Rebecca Thomas is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. She studied for her doctorate at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (University of Cambridge), after obtaining an MPhil degree from the same department and a BA degree in History (University of Cambridge). She specializes in the history of medieval Britain and her current project investigates political relations between Wales and the wider world during this period.
Office: 222.2 History Corridor, Main Arts Building, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG
My research focuses on the construction of ethnic identities in the Middle Ages. My PhD thesis examined the presentation of ideas of Welsh identity in ninth- and tenth-century Welsh texts. I investigated how Welsh writers used language, names, origin legends and the writing of history in their crafting of identities and compared the strategies of identity construction used with those deployed by writers in other regions. My research also explores the movement of texts across conventional borders and the ways by which medieval writers used and adapted the ideas found in their sources. I have published articles investigating possible connections between sources, highlighting links between Wales, England and the Continent in the early Middle Ages.
My current project investigates political relations between Wales and the wider world in the Middle Ages. There was a key international dimension to Welsh politics during this period, as interaction with the English fluctuated between co-operation and conflict, the Norse were frequently present as mercenaries in Welsh dynastic warfare, and diplomatic links were established with France and Rome. This project will provide a cohesive and comprehensive consideration of these networks and will investigate their depiction and utilisation by medieval Welsh writers. Investigating how these writers presented relations between their rulers and the wider world will uncover the ways in which political legitimacy was constructed in medieval Wales. Was it of greater benefit for rulers to stress their international connections with the Irish and Norse? Or was it more important to cultivate an image based on a national or regional identity? This feeds into the wider question of how ideas of Welsh identity were constructed in the Middle Ages. This project aims to bring a new perspective to the history of medieval Wales, and contribute to wider debates over identity construction and relations between peoples across the Middle Ages.