Parthagica Directory 05
If so, it is time we were made to understand this more clearly. If the Church, whether of Rome or England, would lean to some such view as this--tainted though it be with mysticism--if we could see either great branch of the Church make a frank, authoritative attempt to bring its teaching into greater harmony with the educated understanding and conscience of the time, instead of trying to fetter that understanding with bonds that gall it daily more and more profoundly; then I, for one, in view of the difficulty and graciousness of the task, and in view of the great importance of historical continuity, would gladly sink much of my own private opinion as to the value of the Christian ideal, and would gratefully help either Church or both, according to the best of my very feeble ability. On these terms, indeed, I could swallow not a few camels myself cheerfully enough.
One of the best authorities for the period from the Conquest to 1141 is the Historia Ecclesiastica of ORDERIC VITALIS (A. le Prevost, Societe de l'Histoire de France, 1838-55). Born in England in 1075, of a Norman father, a clerk, and an English mother, he was sent by his father at the age of ten to the monastery of St. Evroul, and there he spent his life. The atmosphere in this monastery was favourable to study. It had an extensive library, and Orderic had at his command good sources of information, though he himself took no part in the events he describes. He paid some visits to England in which he obtained information, and as he always looked upon himself as an Englishman, his history naturally includes England as well as Normandy. He began to write about 1123, and from that date on he may be regarded as a contemporary authority, but from the Conquest the book has in many places the value of an original account. It is an exasperating book to use because of the extreme confusion in which the facts are arranged, or left without arrangement, the account of a single incident being often in two widely separated places. But the book rises much above the level of mere annals, and while perhaps not reaching that of the philosophical historian, gives the reader more of the feeling that a living man is writing about living men than is usual in medieval books. It reveals in the writer a lively imagination, which, while it does not affect the historical value of the narrative, gives it a pictorial setting. Orderic's interest in the minuter details of life and in the personality of the men of his time imparts a strong human element to the book; nor is the least useful feature of the work the writer's critical judgment on men and events, generally on moral grounds, but often assisting our knowledge of character and the causes of events.