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Title: A reappraisal of early modern Chester through a reading of the city's antiquarian collections
Author: Wood, Elizabeth Mouncey
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2003
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This dissertation studies the antiquarian culture of early modern Chester, based on manuscript sources now in the British Library's Harley collection, the Cheshire Record Office and elsewhere. These include the Breviary of Robert Rogers, various mayoral rolls, and especially the collections of the antiquarian Holme family. The dissertation argues that these documents form an integral part of the City of Chester's claim to independence, based on its status as England's oldest palatinate. The City's charters, granted by Henry III, created the earldom of Chester, but effectively gave the city's mayor and Assembly jurisdiction over the City's internal affairs. In the Tudor period, there were repeated attempts by centralised government to restrict Chester's rights, and these were fiercely and usually successfully resisted. The manuscripts collected and compiled by the City's antiquarians formed a central part of this sense of Chester's autonomy through their consistent stressing of the City's rights and privileges. The dissertation works through a series of case studies. Chester's famous medieval mystery plays, whose texts were copied and preserved by the antiquarians, are re-read as a late sixteenth-century means of putting the City on display. The 1610 inauguration of Prince Henry as Earl of Chester is interpreted as being used, even in his absence, to promote the City through the staging of a triumph in his honour. Various legal and political conflicts are examined, all through detailed readings of a range of manuscript sources. Finally, received notions of the top-down early modern patronage are challenged through an examination of letters and petitions. Throughout this study, there emerges the potential for a City-centred retelling of Chester's history different from the 'national' model written by those in power in London and Westminster.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available