Aelred of Rievaulx: The Historical Works

Article excerpt

Aelred of Rievaulx: The Historical Works. Translated by Jane Patricia Freeland; edited, with an Introduction and Annotations, by Marsha L. Dutton. [Cistercian Fathers Series, Number 56.] (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications. 2005. Pp. xii, 306. Paperback.)

This book includes translations of four tests by Aelred of Rievauls: Genealogia regum Anglorum (as well as the Lamentatio David Regis Scotie, which appears in manuscripts in tandem with the GRA), Vita sancti Edwardi, and De bello standardii. Although it has always been known that Aelred, the great twelfth-century English Cistercian abbot, wrote historical works as well as spiritual treatises, scholarship on his historical writings has no doubt been impeded by the lack of translations. Prior to Freeland and Dutton's book, an English translation of Aelred's Life of Edward the Confessor was available (although not widely disseminated), but there were no full translations of the Battle of the Standard or Genealogy of the English Kings tests. A more or less acceptable Latin test (and modern English translation) of the Lament could be found embedded in the editions of both John of Fordun's Scottish history and Walter Bower's Scotichronicon (given that Fordun incorporated Aelred's Lament, basically faithfully, into his own history and that Bower later relied on Fordun), but reading a test at one or two steps removed like this has hardly been ideal, particularly if one has wanted to engage in close reading analyses rather than general reading. Hence, the very fact that English translations of Aelred's histories have been so lacking means that this book will necessarily become the first port of call for many researchers, and certainly for students. The translations are in modern English, have biblical quotations and reminiscences noted, and provide biographical notes to people mentioned in the tests. …


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