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A Discourse of Exile: Representations of Restored Royal Exiles in Anglo-Saxon England

WHITE, WILLIAM ROY (2012) A Discourse of Exile: Representations of Restored Royal Exiles in Anglo-Saxon England. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Exile was a state of hardship undertaken by a vast number of individuals throughout the history of Anglo-Saxon England. Thoughts about exile permeate literary works throughout the period, including poems, homilies, and prose narratives. Exile was a powerful force in shaping concepts of the Anglo-Saxon past. In this dissertation, I will examine how stories about exile were employed to craft presentations of Anglo-Saxon kings who had been restored to power. To this end I have selected three representative kings for discussion: Edwin of Northumbria, Alfred of Wessex, and Æthelred II of England. Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica and its portrayal of Edwin’s exile experience is the subject of the first chapter. In the chapter about Alfred I assess Asser’s biography of that king (the Vita Ælfredi), as well as entries made in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the prologue to Alfred’s law code. In the final chapter I look at the Chronicler’s account of Æthelred II, and assess the manipulation of language and employment of literary device in the king’s post-exile charters and legislation. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, I demonstrate how new questions may be asked of these well-known primary sources to expand our understanding of the composers of these narratives and documents and the historical contexts of their compositions. Most importantly, this dissertation further develops the idea that a ‘discourse of exile’ existed in Anglo-Saxon texts, and that this discourse was artfully employed to impart important statements on liminality, cultural identity, unity, negotiations of power, typologies, and kingship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: exile anglo-saxon edwin northumbria alfred wessex aethelred unready bede asser laws charters
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.605185
Date Deposited: 07 May 2014 14:41
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5706

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