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A close reading of Orderic Vitalis's rhetorical swan song ('Lapsus ducis') for William the Conqueror

Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Author: Blaj, Laura
How do we re-politicise today in its correct, original, and medieval spirit Orderic Vitalis's thousand-year-old investigation of the Conqueror's crimes? The text where this exists in its most succinct, yet elusive form – the final pages of book VII in Orderic's Historia Ecclesiastica (the 'lapsus ducis' episode) – displays rhetorical elements of discourse organisation only partly detectable today. Challenging for modern readers seeking to reveal Orderic's hidden meanings is the reading of his Latin text in accordance with the laws that governed its writing. The present thesis looks at his Latin lexicon and textual organisation exploring any aspects rooted in ancient oratory. It examines Orderic's engagement with qualifying William's moral guilt and the textual strategies employed to suggest his unworthiness of divine pardon. The rhetorical techniques at play here evoke historical endeavours to unburden William of moral guilt, but they also reveal Orderic's effort at exposing the fissures inherent in that process.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Dutton, Paul
Member of collection
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