Roll call : the motivations behind the inclusion of women on the Canterbury roll
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
Gender has been largely overlooked in the study of political ideas and their representation on genealogical chronicle rolls. One such roll, the Canterbury Roll, is housed at the University of Canterbury. Dating from the fifteenth-century, the five-metre long parchment features a genealogy of the kings of England, and was constructed to support the claims to the throne made by contemporary kings. It traces the lineage of the contemporary ruler Edward IV, through mythical kings such as Arthur, to the biblical figure of Noah. Over the approximately fifty years during which it was written, the Roll was subject to editing, as various political events influenced its content. This dissertation examines the women who feature on the Canterbury Roll, in both its original and edited form, in order to understand the place of women in the contemporary political context. It compares the written text of the roll with the chronicle histories on which its compilers drew, in order to determine the motivations behind the women’s inclusion. Four scribal hands are identified in this dissertation, and three of those hands are used as historical tools to uncover the motivations behind the inclusion of women. Each scribal hand reveals a different political motivation, and women were included on the Roll to shape the contemporary audience’s political perceptions. This dissertation reveals that women who conformed to a contemporary feminine ideal were celebrated while those who did not conform were portrayed negatively.