Date of Award
Master of Arts
Dr. Luigi Andrea Berto
Dr. Robert F. Berkhofer III
Dr. Rand Johnson
Masters Thesis-Open Access
The goal of this project is to analyze the ways different cultural groups in Sicily and southern Italy were depicted in a set of historical texts associated with the Norman takeover of those regions in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. To achieve that aim, I consider social vocabulary applied to three distinct peoples (native Italians, Greeks, and Muslims) in five sources written by Amatus of Montecassino, Geoffrey Malaterra, William of Apulia, Alexander of Telese, and Hugo Falcandus. Although recent scholarship has posited that medieval identity was often felt through a "self versus other" or "Christian versus non-Christian" dichotomy, I have not found that the actual language contained in my sources ever devolved into such simplistic, binary terms.
On the contrary, the images these medieval historians constructed were informed, contingent, and rational. The highly nuanced depictions of outsiders were informed by the style and content of their texts, contingent upon the demands of their patrons and audiences, and rational in that the authors made politically prudent choices about what to write. Though the perceptions and definitions applied to these groups of people were, admittedly, sometimes based on uninformed stereotypes, they were more often deliberately constructed images that were highly dependent on the cultural milieu in which they were created.
Hysell, Jesse, ""Videbantur Gens Effera": Defining and Perceiving Peoples in the Chronicles of Norman Italy" (2011). Master's Theses. 394.