Born 30 November, about 1090; died about 1143. He was educated at Malmesbury, where he became a monk. From his youth he showed a special bent towards history, "Thence it came that not being satisfied with the writing of old I began to write myself". By 1125 he had completed his two works, "Gesta Regum" and "Gesta Pontificum". After this he spent ten years in forming a collection of historical and legal materials, now in the Bodleian library, and writing a history of Glastonbury and its saints, in which he speaks as though he were, for the time at least, an inmate of that abbey. He records that he might more than once have become Abbot of Malmesbury, but he contented himself with the office of librarian. About 1140 he made revisions of the two works "Gesta Regum" and "Gesta Pontificum", and began a new work "Historia novella", a sequel to the former, dealing with the period 1125-42, but in such a desultory way as to show that we have rather the first draft of a book than a completed work. William's authority as a historian is invaluable for the contemporary reign of Stephen, and his records of the earlier Norman kings, being based either on personal knowledge or direct hearsay, are of importance. The "Gesta Pontificum", which owes much to Bede, is the source from which all later writers of early ecclesiastical history of England have chiefly drawn. His method, also derived from Bede, was to recount events so as to show their cause and effect, and in returning to this sound principle he made a great advance on the works of his predecessors. The anecdotes, occasionally irrelevant, which he weaves into his narrative, helped much to preserve its popularity through the Middle Ages. His chief works have been printed by Migne, but the Rolls Series includes the critical edition.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online