Historical writing in medieval Britain: The case of Matthew Paris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter takes the writings of the thirteenth-century chronicler Matthew Paris of St Albans (c.1200-1259) as a case study for recurring themes in this volume. In particular, it draws attention to the complex interplay between the author, his community, and a wider circle of patrons, dependents and visitors. It starts from the premise that historical writing was both a cultural and a social practice. That is, chroniclers did not operate in isolation, but as part of a broader network of those providing models, support and information. In Matthew’s case, a distinctive authorial voice and an equally distinctive manuscript tradition prove especially fruitful. They allow us to gain deeper insights not only into his own approach towards writing about the past, but also the expectations of his fellow-brethren and their benefactors, and into shifting practices in thirteenth-century historical culture at St Albans as well as in England and Latin Europe at large. Key themes include the salvific, hermeneutical and devotional aspects of historical writing, and conventions of genre and historiographical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedieval Historical Writing
Subtitle of host publicationBritain and Ireland, 500-1500
EditorsJennifer Jahner, Emily Steiner, Elizabeth M. Tyler
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781316681299
ISBN (Print)9781107163362
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2019


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