From Memory to Written Record: England 1066 - 1307 / Edition 2

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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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631168577
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/10/1993
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents

List of Plates
Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Second Edition
List of Abbreviations
Introduction 1
Being Prejudiced in Favour of Literacy 7
Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation Literacy 11
England's Place in Medieval Literacy 16
Pt. I The Making of Records 23
1 Memories and Myths of the Norman Conquest 25
Anglo-Saxon Uses of Writing 26
The Uses of Domesday Book 32
Edward I's 'Quo Warranto' Proceedings and the Earl Warenne 35
2 The Proliferation of Documents 44
Documents at Village Level 46
The Chronology of Charter Making 52
The Output of Royal Documents 57
Documents and Bureaucracy 62
The Work of Hubert Walter 68
Royal Influence on Other Records 74
3 Types of Record 81
The Variety of Writings 81
Statements Issued by Individuals 85
Memoranda Kept by Institutions 92
Learned and Literary Works 104
Liturgical Books 109
4 The Technology of Writing 114
The Scribe and his Materials 115
Wax, Parchment, and Wood 118
Committing Words to Writing 125
Layout and Format 132
Rolls or Books? 135
5 The Preservation and Use of Documents 145
Monastic Documents for Posterity 146
Secular Documents for Daily Use 149
Archives and Libraries 154
The Royal Archives 162
Ways of Remembering 172
Ways of Indexing 177
Pt. II The Literate Mentality 185
What Reading Meant 191
6 Languages of Record 197
Walter of Bibbesworth's Treatise 197
The Variety of Languages 200
Spoken and Written Language 206
Chronological Development 211
The Writing down of French 215
Royal Documents in Latin, French, and English 220
7 Literature and Illiterate 224
Meanings of 'Clericus' and 'Litteratus' 226
The Question of the Literacy of the Laity 231
Knowledge of Latin among Non-Churchmen 234
The Acquisition of Clerical Education 240
Educated Knights 246
8 Hearing and Seeing 253
Symbolic Objects and Documents 254
The Spoken versus the Written Word 260
Listening to the Word 266
The Spoken Word in Legal Procedure 272
Writings as Works of Art 278
Word and Image 283
9 Trusting Writing 294
Memory and Writing 295
Dating Documents 299
Signing Documents 304
The Symbolism of Seals and Crosses 308
Forging Documents 318
10 Practical Literacy 328
Further Reading on the History of Literacy 335
Literacy in History in General 335
Readers and Writers in Medieval Europe 337
Methods of Writing and Making Books in Medieval Europe 340
Readers and Writers in Medieval England 341
Records and Manuscript-Making in Medieval England 343
Plates 346
Index 386
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