Raphael Holinshed's account of English history from 1377-1485 in the Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland is most well-known as the source of Shakespeare's English history plays. Although the Chronicles are widely read and studied, published scholarly opinion, with a few exceptions, has been limited to the discipline of history. This book explores the historiographic materials of the Chronicles through a literary lens, focusing on how Renaissance men and women read historical texts, framed by these questions: How did Holinshed understand and view history? What were his motives in composing the Chronicles? What did sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English readers learn from the work? Igor Djordjevic explores both the lexical and semantic dimensions as well as lessons in both foreign and domestic policy in the 1577 and 1587 texts and in writers who used or appropriated the Chronicles, including Shakespeare, Daniel, Heywood, and Milton. This study revaluates our understanding of Renaissance chronicle history and the impact of Holinshed on Tudor, Jacobean, and Caroline political discourse; the Chronicles emerge not as a series of rambling, digressive episodes characteristic to a dying medieval genre, but as the preserver of national memory, the teacher of prudent policy, and a builder of the commonwealth ideal.
Igor Djordjevic is an Associate Professor of English at York University, Canada.
'Djordjevic's book is lucidly written and admirably free of inflated, abstract, and needlessly pretentious jargon. Its arguments are pointed, precise, and evidential. Those unfamiliar with Holinshed will find it extremely useful; those who believe that they already know the Chronicles well will find in it much to augment and perhaps to challenge their thinking.' Renaissance Quarterly 'Holinshed's Nation reflects a serious (and for the most part, solid) response to Annabel Patterson's contention that Holinshed's Chronicles deserve our careful reading and reflection.' The Library 'Djordjevic's book is rich with implications for how chronicles could become maps to national greatness and ethical politics in early modern England, even taking the argument into the pre-Civil War era when more didactic readings were expected and providential history were the norm. ... [This study is] opening up a new way to see this influential text, on which Shakespeare and others constructed much of England's national identity in these critical years, gives both historians and literary scholars much to think about.' Literature & History '... an important examination of the Chronicles' shaping of early modern political values that admirably keeps in view the significant differences between its editions and the importance of its early modern readers.' English Studies