The Normans in Their Histories: Propaganda, Myth and Subversion

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Boydell & Brewer, 2001 - History - 260 pages
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The first Normans were Rollo and his fellow Vikings, marauders from the north, who fashioned the county (later the Duchy) of Normandy from lands won at the mouth of the Seine in about 911, making Rouen their capital. The heirs of these pagan Northmen contrived a brilliant transformation of themselves into Christian warriors, and went on to conquer England, southern Italy and Sicily, and even distant Antioch, in the process carving out a dynamic reputation throughout Western Europe and the Mediterranean. Norman princes encouraged the celebration of these remarkable achievements in histories written to verify the legitimacy of their claims to settle and dominate their lands. From Dudo of Saint-Quentin (late tenth/early eleventh centuries) to the twelfth-century vernacular histories of Wace and Benoit, the Norman historical tradition largely acceded to these expectations: beneath the surface, however, virtually all the histories told a contrary story, condemning the Normans as treacherous to kin and ally as well as to foe. Emily Albu examines the myths the historians fashioned, and the other literary strategies they employed, to expose and explain the wolfish predation at the core of Normanness. EMILY ALBU is Assistant Professor of Classics, University of California, Davis.

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