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Cymraeg

Reassessing medieval texts

10 February 2009

Silhouette of knight on a horse

Some of the most significant historical works detailing the Crusades are being given a thorough reappraisal by historians at Cardiff University.

Professor Peter Edbury, of the School of History Archaeology is producing the first modern critical edition of the medieval narratives known as the Continuations of William of Tyre and the Chronicle of Ernoul and Bernard the Treasurer.

Together, the manuscripts provide the fullest narrative for the events from 1184 until 1277 in the territories in the Levant ruled by the crusaders, and are the most significant historical works composed in the Latin East to describe these years.

The interest of these texts lies partly in the historical information they contain, but also in their capacity to mirror the political and cultural preoccupations of the authors and the original audience.

Professor Edbury said: "There is widespread agreement that a modern, scholarly edition of the Continuations and Ernoul-Bernard is a major desideratum. The modern critical edition will include a textual apparatus, historical notes and an introductory commentary that will contain an evaluation of the historical content of these texts and reassess their literary and cultural context.

"The research will further our understanding of thirteenth-century secular perceptions of the crusades to the Holy Land and of the principalities established in the eastern Mediterranean."

Fifty-one manuscripts of the French translation of William of Tyre dating from before 1500, forty-five of which contain Continuations, and eight manuscripts of Ernoul-Bernard have survived . To date, their sheer bulk has deterred scholars from undertaking a project of these dimensions in the past.

The edition by Professor Edbury will constitute a research tool that will contribute significantly to advancing knowledge and understanding in the fields of history, art history, French language and literature.

The research, which will start in September 2009, is funded by a £410,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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