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The Revolt of Owain Glyndwr in Medieval English Chronicles

The Revolt of Owain Glyndwr in Medieval English Chronicles

Alicia Marchant
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt6wpb2k
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  • Book Info
    The Revolt of Owain Glyndwr in Medieval English Chronicles
    Book Description:

    The revolt of Owain Glyndwr (1400-c.1415) was a remarkable event in both English and Welsh contexts, and as such was narrated by a number of chroniclers, including Adam Usk, John Capgrave, Thomas Walsingham and Edward Halle. They offer a range of perspectives on the events, as well as portrayals of the main characters (especially, of course, Glyndwr himself), the communities involved, and Wales.BR> This book studies the representations of the revolt in English chronicles, from 1400 up to1580. It focuses on the narrative strategies employed, offers a new reading of the texts as literary constructs, and explores the information they present. Alicia Marchant is a Research Associate in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Western Australia.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-353-9
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS AND WORKS FREQUENTLY CITED
    (pp. x-xii)
  6. INTRODUCTION: Imagining Owain Glyndŵr and the Welsh Rebellion: English Medieval Chronicles in Context
    (pp. 1-28)

    Sometime in the early fifteenth century, an unknown reader, sitting in the choir of the abbey of St Albans in Hertfordshire, was so anxious about a particular entry in the chronicle manuscript he was reading that he defaced the page with the following jotting:

    Christ, Splendour of God, I beseech you, destroy Glyndŵr. This verse was written in the choir of the monks of St Alban.¹

    It is a carefully crafted expression of fear, written in dactylic hexameter, scribbled at the foot of the historical narrative for the year 1403 in a chronicle attributed to Thomas Walsingham (d.c.1422), a...

  7. I Narrative Strategies and Literary Traditions

    • 1 ‘As you shalle heare’: the Role of the Narrator
      (pp. 31-63)

      In 1404, French ships arrived at Milford Haven to supply much-needed aid to Owain Glyndŵr; the chronicle accounts adopt different narrative strategies in their recounting of the event. Thomas Walsingham, writing sometime before the year 1420, states that:

      Meanwhile, the French came to the help of the Welshman, that is, to Owain Glyndŵr, and arrived at the harbour of Milford with 140 ships having lost virtually all of their horses due to a lack of fresh water.¹

      John Capgrave’s narrative, composed in the early 1460s, records:

      In þis tyme a hundred schippis and xl sailed oute of Frauns into Wales,...

    • 2 ‘Eo tempore’: Chronological Structure and Representations of Time
      (pp. 64-90)

      This extract from Thomas Walsingham’sHistoria Anglicana, recording the death, marriage and then birth of Edmund Mortimer (d. 1409), includes several examples of overt and subtle references to time. The entire series of narrated events is framed by the notion of them occurring ‘at that time’ (eo tempore). While we are not provided with the exact date, the events are placed at the end of the entries for the year 1402, which had been signalled earlier in the narrative by the temporal phase, ‘Anno gratiæ millesimo quadringentesimo secundo’.² Here ‘eo tempore’ functions as a stable marker of time for these...

    • 3 ‘Ay in hilles and in mounteynes’: Spatial Structure and Representations of Space
      (pp. 91-118)

      Published in 1577, Holinshed’s account of the tripartite division of England and Wales into spatially distinct units by individuals acting on behalf of the rebel leaders foregrounds issues of representation of space and spatiality in the narratives of the revolt. Holinshed’s narrative description of the carving up of England and Wales is explicitly spatial and the end product is maplike in its division of space. Certainly Shakespeare, who used Holinshed as a source, imagined the use of a map inHenry IV Part One; Glendower announcing ‘Come, here’s the map: shall we divide our right …?’² In the Tripartite Indenture,...

  8. II Imagining the Rebellion

    • 4 ‘With praies and bloudy handes returned again to Wales’: Imagining Individuals in the Narratives of the Revolt
      (pp. 121-151)

      Edward Halle’s depiction of Owain Glyndŵr’s bloody hands, heavy with the prizes of war, is one of the most striking uses of imagery in the revolt narratives.² Here, Owain Glyndŵr’s marked and laden hands are an important focal point through which Halle explores notions of personal responsibility for the events depicted. Bloody hands are traditionally a sign of guilt and wrongdoing. In Halle’s image, Owain Glyndŵr does not recognize the significance of his coloured hands and shows no remorse; instead, he continues to act in a similar and ‘evil’ manner ‘till the next yere’. While this is certainly an unfavourable...

    • 5 ‘Barefooted Buffoons’: Imagining the Welsh in the Narratives of the Revolt
      (pp. 152-182)

      As this extract from the early fifteenth centuryContinuatio Eulogiisuggests, Owain Glyndŵr’s complaint was not taken seriously by the members of the English parliament because of the petitioner’s ethnic origins; he is, we are told, one of a broader community of barefooted buffoons, a communal group that is ridiculous, laughable, silly and backward. The image is one of a savage standing before a superior establishment in bare feet, a sign of the society under scrutiny not having progressed to the point where shoes, a marker of civility, status and advancement, are commonplace. As a result there is no engagement...

    • 6 ‘That bareine, vnfertile and depopulate countrey’: Imagining Wales in the Narratives of the Revolt
      (pp. 183-212)

      Hardyng’s description of Wales, taken from the second version of his chronicle, tells of an imagined terrain that is mountainous and prone to tempests and bad weather. It is an image of Wales that is typical amongst the examined chronicles. The verbose Halle and Holinshed favour broad sweeping statements that leave no doubts as to what the imagined terrain was like. Halle calls Wales a ‘bareine vnfertile and depopulate countrey’ and a few lines later a ‘barraine and hilly countrey’.² Holinshed’s account follows Halle almost verbatim (indeed he acknowledges Halle within his text) calling Wales a land of ‘deſart grounds...

  9. CONCLUSIONS: A Multiplicity of Voices: Reading the Narratives of the Welsh Revolt
    (pp. 213-218)

    Narratological studies of chronicles have been scarce in modern scholarship. Indeed, when chronicles are mentioned at all in a narratological context, it tends to be as negative examples, for instance, as exemplars of a lack of sophistication in narrative strategy. I hope that this study goes some way towards demonstrating that this is not the case: medieval chroniclers were in many cases capable of considerable sophistication in their construction of narrative. Although this study comprises in the first instance a study of the ways in which particular historical events are presented, it also contributes to the wider study of chronicles...

  10. APPENDIX: Translations
    (pp. 219-244)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 245-266)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 267-274)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-279)