repesenting ideal kinship in Medieval English literature before and after the Nirman conquest

Thesis


Liebelt, C. 2020. repesenting ideal kinship in Medieval English literature before and after the Nirman conquest. Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Mumanities and Education Studies
AuthorsLiebelt, C.
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy
Abstract

Medieval English literature is often concerned with kingship, its duties, and its effects. Writers used their texts to reflect on and respond to contemporary political issues, and debated the nature of kingship extensively. This thesis explores the development of conceptions of kingship through four case studies, each centring on a specific text or group of texts: Beowulf, the Alfredian Group, twelfth-century Arthurian literature, and Havelok the Dane. This thesis argues that ideas about kingship expressed in these texts often built on the (re-imagined) past in order to comment on present-day issues concerning rulership. As a result, narratives of kingship formed part of an on-going dialogue between these authors, their contemporary contexts, the past, and a desired future. While the Norman Conquest of 1066 resulted in significant discontinuity in cultural and political life in England, it did not provide a clean break with the preConquest past. Indeed, the Anglo-Norman elite and their authors demonstrated great interest in their predecessors and in the land they had conquered. Twelfth- and thirteenthcentury vernacular literature stands testament to this interest, and demonstrates continuities in notions of kingship that can be traced to pre-Conquest texts such as Beowulf. This thesis argues, then, that earlier conceptions of kingship did not cease to exist with the Norman Conquest; the arrival of the Normans did not constitute the implementation of a new ideal of kingship. Instead, pre-Conquest ideas about rulership were reshaped and adapted to suit new audiences, and with different aims. This thesis demonstrates that these developments emphasise the versatility of medieval English literature in reflecting on and responding to emerging and shifting narratives of kingship.

KeywordsMedieval English literature; Norman conqeust; Kinship; Beowulf; Alfredian Group; Arthurian literature; Havelok the Dane
Year2020
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Deposited09 Apr 2021
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8x764/repesenting-ideal-kinship-in-medieval-english-literature-before-and-after-the-nirman-conquest

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