Discussion:
More Cawley Cacophony - another example why never to trust Cawley's MedLands
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taf
2021-08-12 18:07:11 UTC
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[It is worth reenforcing this occasionally for any newbies]

While his errors have been pointed out before here, I recently came across an error in Cawley's MedLands that is a perfect example, and a perfect warning, why he is not to be trusted even when he quotes (or at least seems to quote) directly from a primary source.

In describing the wife of Duncan II of Scotland,

"The Cronicon Cumbriæ records that “Ethreda sorore Waldevi patris sui” married “Doncani comes de Murrayse” and that their son “Willielmus” succeeded her nephew “Alanus filius Waldevi”[347]."

What the Cronicon Cumbriæ actually says is:
“Cui Alano successit Will[elmus] filius Doncani, comes de Murrafe, nepos ipsius Alani et heres procreatus ex Ethreda sorore Waldevi patris sui”

Alan was succeeded by William fitz Duncan, Earl of Moray, Alan's cousin and heir, born to Ethreda, sister of his [Alan's] father Waltheof.

It is William, not Duncan, who is claimed as Earl of Moray, as is clear from a second instance in the same document, "Willelmus comes de Murray filius Doncany", and the source says absolutely nothing about Duncan other than in WIlliam's patronymic, and certainly makes no reference to his marriage. To dress up his later narrative he repreats five times that the source refers to "'Willelmus', son of 'Doncani comes de Murrayse'", combining this phrase with quotes from other paragraphs in the original that do not refer to William in this way, using the quoting as simple decoration rather than to convey what is actually in the source.

It is unclear if this was all intentionally taken out of context in order to pretend the source said something it didn't or instead is just indicative of extreme sloppiness. It is unlikely many readers would envision the words being misleadingly used in this way, instead trusting that the source actually says what it is quoted as saying. This is why Cawley's work is so problematic for the uninitiated, having all of the trappings of scholarship, but not its actual substance. That is not to say he hasn't put in a lot of work, looked at a lot of sources, but just as I have looked at a lot of airplanes and still cannot fly one, so with Cawley and his sources. It is a mug's game to use his work as anything more than a tool selective finding aid for overlooked sources to be dug out and looked at directly, rather than trusting what Cawley says about them.

taf
Peter Stewart
2021-08-13 05:18:36 UTC
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Post by taf
[It is worth reenforcing this occasionally for any newbies]
While his errors have been pointed out before here, I recently came across an error in Cawley's MedLands that is a perfect example, and a perfect warning, why he is not to be trusted even when he quotes (or at least seems to quote) directly from a primary source.
In describing the wife of Duncan II of Scotland,
"The Cronicon Cumbriæ records that “Ethreda sorore Waldevi patris sui” married “Doncani comes de Murrayse” and that their son “Willielmus” succeeded her nephew “Alanus filius Waldevi”[347]."
“Cui Alano successit Will[elmus] filius Doncani, comes de Murrafe, nepos ipsius Alani et heres procreatus ex Ethreda sorore Waldevi patris sui”
Alan was succeeded by William fitz Duncan, Earl of Moray, Alan's cousin and heir, born to Ethreda, sister of his [Alan's] father Waltheof.
It is William, not Duncan, who is claimed as Earl of Moray, as is clear from a second instance in the same document, "Willelmus comes de Murray filius Doncany", and the source says absolutely nothing about Duncan other than in WIlliam's patronymic, and certainly makes no reference to his marriage. To dress up his later narrative he repreats five times that the source refers to "'Willelmus', son of 'Doncani comes de Murrayse'", combining this phrase with quotes from other paragraphs in the original that do not refer to William in this way, using the quoting as simple decoration rather than to convey what is actually in the source.
It is unclear if this was all intentionally taken out of context in order to pretend the source said something it didn't or instead is just indicative of extreme sloppiness. It is unlikely many readers would envision the words being misleadingly used in this way, instead trusting that the source actually says what it is quoted as saying. This is why Cawley's work is so problematic for the uninitiated, having all of the trappings of scholarship, but not its actual substance. That is not to say he hasn't put in a lot of work, looked at a lot of sources, but just as I have looked at a lot of airplanes and still cannot fly one, so with Cawley and his sources. It is a mug's game to use his work as anything more than a tool selective finding aid for overlooked sources to be dug out and looked at directly, rather than trusting what Cawley says about them.
I doubt that Charles Cawley would take anything intentionally out of
context in order to bolster some half-baked idea of his own - this seems
to be just another example of the shameless incompetence that undermines
his whole enterprise, rather than deliberate misrepresentation.

The extenuating acknlowedgement that he has put in a lot of work on his
project holds no water for me, since he has utterly failed to prepare
himself by learning the languages he tries to work with and to assess
the sources written in these with any effort or care. Here it should be
obvious enough that "comes de Murrafe" agrees with "Will[elmus]" in the
nominative and not with "Doncani" in the genitive, but Cawley is too
intent on parading his polyglot smarts to stop and think that others
might notice his helpless illiteracy in Latin.

Beyond this, he has overlooked an important question in Scottish
historiography regarding the MacWilliams and the earldom of Moray. The
text you have quoted above is from the St Bees register version of the
chronicle of Cumbria (here:
https://archive.org/details/registerofpriory00stbe/page/494/mode/2up)
that Cawley had found in an inferior edition (Monasticon, here:
https://archive.org/details/b30455832_0003/page/584/mode/2up). The
passage calling William 'earl of Moray' in this late-13th century
account is not supported by his occurrence in 12th-century charters
without a comital title. The chronicle was explicitly written in the
context of a lawsuit, and a memorandum from the case (probably written
earlier) also gives the same inaccurate genealogy, here:
https://archive.org/details/registerofpriory00stbe/page/532/mode/1up.

Geoffrey Barrow speculated that William had held the earldom of Moray by
right of an unknown first wife who was a cousin or sister of the
last-recorded earl before him, Oengus (died 1130), and that this wife
was the mother of William's son Donald bán who asserted his right to the
crown of Scotland allegedly through her rather than through his paternal
lineage. This theory been disputed, but it has the merit of providing a
reason for calling him "quondam Com[es] de Murreve" (at one time earl of
Moray) in the court memorandum when he was not accorded this title in
documents written during his marriage to Alice de Rumilly.

Peter Stewart

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