Research Stream


Hannah Kilpatrick
The University of Melbourne


Angers, indignities, and furies: constructing an emotion in late-medieval English historical writing

This project explores the representation of different kinds of anger in late-medieval English chronicles, and uses this as a window to ask how emotion is shaped by the expectations of both culture and genre.

Angers, indignities, and furies—constructing an emotion in late-medieval English historical writing

Image: The Brut, or the Chronicles of England.Ed. Friedrich W. D. Brie. EETS 131 v. 1. London 1906. Page 219.

Anger is among the most volatile and potentially disruptive of passions, and is therefore in most societies underpinned by a complex array of cultural scripts. Historical writers in late-medieval England inherited from a variety of genres a rich repertoire of symbols, tropes, and stories that they could presume to be familiar to their audience. Drawing on these allowed them to engage with shared habits of reading to shape and evaluate the events they narrated. This project examines how a small but varied selection of chroniclers from the fourteenth century employed established models of anger to represent and interpret contemporary events. Given the potentially transgressive nature of anger, this focus often reveals moments when the chronicler’s problematic material exerts pressure on his interpretation of other cultural institutions, such as the system of honour and shame, performance of lordship and government, emotionality, and historical writing itself.