An exercise in the obscure : how history is constructed on the Canterbury Roll (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
The central aim of this thesis is to understand how history was constructed on the fifteenth-century genealogical roll, Canterbury MS1, which is held at the University of Canterbury. The Roll traverses biblical history/mythology, Graeco-Roman mythology, British mythology, and history more contemporary to the Roll. It is the earlier parts of the manuscript, however, which this thesis is more interested in. Extant medieval scholarship is yet to recognise the value in disseminating the biblical and early material on rolls and universal chronicles. The present study, however, shows that much can be learned by applying a focused approach to the obscure material, looking primarily on the Roll-maker’s intentions in portraying certain events. This analysis looks at the Roll through three themes: empire, origins of people, and geography. In doing this, previously unknown insights into the Roll’s construction will be gained, revealing new sources and idiosyncrasies in the representation of certain periods of history. This study reveals that the construction of history on the Roll, although eclectic and contradictory, demonstrates a distinct and intentional thought process from the Roll-maker. By undertaking this analysis, this thesis demonstrates that an exercise in the obscure is worth engaging in.