Rhetoric and the Writing of History, 400-1500
By Matthew Kempshall
(Manchester University Press, Hardcover, 9780719070303, 592pp.)
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
This book provides an analytical overview of the vast range of historiography which was produced in Western Europe over a thousand-year period between c.400 and c.1500. Concentrating on the general principles of classical rhetoric central to the language of this writing, alongside the more familiar traditions of ancient history, biblical exegesis and patristic theology, this survey introduces the conceptual sophistication and semantic rigor with which medieval authors could approach their narratives of past and present events, and the diversity of ends to which this history could then be put. By providing a close reading of some of the historians who put these linguistic principles and strategies into practice (from Augustine and Orosius through Otto of Freising and William of Malmesbury to Machiavelli and Guicciardini), it traces and questions some of the key methodological changes that characterize the function and purpose of the western historiographical tradition in this formative period of its development.
Matthew Kempshall is a Fellow and Tutor in History at Wadham College, University of Oxford.