Medievalists have proposed several possible explanations for the abrupt ending of Wace’s Roman de Rou, which I discuss in the first part of this article. I argue that the most relevant among these hypotheses are the ones that consider the political and religious context in which Wace composed the Rou. Although the hypothesis of the Roman de Rou’s pro-ecclesiastical bent is particularly relevant for our discussion, I argue that a reassessment of the textual evidence adduced in support of this theory is imperative. In the second part of the essay, I briefly discuss the political and religious context in which the Rou was written, with particular emphasis on the ‘Becket affair’. In the last section, I analyse Wace’s statements that appear to confirm his pro-ecclesiastical stance.
In his book Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, Erwin Panofsky convincingly argued that medieval buildings and philosophical treatises emerged from a common episteme (or ‘mental habit’, to use his own words). My essay contends that Panofsky’s episteme has literary and historiographical ramifications as well. Although medieval historians such as Robert de Clari, Geoffroy de Villehardouin and Henri de Valenciennes may have had varying degrees of familiarity with contemporary architecture and philosophy, their chronicles belong nonetheless to the gothic-scholastic paradigm. Just like cathedrals and intellectual summae, thirteenth-century historiography is defined by the principles of linearity, repetition, progressive divisibility and synthesis.