Localising Arthur in England and Wales, 1400-1610

  • Mary I Bateman

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to track the evolution of a ‘local Arthur’ in England and Wales between 1400 and 1610. I aim to challenge two widespread assumptions: that Arthurian interest was declining from the sixteenth century; and that Arthur was no longer important after he “retreated” to local places. I also aim to discover what qualities Arthur’s places possessed that enabled those who visit them to suspend their disbelief in Arthur. The way we perceive Arthur today has its roots in local histories of the later Middle Ages, in guided on-site experiences at churches, abbeys, castles, and towns. By studying the works of writers who are known to have visited Arthurian locations, we can see how their visits affected their impressions of Arthur. As well as visiting Arthurian locations personally, the writers studied in this thesis also made use of each other’s texts as sources. At the turn of the sixteenth century when Arthur’s existence was beginning to be questioned, Arthur’s defenders turned to local Arthurian places as evidence for his existence. These defenders consolidated these places, drawing out their own Arthurian “regions” wherever they believed Arthur’s “real” locations to be. Ultimately, William Camden’s Britannia marked the apotheosis of successful Arthurian defence using local places, providing an inheritance for local Arthurian representation to the present day.
Date of Award23 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorAd Putter (Supervisor) & Rob Gossedge (Supervisor)

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