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Mythical Ancestry in World Cultures, 1400-1800

S. Trevisan (ed.)
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IX+196 p., 12 b/w ill., 156 x 234 mm, 2018
ISBN: 978-2-503-58009-8
Languages: English
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A collection of essays exploring why and how world cultures and dynasties traced their own descent to the mists of mythical ancestry.

From Europe to the Ottoman Empire, from Mesoamerica to the Mughal dynasty, rulers and peoples in the early modern period put deities and culture heroes in their family trees. The essays in this collection investigate the issues of ancestry, descent, kinship, and kingship that are revealed by this worldwide practice. The authors explore the meaning and role of ‘myth’ in different global cultures, and how the social role of myth defined identity through genealogical discourse. What did people understand by ‘mythical’ and how did they think of themselves as related to their mythical past? How seriously were these various claims of mythical descent taken? And how did claims function within the different power relations of societies around the globe? Up to now, the predominant Eurocentric perspective in early modern studies has encouraged a focus on Renaissance Greco-Roman mythology and its role in literature and art. This volume, however, breaks new ground through its unique exploration of the way in which the genealogical use of ‘myth’ was shared by world cultures.

Sara Trevisan is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick.

Table of Contents


Introduction — SARA TREVISAN

The Mythical Ancestry of the Mughal Dynasty — LISA BALABANLILAR

Origin Myths and Ethno-Regional Solidarity in Ottoman Egypt: An Unexpected Finding — JANE HATHAWAY

The Idol of Origins: Myth, Genealogical Memory, and Law in Hispanic America — JEAN-PAUL ZUNIGA

In Search of Ancestors: The Family Genealogists of Florence (XIV–XV century) — CHRISTIANE KLAPISCH-ZUBER

Francus, the Trojans, and the Kings of France: Visualizing Fabulous Genealogies in the Late Renaissance — EWA KOCISZEWSKA

Noah, Brutus of Troy, and King James VI and I: Biblical and Mythical Ancestry in an Anonymous Genealogical Roll — SARA TREVISAN

Mythical Ancestry, Genealogy, and Nationalism in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Europe — ROBERTO BIZZOCCHI AND ERMINIA IRACE


Interest Classification:
Medieval & Modern (Indo-European) Languages & Literatures
Comparative & cultural studies through literature
Cultural studies (general & theoretical)
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : auxiliary sciences
Genealogy & prosopography
Medieval European history (400-1500) : genres & specific topics
Historiography (historical writings in the period)
Pre-modern (but not ancient) history of other continents & subcontinents
Modern History (1501 to the present)
Early modern history (1501-1800) : auxiliary sciences
Genealogy & prosopography
Early modern history (1501-1800) : genres & specific topics
Historiography (contemporary accounts of the period)

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