Holinshed and Mythical History

Laura Ashe

in The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed's Chronicles

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199565757
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Holinshed and Mythical History

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This chapter focuses on the Chronicles' treatment of mythical history. It discusses how the British origin myth developed in the sixteenth century, acquiring a new, historically fanciful explanation for Brutus's predecessors on the island, and how Holinshed's Chronicles emerged as a full participant in this ill-timed expansion of the myth. The chapter examines the Chronicles' treatment of King Arthur, who is both historical figure and contemporary ideal and justification, equally present in the chronicled past and in the present landscape. It concludes that although late sixteenth-century historians, chorographers, and antiquarians were a long way from discarding the origin myths of Britain's ancient past, the materials, techniques, and attitudes which would make it possible to do so were already in place.

Keywords: Raphael Holinshed; Chronicles; mythical history; British history; origin myth; Brutus; King Arthur

Article.  8520 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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