Kelly, Law, Narrative & Cultural Episteme in Early Medieval Spain

Trans-Historicality in Early Medieval Hispania: Law as Narrative and Cultural Episteme

Michael J. Kelly (University of Leeds)

In this paper, I will interrogate trans-historicality in the historiography of Early Medieval Hispania, both as a contemporary phenomenon and as a historical one. Complementing this, I will show how the desire to construct transhistorical narratives met the challenges and paradoxes of historicity. These confrontations, as acts of facticity, help expose the wider cultural picture of the period, and its diverse relationship with competing pasts. From this exposition of the real complexities and struggles of these discourses and rhetorics of/about the past internal to culture in Early Medieval Hispania, I will then demonstrate two points: first, that legal codification merged historical forms and was meaningful, and ‘spoke’, only as a product of this cultural moment; and second, that historians have, for reasons related to immediatley post-Visigothic Europe, but also modern European scholarship, construed the reality of historiography in Early Medieval Hispania as falsely transhistorical.