15.08.02, Bates, ed., Anglo-Norman Studies, XXXVI

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David Spear

The Medieval Review 15.08.02

Bates, David, ed. Anglo-Norman Studies, XXXVI: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 2013. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2014. pp. 258. ISBN: 9781843839224 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
David Spear
Furman University

In 1978 the first Battle Conference was held at Battle, England, not far from Hastings. It was founded by R. Allen Brown, now remembered annually in the conference's memorial lecture. Every few years the conference would migrate: to Caen in 1987, Palermo in 1992, Dublin in 1997, Glasgow in 2002, and Gregynog in 2007. Recently the perambulation has picked up: Battle (2008), Gregynog (2009), Norwich (2010), York (2011), Bayeux (2012), and now in Cambridge (2013). Such itineration is certainly medieval, but the conference proceedings still appear with modern speed. And if the volume under review provides an accurate gauge, the quality of the conference remains high. R. Allen Brown would certainly be pleased with both the variety and the scholarship exhibited by the papers included.

Elisabeth van Houts, in her essay "The Planctus on the Death of William Longsword [943] as a Source for Tenth-Century Culture in Normandy and Aquitaine" deftly examines a lamentation poem composed on the murder of Duke William Longsword (d.942), providing a Latin text, a provisional translation, a discussion of possible patrons (especially Longsword's sister Adela), and a rumination on the implications of the poem's mention of the trinity. This R. Allen Brown memorial lecture is an accomplished and impressive exercise in wringing the most of a single, short text.

Ilya Afanasyev concludes that, "medieval Christianity should be seen as a prerequisite and an ideal milieu for the development of national identity in its constituent political communities (38) in her articulate discussion,"Biblical Vocabulary and National Discourse in Twelfth-Century England."

Mathieu Arnoux's contribution "Border, Trade Route, or Market? The Channel and the Medieval European Economy from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Century" explores the linking of England and Normandy more from an economic than a political point of view. He ranges widely between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, and raises new questions by moving the focus into a broad European context of developing markets and trade patterns.

Robert Berkhofer surveys the evidence surrounding the career of the monk-forger, Guerno, whose customers included St. Ouen of Rouen and St. Augustine of Canterbury. Earlier historians have been too happy to see Guerno as a veritable forging machine. Berkhofer reminds us that, in the end, the factual evidence is too sparse to sustain such a story line.

In "From Codex to Roll: Illustrating History in the Anglo-Norman World in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries" Laura Cleaver discusses (with illustrations) two mid-thirteenth-century English rolls, as opposed to codices, that are thick with history and genealogy, from the Old Testament to the present. No conclusions are tendered, but perhaps "they indicate an interest in the potential of rolls to present a very broad sweep of human history." (89) One possible influence, left untouched by Cleaver, is that of Jewish scrolls.

Building on the work of G.W.S. Barrow and D. Broun, Matthew Hammond traces in his essay "The Adoption and Routinization of Scottish Royal Charter Production for Lay Beneficiaries, 1124- 1195" Scottish royal charter production specifically for lay beneficiaries for the period 1124 to 1195. The work is necessarily detailed and the conclusions are tentative, but in essence the 1160s marked a real take-off point, probably as part of a larger process of shoring up of royal power.

Susan M. Johns in "Women and Power in the Roman de Rou of Wace" gives a close reading of Wace's Roman de Rou,"suggesting, among other things, that within his poetry and his conception of history, "women had important roles to play."(134)

Catherine Letouzey-Réty goes beyond "suggesting" and really demonstrates the power that the abbesses of Holy Trinity at Caen wielded in "Literacy and Estate Administration in a Great Anglo-Norman Nunnery: Holy Trinity, Caen, in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries." In one of the volume's best essays, she acquaints the reader with a series of abbesses who were well-connected to the political elite, quite literate, and fine administrators of the abbey's estates. An interesting twist is that while many other nobles and religious establishments were deciding to commit to either England or Normandy (in the aftermath of the events of 1204), the abbesses of Caen went in the other direction, continuing to hold cross-Channel estates, and successfully. Interestingly, Letouzey-Réty's article gives further evidence to the point raised by Mathieu Arnoux (above) that multiple possibilities in trans-Channel configurations existed throughout the Middle Ages.

Alheydis Plassmann creates an interesting template for comparing the succession policies of Henry II and Frederick Barbarossa in " The King and His Sons: Henry II's and Frederick Barbarossa's Succession Strategies Compared." Plassmann finds that Barbarossa had the wiser and more successful plans, partly because (echoing Gerald of Wales) Henry II acted not like a father but like a step-father towards his sons.

Sigbjørn Olsen Sønnesyn takes the reader into the realm of political theory in "In vinea Sorech laborare: The Cultivation of Unity in Twelfth-Century Monastic Historiography." She asks what makes a viable community, and answers it by citing Cicero, Sallust, and Saint-Augustine. But classical foundations alone were not enough. In the writings of three twelfth-century English monks the author finds that they "sought not only to describe unity as it had existed in the past; in order to stay in existence this unity had to be practised, lived, in the pursuit of a common goal and a shared end." (186)

In "The Redaction of Cartularies and Economic Upheaval in western England c.996-1096" Andrew Wareham gives a detailed discussion of two Worcester cartularies, one of which, the Liber Wignorniensis, dated to c.1000, "is the earliest cartulary from Western Europe." (190) The other is the so-called Hemming's cartulary from c.1095. Wareham concludes that these years "were regarded as hard years by the bishops and cathedral monks of Worcester as they sought to defend their economic and political interests through close attention to administration and the writing of ecclesiastical history." (219)

Teresa Webber paints an unexpected picture of books in monasteries in "Monastic Space and the Use of Books in the Anglo-Norman Period." The first surprise is that manuscripts were stored in the cloister, at least until their numbers increased to necessitate having an actual library. The second surprise--and the heart of the article--is the large number of books which would have been found outside the library. Webber describes books used in masses celebrated at different altars within the church, those used in readings for Matins, books used in the chapter house (e.g., Saint Benedict, martryologies), readings at collation (e.g., Pope Gregory, Cassian), and mealtime reading in the refectory (e.g., Saint Augustine on the trinity). Webber ends by observing: "Each setting within the claustral complex had its own programme of reading, but they were connected by numerous threads, just as the spaces within which the texts were heard were physically connected by the cloister." (238)

Emily Winkler uses the treatment of Edgar the Aetheling--specifically the surrender of this rival claimant to William the Conqueror in 1074--as a way to approach how the English came to grips with the legitimacy of their new monarch. These issues could not be approached directly until some sort of reconciliation had been realized, and in looking back at 1074 English chroniclers such as William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, and John of Worcester, could now move forward more efficaciously, hence the cryptic title of Winkler's essay,"1074 in the Twelfth Century."

The book ends with a list of the Table of Contents for volumes 1 through 35 in the series.

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