IMPORTANT HISTORIANS OF THIS PERIOD:
This period is especially known as the Golden Age of Latin histories. Monks and scholars wrote valuable histories which influenced the literature very much.
a) William of Newbury:-
He wrote ‘Historia Rerum Anglicarum’. It deals with the events of the Norman Conquest onwards. He followed a rigid line of narration. In order to obtain accuracy he used very painstaking method.
b) Geoffrey of Monmouth:-
He was a Welshman and an Archdeacon of Monmouth and later on became Bishop of St. Asaph. His most important work is- “Historia Regum Britanniac”. It begins with the landing of Brutus, the great grandson of Aeneas and ends with the death of Cadwalladar, the last British king of England. In this book he made use of various sources such as the Welsh hearsays, Gildas and Nennius and several oral legends. All this fused with his active and exuberant imagination that supplied the necessary force to the narration. History thus gets transformed into fictional account. Here in this book the author claims that the Britons descended from the Trojans; though he was the first to present Arthur as a historical personality many other personages associated with him are missing here. Accurate or not, this book is important in that it instantly caught on with people’s fancy and had effect on the later literature.
c) Ordericus Vitalis:-
He was the son of a Norman priest. He lived in the Norman monastery of St. Evroult. He wrote ‘Historia Ecclesianstica’. He was greatly inspired by Bede. It related the history upto 1141 A.D. The book gives us sufficient idea of the condition of Church and monasteries in the 12th century.
d) William of Malmesbury:-
Malmesbury divides his work into two parts- ‘History of the kings of England’ (written in five books) and ‘History Novella (written in three books). He narrates the history of England in an attractive style. He excellently combines his critical angle with artistic merit. He begins his chronicle from the time of the Englishmen’s coming to 1142.
e) John of Salisbury:-
In 1136 he went to Paris and became acquainted with the works of the scholars of Paris and Charters. He returned to England in 1150. During the period 1150-60 he wrote and revised two of his well-known works Policraticus and Metalogicus, dedicated to Becket. Salisbury was quite close to Becket, having entered his services around 1162, and wrote Life. Circumstances again forced him to leave the country and in France he wrote Historia Pontificalis. It is said that Salisbury was a great devotee of Becket, and at the time when murderous attack was made on the person of Becket on December 29, Salisbury was present.
f) Henry of Huntington:-
He wrote ‘Historia Anglorum’. It begins with 55 B.C. and continues till 1154. In it he included the old English poem ‘The Battle of Brunanburh’ in Latin.
g) Roger Bacon:-
He was a scholar of Chemistry, linguistics, optics, mathematics, astronomy and he believed staunchly in the experimental method of science. Bacon was unrelenting in his attacks on scholastic obscurantism and vices of the clergy which predictably landed him in prison where he is supposed to have died in 1292 or thereabouts.
These difficulties did not deter Roger Bacon and he continued to produce such monumental works as a Greek grammar Compendium Studi Philasophie and Opus Maius, Opus Tertium, etc. He represents a class of historians in that age who believed in assiduous methods and compilation of facts based on verifiable evidences. He is regarded as the most outstanding genius of the Middle Ages, “the earliest of natural philosophers of the West and in his knowledge of science far ahead of time. He revived the study of mathematics, accomplished a considerable advance in optics and was a notable linguist” (Wilson: 45).