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The Æðelen of Engle: Constructing Ethnic and Regional Identities in Laȝamon’s Brut

The Æðelen of Engle: Constructing Ethnic and Regional Identities in Laȝamon’s Brut

Kleinman, Scott (California State University — Northridge)

Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 16.1 (2004)

Abstract

At the beginning of Laȝamon’s Brut, the author makes a striking point of identifying himself by telling us his name and that of his father Leovenath. This strong statement of identity—an oddity for a vernacular writer of the late twelfth or early thirteenth century— sets up ethnic and national tensions that permeate the rest of the poem. To some readers, Laȝamon’s Scandinavian name and his father’s Anglo-Saxon one may have suggested that the author was of mixed ancestry. Whether or not this was the case, the names serve as a reminder of the multiple origins of Laȝamon’s countrymen, foreshadowing the ethnic ambiguities that problematize his attempt to tell the history “of Engle þa æðelæn”(“of England’s outstanding men,”)

 

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