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The Historians of Angevin England$
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Michael Staunton

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769965

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198769965.001.0001

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Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Wales

The Polymath as Historian

(p.95) 6 Gerald of Wales
The Historians of Angevin England

Michael Staunton

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at Gerald of Wales as a historian. Gerald was a prolific writer, and a polymath, and he has seldom been studied as a historian alone. Here the focus will be on Gerald’s historical works, his influences, and methods. The first influence identified is Sallust, whose writings provided an example of the historical monograph, of character descriptions and invented speeches. But Gerald drew on a wide range of pagan Christian writings, and used exempla from their works as a way of interpreting more recent events. Paying special attention to Gerald’s Vita Galfridi and De Principis Instructione, it is argued that Gerald used exempla from earlier histories in a way comparable to a hagiographer: drawing on a repertoire of models and choosing those most appropriate.

Keywords:   Gerald of Wales, Sallust, exempla, hagiographer, historical works

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