Some medieval "history", by L. Sprague de Camp

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Some medieval "history", by L. Sprague de Camp

Post by lpetrich » Sat May 16, 2015 10:17 am

L. Sprague de Camp wrote an excellent book about Atlantis, "Lost Continents", and in it, he has this sendup of certain medieval "history":

We could not recover the history of Theodoric the Great if the Dietrich legends were our only source, since the legend, for instance, does not mention the Roman Empire, which is like a life of George Washington without the British Empire. If our civilization fell and its history were replaced by legends of the Dietrich-type, we might have the saga of President Abraham Jefferson Roosevelt who married Queen Victoria, invented the automobile, beat the Japanese at the Battle of New Orleans by killing their emperor Sitting Bull in single combat, and finally departed for the moon in a flying saucer, promising to return when his people needed him.

Is this a fair assessment? Does other premodern history sometimes look like this?

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Re: Some medieval "history", by L. Sprague de Camp

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon May 18, 2015 2:14 am

The Dietrich Legend takes shape hundreds of years after the death of the historical Theoderic.

premodern accounts of long-ago events (events occurring long before the account was written down) do mix up history with fiction/myth/legend.

(FWIW the earliest sources for the Legends of Theoderic such as the Hildebrandslied have Dietrich opposed to Odoacer, a real opponent, not the chronologically impossible Attila.)

Andrew Criddle

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