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How the Past was UsedHistorical cultures, c. 750-2000$
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Peter Lambert and Björn Weiler

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266120

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266120.001.0001

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Monastic Historical Culture and the Utility of a Remote Past

Monastic Historical Culture and the Utility of a Remote Past

The Case of Matthew Paris

(p.91) 4 Monastic Historical Culture and the Utility of a Remote Past
How the Past was Used

Björn Weiler

British Academy

The English Benedictine monk Matthew Paris (c.1200–1259) was one of the most prolific writers of history in medieval Europe. The chapter focuses on Matthew’s Lives of the Two Offas, a semi-fictional account of the Anglo-Saxon kings Offa I and Offa II, the first promising to found, the second actually founding what was to become St Albans Abbey. Matthew reveals much about the practice and limitations of historical research, the relationship between the sacred and the secular, and the role of the past in medieval monastic culture. Particular attention is paid to Matthew’s handling of sources, the role of the public and the varied uses of historical narratives.

Keywords:   Matthew Paris, Lives of the Two Offas, historical narratives, medieval monastic culture, St Albans Abbey

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