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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



After graduating from the University of Siena with a BA cum laude in History I read for the MA in Medieval Histoy at King's College London where I was awarded a Distinction with a dissertation focusing on the universal chronicle of Robert of Torigni (c. 1110-1186). Later on I obtained the Diploma awarded by the School of Archival Sciences, Paleography and Diplomatic of the State Archive of Trieste.

I am interested in medieval history-writing with a focus on universal history. My doctoral project aims to explore how throughout the twelfth century historians constructed the universal past in order to match the contemporary political world-vision. In particular, I will focus on the work of monk-historians who were concerned with the legitimisation of ideas about empire such as Sigebert of Gembloux, his successor Anselm, and Robert of Torigni. Although these chroniclers were writing in different contexts, their work rooted on the same authoritative tradition: the Eusebius-Jeromian universal chronicle. This raises questions on the ideological appeal of certain traditions and, as in Torigni's case, on the different assumptions of empire that emerged after the rise of the Angevin dynasty. This project will investigate how mental attitudes towards the writing of universal history met the contemporary political practicalities in the context of different empires.

Other academic interests

My research interests, alongside medieval historiography, span a range of cross-discipline themes and subjects which include: medieval mentalities (construction of the past, the natural and the supernatural, ritual and power, conflict and "otherness"); palaeography and the history of writing; I am also interested in the history of the Norman and Angevin dynasties of England and in the Norman kingdom of Southern Italy.

Department: History
Supervisor: Prof. Elisabeth Van Houts
College: Sidney Sussex College
AHRC Subject Area: History
Title of Thesis: "The writing of universal chronicles and ideas about empire at Bec, Mont-Saint-Michel and Gembloux" [Provisional]
 Gabriele  Passabì