The century and a half following the Norman Conquest of 1066 saw an explosion in the writing of Latin and vernacular history in England, while the creation of the romance genre reinvented the fictional narrative. Where critics have seen these developments as part of a cross-Channel phenomenon, Laura Ashe argues that a genuinely distinctive character can be found in the writings of England during the period. Drawing on a wide range of historical, legal and cultural contexts, she discusses how writers addressed the Conquest and rebuilt their sense of identity as a new, united 'English' people, with their own national literature and culture, in a manner which was to influence all subsequent medieval English literature. This study opens up new ways of reading post-Conquest texts in relation to developments in political and legal history, and in terms of their place in the English Middle Ages as a whole.
Introduction; 1. The Normans in England: a question of place; 2. 'Nos Engleis': war, chronicle, and the new English; 3. Historical romance: a genre in the making; 4. The English in Ireland: ideologies of race; Epilogue; Bibliography.
Laura Ashe argues that a genuinely distinctive national character can be found in the writings of England in the century and a half following the Norman Conquest. This study opens up new ways of reading early Medieval texts in relation to their political and legal contexts.