1196 (ca.): William of Newburgh's Reports of the Undead

Rerum Anglicarum
Title page of Historia Rerum Anglicarum [Larger version here]

One of the earliest collections of English history was written in the 10th Century by William of Newburgh [ca. 1136-1198], and it covers the known history of England from around 1066 to William's death in 1198. The history was compiled from older history texts that William felt were reliable, and from verbal accounts of knowledgeable people in relation to more recent historic topics.

        Overall, William tried to give as accurate an accounting of the events he covered as he could... which is why the few places he choose to go off the topic of history in his texts are so intriguing. For example, in William's fifth volume of his Historia Rerum Anglicarum, he took time out to note the somewhat unusual matter of dead people rising from their graves at the time of his writing the text!

        He didn't know how or why these matters were happening, but he had heard enough reports from channels and people he trusted that, for him, established it was in fact happening. William was intrigued not only by the reports, but also from the lack of such reports in the historic documents he had been consulting... so he concluded this was a new problem, not a repeating one. William gives details of four separate events, listed below.

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