"Full of fresh and illuminating insights into a way of looking at the English past in the sixteenth century...a book with the potential to deepen and transform our understanding of Tudor attitudes to ethnic identity and the national past." Philip Schwyzer, University of Exeter. Laurence Nowell (1530-c.1570), author of the first dictionary of Old English, and William Lambarde (1536-1601), Nowell's protege and eventually the first editor of the Old English Laws, are key figures in Elizabethan historical discourses and in its political and literary society; through their work the period between the Germanic migrations and the Norman Conquest came to be regarded as a foundational time for Elizabethan England, overlapping with and contributing to contemporary debates on the shape of Elizabethan English language. Their studies took different strategies in demonstrating the role of early medieval history in Elizabethan national -- even imperial -- identity, while in Lambarde's legal writings Old English law codes become identical with the "ancient laws" that underpinned contemporary common law.
Their efforts contradict the assumption that Anglo-Saxon studies did not effectively participate in Tudor nationalism outside of Protestant polemic; instead, it was a vital part of making history "English." Their work furthers our understanding of both the history of medieval studies and the importance of early Anglo-Saxon studies to Tudor nationalism. Rebecca Brackmann is Assistant Professor of English, Lincoln Memorial University.