Welsh Identity and Adam Usk’s Chronicle (1377-1421)
Adam Usk, a Welsh lawyer, wrote a chronicle during the early fifteenth century. In the work he recounts events that took place during his lifetime including the Glyndŵr rebellion in Wales (1400- 1415). In modern scholarship, however, Adam’s chronicle has been categorised as an ‘English’ chronicle for various reasons, not least because of the tradition it belonged to. In this work, I explore this categorisation, and ask questions about how Welsh identity could be expressed within a text following the English tradition. In order to do this, I have separated the broad framework of ‘identity’ into subsections. Firstly, I consider Adam’s identity as a ‘chronicler’ and discuss the implications this had for how he expressed his own and other identities in the chronicle. Secondly, I examine his Welsh identity from a variety of different perspectives. I analyse the way he discusses places, relationships, and networks to understand more about how he expressed his own identity. This is particularly related to the locality of the town of Usk, and his national identity as a Welshman. In addition, I explore externally projected negative Welsh stereotypes, particularly how and why Adam used them to describe Owain Glyndŵr and his followers. Finally, I address ‘political identity’ and how this changed for the Welsh during Adam’s lifetime. I draw conclusions about how the various types of identity had implications for Adam’s life and the way he wrote his chronicle. By examining a range of sources, particularly other chronicles, I address the wider discourses around Welsh identity during the late Middle Ages and use this to locate Adam’s local, national, legal and political identity. In doing so, I explore what English and Welsh identity meant for Adam, how he expressed it in his chronicle, and offer a framework through which the chronicle can be read and interpreted.