Archipelagic History

Philip Schwyzer

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

 Archipelagic History

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The two editions of Holinshed's Chronicles fell short of the ‘universall Cosmographie’ envisioned by the project's original creator, Reyner Wolfe. The scope of the 1577 chronicle did not extend beyond the British Isles, explicitly covering the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and silently incorporating the principality of Wales within its survey of archipelagic history. Although the 1587 edition incorporated massive amounts of fresh detail and commentary, it did nothing to expand the Chronicles' geographical scope. What prevented the completion of Wolfe's universal project was not its sheer impossibility, but the reluctance of the printers to bear the cost of the massive multi-volume work that was emerging. This chapter explores the cultural logic of the Chronicles' spatial coverage, with reference to contemporary and historical ways of imagining the Atlantic Archipelago (or ‘British Isles’) as a geographical entity.

Keywords: English history; Chronicles; Raphael Holinshed; Atlantic Archipelago; British Isles; geographical scope

Article.  8314 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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