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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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Gervase of Canterbury and Ralphof Coggeshall

Gervase of Canterbury and Ralphof Coggeshall

The Scope of English History

(p.108) 7 Gervase of Canterbury and Ralphof Coggeshall
The Historians of Angevin England

Michael Staunton

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes as its subject two monastic writers, Gervase of Canterbury and Ralph of Coggeshall. Gervase wrote a history of England focused on a particular place, the cathedral church of Canterbury, and follows a Canterbury tradition of writing about the struggles of that church within the broader scope of English history. Ralph’s work appears much less coherent in its subject matter and approach, combining short annals with long, detailed narratives, and ranging in subject matter from high politics to the supernatural. Here these two works are used as contrasting illustrations of the scope and integrity of English historiography in this period. It is argued that while Gervase’s work shows a strong consistency of purpose, Ralph’s reminds us of the fragmentary and discontinuous nature of much of medieval historical writing.

Keywords:   historiography, Gervase of Canterbury, Ralph of Coggeshall, medieval historical writing, Canterbury, annals, supernatural

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