|Saints, Devils, and Goddesses: Female Ancestors in English Royal Genealogies, c. 1125 - c. 1223
Index terms: Gender Studies, Genealogy and Prosopography, Historiography - Medieval, Pagan Religions
Traditionally the English identity of Orderic Vitalis has been seen as a pervasive and important influence on his major work, Historia Ecclesiastica. But we draw our conclusions about Orderic's identity from autobiographical interjections in the text, material which is deliberately deployed by the author. Through discussion of when, how and why Orderic references his English heritage, this paper will question whether we can see Orderic's identity as something separate from his text, with wider implications for the performative nature of authorial persona in 12th century historiography.
Aelred of Rievaulx lived in Northumbria during the years 1110-1167, a land that bordered Scotland to the north and often shared the same history, becoming an integral part of (northern) England. During Aelred's lifetime, England was experiencing its 'golden' medieval period upon the rules of Norman and Plantagenet kings. It is important to provide a description of the times when Aelred was alive, taking under consideration the history of the country where he lived, the surrounding lands, as well as the social, cultural, and religious changes that had been taking place throughout his lifetime, for it will offer a key to a better understanding of the various mysteries and inconsistencies that his biography is riddled with, as well as an understanding of Aelred’s own influence on the course of some of the events. The goal of this presentation is to take a closer look at three circles our protagonist grew up in and was associated with: the political and social history, Christian culture and religion of the regions he inhabited: England, Northumbria and Scotland.
This paper discusses the function and context of female ancestors in genealogies of the Norman and Angevin royal dynasties. It traces the development of of the first mixed matrilineal and patrilineal genealogies in English historiography - Aelred of Rievaulx's De Genealogia Regum Anglorum (c. 1153-1154), which was dedicated to the future king Henry II. Among the legendary ancestors of the English kings is Frea, a euhemerised pagan goddess, omitted by Aelred but mentioned by William of Malmesbury in a genealogy from Gesta Regum Anglorum (completed 1125). This section will explore the relationship between euhemerisation of goddesses such as Frea and Venus, and legitimation of royal dynasties through legendary genealogies. Finally the paper addresses how Gerald of Wales demonises the Angevins by associating them to the Melusine legend and a demonic female ancestor in De Principis Instructione (c. 1223).