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Title: God's agency and the recent past in Carolingian history writing, c.750-900
Author: Evans, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0001 2434 1967
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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The historians writing in the Carolingian Empire, with a few important exceptions, frequently ascribed events in recent history to God. Where they have been noticed at all, these statements of God’s agency have usually been explained as political propaganda, to demonstrate God’s favour towards the reigning dynasty. Alternatively, they have been explained by the legacy of late antique Christian historians, from which this language supposedly derived. This thesis aims to demonstrate that this language was a distinctive and innovative feature of the emerging tradition of Carolingian history writing and is best explained in religious terms. It argues that Carolingian historians reflected the emphasis on God’s agency found throughout contemporary culture and that they deliberately reshaped the Christian language bequeathed by their Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Frankish predecessors. It offers a text-by-text analysis of how God’s agency functioned within each major Carolingian history, to further show the versatility of this language over the period. Taken together, these texts suggest that Carolingian historians wanted to teach their audiences about God’s agency and its implications for their own beliefs, identities, and behaviour. As a result, these histories and their depictions of God’s agency can be seen as a distinctive contribution to Carolingian religious renewal. This thesis thus aims to contribute to our understanding of the relationship between religion, history, and culture in early medieval Europe.
Supervisor: McKitterick, Rosamond ; Sowerby, Richard Sponsor: AHRC ; Gledhill
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Carolingian ; theology ; history writing ; annals ; providence ; early middle ages ; God's agency ; Charlemagne ; The Vikings ; The Franks ; Christianity