Families of the King: Writing Identity in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Families of the King: Writing Identity in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

by Alice Sheppard


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The annals of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are fundamental to the study of the language, literature, and culture of the Anglo-Saxon period. Ranging from the ninth to the twelfth century, its five primary manuscripts offer a virtually contemporary history of Anglo-Saxon England, contribute to the body of Old English prose and poetic texts, and enable scholars to document how the Old English language changed.

In Families of the King, Alice Sheppard explicitly addresses the larger interpretive question of how the manuscripts function as history. She shows that what has been read as a series of disparate entries and peculiar juxtapositions is in fact a compelling articulation of collective identity and a coherent approach to writing the secular history of invasion, conquest, and settlement. Sheppard argues that, in writing about the king's performance of his lordship obligations, the annalists transform literary representations of a political ethos into an identifying culture for the Anglo-Saxon nobles and those who conquered them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781487506773
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Series: Toronto Old English Studies Series
Pages: 380
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Alice Sheppard is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Pennsylvania State University.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Reading the Chronicle's Past
1 Writing Identity in Chronicle History
2 Making Alfred King
3 Proclaiming Alfred's Kingship
4 Undoing/Ethelred
5 Unmaking vEthelred but Making Cnut
6 Writing William's Kingship
7 Conclusion: After Lives


What People are Saying About This

Edward Donald Kennedy

'Families of the King makes a significant contribution to the field of Anglo-Saxon studies and offers important new discussions of major sections of the chronicle. It also serves as a corrective to those who have argued that there wasn't much sense of national identity in the Europe of the earlier Middle Ages.'

Lister Matheson

'What makes Families of the King stand out is a judicious blend of history and literature with a sensitive treatment of the nuances of the Anglo-Saxon language. Alice Sheppard's writing is excellent and clear, her approach original, and her interpretations convincing. I read this book with great pleasure and interest and learned much from it. '

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