Strange and wonderful events appear throughout the extant corpus of Angevin narratives. Corpses that stalk villages at night; demons disguised as Ethiopian travellers; cloister walls which sweat the blood of the monks slaughtered there. These are just three examples of occurrences which should be considered wondrous and bizarre or, in the case of the final example, miraculous and of divine origin.
Angevin narratives, those produced in England during the reigns of Henry II, Richard I and John, are indicative of a historiographical and narratological shift. Writers appear to abandon the practice of recording myths and legends, instead placing emphasis on contemporary events and communicating historical truth. Yet despite this, a series of seemingly peculiar and remarkable episodes continue to appear. Indeed, one would be forgiven for asking why these occurrences appear in Angevin narratives at all.
Miracles and wonders form part of a new historical and literary tradition which developed in the period c.1150 to 1250, and are integral to this emerging literary landscape. This investigation will consider the place and purposes of miraculous and strange events in Angevin narratives. It will address issues of categorisation, perception and representation in order to determine what they tell us about Angevin world views as seen through a range of important texts.
It will consider how authors deploy the astonishing as a way to rationalise their present experience and to understand the interface between the human and divine. It seeks to provide an insight into how the wonderful and astonishing fit into the Angevin narratological and historiographical tradition. It will examine the miraculous and wondrous in light of both literary theory and the debt owed to Classical literary and rhetorical models in order to provide a new understanding of the meaning and significance of these events.