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Title: Theories of national identity in early medieval Ireland
Author: Wadden, Patrick James
ISNI:       0000 0003 7875 1771
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Despite the political disunity of early Irish society, theories and expressions of national identity abounded in the work of the learned classes of clerics, genealogists, poets and lawyers. This thesis examines texts from two crucial periods in the evolution of these theories. Focusing initially on the seventh and eighth centuries, the first part of the thesis argues that Irish national identity was created as part of a campaign to assert the joint authority of the Uí Néill kings of Tara and their ecclesiastical allies in Armagh. Drawing inspiration from biblical and patristic sources, and possibly also from contemporary developments elsewhere in Europe, these ecclesiastico-political allies asserted the national unity of the Irish in linguistic, genetic and territorial terms in pursuit of their own particular objectives. The influence of biblical and patristic beliefs on many of these early expressions of Irish identity highlights the outward-looking nature of the Irish scholarly tradition. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, this international dimension intensified as the histories and identities of foreign peoples became subjects of study in Ireland, and new source materials filtered into the country from overseas. With reference to two texts composed during this period, the Irish Sex Aetates Mundi and a poem on national characteristics beginning Cumtach na nIudaide n-ard – the second part of this thesis discusses the influence of newly acquired sources on contemporary Irish scholarship. It also examines how the information contained in these sources was adapted and rationalised to conform to the basic assumptions of Irish society.
Supervisor: Charles-Edwards, Thomas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Britain and Europe ; Intellectual History ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Celtic ; ethnogenesis ; national identity ; Gaelic identity ; medieval Ireland