Biography[ edit ] Though the education William received at Malmesbury Abbey included a smattering of logic and physics , moral philosophy and history were the subjects to which he devoted the most attention. The evidence shows that Malmesbury had first-hand knowledge of at least four hundred works by two hundred-odd authors. He later edited and expanded it up to the year , releasing a revision dedicated to Robert, Earl of Gloucester. This "second edition" of the Gesta Regum , "disclosing in his second thoughts the mellowing of age", [8] is now considered one of the great histories of England. William wrote of William the Conqueror in Historia Anglorum: He was of just stature, extraordinary [9] corpulence, fierce countenance; his forehead was bare of hair; of such great strength of arm that it was often a matter of surprise, that no one was able to draw his bow, which himself could bend when his horse was in full gallop; he was majestic whether sitting or standing, although the protuberance of his belly deformed his royal person; of excellent health so that he was never confined with any dangerous disorder, except at the last; so given to the pleasures of the chase, that as I have before said, ejecting the inhabitants, he let a space of many miles grow desolate that, when at liberty from other avocations, he might there pursue his pleasures. His anxiety for money is the only thing on which he can deservedly be blamed.

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Guglielmo di Malmesbury

The habit of reading, he tells us, has been a source of pleasure to me ever since I was a boy, and its charm grew as I grew. Indeed, I had been brought up by my father to regard it as damaging to my soul and my good repute if I turned my attention in any other direction In particular I studied History, which adds flavour to moral instruction by imparting a pleasurable knowledge of past events, spurring the reader by the accummulation of examples to follow the good and shun the bad. So after I had spent a good deal of my own money on getting together a library of foreign historians, I proceeded in my leisure moments to inquire if anything could be discovered concerning England worth the attention of posterity. Not content with ancient works, I began to get the itch to write myself, not to show off my more or less non-existent erudition but in order to bring forcibly into the light things lost in the rubbish-heap of the past. The impression given here is that William was writing, not in the service of his religious house or of some other interest group, but out of his own private enthusiasm for history, and especially the history of his native land.


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Willelmi Malmesbiriensis Monachi Gesta Regum Anglorum,: atque ..., Volume 1


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