The English in the Twelfth Century

The English in the Twelfth Century

Imperialism, National Identity and Political Values

John Gillingham

Defining essays on questions of newly-emerging English nationalism and the political importance of chivalric values and knightly obligations, as perceived by contemporary historians.
Six of the greatest twelfth-century historians - William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Geoffrey Gaimar, Roger of Howden, and Gerald of Wales - are analysed in this collection of essays, focusing on their attitudesto three inter-related aspects of English history. The first theme is the rise of the new and condescending perception which regarded the Irish, Scots and Welsh as barbarians; set against the background of socio-economic and cultural change in England, it is argued that this imperialist perception created a fundamental divide in the history of the British Isles, one to which Geoffrey of Monmouth responded immediately and brilliantly. The second theme treats chivalry not as a mere gloss upon the brutal realities of life, but as an important development in political morality; and it reconsiders some of the old questions associated with chivalric values and knightly obligations -home-grown products or imports from France? The third themeis the emergence of a new sense of Englishness after the traumas of the Norman Conquest, looking at the English invasion of Ireland and the making of English history.
John Gillingham is Professor Emeritus, Department of History, London School of Economics.

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Keywords: Medieval History


Important and stimulating collection. HISTORY

Reviewing has been a most agreeable assignment. His essays...are rich in novel interpretaions and likely to have an enduring relevance... This volume sustains an enviable excellence. The arguments are carefully nuanced yet robust and thought-provoking; a formidable range of sources is brought under tranchant consideration; there is a marvellous feel for apt and arresting quotations; and the writing is as pellucid as it is dynamic. Vintage John Gillingham. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Individually, the essays are uniformly excellent.... Collecting these essays reminds us of their originality and importance, but also constitutes an essential resource for teaching and research. WAR IN HISTORY

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