William of Malmesbury (c.1080-c.1143-48)
Malmesbury - History
Certainly one of the greatest historians of his time and sometimes referred to as the ‘Father of English History’, William of Malmesbury was a Benedictine monk who resided in Malmesbury Abbey as its librarian.
It is not known if William was a native of Malmesbury, but by birth he was half-Norman, half-Saxon. What is known is that he spent most of his childhood and adult life in the town. He was educated at Malmesbury Abbey where he spent most of his time in the library, assisting Abbot Godfrey. By the time he took on the role of librarian, he had helped to make the library one of the finest in Europe at the time, it is said that even the Pope used to borrow books from there. He had a good grasp of Latin and travelled a good deal, but his greatest quality was probably his love of truth and accuracy, he always ensured that he double-checked his information. As a result, he ensured we have a fine collection of Saxon history, especially concerning Kings and Prelates and is responsible for the only known authentic account of the First Crusade. His honesty and the fact that he was often outspoken also mean that his accounts spare no one, despite later attempts to alter his works for political reasons.
William died at some point between 1143 and 1148. A stain-glassed window depicting him can still be seen in Malmesbury Abbey and some of his original works are held in Oxford and Lambeth Palace.
Bowen, John. (Edited By Allnatt, Graham), A Story of Malmesbury (Hackman Print, Rhondda: 2000).
Hodge, Dr. Bernulf., A History of Malmesbury (5th Edition; The Friends of Malmesbury Abbey, Minety: 1990).
Luce, Major-General Sir Richard H., The History of the Abbey and Town of Malmesbury (The Friends of Malmesbury Abbey, Minety: 1979).