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Title: National identity, propaganda, and the ethics of war in English historical literature, 1327-77
Author: Smith, Trevor Russell
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis argues against the common assumption that English writers ignored the ethical problems of war during the particularly brutal wars of Edward III, king of England, 1327–77. English historical literature in this period is typically mined for ‘facts’ to create visions of the past, or read as literature with little context, but never properly considered for its engagement with the morality of warfare. Chapter One shows that the many uncertain aspects of war, such as intention, are those that most affect how military acts are judged. Chapter Two argues that writers use theo-retical frameworks in a more nuanced and rhetorical sense than commonly believed. Chapter Three argues against the common belief that there was no concept of civilian immunity in the period, and demonstrates how writers present these civilian victims in different ways to attach moral value to those who attack them. Chapter Four examines how writers show the English to only attack enemy civilians, in their campaigns of devastation on a day-to-day basis, to force the enemy to do battle, and thereby end war. Chapter Five shows that writers avoid any of the morally unsavoury aspects of violence but revel in the suffering endured by their own men as meritorious asceticism. Chapter Six assesses how writers engage with the difficulties of ending hostilities and offering mercy, especially when martial culture encouraged bellicosity and vengeance. The thesis focuses throughout on the often nuanced and sensitive perspectives of English writers in this period before the age of Chaucer. The Appendix introduces each of the main sources used throughout this thesis and provides a detailed list of their manuscripts. The many errors and poor descriptions repeated in scholarship are corrected throughout. Several previously unidentified manuscripts, variant versions, and previously unknown texts have been described.
Supervisor: Murray, Alan V. ; Batt, Catherine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available