Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 May 2014
When focusing on the analysis of texts in order to reconstruct the past, we often overlook the importance of the geography of historiographical memory. One exception, made some years ago, is the case study of the abbey of Fleury-sur-Loire by Robert-Henri Bautier in an essay whose conclusions have since been resumed and expanded. Indeed, in the period between the end of the tenth century and the first decades of the twelfth, this abbey was responsible for the writing of some of the most important texts that represent the origins of ‘official’ French historiography in the Middle Ages, by reason of the strong organic link that it established with the Capetian dynasty as it assumed a more central role in the French political scene. It can be suggested that the case of Monte Cassino deserves similar attention in the light of its historiographical output in the period close to the events of the First Crusade. Situated on one of the most important roads that connected northern and southern Italy, and lying less than 100 kilometres from Rome, the monastery of Monte Cassino played a central role, not only in the history of western monasticism, but also in the intellectual life of the central Middle Ages, as has been demonstrated, for example, by the work of Herbert Bloch and John Cowdrey.
Let us start by taking a step back.