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Rewriting the History Books: The First Crusade and the Past

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2014

William J. Purkis
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
Marcus Bull
Affiliation:
Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Damien Kempf
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Liverpool
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Summary

In c. 1110 a French cleric known as Robert the Monk set out the reasons why he had begun to compose his Historia Iherosolimitana, a Latin prose narrative of the First Crusade that would go on to become the most widely-copied and extensively-circulated history of the expedition in the medieval west. Taking his cue from those historians who had contributed to the composition of the Old and New Testaments, Robert wrote in the Historia's prologue of ‘how pleasing it is to God that a record should be made for his faithful people when he carries out any miraculous work on earth that has been arranged to take place for all time’. He then went on, famously, to identify the First Crusade as being comparable in significance with God's creation of the world and Christ's redemption of mankind on the cross, before offering what seems to be a very personal response to the events of the 1090s:

The more carefully one reflects on it, the more fully is the mind astounded by it. For this was not the work of men; it was the work of God. And so it ought to be commended in writing, as much for the present as for the future, so that Christians will have their hope in God strengthened; and so that they will be encouraged to praise him more eagerly in their minds.

Type
Chapter
Information
Writing the Early Crusades
Text, Transmission and Memory
, pp. 140 - 154
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2014

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