Literary success and failure in the Latin East and West: the case of Fulcher of Chartres

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


This paper contributes to the notion of “medieval publishing” by arguing that abbreviation, excerption, and paraphrase formed important and widespread means to disseminate one’s ideas, although the inherent lack of authorial control involved in these forms of publication could lead to wildly differing results when it comes to evaluating an author’s literary success. I take as a case study the early twelfth-century writer Fulcher of Chartres, who composed a historical narrative of the First Crusade and the three subsequent decades while living in Jerusalem. This work enjoyed a remarkably rich literary success through various avenues, yet also received a highly critical reception among some of his peers in Europe and later in the Latin East. From our case study, we can identify at least three ways in which Fulcher achieved publication of his work: through copies of the manuscripts containing the different versions of his texts, through abbreviation and reworking, and through excerption and paraphrase. Fulcher’s literary afterlife made him an imposing figure in the early decades of Levantine Latin literary culture. The prominent status his work achieved as a central ecclesiastical and secular text, used to promote the narratives of both the patriarch and king of Jerusalem, can only be reconstructed by piecing together evidence drawn from sources typically neglected in studies of the twelfth-century Latin East.
Period26. Apr 2019
Event titleCanon, Library, and Medieval Publishing: A Workshop
Event typeWorkshop
LocationOdense, Denmark


  • Latin East
  • Crusades
  • Medieval Latin
  • Medieval Literature