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The English and the NormansEthnic Hostility, Assimilation, and Identity 1066-c.1220$
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Hugh M. Thomas

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199251230.001.0001

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Stereotypes and the Image of the English

Stereotypes and the Image of the English

(p.297) Chapter 18 Stereotypes and the Image of the English
The English and the Normans


Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the image of the English, with particular emphasis on stereotypes, during the medieval period. It argues that the image of the English was a crucial factor in sustaining the construct of Englishness, and that the positive stereotypes, and even to some degree the negative ones, helped to draw the descendants of the immigrants into an English identity. When medieval travellers encountered other groups, they experienced real differences in the way peoples acted. Stereotypes could play an important role in how people thought about ethnic identity, and in that context need to be considered very carefully. The type of characterisations discussed in this chapter was important in building group identity, in classifying people into groups, and in maintaining boundaries and barriers between peoples. Some of the material considered in this chapter was meant to be humorous, and even the insults could be employed in a bantering way.

Keywords:   stereotypes, image, English, Englishness, immigrants, ethnic identity, group identity

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