History Department

Sacred History and National Identity

Comparisons Between Early Modern Wales and Brittany

Religious Cultures in the Early Modern World
Hb: 256pp: March 2009
978 1 85196 623 3: 234x156mm: £60.00/$99.00
978 1 85196 599 1

The sixteenth century saw a redrawing of the borders of north-west Europe. Wales and Brittany entered into unions with neighbouring countries England and France. Nice uses Brittany and Wales's responses to unification to write a comparative history of national identity during the early modern period.

The Estates of Brittany and the Council in the Marches of Wales sponsored works of sacred historiography which manipulated history to defend their jurisdictions and legitimize their legal claims. Nice argues that the sacred histories of each country fostered contrasting national identities, one differentialist and the other assimilationist. This distinction, which uses terms characteristic of twentieth-century nationalism, demonstrates that the original function of national identities must be considered in order to appreciate their historical specificity and mutability.