Truth, plausibility, and the virtues of narrative at the millennium Academic Article uri icon


  • While it is widely understood that medieval historiographers employed the techniques of rhetorical invention in their work, less attention has been paid to the way in which the standard of plausibility, upon which rhetorical invention was premised, could be reconciled with the historian's traditional obligation to tell the truth. This paper examines the ways in which the rhetorical doctrine of narratio probabilis was understood and put into practice by three authors active around the turn of the millennium: Richer of Saint-Rmi, Dudo of Saint-Quentin, and Adalbero of Laon. All three had been trained in the schools of northern Francia in the late tenth century and all reveal a sophisticated understanding of the doctrines of Ciceronian rhetoric, according to which plausible inventions were not seen to be incompatible with historical truth. 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Medieval History

author list (cited authors)

  • Lake, J. C.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Lake, Justin C

publication date

  • September 2009