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William of Newburgh

From Academic Kids

William of Newburgh (1136?-1198?) was a 12th century English historian, and monk, from Yorkshire.

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William of Newburgh

His major work was Historia rerum Anglicarum (History of English Affairs), a history of England from 1066 to 1198. The work is valued by historians for detailing the anarchy under Stephen of England. It is written in an engaging fashion and still highly readable to this day, containing many fascinating stories and glimpses in to 12th century medieval life.

Newburgh has been called by Freeman "the father of historical criticism"1. Newburgh saw his own work as being historically accurate, unlike Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the British Kings, which Newburgh was critical of saying "only a person ignorant of ancient history would have any doubt about how shamelessly and impudently he lies in almost everything".2

Because belief in souls returning from the dead was common in the 12th century, Newburghs Historia briefly recants stories he heard about revenants, as does the work of Walter Map, his southern contemporary. Although a minor part of both works, these folklore accounts have attracted attention within occultism.3

See also

  • William Fitz Osbern (1196) - The story of William Fitz Osbern, from William of Newburgh's historical account.
  • Wimund (bishop) - The story of Wimund the bishop, from William of Newburgh's historical account.
  • Medieval revenants - The story of those souls who return from the dead, from William of Newburgh's historical account.

Sources

  • The History of English Affairs (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/williamofnewburgh-intro.html) Online excerpts, as part of The Church Historians of England, volume IV, part II; translated by Joseph Stevenson (London: Seeley's, 1861). Spelling modernized 1999 by Scott McLetchie.
  • The History of 'William of Newburgh' (1066-1194), Joseph Stevenson (Translator), LLanerch Press, 1996, ISBN 1861430132 - This is believed to be the Seeley's 1861 version as seen above, without Scott McLetchie's spelling updates.
  • Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I. Edited by Richard Howlett. Rolls Series no. 82. London, 1884-9. Books 1-4 of William's history appear in volume 1, book 5 in volume 2. Most recent complete source.
  • The History of English Affairs, Book I (Medieval Latin Texts), by William, P.G. Walsh, M.J. Kennedy, 1988, ISBN 0856683043, Book I only.

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