Christian Unity and Religious Polemic in Walter the Chancellor’s Bella Antiochena (c. 1115-22)

Yolles, J. (Guest lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


This paper engages with recent work on Walter the Chancellor, an early twelfth-century author who wrote a short Latin prosimetric history in Antioch, covering local events between 1115–1122. Scholars have variously debated whether Walter’s work belongs to the genre of anti-Islamic polemic or rather contains a nuanced depiction of the Artukids, representing viable testimony for their pre-Islamic cultural practices. This paper attempts to break through the scholarly impasse by proposing a two-pronged approach: by situating Walter and his history within the multifaceted literary and intellectual culture of early twelfth-century Antioch and by taking seriously the literary strategies Walter employed in his history, I identify hitherto unobserved polemical motifs in Walter’s Bella Antiochena and argue that the work is best understood as a Latin Christian’s complex and developing engagement with the Eastern Christian communities of Antioch.
Period3. Apr 2020
Event titleHenri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies: Medieval Seminar Series Lunch Lecture
Event typeSeminar
LocationGhent, Belgium


  • Crusades
  • Latin East
  • Christian-Muslim Relations
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Religious polemics
  • Medieval Literature