Chronicler and Historian
Born 1075 Died circa 1142

His father was a French priest, known as Odeler or Odelerius of Orleans, who served as chaplain to Roger of Montgomery ,the Norman earl of Shrewsbury. He was therefore born and educated in Shrewsbury in the borderlands between Wales and England, but at the age of eleven he was sent to Normandy and entered the monastery of Saint-Évroult en Ouche as a novice.

There he essentially remained for the rest of his life, becoming a deacon in 1093 and a priest in 1107, and where he was given the name 'Vitalis' (apparently after the member of the legendary Theban legion) as the French speaking monks there had difficulty in prononcing 'Orderic'. Although despite spending almost all his adult life in France he always considered himself to be English and signed his name as Orderic Vitalis Angligena or 'English-born'

At some time between the years 1099 and 1115 his superiors at the monastery gave him the task of writing the history of Saint-Évroult en Ouche, but he rather exceeded his brief and wrote a general history of the church under the title Historia Ecciesiastica.

As is common with many medieval chronoligical histories most of this was simply compiled from other sources, particularly the Historia Normannorum by William of Jumieges and the Gesta Guilelmi ducis Normannorum et regis Anglorum by William of Poitiers. The value of the Historia Ecciesiastica in its accounts of events after 1067 as;

a) it preserves some of the lost portions of the Gesta Guilelmi relating to the years 1067 to 1071 and

b) it begins to be an independent authority after 1071 and recounts much detail about the affairs of Duke Robert of Normandy, William Rufus and Henry I and continues up until the the defeat of Stephen at the battle of Lincoln in 1141.

It is probable that Orderic died sometime in 1142 shortly after the completion of his Historia.


Sourced from the Catholic Encyclopedia at www.newadvent.org , the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica as well as http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/voices/voices_vitalis.shtml.

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