William of Malmesbury

William of Malmesbury

William of Malmesbury (c. 1080/1095–c. 1143), English historian of the 12th century, was born about the year 1080/1095, in Wiltshire. His father was Norman and his mother English. He spent his whole life in England with his most productive working years as a monk at Malmesbury Abbey.


The education William received at Malmesbury Abbey included a smattering of logic and physics; Moral philosophy and history, however, were the subjects to which he devoted most attention. During the course of his studies, he amassed a collection of medieval histories, which inspired in him the idea for a popular account of English history, modeled on the "Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum" ("Ecclesiastical History of the English People") of Bede. William's obvious repect for Bede is apparent even within the preface of his history, where he professes his admiration for the man.

In fulfilment of this idea, William produced around AD 1120 his first edition of the "Gesta regum anglorum" ("Deeds of the English kings") which spanned from AD 449-1120. He later edited and expanded it up to the year 1127, releasing a second edition dedicated to Earl Robert of Gloucester. This second edition of the Gesta regum anglorum is now considered by modern scholars to be one of the great histories of England. William's first edition of the "Gesta regum anglorum" was followed by the "Gesta pontificum anglorum" ("Deeds of the English Bishops") in 1125.

Around this time, William formed an acquaintance with Bishop Roger of Salisbury, who had a castle at Malmesbury. It is possible that this acquaintance, coupled with the positive reception of his Gesta regum earned him the offered position of Abbot of Malmesbury Abbey in 1140. William, however, preferred his duties as librarian and scholar and declined the offer. His one public appearance was made at the council of Winchester in 1141, in which the clergy declared for the empress Matilda. He continued his chronicles with the "Historia Novella", or "modern history", a three-book chronicle that stretched from A.D. 1128-1142, including important accounts of the anarchy of King Stephen's reign. This work breaks off abruptly at the end of 1142, with an unfulfilled promise that it will be continued. Presumably, William died before he could redeem his pledge.


He is lauded by many, including John Milton, to be one of the best English historians of his time, and remains known for strong documentation and his clear, engaging writing style. A strong Latin stylist, he shows literary and historiographical instincts which are, for his time, remarkably sound. He is an authority of considerable value from 1066 onwards; many telling anecdotes and shrewd judgments on persons and events can be gleaned from his pages. Some scholars criticize him for his atypical annalistic form, calling his chronology less than satisfactory and his arrangement of material careless. But his works are still considered invaluable, and despite these shortcomings, William of Malmesbury remains one of the most celebrated English chroniclers of the 12th century.also sucks dick


* "William of Malmesbury: Gesta Regum Anglorum" (Deeds of the English Kings), Vol I, Edited and Translated by R. A. B. Mynors, Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-820678-X
* "William of Malmesbury: Gesta Regum Anglorum" (Deeds of the English Kings), Volume II: General Introduction and Commentary, R. M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom, Oxford Universitynts' Lives", Edited by M. Winterbottom and R. M. Thomson, Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-820709-3
* "William of Malmesbury: Historia Novella" (The Contemporary History), Edited by Edmund King, translated by K. R. Potter, Oxford University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-19-820192-4
* William of Malmesbury, "Chronicle of the Kings of England", Translation by Rev. John Sharpe, 1815. J.A. Giles, editor. London: George Bell and Sons, 1904.
* "William of Malmesbury: The Deeds of the Bishops of England [Gesta Pontificum Anglorum] ", Translated by David Preest, 2002, ISBN 0-85115-884-6
* Rodney M Thomson, "William of Malmesbury", ISBN 1-84383-030-2

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External links

* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=0pdMlzKXJ_IlUzs-2dgl2Ay&id=W2ANAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA2-PA5&dq=%22history+of+the+kings+of+england%22+malmesbury Complete text of the "Chronicles of the Kings of England" at Google Books]
* [http://www.bartleby.com/211/0906.html Latin Chroniclers from the Eleventh to the Thirteenth Centuries: William of Malmesbury] from "The Cambridge History of English and American Literature", Volume I, 1907–21.
* [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/malmsbury-chronicle1.html Deeds of the English Kings] , excerpts.
* [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1066malmesbury.html Battle of Hastings, 1066] , excerpts.
* [http://www.deremilitari.org/RESOURCES/SOURCES/lincoln3.htm Account of the Battle of Lincoln in 1141] , excerpts.
* [http://www.csun.edu/~sk36711/WWW/engl443/malmesbury.html Historia Novella] , excerpts.



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  • William of Malmesbury — • Benedictine monk at Malmesbury Abbey Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • William of Malmesbury — 1090? 1143?; Eng. historian …   English World dictionary

  • William de Malmesbury — Guillaume de Malmesbury Guillaume de Malmesbury sur un vitrail de l abbaye de Malmesbury. Guillaume de Malmesbury (vers 1090/1095 – vers 1143), fut un moine bénédictin de l abbaye de Malmesbury, dans le Wiltshire en Angleterre, un homme de lettre …   Wikipédia en Français

  • William of Malmesbury — (ca. 1095–1143)    William of Malmesbury was one of the most important historians of medieval England. His bestknown works, the Gesta regum Anglorum (Deeds of the kings of England) and its sequel Historia novella (Recent history), tell the story… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • William of Malmesbury — (fl. 12th cent.)    Historian, was an inmate of the great monastery at Malmesbury. His name is said to have been Somerset, and he was Norman by one parent and English by the other. The date of his birth is unknown, that of his death has sometimes …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • William of Malmesbury — biographical name circa 1090 circa 1143 English historian …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • William of Malmesbury — /mahmz ber ee, beuh ree, bree/ c1090 1143?, English historian. * * * …   Universalium

  • William of Malmesbury — Wil′liam of Malmes′bur•y [[t]ˈmɑmzˌbɛr i, bə ri, bri[/t]] n. big c1090–1143?, English historian …   From formal English to slang

  • William of Malmesbury — /ˈmamzbəri/ (say mahmzbuhree), / bri/ (say bree) noun c.1090–c.1143, English monk and historian …   Australian English dictionary

  • William of Malmesbury — /mahmz ber ee, beuh ree, bree/ c1090 1143?, English historian …   Useful english dictionary

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