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God's Scribe

The Historiographical Art of Galbert of Bruges

Jeff Rider

Publication Year: 2012

Intended as a companion volume to the De multro, the book provides an outline of the Flemish crisis of 1127-28 and summarizes what is known about Galbert. It traces the elaboration of the De multro from a set of wax notes to a nearly completed chronicle.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-viii

In the course of writing this book I was, both unfortunately and fortunately, given two entirely unwelcome opportunities to learn the value of friendship and loyalty in ways that I had never expected. I hope, for their sakes, that I am never given the chance to fully repay those who came to my aide, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank them. First and...

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Introduction: An Open Book

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pp. 1-10

Formally bizarre (it is the only journalistic history we have from Europe in the twelfth century) and almost equally offensive to all its potential audiences, Galbert of Bruges’s De multro, traditione, et occisione gloriosi Karoli comitis Flandriarum—a contemporary, eyewitness account of the assassination of Charles the Good, count of Flanders, murdered while he was at prayer in...

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1. Ego Galbertus

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pp. 11-28

Charles, count of Flanders, rose a bit later than usual that first Wednesday of March 1127, although still well before dawn. “Troubled by a kind of anxious wakefulness,” he had had a hard time falling asleep and had tossed and turned all night, “now lying on one side, now sitting up again on the bed.” The darkness and the cold, humid air did not help...

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2. “In the Midst of Such a Great Tumult”

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pp. 29-49

The siege of the Erembalds and their supporters in the castle of Bruges began on March 9, 1127. On March 17, the canons of Saint Donatian were permitted to climb over the castle walls in order to remove relics and fiscal records from the church. After describing this removal, Galbert adds: And it should be noted...

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3. The Comfort of History

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pp. 50-76

As we have seen in the preceding chapter, Galbert’s intention during the spring of 1127 was to write a descriptionem obsidionis secundum rerum eventum, a chronologically organized description of selected events related to the siege of the traitors in Bruges and their eventual punishment. He seems, initially at least, to have thought that this sequence of events ended when “on May 22, the holy Sunday of Pentecost, the [new] count [William...

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4. The Art of History

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pp. 77-111

Galbert’s efforts to assuage the troubling doubts that Charles’s assassination raised about his abilities as a ruler, the providential nature of history, and the divine ordainment of political authority perhaps stand out somewhat from the similar efforts of other contemporary authors writing in response to similar crises by their rigor and intensity, but the ideological framework...

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5. God’s Scribe

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pp. 112-141

The themes Galbert weaves through his chronicle and the careful composition of its descriptions betray a desire to do more than merely expand and revise his notes when he set out to transform them into a Passio Karoli. They suggest that he wanted to compose a polished, sophisticated piece of historiographical art. This desire is also immediately evident in the fourteen...

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6. The Tyrant

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pp. 142-183

I have suggested that Galbert stopped work on the nearly finished Passio sometime around December 17, 1127, but that he probably intended to return to it in the spring when Zephyrus’s sweet breath made it easier to work with quill and parchment. Galbert does seem to have gone back to work during the second....

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7. Sapiens

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pp. 184-204

The rebellion against William and the ensuing civil war led Galbert to add a substantial series of new entries to his chronicle in 1128, but this addition of new entries did not preclude his going back to work on the existing Passio, as I have suggested he intended to do when he put down his pen in...

Appendix I: Members of the Conventus of Saint Donatian and Clerics Active in the Count’s Administration in Bruges (1089–1135)

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pp. 205-211

Appendix II: Oral Sources

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pp. 212-214

Appendix III: Written Sources

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pp. 215-217

Appendix IV: Messages

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pp. 218-220

Appendix V: Parallel Passages from Walter of Thérouanne’s Vita Karoli and Galbert of Bruges’s De multro

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pp. 221-225

Appendix VI: Passages in the Passio Karoli That May Have Been Revised or Added during the Transformation of the Descriptio

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pp. 226-228

Appendix VII: Allusions to Subsequent Events in Chapters 15–67, 72–85

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pp. 229-232


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pp. 233-330


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pp. 331-348


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pp. 349-360

E-ISBN-13: 9780813220840
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813210186

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 815969441
MUSE Marc Record: Download for God's Scribe

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Subject Headings

  • Galbert, de Bruges, d. 1134. De multro, traditione, et occisione gloriosi Karoli comitis Flandriarum.
  • Flanders -- Historiography.
  • Charles Count of Flanders, d. 1127 -- Assassination.
  • Flanders -- Kings and rulers -- Death -- Sources.
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