Mar 8 | Aelred of Rievaulx’s Vision of an International Royal Identity

As a reminder, please join the Friends of the Saints on Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in the Pearl Kibre Medieval Study (Room 5105) of the CUNY Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave.) for the following paper and our customary pot-luck refreshments:


“Aelred of Rievaulx’s Vision of an International Royal Identity”

Jay Paul Gates
Associate Professor and Department Chair
Department of English
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

This talk examines Aelred of Rievaulx’s treatment of English kings, the dispersal of the royal line throughout Europe, and the shaping of a new kind of national identity for Henry II in the Genealogia regum Anglorum. I argue that just after the young Henry Plantagenet, already duke of Normandy, count of Anjou, and husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine, was acknowledged as King Stephen’s heir to the English throne, Aelred wrote his Genealogia to advance an international vision of the English royal line, and particularly of Henry himself. Unlike earlier Anglo-Norman historians, Aelred did not treat the English past as needing redemption but was concerned with national identification as a solution to political upheavals. In his model, Aelred drew on Henry’s genealogy to give his subjects a means of common identification in support of national cohesion. The king ruled over a multi-ethnic realm and projected an identity with which any of his subjects could identify, but could also unify many regions, ethnicities, and traditions because, through his descent and family history, he embodied them.

Please let us know whether you will be coming (affirmative RSVPs only).  We look forward to seeing you.

Leah Hanlon (
Secretary, Friends of the Saints

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