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OF LIVING LEGENDS AND AUTHENTIC TALES: HOW TO GET REMEMBERED IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE*

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Folklore experts have shown that for a legend to be remembered it is important that it is historicised. Focusing on three case-studies from early modern Germany and the Netherlands, this article explores how the historicisation of mythical narratives operated in early modern Europe, and argues that memory practices played a crucial role in the interplay between myth and history. The application of new criteria for historical evidence did not result in the decline of myths. By declaring such stories mythical, and by using the existence of memory practices as evidence for this, scholars could continue to take them seriously.

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Research for this paper was done in the context of the NWO VICI research project ‘Tales of the Revolt. Memory, Oblivion and Identity in the Low Countries, 1566–1700’. I am grateful to Marten Jan Bok, Frank de Hoog, Erika Kuijpers, Marijke Meijer Drees, Johannes Müller and Ann Rigney for their help in researching and writing it.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

M. I. Finley , ‘Myth, Memory and History’, History and Theory, 4 (1965), 281302

Timothy R. Tangherlini , ‘“It Happened Not Too Far From Here . . . ”: A Survey of Legend Theory and Characterization’, Western Folklore, 49 (1990), 371–90, at 379

Paul Connerton , How Societies Remember (Cambridge, 1989)

Jeffrey K. Olick and Joyce Robbins , ‘Social Memory Studies. From “Collective Memory” to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices’, Annual Review of Sociology, 24 (1998), 105–40

Astrid Erll , Memory in Culture, trans. Sarah Young (Basingstoke2011)

Liesbeth Helmus , ‘Het altaarstuk met de Sint Elisabethsvloed uit de Grote Kerk van Dordrecht. De oorspronkelijke plaats en de opdrachtgevers’, Oud-Holland, 105 (1991), 127–39

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Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
  • ISSN: 0080-4401
  • EISSN: 1474-0648
  • URL: /core/journals/transactions-of-the-royal-historical-society
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