The Interpolated Voice: Language, Status, and Identity in the Anglo-saxon Chronicle

Open Access
Francis, Shannon Ivy
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Scott Thompson Smith, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
  • Old English
  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  • Peterborough Chronicle
  • Language
  • Identity
  • English
  • Anglo-Saxon
  • Norman Conquest
This thesis explores the usage of English in the Peterborough Chronicle in relation to status, history, and the larger Anglo-Saxon identity in post-Conquest England. The interpolation of the annal for the year 675 functions alongside Latin documentation created around the same time in the twelfth century in order to create documentation attesting to status and property formerly justified through oral traditions. Furthermore, entries in the Peterborough Chronicle place an importance on local history that is seen nowhere else in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, as evidenced by the 675 annal as well as annals concerning the Norman Conquest. Peterborough’s 1066 annal emphasizes local history, and the events that befall Peterborough immediately post-Conquest mirror those that befall England as a whole, entwining local history within the larger national narrative and elevating the status of Peterborough to equal that of England. While annals in the Peterborough Chronicle concerning William, his legacy as king and his creation of the Domesday Book focus on the larger English narrative with no direct mention of Peterborough’s local history, the homiletic and personal nature of the 1086 annal and the poem “The Rime of William,” a well as the established connection between Peterborough and the larger English narrative, the suffering of England as a whole is equated to suffering on a local and personal level. These annals utilize English as a language of dissent in order to voice the lament of the English people at their suffering under William, and the adoption of a foreign style of poetic verse emphasizes the mourning of the loss of Anglo-Saxon culture while retaining a language that serves as one of the last enduring aspects of the Anglo-Saxon past.