Laurence minot, Edward III, and nationalism

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The fourteenth-century poems of Laurence Minot were discovered in the eighteenth century and enjoyed some vogue in the late nineteenth before largely falling from view in twentieth-century medieval studies because of their violently expressed nationalism. This essay revisits them, treating them as examples of what Catherine Belsey has called "imperative texts" and arguing that they do the nationalist work of "imagining a community," in Benedict Anderson's famous phrase. The essay takes issue with Anderson's idea that nationalism is incompatible with the Middle Ages, noting that the strength of his analysis, the emphasis on imagined communities, is also its weakness when it comes to restricting the analysis to recent modernity. In Minot's fourteenthcentury imagining of England, nevertheless, what we see is not the stridently self-confident Englishness that some recent historians perceive so much as the attempt to perform an Englishness as yet uncertain and fragile and in need of precisely the kind of cultural bolstering that Minot gives it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-288
Number of pages19
JournalViator: medieval and renaissance studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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