Synopses & Reviews
Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Translation of Female Kingship provides the first feminist analysis of the part of The History of the Kings of Britain that most readers overlook: the reigns before and after Arthur's. Fiona Tolhurst demonstrates that Geoffrey not only creates precedents for the future reign of Empress Matilda in England but also presents female rule as an attractive and beneficial alternative to male immorality and incompetence. Her study adds a new dimension to contemporary scholarship by proposing that the word 'feminist' can be used to describe this history that - in contrast to the works of Geoffrey's predecessors, redactors, and early translators - presents female rule positively.
"Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Translation of Female Kingship provides a provocative reading of the often-ignored non-Arthurian sections of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britannia and its later revisions. Tolhurst's thesis, that Geoffrey of Monmouth should be considered a feminist historian of the Middle Ages, is based on her placement of Geoffrey's work against its immediate political context, the assertion by Matilda, Henry I's heir-designate, of her legitimate claim to the throne of England against Stephen of Blois. While Tolhurst's book is a feminist reading of Geoffrey of Monmouth, it will appeal broadly to historians, medievalists, literary critics, and students of one of the most innovative writers of the Middle Ages." - Michael J. Curley, Emeritus Professor of English and author of Geoffrey of Monmouth
"This volume presents a nuanced consideration of the events which surrounded the composition of Geoffrey's seminal work, along with an illuminating exploration of the historiographical conversation it started among his fellow writers. This book is a pleasure to read, and will become an essential part of chronicle, narratological, and feminist scholarship." - The Medieval Review
"Tolhurst, author of Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Feminist Origins of the Arthurian Legend, promptly follows her work on the Arthurian portions of Geoffrey of Monmouth's History with this feminist reading of the parts of the text that precede and follow Arthur's reign . . . Even those who do not support feminist interpretations will value her assessment of Matilda's female kingship. Tolhurst's study will appeal specifically to medievalists, literary critics, and serious readers of early texts . . . Highly recommended." - CHOICE
Here, Fiona Tolhurst offers the first feminist analysis of the non-Arthurian portion of Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain. After re-reading Empress Matilda as the first female king of England, she contrasts Geoffrey's feminist brand of historiography with the works of both his predecessors and his successors. This study documents how Geoffrey's redactors and translators of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries first undermined and then erased his uniquely pro-female version of the early British past.
About the Author
Fiona Tolhurst is Maître Assistante in Medieval and Early Modern English at the University of Geneva. She is the author Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Feminist Origins of the Arthurian Legend and is the editor of a special issue of Arthuriana on Geoffrey of Monmouth as well as the co-editor, with Bonnie Wheeler, of On Arthurian Women: Essays in Memory of Maureen Fries.
Table of Contents
Introduction Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Translation of Female Kingship
Re-reading Empress Matilda as a Female King
Geoffrey's History as Preparation for a Female King
Undermining and Degrading Female Kingship in the First Variant and the Roman de Brut
Delegitimizing and Erasing Female Kingship in the 'Epistola Warino Britoni,' the Chronica majora, and Layamon's Brut