Over the past decade, many white nationalists have participated in a new, regressive social movement under the name “Alt-Right.” I argue that the modern Alt-Right misappropriation of medieval history exploits a false narrative of a ubiquitously all-white, Christian identity in the Middle Ages that simply never existed. Such an act allows the Alt-Right to connect themselves to a supposedly shared history, thereby emphasizing their assumed legitimacy. This rhetorical aspect of their social movement strategy is key to their ideological identity. This thesis engages with critical race theory and medieval historiography in order to understand why the Middle Ages hold such a powerful place in collective memory, and why medieval rhetoric and symbolism are misappropriated by white nationalist movements. Although concepts of race, gender, and ethnicity during the Middle Ages differed from and are inherently incompatible with their contemporary evocation by white nationalists, the false ideas about these medieval concepts evoked by white nationalists nonetheless retain potency.
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