The London Chronicles and London’s sense of the past, c.1430-c.1550
I am interested in the cultural history of the later middle ages, in particular in historiography and the sense of the past in later medieval England.
For my current project, I am looking at culture and historiography in late medieval and Tudor London. This period saw a dramatic rise in book ownership amongst London citizens, aided by rising literacy, and the development of print. Londoners began to produce and consume a large variety of texts, but some of the most prolific genres included chronicles, historiography and historical literature. London even developed a widespread civic chronicling tradition, known as the London chronicles, which survive in over forty manuscripts and tell England's story from a London perspective. The past was ever present in London's cultural outputs: not just in its chronicle writing, but also in its legal scholarship, poetry, art, heradry and drama.
My thesis will examine both the effusion of chronicles, and also London's broader cultural outputs to ask the question: why were Londoners so interested in the past? What roles did the past play within their civic culture? Did Londoners have a distinct approach to the past?