English and Norman Historians

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles: The chronicles are a collection of seven manuscripts written by monks living in England between the 9th and 12th centuries The chronicles written in the form of a diary, tell the story of England, and cover a period of over a thousand years. Certain passages of the various manuscripts are identical which suggests that a certain amount of copying took place. There are three manuscripts that cover the period of the Norman Conquest. It is believed that Version C was written in Abingdon near Oxford, Version D in York, and Version E in Canterbury.

William of Poitiers was born in Normandy in about 1030. After studying in Poitiers he became a Norman soldier. Later he became a priest and was eventually appointed as the archdeacon of Lisieux. It was at this time that William of Poitiers became friends with William, Duke of Normandy. When William became king of England in 1066 he invited William of Poitiers to become his personal chaplain. William of Poitiers' book, The History of William the Conqueror, was published in about 1073 AlthoughWilliam of Poitiers was in Lisieux during 1066, his book provides the most detailed description that we have of the Battle of Hastings.

William of Jumieges was born in Normandy in about 1025. He became a monk at the abbey of Jumieges in about 1055. William had a keen interest in history and while at the abbey read all the manuscripts he could find on the Normans. In 1070 he began his book The Deeds of William, Duke of the Normans The book was based on what he had read plus his own knowledge and observations. When William of Jumieqes finished the book he sent a copy to William the Conqueror. He enclosed a letter with the book. In the letter he explained he had written the book with the particular purpose of showing how William was the rightful king of England.

Chronicle of Battle Abbey: William the Conqueror supplied the money for the building Battle Abbey in 1070. The first monks at the abbey were brought over from France. The chronicle was written by an unknown monk at Battle Abbey in about 1175.

Bayeux Tapestry: It is believed that Odo, William's half-brother, commissioned the making of the Bayeux Tapestry soon after the Battle of Hastings. We do not know who designed the tapestry but it was probably embroidered by a group of women from Canterbury. The tapestry is 70.34 metres (231 feet) long by 50 centimetres (20 inches) wide and was first displayed at Bishop Odo's Bayeux cathedral The tapestry provides a narrative history of William and the Normans between 1064 and 1066.

Annal and Chronicles

Annal : A record of what had happened during the year. Many monasteries had a system where monks could note down events that they considered were important. News of these events often came from travellers who stayed in the monastery. Monks who went on trips also brought back information for the annal. At the end of the year the monk in charge of the annal would write it up in a book.

Chronicles : Chroniclers selected out events they thought were important and tried to explain why they happened. Chronicles were usually the work of one man and tended to be more personal than annals.