Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Memory, Myth and History: Investigating Medieval Chronicles, c. 1000-1250
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Project  3000 Words  75%
Semester Assessment Short Essay  1000 Words  25%
Supplementary Assessment Project  3000 Words  75%
Supplementary Assessment Short Essay  1000 Words  25%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of how medieval historical writings have been used by historians and an awareness of the challenges of working with these sources.

Demonstrate an understanding of contrasting historiographcial perspectives on these works.

Analyze and reflect critically on the relationship between the intentions of those who participated in creating these sources and their historical value.

Construct cogent historical arguments relating to medieval chronicles.

Brief description

In the 1130s, the English chronicler Henry of Huntingdon explained that only brutes and beasts did not know history. Of these, the former were far worse: animals could not know about their past; brutes chose not to. From the outset, knowing one's history was thus a sign of civilisation. To be truly civilised, a community needed to have a past. This module explores how writers in high medieval Europe tried to meet these expectations. It will proceed in three overlapping steps:

What was history? That is, when people started writing chronicles, how did they decide to write it? What types of history were there? Also, just why was it assumed to be a mark of civilisation? What was special about it?

What were the challenges of writing history? Most importantly perhaps, how did one get reliable information? How could truth be ascertained?

And what did this mean in practice? That question will be explored in relation to a series of case studies of a type of writing history that proved popular well into the nineteenth century.

By the end of the module you will have an understanding of the major chronicle sources from high medieval Europe, their reasons for being written and their relationships to each other. You will also be able to consult the editions of these sources with confidence and therefore study them in greater depth.


This module will provide an additional choice as part of the range of skills, sources and methods modules available to second year students, which will be of particular interest to students studying for the single honours in Medieval and Early Modern History. It will give students an opportunity to consider how and why medieval chronicles and texts were produced and how they may be used as a source by historians.


Weekly 2-hour seminars:

1. Introduction: understanding medieval chronicles
2. Thinking about history
3. The quest for origins
4. Ekkehard IV of St Gall
5. Instruction and edification
6. Status and learning
7. The Book of Settlement
8. Problems of writing history
9. In search of lost chronicles
10. Geoffrey of Monmouth

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. These skills will be assessed through assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given regarding the improvement of research and techniques and essay writing skills
Information Technology Through the retrieval of primary and secondary works from online resources and AberLearn Blackboard and through the writing, formatting and printing of essays.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will develop oral and written skills. It will also prepare students for careers which involve the research, critical analysis and presentation of material relevant to a particular problem or set of problems
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area, and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will be required to carry out research for seminars and written work.
Subject Specific Skills This module will develop a knowledge of how to use particular types of medieval texts and how they have been utilised by historians.
Team work Through seminar activities, including seminar leading with another student.


This module is at CQFW Level 5