Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Gesta Tancredi of Ralph of Caen: A History of the Normans on the First Crusade

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Gesta Tancredi of Ralph of Caen: A History of the Normans on the First Crusade

Article excerpt

The Gesta Tancredi of Ralph of Caen: A History of the Normans on the First Crusade, trans. Bernard S. Bachrach and David S. Bachrach, Crusade Texts in Translation 12 (Aldershot and Burlington, Vt: Ashgate, 2005). xii + 183 pp. ISBN 0-7546-3710-7. £37.50. Ralph of Caen is not usually counted among the foremost historians of the crusading movement. This is because the Gesta Tancredi has suffered from the suspicion that Ralph's narrative was skewed by his desire to eulogize his patron, Tancred of Antioch, thus arguably making it unreliable as a historical account of past events. In fact, as the detailed and helpful introduction to Bernard and David Bachrach's translation makes clear, such an attitude is not entirely justified. Ralph of Caen appears to have been a member of the immediate entourage of Bohemund of Tarante, Prince of Antioch, before joining the staff of his nephew and successor Tancred, to whom he became a close adviser until Tancred's death in December 1112. He thus had highly knowledgeable sources of information. Moreover, Ralph was aware of the risk that his account might be dismissed as biased, and therefore made a point of waiting until his patron's death before starting his work. …

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