Robert of Torigni

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 Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel Normandy

Robert of Torigni (also known as Roburtus de Monte) (c.1110–1186) was a Norman monk, prior, abbot and an important twelfth century chronicler.

Religious life[edit]

He was born at Torigni-sur-Vire, Normandy c.1110[1] most probably to an aristocratic family but his family name was abandoned when he entered Bec Abbey in 1128[2] In 1149 Robert of Torigni became the prior of Bec replacing Roger de Bailleul who had by that time become abbot.[3] In 1154 Robert became the abbot of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.[4] In November of 1158 Robert hosted kings Louis VII of France and Henry II of England at Mont Saint-Michel.[5] Three years later Robert de Torigni, along with Achard of St. Victor, Bishop of Avranches, stood as sponsors (Godfathers) to Eleanor, born to Henry II of England and Queen Eleanor at Domfront in 1161.[6] In 1163 he was in Rome.[7] He was also known to have visited England representing Mont Saint-Michel.[7] In June of 1186 Robert died and was buried in the nave of the chapel at Mont Saint-Michel under a simple grave marker.[8] In 1876 a lead disc was found in his coffin bearing his epitaph. The translation reads: Here lies Robert Torigni, abbot of this place, who ruled the monastery 32 years, and lived 80 years.[9]

Character[edit]

Robert developed a reputation as being a pious monk, an accomplished diplomat, a skilled organizer[10] and a great lover and collector of books[11] Under Robert de Torigni Mont Saint-Michel became a great center of learning with sixty monks producing copeous manuscripts and a library collection so vast it was called the Cité des Livres (City of Books).[12] Robert himself was called "The Great Librarian of the Mont".[10] Robert's principal interest was not so much in man's path to salvation, or in the moral lessons of history; it was in what he called "chronography" (organizing historical events in chronological order).[13] He made no attempts to interpret history but wrote plainly "without a trace of romance in his soul."[14]

Stevenson said, however, Torigni was not always correct in his chronology and made errors even in matters in Normandy of which he should have known better, yet he was always honest and truthful and his mistakes did not greatly affect the overall value of his chronicle.[15] Modern writers too have pointed out errors in his work;[16][17][18][a] and where he has given confusing or conflicting accounts.[19][20] Then Delisle wrote that it was through Robert's affection for Henry II that he made almost no mention in his chronicle of the death of Thomas Becket or Henry II's involvement.[21]

His works[edit]

He is best known as the last of the three contributors to the Gesta Normannorum Ducum (Deeds of the Norman dukes), a chronicle originally written by William of Jumièges, appended to by Orderic Vitalis and lastly Robert de Torigni, who brought the history up to the time of Henry I.[22] Robert relied more on Orderic's work than that of William of Jumièges and added information regarding the reign of William the Conqueror, a history of Bec, and a volume on Henry I.[23] Another source he used was Henry of Huntingdon's Historia Anglorum.[24] Henry, the Archdeacon of Huntingdon, had visited Bec in 1139 and during his stay there provided Robert with much of the information regarding the reign of Henry I which Robert used in his own chronicles.[14] Robert, in turn, introduced Henry to a new work by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Historia Regum Britanniae, a copy of which first reached Bec circa 1138.[14]

the Archangel Saint Michel guards the steeple of Mont Saint-Michel

John Bale, the sixteenth-century English churchman and historian, in his Index Britanniae Scriptorum, identified Robert as the author of two Arthurian romances, based in part by the author's initialing his work with the letter "R". These were De Ortu Waluuanii and Historia Meriadoci, but this identification remains controversial and is doubted by some authorities.[b]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Elisabeth Van Houts in her article ('Robert of Torigni as Genealogist', Studies in Medieval History presented to R. Allen Brown, Boydell Press, 1989, p. 222) suggests that not all the mistakes in Robert de Torigni's Chronicles are his own, that a few are attributable to modern historians who have difficulty with his narrative style genealogies.
  2. ^ Dr. James Bruce analyzed the writing style of these two romances compared to the writings of Robert de Torigni. His opinion was they did not match, and also pointed out how Bale made the mistake of attributing these romances to de Torigni based on an incorrect assumption. Additional evidence shows these romances to be the products of thirteenth century writers, not twelfth. See: Two Arthurian Romances of the XIIIth Century in Latin Prose, ed. J. Douglas Bruce (Johns Hopkins Press, 1913), pp. x-xv, sub: "II. Bale's ascription of the romances to Robert de Torigni". Also see: Mildred Leake Day, Latin Arthurian literature (Cambridge: Brewer, 2005), pp. 3–11 for more discussion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Robert De Torigni," Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Online Library Edition (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012) 25 Apr. 2012
  2. ^ The Chronicles of Robert de Monte, ed. Joseph Stevenson (Llanerch Publishers, 1991), p. 6
  3. ^ Margaret Gibson, 'History at Bec in the twelfth century', The Writing of History in the Middle Ages; Essays Presented to Richard William Southern, Ed. R.H.C. Davis, J.M. Wallace-Hadrill (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1981), p. 179
  4. ^ Chronique de Robert de Torigni, ed. Leopold delisle, Vol. I (A.Le Brument,Rouen 1872), p. i
  5. ^ The Chronicles of Robert de Monte, ed. Joseph Stevenson (Llanerch Publishers, 1991), p. 85
  6. ^ The Chronicles of Robert de Monte, ed. Joseph Stevenson (Llanerch Publishers, 1991), p. 94
  7. ^ a b The Church Historians of England, Vol. IV, Part II, ed. Joseph Stevenson (Seeleys, London, 1856), p. x
  8. ^ Saturday Review, Vol. LXX (London, 1890), p. 271
  9. ^ Marquis de Tombelaine, Le Mont Saint-Michel et ses Merveilles (Société Française d'imprimerie, 1919), p. 97
  10. ^ a b The Messenger, Vol. VIII, Fifth Series/Vol XLIV of the whole series (The Messenger, New York City, 19050, P. 477
  11. ^ Pierre Bouet, Office of Academic Studies Norman, University of Caen, Introduction to L. Delisle, Robert Torigni Chronicle, 2 vols., Rouen, 1872-1873
  12. ^ Philippe Barbour, Brittany (Cadogan Guides, London, 2005) p. 116
  13. ^ Margaret Gibson, 'History at Bec in the twelfth century, The Writing of History in the Middle Ages; Essays Presented to Richard William Southern, Ed. R.H.C. Davis, J.M. Wallace-Hadrill (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1981), p. 175
  14. ^ a b c Margaret Gibson, 'History at Bec in the twelfth century, The Writing of History in the Middle Ages; Essays Presented to Richard William Southern, Ed. R.H.C. Davis, J.M. Wallace-Hadrill (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1981), p. 176
  15. ^ The Chronicles of Robert de Monte, ed. Joseph Stevenson (Llanerch Publishers, 1991), p. 6 n. 1
  16. ^ D. J. A. Matthew, 'Review of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni, Vol. II: Books V-VIII by William of Jumièges; Orderic Vitalis; Robert of Torigni; Elisabeth M. C. van Houts', The English Historical Review, Vol. 112, No. 449 (Nov., 1997), p. 1238
  17. ^ The Complete Peerage, vol. xii/1, ed. G.H. White (The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., London, 1953), pp. 491-4
  18. ^ Elisabeth M.C. Van Houts, 'Robert of Torigni as Genealogist', Studies in Medieval History presented to R. Allen Brown, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill, Christoper J. Holdsworth, Janet L. Nelson (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, UK, 1989), pp. 215, 217, 222, 224, 229, 233
  19. ^ Elisabeth M.C. Van Houts, 'Robert of Torigni as Genealogist', Studies in Medieval History presented to R. Allen Brown, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill, Christoper J. Holdsworth, Janet L. Nelson (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, UK, 1989), pp. 225, 228-9, 230
  20. ^ K.S.B. Keats-Rohan, Aspects of Torigny's Genealogies Revisited, Nottingham Medieval Studies, Vol. 37 (1993) pp. 21, 23, 24-5
  21. ^ Chronique de Robert de Torigni, ed. Leopold Delisle, Vol. II (A.Le Brument,Rouen 1873), p. xii
  22. ^ Cassandra Potts, 'Review of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni Volume II: Books V-VIII by Elisabeth M. C. Van Houts', Albion, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Spring, 1997), page 82
  23. ^ Wace; Glyn S Burgess; Elisabeth M.C. Van Houts, The History of the Norman people: Wace's Roman de Rou (Boydell Press, Rochester, NY, 2004), p. xxviii
  24. ^ Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum, ed. Diana Greenway (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996), p. lxi

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