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John of Salisbury and the Writing of History

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Chapter Summary

John of Salisbury made the statement regarding the utility of historical writing in the Prologue of his Historia pontificalis. In this work, he repeatedly described conflict between important men (and very occasionally women) over issues of primacy, whether it was primacy of orthodoxy, in land-holding, or in ecclesiastical status. He depicted a cast of frail egos attempting to strengthen their position in the world and the attempts of the Pope to manage those egos. The Historia pontificalis has received little attention in the historiography of medieval historical writing. One of the largest sections of the Historia pontificalis is that which concerns the trial of Gilbert of Poitiers, which took place just after the official business of the Council of Reims in 1148. John's final vignette in his account of the Crusade concerns the decision of Kings Louis and Conrad to abandon their attack on Damascus.

Keywords: Council of Reims; Gilbert of Poitiers; Historia pontificalis; John of Salisbury; King Conrad; Kings Louis; medieval historical writing

10.1163/9789004282940_008
/content/books/b9789004282940s008
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