Holinshed and the Middle Ages

Harriet Archer

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 the Middle Ages

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter examines the Chronicles' treatment of the Middle Ages. The years between 500 and 1500, from the classical past to the early modern present, were by turns flattened by anachronism and divvied up by dynasty. Nowhere, though, are they made to form a single and distinct historical period. However, to say that the Chronicles have no conception of the medieval period would be misleading. Rather, they have many, which contradict, modify, and overlap with one another. The impracticality and interpretative bias of overarching modern schemes of periodization are exposed across the two editions of Holinshed by these multiple Middle Ages. They extend beyond quibbles over date-range, to reveal the complexity of early modern ideas about the past and how it might, or whether it should, be categorized.

Keywords: medieval period; medievalism; Chronicles; periodization

Article.  7922 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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