In the Eyes of the Beholder: An Understanding of Englishness

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Mikkel Kleis
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
Scholars and scientists have often worked with the way Gerald of Wales and Geoffrey of Monmouth works with race and peoples. Furthermore, there have also been a steady stream of research about the hybrid identity these authors possess. In this master’s thesis I examine how these two are interlinked. It is done by understanding how Gerald and Geoffrey viewed Eng-lishness because of their hybrid identity.
To understand and examine this thesis statement I have made use of four of Gerald works. These are his works about Wales and Ireland. I have also made use of Geoffrey’s De Gestis Britonum. To understand the meaning of these works I made use of both the Latin and translated English versions of these works. The works and the content in these were analyzed both as independent works but also as a whole. Furthermore, these works were discussed by using modern scientific research to either bolster the claims I have made in the thesis or to argue against the conclusions drawn in this research. I have also taken other English medieval authors into consideration and presented how the works of these authors were like or unlike the works of Gerald and Geoffrey. I also tried to present and discuss the way their hybrid identity influ-enced the way they viewed The British Isles and the peoples on these.
To accomplish this, I have made it clear that both Gerald and Geoffrey belonged to the writing tradition that Bede started. Because of this the way they work and see the different peo-ples of the isles are like their predecessors. This only accounts for some of the reasons Gerald and Geoffrey view the English people and Englishness in a positive way. The thesis also pre-sents the influence their hybrid identity has on the way they understand and view Englishness. These factors are not the only ones that affect their view on Englishness. The thesis also pre-sents that their personal ambitions might have influenced their views in certain ways. The thesis also argues that to understand the way Gerald and Geoffrey viewed Englishness, one must re-main critical of their uses of antique literature. One also must be critical of the way the transla-tion use words such as race and people indiscriminately.
In this thesis I have argued that because of Gerald and Geoffrey’s hybrid identity they view Englishness in a certain way. What I have found out is that the way in which they view and portray the English and Englishness is almost identical. It is a positive description even though their works have different peoples as antagonists. In this master’s thesis I have there-fore concluded that their way of viewing the English and Englishness is largely due to their hybrid identity, but it cannot explain all the reasons as to why they view these in a positive light.
Publication date1 Jun 2022
Number of pages80
ID: 471867430