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Title: London chronicles and the civic sense of the past, circa 1430-1516
Author: Mason, David
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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Each society generates a historical culture, which here is understood to encompass the media through which the past is discussed, the institutions that seek to shape and form ideas about the past, and the prevailing ideas, ideologies and approaches that influence thinking about the past. This thesis examines the historical culture that was endemic to citizens of London in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The fifteenth century saw rising literacy amongst urban dwellers, an increase in manuscript production, and the onset of print culture. London also saw a localised phenomenon: the development of a civic chronicling tradition, the London chronicles, that had its high point in the period 1430-1516. This thesis situates London chronicles within the broader historical and literary culture of the period. It focuses on urban citizens, namely the merchants, craftsmen and others enfranchised freemen of London. In order to understand the historical writing of this period, education and governance are vital contexts. Many chronicles were used in households, in the education of young people and apprentices. Prevailing ideas encouraged both authors and audiences of historical literature to view history as a pedagogic genre. Citizen household turned to historical literature as a means to teach morals, manners and political education. Governance is also vital to understanding London historical culture. Governing institutions such as the Guildhall commissioned historical writing and founded archives and libraries to direct and control access to information. Citizens used origin stories to discuss the purpose and meaning of the institutions and offices of the city. Many officeholders owned or authored histories. Londoners used historical literature to reflect upon the politics of the day, discussing both the ideals and reality of government in London and the wider realm.
Supervisor: Watts, John Sponsor: Balliol College ; Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature ; History