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Abstract

Awareness of the Heretic and Heresy in English and Norman Historiography, c. 1000-1250
In this paper I ask of English and Norman sources the questions that the contributors to John Christian Laursen's Histories of Heresy in the 17th and 18th Centuries (2002) have asked of early modern histories of heresy. The remarkable range and quality of the histories and epistolary collections that survive for and Normandy in the late eleventh and the twelfth centuries certainly makes it possible to trace in some detail the rise of heresy as an issue for clerical observers of the contemporary scene based in these regions. What one finds, however, is that whereas in historians such as Rodulfus Glaber and Guibert of Nogent sought out and even invented tales of heresy in order to fulfil the thematic schemes required of their writings, in and Normandy there was almost no intellectual interest in contemporary heresy until the issue became unavoidable. English historians writing before circa 1175 show almost no interest in episodes involving heresy and heretics, the one major exception being the controversy caused by the teachings of Berengar of Tours. But from the end of the twelfth century, they pattern is reversed: the menace of the Cathars and the progress of the Albigensian Crusade loom large in their narratives. It is sometimes suggested - by intimation rather than explicit statement - that English and Norman historians of the early twelfth century avoided giving space to heresy because they had misgivings about both the validity of the tales that were reaching them from France and about the merits of persecution - that is, because they were instinctive advocates of toleration. This is, however, wishful thinking. In their accounts of the doctrinal controversies of the patristic era, English and Norman historians do not hesitate in the naming of heretics nor do they doubt the righteousness of the persecution of their followers. There is good evidence, moreover, that as late as the 1160s English religious were still largely ignorant of the rise of popular heresy and of the responses that were becoming typical elsewhere in Europe . This situation was transformed by the first appearance of Cathar missionaries in , a short-lived crisis that resulted in the rapid acquisition and acceptance of the Cisterican construction of the problem and of how it should be solved. Thus, the 'rise' of heresy into English and Norman historical consciousness was a response to the advent of actual heresy, an event which produced a largely mechanical response.

Biographical Sketch

Paul Antony Hayward teaches medieval history at the University of Otago . His publications include Kingship, Childhood and Martyrdom in Anglo-Saxon , Studies in the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming), and various articles on the Cult of Saints, on Hagiography, and on Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman Historiography. He is the editor together with James Howard-Johnston of The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Essays on the Contribution of Peter Brown ( Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2000;rpt. 2002).

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