From the Romans to the Normans on the English Renaissance Stage


From the Romans to the Normans on the English Renaissance Stage

ISBN: 9781580442794


This book examines the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century engagement with a crucial part of Britain’s past, the period between the withdrawal of the Roman legions and the Norman Conquest. This was a period that saw both Arthur and Alfred, as well as Hengist, Horsa, and Canute. The country was converted to Christianity and saw successive waves of invasions by Angles, Jutes, and Danes, which left both a mark on the language and a record in the physical landscape. By its end, the British Isles had been transformed beyond recognition, and yet a number of early modern plays suggest an underlying continuity, an essential English identity linked to the land and impervious to vicissitudes and change. This book considers the extent to which ideas about early modern English and British national, religious, and political identities were rooted in cultural constructions of the pre-Conquest past.


Part One: Legacies

“Bisson Conspectuities”: Language and National Identity in Shakespeare’s Roman Plays
Profit and Delight? Magic and the Dreams of a Nation
“A Borrowed Blood for Brute”: From Britain to England
Part Two: Ancestors and Others
Queens and the British History
Dido in Denmark: Danes and Saxons on the Early Modern English Stage
Valiant Welshwomen: When Britain Came Back
Athelstan, the Virgin King
Works Cited

Author Bio(s)

Lisa Hopkins is Professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University. She is co-editor of Shakespeare, the journal of the British Shakespeare Association, and of the Arden Early Modern Drama Guides.

Reviewer Quote(s)

“In the context of Brexit, as the rethinking of Europe and its borders is very much part of an enterprise bound up with memory of conquest, empire, and independence, this is a book that will get students reading, critics thinking, and people talking.” – Willy Maley, University of Glasgow

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Medieval Institute Publications