Assignment 1 part 3:
Comparing Early Medieval Rulers and Their Texts
To complete the assignment, you should copy and paste the questions listed here to the assignment (word doc or Google Doc–make sure I have access to it!). Then, you can provide your answers directly below them. This will ensure that you clearly address each question, and do not miss any of the points.
Remember to review (Key sources I sent on Whatsapp) to ensure you are providing all of the material you need to answer the questions below.
Part I: Understanding Abels’s Arguments and How Historians Craft Their Works
- What are Abels’s arguments about how historians create their narratives about people from the past?
- What are the issues that Abels raises with Asser’s text, The Life of King Alfred, as a source for understanding the medieval king?
- What is historical accuracy, and in what ways does the medieval concept of historical accuracy differ from our own?
- How does medieval Christian culture play a role in the portrayal of Alfred’s life?
- What critiques does Abels have about the way in which Plummer did (or did not) use his sources, and how did his own biases influence his conclusions?
- According to Abels, how does Smyth use historical sources?
- How does Abels use medieval primary source evidence to craft his biography of Alfred?
Part II: The Biographies of Alfred, Charlemagne, and Aethelflaed
Choose two of our leaders from this unit (Alfred, Charlemagne, or Aethelflaed) to start working on their biographies as contemporary medieval historians. You do not have to write their entire biography! Rather, you will be thinking about the concepts you learned about bias and the use of sources to sketch out some ideas here.
For each leader you choose, do the following:
- Identify at least one primary source that you plan to use to assess their rule. You should clearly name the title of the source and its author.
- Identify the bias of each of those primary sources that you would use for the biography of each leader. Explain why those sources have this particular bias by giving specific evidence from each source, and then in your own words, provide an analysis of how that evidence supports your claim that this particular bias exists.
- Identify what argument about each medieval leader’s life that you would make as their biographer (e.g., Alfred was a bad ruler, Charlemagne was a weak king, etc.).
- Give at least one piece of evidence from each primary source that you used, and your specific analysis of it, to support your argument.
- Identify what you think your contemporary bias is as a biographer. That is, what is your worldview, and how does this potentially impact how you read and view these sources?
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