The Medieval Review 16.11.29

Anheim, Étienne, Pierre Chastang, Francine Mora-Lebrun, and Anne Rochebouet, eds. L'Écriture de l'histoire au Moyen Âge - Contraintes génériques, contraintes documentaires . Rencontres, 135 / Civilisation médiévale, 15 . Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2015. pp. 416. €46.00 (hardback). ISBN: 978-2-8124-4817-1 (hardback).

Reviewed by:

Elizabeth A. R. Brown
The City University of New York (Brooklyn College, Graduate School, and University Center), emerita

This collection of twenty-two articles, preceded and followed by thought-provoking essays by the editors, makes available to those who were not privileged to attend, the acts of a a conference "Écrire l'histoire au Moyen Âge," held at the Université Versailles - Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, on 20, 21, and 22 November 2013. The conference was the culmination of some years of work on this topic at the university, under the direction and inspiration of the editors. The conference brought together an impressive group of historians, ranging from well-established and widely-published scholars to younger colleagues who are just beginning their careers.

The essays cover an impressive and impressively broad array of subjects, dealing with chronicles and histories of different periods, provenances, qualities, and sorts. Some are very general, others concentrate on specific works and authors, some well known, others not. The articles vary in length, with most no longer than a dozen pages, which in virtually every case means that the reader is eager to know more about the subject than limitations of space permitted the authors to present. Varying in topic as they do, the essays will be of most interest to those who are concerned with the individual works that are treated, and for that reason I list all the essays below, to insure that the readers of TMR are introduced to the authors and the subjects they chose to treat.

The editors have divided the essays into two different sections, "Remploi et référence(s)," focused on historians and their sources, and "Référence(s) et autorité," in which the theme of historians' sources remains central but in which some essays are different in focus. The introduction, written by Francine Mora-Lebrun and Anne Rochebouet, of the Laboratoire DYPAC (EA 2449) of the Université Versailles - Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, presents a useful description of the theoretical underpinnings of the conference ("Introduction. In Praesentia: le genre historique au prisme du document," 7-18). At the end, in a chapter entitled "Conclusion. L'écriture infinie: écrire l'histoire au Moyen Âge" (351-363), Pierre Chastang and Étienne Anheim provide further insight into the philosophical approaches to the writing of history represented at the meeting. The volume includes a bibliography (365-393), and an index of proper names (both historical and fictitious) (395-400), as well as summaries of the articles in French and English (401-411), which are in most cases too brief and general to provide an adequate introduction to the articles, for which unfortunately page numbers are not given.

The first section, "Remploi et référence(s)," opens with Catherine Croizy-Naquet's article "Approches historiennes, approches littéraires. L'exemple de l'Estoire de la guerre sainte" (21-36), which focuses on a late twelfth century Anglo-Norman vernacular history of the third crusade, contrasting historical and literary approaches to the text.

Chantal Senséby treats historical production at Saint-Aubin in the twelfth century, in her essay "Écrire l'histoire à Saint-Aubin d'Angers au XIIe siècle. Métamorphoses et fonctions des documents d'archives dans la production historiographique" (37-58). In an interesting and careful analysis, she shows how the historians of Saint-Aubin used their house's charters in their works.

Françoise Laurent, in contrast, devotes the twelve pages at her disposal to the broader topic "Les sources documentaires dans l'historiographie normande et anglo-normande des XIe-XIIe siècles" (59-71), focusing on Dudo of Saint-Quentin and Benoît de Saint-Maure and their use of documents.

Michèle Guéret-Laferté explores the relationship between Paul the Deacon's Lombard history and the Norman history written by Aimé of Monte Cassino at the end of the eleventh century, in her essay "L'Histoire des Lombards de Paul Diacre, modèle de l'Ystoire de li Normant d'Aimé du Mont-Cassin? Imitations et emprunts, écarts et distorsions" (73-87). The history is known only through a mid fourteenth-century translation, which complicates understanding of the original. Here the author provides an interesting short summary of a topic that evidently merits further study.

Florence Tanniou offers a brief introduction to another similar and equally complex topic in her essay "Mémoire des lettres et des lois. Modalités d'insertion et interprétation des traces documentaires dans les Mémoires de Philippe de Novare" (89-101).

Věra Vejrychová courageously turns her attention to Froissart in her essay "La réécriture de l'histoire chez Jean Froissart. Le chroniqueur face à ses sources" (103-114).

Anne Rochebouet focuses on "Épitaphes et espace funéraire dans les récits de la chute de Troie. Entre 'effet de vérité' et construction d'un univers de fiction" (115-129).

Irène Fabry-Tehranchi takes a more sweeping diachronic approach in her study, "Écrire l'histoire de Stonehenge. Narration historique et fiction romanesque (XIIe-XVe siècles)" (131-147).

In his essay, "Documentation et écriture de l'histoire chez l'abbé Suger" (149-160), Julian Führer hypothesizes that from the outset Suger conceived of his Life of Louis VI as "l'aboutissement d'une longue durée," because, after the abbot's death, the Life was appended to the diverse collection of historical sources assembled in what is now MS 2013 of the Bibliothèque Mazarine. He alludes to the work on Suger's talents as a forger now being done by Jens Peter Clausen, continuing the path-breaking studies of Thomas G. Waldman, and he directs attention to Jeremy du Quesnay Adam's fine article on Lucan and Suger.

Pierre Courroux shows that many of Philippe Mousket's references to sources are remarkably accurate, in his article "'Si com jou truis el livre escrit'. Les références externes dans la Chronique rimée de Philippe Mousket" (161-174).

In "L'histoire entre sources et ressources dans la Légende dorée de Jacques de Voragine" (175-186), Florent Coste focuses on the place of history and time in the Golden Legend, proposing (citing Paul Ricœur) that the work "parvient à domestiquer le temps et ses rythmes, qui constituent le tissu même de la misérable condition humaine."

The second section, "Référence(s) et autorité," opens with Laurent Feller's study, "Écrire l'histoire dans les monastères d'Italie centrale aux XIe et XIIe siècles. Chroniques, cartulaires-chroniques et documents" (190-205), which shows that the histories written in Italian monasteries focus on "l'étendue du patrimoine du monastère," but attend as well to "les grandes tendances de l'histoire contemporaine" and particulary the activies of the lay nobility.

In "Intertextualité et stratégies d'autorité dans les gesta abbatum de Conques (XIIe siècle)" (207-218), Sébastien Fray explores the relationship between the stories of the accomplishments of the abbots of Conques and the house's cartulary.

Focusing on a single eleventh-century author, Nicolas Ruffini-Ronzani continues exploration of the use historians made of charters, in his "Comment écrit-on l'histoire de son église? Les chartes et leur usage dans les Gesta episcoporum Cameracensium de l'évêque Gérard Ier d'Arras-Cambrai (1012-1051)" (219-233).

Hélène Sirantoine presents an introduction to the use of charter material in two twelfth-century Spanish works, in "L'acte diplomatique comme 'preuve' dans l'écriture de l'histoire au travers de deux cas hispaniques: L'Historia Compostellana et le Corpus Pelagianum" (235-247).

In "Le Liber testamentorum ecclesi Ouetensis (XIIe siècle). L'utilisation des sources pour la rédaction des narrations historiques du cartulaire" (249-263), Racquel Alonso Álvarez focuses on the forgeries contained in this cartulary of Oviedo, dating from ca. 1120.

Éléonore Andrieu modestly describes her essay "Charlemagne à l'abbaye de Saint-Denis au XIIe siècle. Un personnage mal accueilli" (265-276) as "ce petit essai de synthèse." Frequently citing the work of Pascale Bourgain, she considers MS 2013 of the Bibliothèque Mazarine, which, she notes, "les érudits [ont] intitulé Gesta gentis Francorum," discusses Paris, lat. 12710, which she believes to be a MS of Saint-Denis, and analyzes the so-called Abbreviatio, which she dates ca. 1150, before leaping ahead to the Grandes Chroniques.

The next two articles are different from most of those assembled in the volume, focusing as they do on the cooperative study of the "Petits Thalami" of Montpellier containing the Chronique urbaine of the city, now under way at the university of Montpellier. Vincent Challet first describes the sources, in "Une reconstruction mémorielle. Écriture et réécriture du 'Petit Thalami' de Montpellier" (277-291), and then, in "La complexité documentaire à l'épreuve de la TEI. Les enjeux d'une édition électronique des 'Petits Thalami' de Montpellier" (293-310), Gilda Caïti-Russo and Marco Grimaldi describe the Text Encoding Initiative edition that is being prepared.

In "L'écriture de la première croisade. La destinée de Renaut Porcet dans les récits des XIIe-XIIIe siècles" (311-323), Magali Janet shows how the original account of the adventures of Renaut Porcet during the siege of Antioch in 1098 was changed, modified, and embroidered by later historians.

Also focusing on the historiography of the crusades, Luigi Russo analyzes the histories written in the fifteenth century by Benedetto Accolti and Thomas Ebendorfer. In his essay, "Réinventer la croisade au XVe siècle. L'originalité de la réécriture de l'histoire" (325-337), he demonstrates that despite the growing hostility to new crusading expeditions, "la croisade était une des catégories les plus importantes sur laquelle le cosmos médiéval avait fondé ses modes opérationnels pour se confronter à un sujet externe à sa sphère politique-religieuse comme l'Empire Ottoman" (337).

The last essay, "Auctoritas et références dans les premières chroniques roumaines" (339-350), opens fresh perspectives by focusing on the chronicles of Roumania, which deserve far more attention than they have received. Laura Lazăr Zăvăleanu demonstrates their importance in a concise article that presents an enticing introduction to the histories.

Copyright (c) 2016 Elizabeth A. R. Brown

Give Now

ISSN: 1096-746X | Administrator Login