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Migrants in Medieval England, c. 500-c. 1500$
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W. Mark Ormrod, Joanna Story, and Elizabeth M. Tyler

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266724

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266724.001.0001

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Framing Migration in Medieval England

Framing Migration in Medieval England

(p.1) 1 Framing Migration in Medieval England
Migrants in Medieval England, c. 500-c. 1500
Joanna Story, W. Mark Ormrod, Elizabeth M. Tyler
British Academy

This chapter frames the study of migration in medieval England in terms of origin myths concerning the formation of the English peoples and tropes of ancestral migration to the island. It argues for the relevance of ‘England’ as a unit for studying migration and mobility over the longue durée, and discusses the emergence of ‘the English’ as a concept and the kingdom of England as a geo-political entity before the Norman Conquest. The terminology used in English medieval sources—such as ‘alien’, ‘foreigner’, ‘stranger’—to describe people who were thought to have come from afar is reviewed, and how these terms, as well as the quantity and quality of the contemporary sources, change over time. It explains and contextualises the approaches taken in the chapters that follow, and argues for openness about prior assumptions and about the methodological limitations of different scholarly approaches, as well as a recognition that medieval sources may hold answers to some but not all of our questions.

Keywords:   Origin myths, Terminology, Anglo-Saxon, England, Alien, Foreigner, Stranger

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