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From Memory to Written Record: England 1066 - 1307, Third Edition

September 2012, ©2012, Wiley-Blackwell
From Memory to Written Record: England 1066 - 1307, Third Edition (EHEP002793) cover image

This seminal work of scholarship, which traces the development of literacy in medieval England, is now fully updated in a third edition.

  • This book serves as an introduction to medieval books and documents for graduate students throughout the world
  • Features a completely re-written first chapter, ‘Memories and Myths of the Norman Conquest', and a new postscript by the author reflecting on the reception to the original publication and discussing recent scholarship on medieval literacy
  • Includes a revised guide to further reading and a revision of the plates which illustrate medieval manuscripts in detail
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List of Plates viii

Preface to the First Edition ix

Preface to the Second Edition xi

Preface to the Third Edition xii

Introduction 1
Being Prejudiced in Favour of Literacy 7
Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation Literacy 11
England's Place in Medieval Literacy 16

Part I TheMaking of Records 21

1 Memories and Myths of the Norman Conquest 23
The Formation of a Norman Official Memory 26
The Anglo-Saxon Heritage of Literacy 30
Latin and the Language of Domesday Book 35
William the Conqueror’s Symbolic Knife 38
The EarlWarenne’s Rusty Sword 41

2 The Proliferation of Documents 46
Documents at Village Level 48
The Chronology of Charter Making 54
The Output of Royal Documents 58
Documents and Bureaucracy 64
TheWork of HubertWalter 70
Royal Influence on Other Records 75
Appendix 80

3 Types of Record 83
The Variety ofWritings 83
Statements Issued by Individuals 87
Memoranda Kept by Institutions 94
Learned and LiteraryWorks 106
Liturgical Books 111

4 The Technology ofWriting 116
The Scribe and His Materials 117
Wax, Parchment, andWood 120
CommittingWords toWriting 127
Layout and Format 134
Rolls or Books? 137

5 The Preservation and Use of Documents 147
Monastic Documents for Posterity 148
Secular Documents for Daily Use 151
Archives and Libraries 156
The Royal Archives 164
Ways of Remembering 174
Ways of Indexing 179

Part II The LiterateMentality 187
What Reading Meant 192

6 Languages of Record 199
Walter of Bibbesworth’s Treatise 199
The Variety of Languages 202
Spoken andWritten Language 208
Chronological Development 213
TheWriting Down of French 217
Royal Documents in Latin, French, and English 222

7 Literate and Illiterate 226
Meanings of 'Clericus' and 'Litteratus' 228
The Question of the Literacy of the Laity 233
Knowledge of Latin Among Non-Churchmen 236
The Acquisition of Clerical Education 242
Educated Knights 248

8 Hearing and Seeing 255
Symbolic Objects and Documents 256
The Spoken Versus theWrittenWord 262
Listening to theWord 268
The SpokenWord in Legal Procedure 274
Writings asWorks of Art 280
Word and Image 285

9 TrustingWriting 295
Memory andWriting 296
Dating Documents 300
Signing Documents 305
The Symbolism of Seals and Crosses 309
Forging Documents 318

10 Pragmatic Literacy 329

Postscript by the Author 336

List of Abbreviations 344

Select Further Reading 352

Plates 356

Index 396

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Michael Clanchy is Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. In the 1990s he held interdisciplinary seminars on the significance of literacy at University College London, the Warburg Institute, and the Institute of Historical Research. Before moving to London in 1985, he taught at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of the popular textbook England and its Rulers 10661307 (third edition, 2006), and Abelard: A Medieval Life (1997).

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Reviews of the first edition:
"A tour-de-force, a scholarly work which is genuinely hard to put down, and which breaks new ground in its approach." Journal of Legal History

"Thought-provoking and wide-ranging . . . one can assert confidently that it is one of the most exciting books on medieval English history to appear in recent years." History

"Many familiar assumptions about the medieval world will have to be reconsidered in the light of this book. It is impossible to convey its range or the variety of its implications, but it is possible to insist on its importance." History Today 

"Clanchy's work will stand as a remarkable piece of scholarship and as a massive contribution to our understanding of the medieval world." Journal of Library History

Reviews of the second edition:

"Just as 'From Memory to Written Record' was the touchstone for the revolution in the study of medieval literacy and power in the 1980s, the second edition will be a sustaining forece in the continuing revolution of the 1990s'. " Patrick J Geary, University of Notre Dame

"'From Memory to Written Record' is one of the those seminal works that shape the direction of the next generation of historical and social thought. This second edition will remain one of the major works on the medieval world for many decades to come." Norman F Cantor, Late of New York University

Michael Clanchy's widely-acclaimed study of the history of the written word in the Middle Ages remains a classic work in medieval studies. In this third edition Professor Clanchy presents his latest thinking on the subject in a new introduction covering recent work on literacy studies. He has also updated the further reading section and revised the references to take account of recent publications. These changes preserve the coherence of the original argument whilst also ensuring the book remains current for a new generation of scholars and students.

‘After nearly four decades in print this monument of twentieth-century historiography has lost none of its imaginative and rhetorical power. Imbued with human insight and unrivalled in its deep understanding of the record- and narrative sources of post-Conquest England, Professor Clanchy’s book continues to educate, inspire, and challenge its many readers. The third edition brings the volume up to date for a new generation and will be welcomed by teachers and researchers across and beyond the Anglophone world.’—Julia Crick, King’s College London

From Memory to Written Record is half an invaluable handbook of sources – still without any modern competition – and half an imaginative investigation of the complex mix of surviving oral modes and the way they coexist with and are transformed by the written word.  Enjoy and learn!’—Paul R. Hymns, Cornell University

"In 1979, Clanchy's From Memory to Written Record launched an entirely new field of enquiry. Taking full account of the wealth of new research it stimulated, this third edition will be equally indispensable to the next generation of students and teachers.’—Julia M H Smith, University of Glasgow

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Purchase Options
E-book   
From Memory to Written Record: England 1066 - 1307, 3rd Edition
ISBN : 978-1-118-29598-4
384 pages
July 2012
$31.99   BUY

Paperback   
From Memory to Written Record: England 1066 - 1307, 3rd Edition
ISBN : 978-1-4051-5791-9
418 pages
September 2012, ©2012
$39.95   BUY

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