Paul E. J. Hammer

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


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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



This chapter examines the treatment of war in Holinshed's Chronicles. The Chronicles offered Elizabethan readers not only a compendious series of narratives of past wars, but accounts that had a distinct moral purpose in their reporting of war – aiming at ‘the encouragement of theyr worthie countrie men, by elders' advauncements and the dauntyng of the vicious’. For an Elizabethan readership facing the strong prospect of war in the near future in 1577 – and which was actually at war by 1587 – the Chronicles provided patriotic encouragement about the innate ‘valiancie’ of English soldiers and their ability to match the deeds of the Hundred Years War, even if the enemy was now more likely to be Spanish than French. They also helped to instruct readers about the nature of modern warfare, when the cannon and the pike and arquebus were increasingly supplanting the fabled longbow as the vital weapons of war.

Keywords: Elizabethan period; warfare; Chronicles; English history; patriotism

Article.  8636 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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