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    Popular history in early modern London: the role of history in the creation of identity amongst Londoners 1580-1640

    Kent, Sarah Cissell (2023) Popular history in early modern London: the role of history in the creation of identity amongst Londoners 1580-1640. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This study explores whether a shared knowledge and understanding of elements of London’s past helped to create a sense of identity amongst those who lived in the city in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It suggests that a shared knowledge of London’s history and the associated values this inculcated, created a sense of common identity amongst Londoners, and this was one way in which social cohesion and thus stability was maintained in the city. The elements of history most popular in early modern London were initially identified using ballads and almanacs, the cheapest, most numerous forms of print in the city. These sources suggest that London’s topography, civic government and famous figures from the city’s past were the topics Londoners were most interested in and frequently encountered. These topics appeared not only in ballads and almanacs, but were ubiquitous in chronicles, plays, pageants and other texts, suggesting the majority of those living in London acquired a familiarity with them. These themes were popular for a range of reasons. Information on them was readily available, the values they embodied met with approval from the civic elite, and there were individual elements of each which were clearly appealing to Londoners for a range of reasons. This study considers the impact that exposure to these stories and themes had on early modern Londoners, with the values promoted by these popular historical topics creating a sense of shared identity amongst Londoners and enabling them to acclimatise themselves to the urban environment. This study concludes that alongside the social utility of the individual topics assessed, the fact that this selected knowledge of London’s past was shared amongst most Londoners, who may have shared little else, was a factor enhancing social cohesion within the city.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2023 15:44
    Last Modified: 17 Nov 2023 15:51


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