History and Identity in Early Medieval Wales
Title Details

222 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

2 maps illus.

Series: Studies in Celtic History

Series Vol. Number: 44

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

History and Identity in Early Medieval Wales

by Rebecca Thomas

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
Crucial texts from ninth- and tenth-century Wales analysed to show their key role in identify formation.

WINNER OF THE FRANCIS JONES PRIZE 2022

Early medieval writers viewed the world as divided into gentes ("peoples"). These were groups that could be differentiated from each other according to certain characteristics - by the language they spoke or the territory they inhabited, for example. The same writers played a key role in deciding which characteristics were important and using these to construct ethnic identities. This book explores this process of identity construction in texts from early medieval Wales, focusing primarily on the early ninth-century Latin history of the Britons (Historia Brittonum), the biography of Alfred the Great composed by the Welsh scholar Asser in 893, and the tenth-century vernacular poem Armes Prydein Vawr ("The Great Prophecy of Britain"). It examines how these writers set about distinguishing between the Welsh and the other gentes inhabiting the island of Britain through the use of names, attention to linguistic difference, and the writing of history and origin legends. Crucially important was the identity of the Welsh as Britons, the rightful inhabitants of the entirety of Britain; its significance and durability are investigated, alongside its interaction with the emergence of an identity focused on the geographical unit of Wales.
List of Maps
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations

Introduction
1. Names, Territories, and Kingdoms
2. Language
3. Origin Legends I: the Britons
4. Origin Legends II: Legitimate and Illegitimate Migration
5. Asser and the Origins of Alfred's Kingdom
Conclusions

Bibliography
Index

Rebecca Thomas is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Cardiff University.

"The Forty-Fourth volume in D. S. Brewer's 'Studies in Celtic History' series is an important contribution to the renaissance in early medieval Welsh History that seems to be going on at present." CAMBRIAN MEDIEVAL CELTIC STUDIES
"A most impressive book... The book is well-written, subtle and intelligently argued and is comprehensive in terms of a wide range of evidence and perspectives." ARCHAEOLOGIA CAMBRENSIS
"Thomas presents a wealth of detail to ponder, and some intriguing insights into the complex and fraught negotiations of identity in the profound and ongoing evolution of Britannia into England, Scotland, and Wales." JOURNAL OF THE AUSTRALIAN EARLY MEDIEVAL ASSOCIATION

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Title Details

222 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

2 maps illus.

Series: Studies in Celtic History

Series Vol. Number: 44

Imprint: D.S.Brewer