Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 9529
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Bernau , Anke.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Authors of our owne mischiefe: Albina, Boadicea, and the Writing of Nation
  • Source: Seeing Gender: Perspectives on Medieval Gender and Sexuality. Gender and Medieval Studies Conference, King's College, London, January 4-6, 2002.. 2002.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Albina (Literary Figure) Boadicea, British Queen Who Led a Revolt against the Romans Gender Nationalism Origin Myths Queens in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 14- 15- 16
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  • Abstract: Foundation myths are loci where desires and anxieties of a culture regarding nation, identity and legitimacy are laid and played out. In the fourteenth century, two similar historical accounts of a female origin of Britain began to appear in English, Latin and Anglo-Norman alongside the familiar Galfridian masculine one. In these versions, Albion takes its name from Albina, the eldest of the twenty (or thirty) daughters of a Greek (or Syrian) king. She and her sisters arrive on the island by chance: they have been set out to sea in a rudderless boat as punishment for plotting to murder their husbands. Albina claims the island in her name and, once established, she and her sisters mate with devils, bearing giants who procreate incestuously. Their unruly descendants are killed by Brutus over two hundred years later, who in turn claims Albion in his own name. In the early sixteenth century, the issue of native origins was once again pursued intensely as the Trojan heritage story lay discredited. British native savagery became a concern for those historiographers who on the one hand wanted to claim a classical continuity for their nation while also recognising the potency of indigenous legitimation. British queens were frequently the focus of these conflicting desires, seen to symbolise both courage and excessive violence in contrast to masculine Roman rule. The prime example was the female leader of a major uprising against the Romans, Boadicea, who returned to British history writing in this period. This paper will discuss both the Albina myth and representations of Boadicea, focusing on how gender is used in the conceptualisation, writing and commemoration of nation in ways that are historically and culturally specific. [Reproduced by permission of the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference Organizers].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Wales, Cardiff
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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