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Title: Norman ethnicity in Normandy and Italy c.911-c.1204
Author: Johnson, Simon Ewan
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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The aim of this thesis is to examine the varied portrayals of Norman ethnicity in the major narrative texts produced in two areas controlled by those of Norman origin or descent: the duchy of Normandy itself, and that part of southern Italy which became the Kingdom of Sicily in 1130. Its central argument is that Norman identity was constantly being recreated by writers, a process driven partly by the political and societal circumstances in which they found themselves, and partly by the different literary and personal preferences that they brought to historical writing. The thesis is divided into five parts. The first, the introduction, examines previous writing on Norman ethnicity in the light of a broader historical understanding of ethnicity, arguing that it is important to understand not just the values or physical distinctions that can be associated with Normanness, but the implicit categories (birth, behaviour, clothing) which are used to define what it is to be a Norman at any given point. The second part, Chapter One, considers the settlement period in Normandy and the use made of the Scandinavian past by Dudo of St Quentin and William of Jumièges. It also attempts to judge how that Scandinavian past was understood by those Normans who travelled to Italy in the eleventh century. Chapter Two examines the process of Norman settlement in southern Italy, arguing that the variety of Norman experience made the creation of a single Norman identity there extremely problematic. It then examines two Norman identities that emerged, the assimilatory model offered in the works William of Apulia, and the more aggressive model expressed in those of Geoffrey Malaterra. The fourth part looks at the very end of this process of settlement in Italy, using the text of the author now known as Hugo Falcandus to examine the role of played by ethnicity in the intrigues surrounding the courts of William I and William II of Sicily. The fifth, and longest part, looks at historical writings in Normandy after the English conquest. It starts with an examination of the Norman triumphalism evident in the flurry of works which briefly followed that conquest, showing that writings produced in this period demonstrate a much greater concern with lingusitic and physical markers of Normanness than had been the case in earlier works. It concludes with an examination of the later twelfth-century, as writers struggled to find ways of describing Norman identity in a polity now no longer ruled by direct male descendents of the first Norman dukes. Three linked strands of wirting are examined: the nostalgic glory of the Draco normannicus, the pragmatic, broader view of the works of Robert of Torigni, and finally the failed attempt made by Wace to create a Norman history which shifted the focus away form the dukes and onto the Norman nobility itself.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available