Exeter Medieval Studies Blog

New Book on Orderic Vitalis

Posted by danroach

24 October 2016
Dan Roach

The proud editor with the fruits of his labour.

I am pleased to be able to say that Orderic Vitalis: Life, Works and Interpretations, the first volume of essays on one of the most significant and influential historians of the Middle Ages, has now been published by Boydell and Brewer. The Gesta Normannorum ducum and Historia ecclesiastica of Orderic Vitalis are widely regarded as landmarks in the development of Norman historical writing and indeed medieval historiography more generally and, as such, are essential sources for students and scholars alike.

I first encountered Orderic during my undergraduate studies at the University of Exeter as part of a third-year Special Subject taught by Julia Crick on Norman influence in Wales, Ireland and Scotland. I was fascinated by Orderic’s vivid descriptions of the personalities of the twelfth-century Norman world and was hooked on the chronicles from then on. Following discussions with Sarah Hamilton, my MA thesis sought to consider Orderic’s contribution to First Crusade historiography and the implications of this for the ways in which we read his massive thirteen-book Historia ecclesiastica. Like Orderic himself, I felt that there was much more to say on this subject, and so embarked first on a PhD on the chronicle and then, in 2013, co-organised a major conference at Durham University with my good friend Charlie Rozier.

The volume, which I co-edited along with Charlie, Giles Gasper and Elisabeth van Houts, draws together the contributions from the Durham conference and contains chapters written by a wide range of scholars including Bill Aird, Emily Albu, James Clark, Giles Gasper, Véronique Gazeau, Tom O’Donnell, Ben Pohl, Sigbjorn Sonnesyn and Elisabeth van Houts. It presents new research on existing topics within Orderic studies and will hopefully open up new directions for future analysis and debate. The size of the Historia ecclesiastica means that there is certainly plenty of Orderic to go around!

The volume is available for purchase here with a 25% discount until 31 December 2016 – just enter the code BB125 at the checkout!

Guest Blogger: Dr Daniel Roach

Daniel Roach completed his doctoral thesis, ‘Narrative strategy in the Historia ecclesiastica of Orderic Vitalis’, at the University of Exeter in 2014. He has since published a number of articles on themes arising from this research and is currently working on a project on material culture in twelfth-century historical writing.


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