Queen Eleanor and her crosses: Trauma and memory, medieval and modern
in Visions and ruins
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This chapter is the first extended study of the Eleanor Crosses. Commissioned by Edward I and built in the years immediately following Eleanor’s death in 1290, the monuments fashioned an idealised image of Eleanor that stands distinct from the historical record but which defined cultural memories of her. Over time, however, what were once memorials to an individual woman came to signify a more general sense of loss, melancholy and nostalgia that signified differently in particular times and places. E. M. Barry’s refashioned Charing Cross of the 1860s is but one of a number of nineteenth- and twentieth-century monuments that self-consciously repeated and reflected the medieval precedents of the Eleanor Crosses to create an idealised image of the medieval past. This chapter traces the reception, recreation and influence of the crosses in postmedieval England.

Visions and ruins

Cultural memory and the untimely Middle Ages

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