Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Britain and Albion in the mythical histories of medieval England
Author: Rajsic, Jaclyn
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
This dissertation examines the ideological role and adaptation of the mythical British past (derived from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae) in chronicles of England written in Anglo-Norman, Latin, and English from the twelfth to the fifteenth century, in terms of the shaping of English history during this time. I argue that the past is an important lens through which we can read the imagined geographies (Albion, Britain and England) and ‘imagined communities’ (the British and English), to use Benedict Anderson’s term, constructed by historical texts. I consider how British history was carefully re-shaped and combined with chronologically conflicting accounts of early English history (derived from Bede) to create a continuous view of the English past, one in which the British kings are made English or ‘of England’. Specifically, I examine the connections between geography and genealogy, which I argue become inextricably linked in relation to mythical British history from the thirteenth century onwards. From that point on, British kings are increasingly shown to be the founders and builders of England, rather than Britain, and are integrated into genealogies of England’s contemporary kings. I argue that short chronicles written in Latin and Anglo-Norman during the thirteenth century evidence a confidence that the ancient Britons were perceived as English, and equally a strong sense of Englishness. These texts, I contend, anticipate the combination of British and English histories that scholars find in the lengthier and better-known Brut histories written in the early fourteenth century. For the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, my study takes account of the Albina myth, the story of the mothers of Albion’s giants (their arrival in Albion before Brutus’s legendary conquest of the land). There has been a surge of scholarship about the Albina myth in recent years. My analysis of hitherto unknown accounts of the tale, which appear in some fifteenth-century genealogical rolls, leads me to challenge current interpretations of the story as a myth of foundation and as apparently problematic for British and English history. My discussion culminates with an analysis of some copies of the prose Brut chronicle (c. 1300) – the most popular secular, vernacular text in later medieval England, but it is seldom studied – and of some fifteenth-century genealogies of England’s kings. In both cases, I am concerned with presentations of the passage of dominion from British to English rulership in the texts and manuscripts in question. My preliminary investigation of the genealogies aims to draw attention to this very under-explored genre. In all, my study shows that the mythical British past was a site of adaptation and change in historical and genealogical texts written in England throughout the high and later Middle Ages. It also reveals short chronicles, prose Brut texts and manuscripts, and royal genealogies to have great potential future research.
Supervisor: Ashe, Laura Sponsor: Canadian SSHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; History ; History of Britain and Europe ; French ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Anglo-Norman literature ; Latin literature ; Middle English literature ; mythical history ; manuscript studies ; genealogy