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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Visions and Revisions: Gerald of Wales, Authorship, and the Construction of Political, Religious, and Legal Geographies in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Britain

  • Author(s): Sargent, Amelia
  • Advisor(s): Bezner, Frank
  • et al.

Gerald of Wales revised his Topographia Hibernica and Itinerarium Kambriae multiple times over the course of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Each revision reshapes the text, adding nuance and contours that affect the understanding of the work's meaning, its function, and its depiction of the underlying geographic space. This dissertation is a case study at the intersection of three foundational questions: what motivates textual revision, how can revision of depictions of landscapes in geographic texts affect the physical concept of space, and what was the conception of history and the text, such that they could affect the outcome of future events. By carefully parsing the versions of the Topographia and Itinerarium, and identifying and analyzing the differences between them, we can begin to understand how textual revision was deployed both to respond to changed circumstances and to affect future action. The resulting picture counters the idea that texts, history, or geography were static in the Middle Ages, and studying the dynamic relationship between them has implications for our understanding of medieval historiography, politics, religion, and authorship.

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