Reimagining History in Anglo-Norman Prose Chronicles

Reimagining History in Anglo-Norman Prose Chronicles

John Spence


York Medieval Press



First collective study of the Anglo-Norman prose chronicles, bringing out their essential characteristics, setting them in context, and showing their writers' aims and objectives.
The medieval Anglo-Norman prose chronicles are fascinating hybrids of history, legends and romance, building on the rich tradition of historical writing circulating in England at the time of their composition, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Their prime subject is the history of England, but they also shed much light on other networks of influence, such as those between families and religious houses.
This book studies the essential characteristics of the genre for the first time, situating Anglo-Norman prose chronicles within the multilingual cultures of late medieval England. It considers the chronicles' treatment of the "legendary history of Britain", legends about English heroes, accounts of the Norman Conquest, and histories of noble families. In particular, it explores how Anglo-Norman prose chronicles rewrite the past with rhetorical flourish, in order to advance the contemporary political and personal agendas of their authors and patrons.

John Spence gained his PhD from the University of Cambridge.

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April 2013
2 black and white illustrations
236 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781903153451
Format: Hardback
York Medieval Press
BISAC LIT011000, HIS037010
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Table of Contents

The rhetoric of confidence in the prologues to Anglo-Norman prose chronicles
The legendary history of Britain in Anglo-Norman prose chronicles
Legends of English heroes: Engel, Havelok, Constance
Representations of the Norman Conquest in Anglo-Norman prose chronicles
Family chronicles
Appendix: Two extracts from the Scalacronica: texts and translations


Thanks to the scrupulous and precise scholarship which he has brought to the study of many disparate and scattered texts, Spence has come to some very convincing conclusions. His is a much-needed book that deserves praise. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

The overall breadth of coverage is impressive and the bibliography is extensive. This investigation of an important genre is a very welcome addition to our understanding of insular French literature. FRENCH STUDIES

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