A 'swiðe mycel styrung': The First Crusade in Early Vernacular Annals from Anglo-Norman England

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Martin Brett once observed that ‘the practice of history in England was almost dead’ in 1066, the year of the battle of Hastings and the beginning of the Norman Conquest. Much the same could perhaps be said about 1096, the year when the earliest crusaders set out from western Europe on a massive armed pilgrimage that would shape the eastern Mediterranean for centuries to come. The scarce fuel that was left in the historiographical fire in England at that time simmered mainly in the complex series of interrelated Old English annals now known by the umbrella term ‘the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’. Surviving in nine separate
manuscripts written between the late ninth and mid-twelfth centuries, the different versions of these annals are usually labelled alphabetically as ‘Chronicles A–I’. When read in their entirety, they encompass the history of Britain, as refracted through an Anglo-Saxon (and, later, Anglo-Norman) lens, from the invasion of Julius Caesar until early 1155, soon after the coronation of King Henry II (r. 1154–89). Most scholars agree that the annals forming the ‘common stock’ of this tradition were compiled during the reign and possibly under the auspices of King Alfred of Wessex (r. 871–99) at the end of the ninth century. Over the next
250 years, they were sporadically updated, and occasionally reframed, at various sites throughout England...
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrusade, Settlement and Historical Writing in the Latin East and Latin West, c. 1100–c. 1300
EditorsAndrew D. Buck, James H. Kane, Stephen J. Spencer
Place of PublicationWoodbridge
PublisherBoydell Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781805431510, 9781805431527
ISBN (Print)9781783277339
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Publication series

NameCrusading in Context
PublisherBoydell Press


  • Anglo-Norman Britain
  • Crusades
  • Historical narratives


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