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Title: Royal responsibility in post-conquest invasion narratives
Author: Winkler, Emily Anne
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Much has been written about twelfth-century chroniclers in England, but satisfactory reasons for their approaches to historical explanation have not yet been advanced. This thesis investigates how and why historians in England retold accounts of England's eleventh-century invasions: the Danish Conquest of 1016 and the Norman Conquest of 1066. The object is to illuminate the consistent historical agendas of three historians: William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon and John of Worcester. I argue that they share a view of royal responsibility independent both of their sources (primarily the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) and of any political agenda that placed English and Norman allegiances in opposition. Although the accounts diverge widely in the interpretation of character, all three are concerned more with the effectiveness of England's kings than with their origins. Part One outlines trends in early insular narratives and examines each of the three historians' background, prose style and view of English history to provide the necessary context for understanding how and why they rewrote narratives of kings and conquest. Part Two analyzes narratives of defending kings Æthelred and Harold; Part Three conducts a parallel analysis of conquering kings Cnut and William. These sections argue that all three writers add a significant and new degree of causal and moral responsibility to English kings in their invasion narratives. Part Four discusses the implications and significance of the thesis's findings. It argues that the historians' invasion narratives follow consistent patterns in service of their projects of redeeming the English past. It contends that modern understanding of the eleventh-century conquests of England continues to be shaped by what historians wrote years later, in the twelfth. In departing from prior modes of explanation by collective sin, the three historians' invasion narratives reflect a renaissance of ancient ideas about rule.
Supervisor: Wickham, Christopher ; Ashe, Laura Sponsor: Jesus College ; Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Historians--Great Britain ; Great Britain--History--Norman period ; 1066-1154--Historiography ; Great Britain--Kings and rulers ; Great Britain--Politics and government--1066-1485