in Narrative and History in the Early Medieval West, eds Elizabeth M. Tyler and Ross Balzaretti (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006), pp. 67-89.

(22) Kempshall, pp. 339-42.

(23) On history and poetry, see Kempshall, pp. 128-33.

(24) For Orderic, see Forester, II, 16, 22, 49, 51, 105, 174, 260-61, 268-69, 321, 347, 366-68, 371, 482, 494, 505; iii, 4, 12, 28, 34, 256, 281, 289, 310, 447; iv, 7, 18-19, 43, 59-60, 91, 117-18, 120, 137, 142, 186, 203; see also Emily Albu, The Normans in their Histories: Propaganda, Myth and Subversion (Woodbridge: Boydell 2001), p. 211.

(25) Hist. Eccles. Bk IX, and note particularly the first chapter: Orderic, Forester, II, 58-59; Chibnall, v, 4-5. For William, one must start with William of Malmesbury 'Gesta Regum Anglorum', trans. and eds R. A. B. Mynors, R. M. Thomson, and M. Winterbottom, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998-99), I, sect. 343, pp. 592-93, and all that follows.

(26) Forester, iv, 143; Chibnall, vi, 442-43; and Forester, iv, 212-13; Chibnall, vi, 536-37.

(27) Forester, II, 37; Chibnall, II, 246-17, but contrast Forester, II, 503; Chibnall, iv, 226-29 and see below in connection with Guitmund's letter.

(28) See, however, Karl F. Morrison, History as a Visual Art in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 33; see also R. M. Thomson, 'William of Malmesbury and some other Western writers on Islam', Medievalia et Humanistica: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, n.s. 6 (1975), 179-87.

(29) Forester, II, 511-20; Chibnall, Iv, xxxix, 236-51; Hingst, chap. 5.

(30) Chibnall, Iv, xxxix-xl.

(31) Chibnall, I, 48. On Orderic's sources, see Chibnall, I, 48-77; II, xvi-xviii.

(32) Chibnall, I, 70:'Ordericus was never as rigorously selective asWilliam of Malmesbury'; Sigbjorn Sonnesyn, William of Malmesbury and the Ethics of History (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012), p. 119. The care and focus with which William put together his own 'ecclesiastical history' can be rapidly assessed from the translation by David Preest (William of Malmesbury, The Deeds of the Bishops of England ('Gesta Pontificum Anglorum') (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2002).

(33) Though note Orderic's apocalyptic overtones: Hingst, pp. 129-32. On William's 'grandiuscula narratio', 'plena gesta regum', 'plena historia', see Kempshall, p. 88.

(34) In addition to the previous note, see for example, such places as Hist. Eccles. Bk II. 5: Forester, I, 239; Chibnall, I, 79-80; Hist. Eccles. Bk IV. 8, Forester, II, 56; Chibnall, II, 276-77; Hist. Eccles. v.1, Forester, II, 114; Chibnall, III, 8-9.

(35) Forester, I, xi; Shopkow (History and Community, p. 163) observes that 'Had Orderic chosen a more coherent form, he would have had to sacrifice some of the richness of his history'.

(36) Forester, I, xi-xii and IV, l, where Leopold Delisle (in his essay 'Remarks on the Life, Character, Work and Times of Ordericus Vitalis', IV, vii-xcii) describes the Historia Ecclesiastica as 'one of the most original specimens of the literature of the Middle Ages', because of 'the extreme care with which the author has collected facts appearing at first sight very insignificant, and has entered into details which most of the chroniclers have thought unworthy of notice'.

(37) Chibnall, II, xxix.

(38) Chibnall, VI, xix.

(39) Albu, Normans in their Histories, pp. 180-83.

(40) John O. Ward, 'The Monastic Historiographical Impulse c. 1000-1260: A Reassessment', in Historia: The Concept and Genres in the Middle Ages, eds Tuomas M. S. Lehtonen and Paivi Mehtonen (Helsinki: Soc. Scient. Fennica, 2000), pp. 71-100; see also Robert W Hanning, The Vision of History in Early Britain: From Gildas to Geoffrey of Monmouth (New York: Columbia University Press, 1966), pp. 124-37.

(41) Sonnesyn, William of Malmesbury, pp. 75, 80, 85, 90, 94-95, 99; Albu, p. 199; Forester, i, 3, 494; II, 114, 118, 183, 229-31, 240-41, 262, 278, 322, 423, 445, 478-80, 512-193; III, 362, 475; see also Sonnesyn, 'Obedient Creativity', p. 123. See below n. 100.

(42) Staunton ('Interpreting the Recent Past') deals extensively with this practice in later twelfth-century English historians. He speaks of their 'examples of reaching back to the distant past to provide legitimacy for current practice', but admits that their 'exempla were multivalent and infinitely malleable'. Coleman (Ancient and Medieval Memories, pp. 294-318) has dealt extensively with the medieval historiographical use of exempla. She writes that the interest of medieval historians 'in writing history was to persuade a present and future readership of the universal lessons to be drawn from exemplary historical moments, narrated in the most plausible and appealing way' (p. 317; also p. 298).

(43) Sonnesyn, Ethics of History, pp. 75, 85, 271; Kempshall, Rhetoric and the Writing of History, pp. 99, 125, 136, 139, 155, 252, 279.

(44) D'Arcy, The Sense of History, Secular and Sacred (London: Faber, 1959), p. 81; see also Kempshall, pp. 96-99.

(45) Marjorie Chibnall, The World of Orderic Vitalis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), p. 196; Bagge, Society and Politics, p. 211: 'Snorri's selection must be based on relevance and not trustworthiness'; Kempshall (p. 263) calls medieval historiography 'morally, judicially and politically engaged'. Barrow ('William of Malmesbury's Use of Charters', p. 81) writes: 'William's main aim in writing history was not being objective, but rather being creative and entertaining'. See also Sonnesyn, 'Obedient Creativity', p. 124.

(46) Hist. Eccles. Bk V 10: Forester, ii, 178, n. 1; Chibnall, III, 97-99.

(47) Forester, II, 351-52; and see Chibnall, IV, 6-9.

(48) For 'clerical' attitudes towards natural phenomena, see William J. Brandt, The Shape of Medieval History: Studies in Modes of Perception (New York: Schocken, 1973), pp. 52-65 and chap. 5. See Kempshall, p. 86 on Orderic's attempt to write both history and annals, and for Gervase of Canterbury's description of both, Kempshall, pp. 89-90. Staunton ('Interpreting the Recent Past') draws attention to mere 'historical curiosity', the habit of 'accumulating examples, without necessarily drawing any conclusions', that must have lain behind the motives of many medieval historians, as it no doubt does of historians at all times.

(49) See Kempshall, p. 226; Forester, iv, 229-68; and Shopkow, History and Community, pp. 201 and 231 for the 'commissioning' of Orderic's work and what must have been initially expected of it. Blacker (Faces of Time, p. 154) points out that 'Monastic holdings were continually threatened by warring baronial factions within Normandy, making it crucial, especially at a time when written documents were gaining in authority in courts of law, for houses such as St-Evroul to find-or create-documents to substantiate their claims'.

(50) Indeed, Kempshall (p. 259) calls Orderic's work 'the continuation' of William of Jumieges's.

(51) On the combination of pleasure and profit in the medieval writing of history, see Kempshall, pp. 87, 129; and Ward, 'William of Malmesbury', p. 281.

(52) The passage will be found in Rosalind T. Hill, Gesta Francorum, The Deeds of the Franks and other Pilgrims to Jerusalem (1962; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967; Oxford Medieval Texts 1972 and 1979), pp. 52-56. On Snorri's use of speeches, see Bagge, Society and Politics, p. 233, and his 'Oratory and Politics in the Sagas', in Creation of Medieval Northern Europe, eds Melve and Sonnesyn, p. 393. See also Kempshall, pp. 38, 49, 87, 341. There are many very pertinent observations on the rhetorical utility of speeches and dialogue in medieval historiographical narratives in Mehtonen, 'Speak, Fiction', pp. 81, 83, 91, 95.

(53) Chibnall, i, 79-84; Chibnall, World of Orderic Vitalis, pp. 196-98; Albu, Normans in their Histories, p. 187. For paired speeches, see Forester, ii, 169-77; Chibnall, iii, 96-109, and frequently elsewhere. Shawn D. Ramsey has recently written a paper entitled 'Consilium: A System to Address Deliberative Uncertainty in the Rhetoric of the Middle Ages', Advances in the History of Rhetoric, 15 (2012), 204-21, which he has kindly shared with me. While not making particularly clear the link between medieval 'consilium' and ancient rhetorical theory, and blurring the line between actuality and theoretical advice, it is worth noting that an analysis of the rhetoric of Orderic's speeches might contribute much to Ramsay's topic. William of Malmesbury argued 'that it is no deception to alter your stories if you make them more dramatic and edifying for the present reader'. See Coleman, Ancient and Medieval Memories, p. 297.

(54) Forester, III, 285, Chibnall, V, 318-19.

(55) Forester, III, 360-62; Chibnall, VI, 64-65.

(56) Forester, II, 197-203 (esp. p. 200); Chibnall, iii, 142-51 (esp. pp. 144-47).

(57) Forester, II, 53-57; Chibnall, II, 272-79.

(58) Forester, II, 53-54; Chibnall, II, 272-73.

(59) See previous footnote.

(60) Forester, II, 57; Chibnall, ii, 278-79.

(61) Hist. Eccles. Bk VII. 15: Forester, ii, 403-14; Chibnall, iv, 80-95; Shopkow, History and Community, p. 101.

(62) See the last portion of the present article.

(63) Bagge, Society and Politics, chap. 6 and 'Conclusion', pp. 232-51. See also Bagge, From Gang Leader to Lord's Anointed: Kingship in 'Sverris saga' and 'Hakonar saga Hakonarsonar' (Odense: Southern Denmark University Press, 1996).

(64) For example, Forester, IV, 217; Chibnall, VI, 544-45 (though at n. 3, Chibnall tells us that all sources agree on Stephen's heroic stand and two sources also actually mention the two-headed axe!); for the details of King Stephen fighting at the battle of Lincoln; or the details associated with the visit Duke (William) paid 'to a young girl to whom he was attached', see Forester, IV, 91-92; Chibnall, VI, 374-75.

(65) Against William the Conqueror: Forester, III, 260; Chibnall, v, 282-85; praise of same: Forester, III, 422; Chibnall, VI, 150-51; against William Rufus: Forester, iii, 261-66; Chibnall, V, 284-95; eulogy of Henry I: Forester, III, 267-68, 270 (Chibnall, V, 294-301); III, 285-86 (Chibnall, V, 318-321); III, 327-29 (Chibnall, VI, 16-19); iii, 386-87 (mixed assessment, Chibnall, VI, 98-101); IV, 99 (Chibnall, VI, 384-85). See also Chibnall, i, 43: Orderic 'was not blind to Henry [I]'s faults, but he knew the terrible alternative to his effective rule'. Note also the great denunciation of William the Conqueror in speeches by Roger, Earl of Hereford, his brother-in-law Ralph, Earl of Norwich, and Wal, Earl of Northampton (Hist. Eccles. Bk IV 14: Forester, ii, 78-82; Chibnall, ii, 310-17).

(66) Forester, II, 178; Chibnall, III, 102-13; Shopkow, p. 102.

(67) Arthur Symons, 'Introduction', in Prosper Merimee, Colomba and Carmen, trans. Mary Lloyd (London: Heinemann, [1900]), p. ix and cf. p. x: 'He liked anecdotes, not great events, in his history'.

(68) Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse, trans. Stanley Mitchell (London: Penguin, 2008). Cf. Pushkin's poem, chap. 1. 6, p. 9: 'He did not have the scholar's temper | In dusty chronicles to trace | The story of the human race: | But anecdotes he did remember | Of bygone times, which he'd relay, | From Romulus until this day'.

(69) Forester, II, 221; Chibnall, III, 178-81 (esp. 180-81).

(70) Forester, II, 222; Chibnall, III, 180-83.

(71) Kempshall, Rhetoric and the Writing of History, pp. 227, 292, n. 96, and p. 403: 'In recounting the last days of William the Conqueror, Orderic explains that his narrative has amounted to a careful investigation and a truthful description of what God's disposition of events has revealed. Orderic has composed, he states, "neither a fictitious tragedy nor a wordy comedy, but simply a true record of the diversity of events for studious readers' ("non fictilem tragediam ... non loquaci comedia ... sed studiosis lectoribus varios eventus veraciter intimo")'.

(72) Hist.. Eccles. Bk VI. 1: Forester, ii, 240-41; Chibnall, iii, 212-15.

(73) Orderic uses here the Late Latin word sedimen.

(74) 'The human condition'. Unless otherwise noted, translations in this section are the author's own.

(75) 'human vicissitudes'; Forester, ii, 241 translates as 'the primitive state and the fall of man'; Chibnall, III, 215 translates as 'the condition and fall of man'.

(76) 'The changeableness of the centuries that slide away from us'.

(77) Chibnall, III, 215: 'Of peace and war, and of the varying fortunes that continually befall mankind.'

(78) Chibnall, III, 215: 'Miracles and marvellous acts of the saints.'

(79) On Bonaventure's view of the peculiar order and beauty of the history of the world, see Kempshall, p. 53; on Orosius's view of God's providential ordering of history, see ibid., pp. 65-67; for Orosius himself, see Orosius, Seven Books of History against the Pagans, trans. A. T. Fear (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

(80) Chibnall, iii, 212-15. See below n. 100.

(81) Albu, Normans in their Histories, p. 191.

(82) See Kempshall, p. 226.

(83) Hingst, pp. xviii-xix.

(84) See, for example, Bert Roest, 'Later Medieval Institutional History', in Historiography in the Middle Ages, ed. D. M. Deliyannis (Brill: Leiden, 2003), pp. 277-316 (p. 281); Shopkow, History and Community, p. 104; Kempshall, pp. 65, 83, 102: Orderic ignores the 'comprehensive historical sequence which covered the history of the universe from Creation to the Day of Judgement' that Augustine added at the end of his City of God, and 103, n. 247.

(85) See Kempshall, pp. 108-20, 194 and note Otto's debt to Orosius and Augustine (p. 108), a debt less marked in Orderic.

(86) Otto Bishop of Freising, The Two Cities: A Chronicle of Universal History to the Year 1146 A.D., trans. Charles Christopher Mierow, eds Austin P. Evans and Charles Knapp (1928; repr. New York: Octagon, 1966), Bk III. 6, p. 229. I do not mention Otto's work here because there cannot be any useful comparison between Otto and Orderic-Otto was a member of the ruling elite in German, educated in Paris, and a bishop, after all-but because his Chronica is a well-known 'universal chronicle' of the sort some think Orderic was trying to write. Closer to Orderic in type, might have been the 'Swabian' chronicles lately translated by I. S. Robinson (Eleventh-Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008), or 'the wider Bamberg school surrounding Frutolf of Michelsberg or Ekkehard of Aura' (to quote one of the very generous reviewers of the present article): see Frutofs und Ekkehards Chroniken und die anonyme Kaiserchronik, ed. and trans. Franz-Josef Schmale and Irene Schmale-Ott (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1984).

(87) On Augustine's De consensu Evangelistarum and Orderic, see Kempshall, p. 390.

(88) Chibnall, World of Orderic Vitalis, p. 97.

(89) See Kempshall, pp. 81-91, 226.

(90) For interesting examples of this in other contexts, see Caroline Finkel, Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire 1300-1923 (London: Murray, 2005), pp. 15-16, and at many points elsewhere; see also Jaume Aurell, Authoring the Past: History, Autobiography, and Politics in Medieval Catalonia (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2012).

(91) Mortensen, 'Sanctified Beginnings', pp. 257-58, 266.

(92) Kempshall, pp. 59-64, 83.

(93) See Bagge, Society and Politics, pp. 228-231; for Josephus's commitment to hand down events to posterity, see Kempshall, p. 50; for Josephus's great influence on later historians, see ibid., pp. 48-52.

(94) For R. D. Ray's paper on Henry I in Orderic and comment, see Kempshall, p. 229.

(95) Forester, II, 420; Chibnall, IV, 104-06. See also Kempshall (p. 26) on Suger of St Denis's view of Louis VI, whose 'justice provided peace for the land and protection for widows, orphans and the poor'.

(96) Hist. Eccles. Bk VII. 4: Forester, ii, 351-54; Chibnall, iv, 6-11.

(97) Chibnall, I, 36; Kempshall (p. 25) points out that the Historia Ecclesiastica used punctuation 'designed to give his text a meaningful rhythm for individuals reciting his Ecclesiastical History to others or on their own'. Cf. p. 23: 'so much medieval historiography was composed in order to be read aloud.'

(98) On the punctuation, see Ray, 'Orderic Vitalis and his Readers', p. 19, n. 7. There is much of value also here in Shopkow, History and Community, pp. 231-34, 257, 259-60 ('... it was difficult to write history anywhere but [in] a monastery'). Shopkow (pp. 231-32) argues that although Orderic hoped 'that he would also provide reading for his fellow monks', he 'seems not to have pleased the local audience' and was 'reaching for the larger audience'. Blacker (Faces of Time, pp. 154-60) deals nicely with Orderic's motivations and the minimal manuscript survival of his work.

(99) Coleman, Ancient and Medieval Memories, p. 302: 'History is written to display examples to be imitated, and as Orderic Vitalis noted, it should be sung like a hymn in honour of the creator God.'

(100) Ray, p. 31. This was not unusual, see Coleman, p. 299: 'Gervase [of Canterbury] saw himself as writing for his own monastic family rather than presenting the past to the public at large.' Two recent papers are relevant here: SigbjOrn SOnnesyn, 'Monastic Life as a Matrix of Meaning', in The Writing of History in Scandinavia and its European Context, 1000-1225: Essays in Memory of Karsten Friis-Jensen, eds Thomas Heeboll-Holm, Mia Munster-Swendsen, and Sigbjorn Sonnesyn (PIMS/Durham, forthcoming 2014); and Sigbjorn Sonnesyn, 'In vinea Sorech laborare: The Cultivation of Unity in Twelfth-Century Monastic Historiography', Anglo-Norman Studies (forthcoming).

(101) Ray, p. 32. The word'entonement' presumably implies the act of intoning, intonation.

(102) For the relatively voluminous manuscript survival of this text, see 'Introduction', in Gesta Regum Anglorum, eds Mynors, Thomson, and Winterbottom, i, xiii-xxvi. According to P. Damian-Grint (The New Historians of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance: Inventing Vernacular Authority (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1999), p. 44) there are thirty-five manuscripts of the Gesta Regum. See the list and comments of Bernard Guenee, Histoire et Culture Historique dans l'Occident Medieval (Paris: Montaigne, 1980), pp. 250-56. On Orderic's lack of patronage and on the manuscript survival of his work, see Shopkow, pp. 232-33.

(103) Hingst, p. 135; Shopkow, pp. 233-34. On this point, see also Graham Loud, 'The "Gens Normannorum": Myth or Reality?', Anglo-Norman Studies: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 4 (1981), 104-16 (p. 107), where he observes while arguing against R. H. C. Davis (The Normans and their Myth (Thames and Hudson, 1976)), that hardly anyone in the twelfth century actually read Orderic.

(104) Hist. Eccles. Bk IV. 7: Forester, II, 39-41; Chibnall, II, 249-55.

(105) Hist. Eccles. Bk X. 7: Forester, III, 227; Chibnall, V, 237-39.

(106) Chibnall, v, 354, n. 1: 'Bohemund was captured in an ambush in August 1100, by Malik-Ghazi, the Danishmend, and imprisoned at Niksar (Neocaesarea)'.

(107) Forester, IV, 29-31; Chibnall, VI, 291-95. Chibnall tells us that 'The events of this synod are known only from Orderic' and translates 'omne consortium feminarum' as 'any cohabitation with women'. See in particular Forester, iv, 29, n. 3.

(108) Forester, IV, 33-41; Chibnall, VI, 295-307.

(109) Chibnall, World of Orderic Vitalis, p. 135.

(110) Hist. Eccles. Bk X. 24, X. 23: Forester, III, 307; Chibnall, v, 355-79.

(111) Forester, III, 310.

(112) It has been described by Blacker (Faces of Time, p. 76) as 'one of the longest, self-contained, uninterrupted passages in the Historia Ecclesiastica'.

(113) Chibnall, v, 359. Orderic compares Melaz with Judith who 'cut the throat of proud fHolofernes'.

(114) Whose name is rendered variously as Soliman or Kilidge Arslan. Chibnall, v, 360, n. 2: 'Malik-Ghazi and Kilij-Arslan (son of Suleiman) were brothers only in the sense of sharing a common faith. Bohemund undoubtedly owed his release in great part to the rivalry between the two Turkish rulers.'

(115) Forester, III, 316; Chibnall, v, 369.

(116) Forester, III, 317; Chibnall, v, 371.

(117) Forester, III, 319; Chibnall, v, 372, n. 4.

(118) Six years later, on the death of Bohemond and Tancred, Roger succeeded to the government of Laodicea and Apamia, and protection of the young prince of Antioch in 1112, and died in the battle of Sarmada with the Moslem in 1119. See also Chibnall, v, 378, nn. 2 and 3: 'There is no corroboration for Orderic's story that he [Roger] married a Turkish princess, though he had the reputation of keeping a harem', and he later married Cecilia, sister of Baldwin II of Edessa.

(119) Forester, III, 322; Chibnall, V, 379.

(120) Yewdale, Bohemond I: Prince of Antioch (Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1970), pp. 98-101.

(121) Chibnall, v, 358, n. 3.

(122) Jean Flori, Bohemond d'Antioche, chevalier d'aventure (Paris: Payot, 2007), chaps 18 and 19, esp. pp. 238-39; cf. also pp. 335-38. I owe this reference to the kindness of Walter Kudrycz.

(123) Flori, Bohemond d'Antioche, p. 238.

(124) Flori, Bohemond d'Antioche, p. 239: 'The legend of Bohemond is on the march, and will grow.'

(125) On whom, see Gary Ianziti, 'Challenging Chronicles: Leonardo Bruni's History of the Florentine People', in Chronicling History: Chroniclers and Historians in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, eds Sharon Dale, Alison William Lewin, and Duane J. Osheim (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2007), pp. 249-72; and Gary Ianziti, Writing History in Renaissance Italy: Leonardo Bruni and the Uses of the Past (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).
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