Medieval Histories News about the Middle Ages Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:56:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Collected, Plundered and Saved Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:31:57 +0000 Conference: Collected, Plundered and Saved from Medieval Libraries

Gesammelt – geplündert – gerettet.
Zur Geschichte der Klosterbibliotheken in Südwestdeutschland
Tübingen, 26.02.2015 – 27.02.2015

Monasteries were in the Middle Ages central to the preservation of countless written treasures. However, during the reformation and later in the 19th century they were abolished and their collection became widely dispersed. Archives were usually not destroyed, but libraries were often plundered. As of today no former library , which belonged to a monastery in Baden-WWurttemberg has been preserved. The conference aims to shed light on collections, which are still in existence but also collections long gone. It also wish to focus on the history of specific books as well as the physical libraries as such (architecture and interior decoration).

Programme – In German

Donnerstag, 26. Februar 2015

10.30 Uhr Eröffnung der Tagung, Grußworte
Prof. Dr. Volker Drecoll, Ephorus des Evangelischen Stiftes Tübingen
Prof. Dr. Anton Schindling, Vorsitzender der Kommission für geschichtliche Landeskunde in Baden-Württemberg
Dr. Thomas Hölz, Stellvertretender Vorsitzender des Württembergischen Geschichts- und Altertumsvereins

10.45 Uhr Dr. Armin Schlechter (Speyer): Einführung in die Tagung und ihre Ziele

Zu Geschichte und Profil der Klosterbibliotheken
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Anton Schindling
11.00 Uhr Prof. Dr. Peter Rückert (Stuttgart): Skriptorien – Bibliotheken – Archive? Zur spätmittelalterlichen Schriftkultur in südwestdeutschen Benediktiner- und Zisterzienserklöstern
11.45 Uhr Magda Fischer (Stuttgart): Bibliotheken südwestdeutscher Männer- und Frauenkommunitäten in der frühen Neuzeit. Konzepte – Profile – Überlieferung

12.45 Uhr Mittagspause

Die Überlieferungsleistung von Klosterbibliotheken und ihre Aufhebung
Moderation: Dr. Albrecht Ernst, Dr. Thomas Hölz

14.00 Uhr Prof. Dr. Jürgen Wolf (Marburg), Südwestdeutsche Klosterbibliotheken als Überlieferungsorte mittelhochdeutscher Literatur
14.45 Uhr Dr. Armin Schlechter (Speyer): Inkunabeln aus Klosterbibliotheken in Baden
15.30 Uhr Kaffeepause
16.00 Uhr Dr. Christine Sauer (Nürnberg): Kloster- und Stadtbibliotheken in evangelischen Reichsstädten Süddeutschlands
16.45 Uhr Dr. Christoph Schmider (Freiburg): Gemeinsame Interessen oder Gegeneinander? Der Umgang mit Klosterbibliotheken im Zusammenwirken von badischem Staat und katholischer Kirche nach der Säkularisation
17.30 Uhr Führung in Bibliothek und Archiv des Evangelischen Stifts durch Archivarin Beate Martin

19.30 Uhr Öffentlicher Abendvortrag
Prof. Dr. Franz Quarthal (Rottenburg): Sitz der Weisheit – Waffenkammer – Seelenapotheke. Barocke Bibliotheksräume in süddeutschen und österreichischen Klöstern und ihr Beitrag zum Selbstverständnis des Mönchstums im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert

Freitag, 27. Februar 2015

Südwestdeutsche Klosterbibliotheken: Fallbeispiele
Moderation: Dr. Albrecht Ernst, Dr. Armin Schlechter

9.15 Uhr Dr. Udo Wennemuth (Karlsruhe): Die Stiftsbibliothek in Wertheim
10.00 Uhr Prof. Dr. Hermann Ehmer (Stuttgart): Drei fränkische Klosterbibliotheken und ihre Schicksale: Bronnbach, Triefenstein und Grünau
10.45 Uhr Kaffeepause
11.15 Uhr Dr. Annika Stello (Karlsruhe): Zur Bibliothek des Klosters St. Georgen

12.00 Uhr Mittagspause

Moderation: Prof. Dr. Sigrid Hirbodian

13.30 Uhr Dr. Christian Herrmann (Stuttgart): Drucke aus der Deutschordenskommende Mergentheim und der Benediktinerabtei Weingarten in der Württembergischen Landesbibliothek Stuttgart
14.15 Uhr Dr. Helmut Zäh (Augsburg), Die Bibliothek des Benediktinerklosters Irsee in der Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg
15.00 Uhr Abschlussdiskussion


Dr. Uwe Sibeth
Kommission für geschichtliche Landeskunde in Baden-Württemberg
Eugenstr. 7, 70182 Stuttgart


Kommission für geschichtliche Landeskunde in Baden-Württemberg
Württembergischer Geschichts- und Altertumsverein e. V.
Seminar für Neuere Geschichte der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
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The Scottish People 1490-1625 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:07:27 +0000 This book tells the story about the life and times of the Scottish people during the Reformation

The Scottish People 1490-1625
By Maureen M Meikle 2014
ISBN-10: 1291518002
ISBN-13: 978-1291518009


Scottish People Meikle CoverThe Scottish People, 1490-1625 is one of the most comprehensive texts ever written on Scottish History at the time of the reformation

All geographical areas of Scotland are covered from the Borders, through the Lowlands to the Gàidhealtachd and the Northern Isles.

The chapters look at society and the economy, Women and the family, International relations: war, peace and diplomacy, Law and order: the local administration of justice in the localities, Court and country: the politics of government, The Reformation: preludes, persistence and impact, Culture in Renaissance Scotland: education, entertainment, the arts and sciences, and Renaissance architecture: the rebuilding of Scotland. In many past general histories there was a relentless focus upon the elite, religion and politics.

These are key features of any medieval and early modern history books, but The Scottish People looks at less explored areas of early-modern Scottish History such as women, how the law operated, the lives of everyday folk, architecture, popular belief and culture.

In the words of the author this is “the kind of comprehensive text that I would have liked to have at my elbow when I was and undergraduate in the 1980s.

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Dominican Order in the Middle Ages Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:31:44 +0000 Interdisciplinary conference aims to shed light on the influences of the Dominican Order in the Middle Ages

The Influences of the Dominican Order in the Middle Ages
Lincoln College and Blackfriars, Oxford
10.09.2015 – 12.09.2015

From the modest group of St Dominic and his sixteen followers, the Dominican Order grew rapidly in the first century of its existence, establishing itself across Europe as a learned Order of Preachers.  This interdisciplinary conference will seek to explore the influences of the Dominican Order on all aspects of medieval life.  The conference theme of ‘influence’ can be interpreted in its broadest sense, encompassing the large-scale influences of the Order and the legacy of its prominent figures, or can be examined on the personal level, such as the impact that the Order had on those that came into contact with it, both within and outside the Order.

Papers might address topics such as:

  • how the Dominican Order influenced other religious orders and medieval life more generally (papers may consider this influence with regard to art, architecture, universities and education, book-making, theology, liturgy, legislation, or other relevant disciplines);
  • influential Dominicans, such as St Dominic, Humbert of Romans and Thomas Aquinas, and their legacy to the Dominican Order or the use of their teachings outside of the Order;
  • preaching and other means by which Dominicans sought to influence the local populations they encountered;
  • controversies resulting from Dominican influence (e.g., in the universities, in ecclesiastical government, etc.);
  • Dominican education and the training of novices: the shaping of the Dominican religious life.

The conference will be held at Lincoln College, Oxford and Blackfriars, Oxford from Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th September 2015.  This conference is interdisciplinary and open to scholars working in any field of medieval studies.  Papers of 20 minutes are welcomed, although other formats may be considered.  Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, and include with it your paper title, name and affiliation (if any), contact email, AV requirements, and a short biography (this has no bearing on the evaluation; it is simply for distribution to chairs).  All abstracts should be submitted by 1st March 2015.

All enquiries and proposals should be sent to Eleanor Giraud:


Crucifixion (detail) 1366-67 Fresco Cappellone degli Spagnoli, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

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Utrecht Psalter Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:14:16 +0000 The Utrecht Psalter, which is currently owned by the Utrecht University Library, has been nominated for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register
Utrecht psalter leiden 31
Psalterium Latinum / HSS: Hs 32 dl 1-2 Con, p. 31

The Utrecht Psalter, which is currently owned by the Utrecht University Library, has been nominated for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. In mid-2015, UNESCO will decide whether the medieval manuscript will be given a place in this documentary heritage register. Dating back to the ninth century, the Utrecht Psalter is one of the most valuable manuscripts held in a Dutch collection. A digitised version of the manuscript is published online for public viewing via

The Utrecht Psalter contains 150 psalms and 16 biblical hymns, which are illustrated in a style revolutionary for its time. The book was written somewhere in or around Reims, France, at the start of the ninth century and was then held in England for a time before ending up in Utrecht. In 1716, it was donated to the Utrecht University Library, which has housed the book ever since.


UNESCO’s prestigious Memory of the World Register is the only list of documentary heritage in existence. The list includes a total of nine documents from Dutch libraries, including the Diary of Anne Frank and Marx’s manuscripts Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital.

166 Pen Drawings

The eloquence of the Utrecht Psalter shines through in 166 pen drawings accompanying each of the psalms and biblical hymns, with a content and style which have been described as nervous, dynamic, surreal and baroque. At times, the images have been compared to the work of Jeroen Bosch. The manuscript was truly cutting edge, and was still a source of inspiration for the illustration of psalters centuries later. At the dedicated website it is possible to read a full introduction to the precious manuscript:

  • Introduction
  • The Manuscript
  • The Script
  • Psalm Texts and Titles
  • The Sixteen Canticles
  • The Drawings
  • The Historical Context
  • Influences
  • The Reims School
  • Charles the bald and the Utrecht Psalter
  • The Utrecht Psalter in Canterbury
  • Robert Cotton
  • Fragments of a Gospel from Northumbria
  • From London to Utrecht
  • Donated by Willem de Ridder
  • Rediscovery and Controversies


Book of Kells

According to Utrecht University Library keeper of manuscripts Bart Jaski, “The scholarly significance of the Utrecht Psalter is comparable to that of the Book of Kells housed by Trinity College in Dublin and the Très Belles Heures de Duc de Berry by the Limbourg brothers, two of the most beautiful manuscripts from the Middle Ages”. “No other medieval manuscript in a Dutch collection is so much written about or has had so many reproductions published, both in print and digitally on the Internet.”


Utrecht Psalter

Catalogue Entry

Utrecht Psalter and Seuss


Utrecht psalter catalogue 1996 coverUtrecht Psalter in Medieval Art: Picturing the Psalms of David
By K. Van Der Horst
Hes & De Graff Pub B V 1996
ISBN-10: 9061943280
ISBN-13: 978-9061943280

Contains authoritative contributions on the historical, stylistic, and iconographic context of this masterpiece of Carolingian Renaissance by R. McKitterick, K. van der Horst, K. Corrigan, F. Mütherich, and W. Noel, and including the catalogue of the 1996 exhibition on the Utrecht Psalter at the Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht




Utrecht Psalter, 20

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Medieval Rome: Stability and Crisis of a City, 900-1150 Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:13:58 +0000 Rome in the middle ages was much more than just the city of Popes. In a new book Chris Wickham tells the story of the city 900 – 1150

Medieval Rome: Stability and Crisis of a City, 900-1150
Series: Oxford Studies In Medieval European History
by Chris Wickham (Author)
Oxford University Press 2014
ISBN-10: 0199684960
ISBN-13: 978-0199684960


Medieval Rome wickham coverMedieval Rome analyses the history of the city of Rome between 900 and 1150, a period of major change in the city. This volume doesn’t merely seek to tell the story of the city from the traditional Church standpoint; instead, it engages in studies of the city’s processions, material culture, legal transformations, and sense of the past, seeking to unravel the complexities of Roman cultural identity, including its urban economy, social history as seen across the different strata of society, and the articulation between the city’s regions.

This new approach serves to underpin a major reinterpretation of Rome’s political history in the era of the ‘reform papacy’, one of the greatest crises in Rome’s history, which had a resonance across the entire continent. Medieval Rome is the most systematic analysis ever made of two and a half centuries of Rome’s history, one which saw centuries of stability undermined by external crisis and the long period of reconstruction which followed.


1. Grand Narratives
2. The Countryside and the City
3. The Urban Economy
4. Urban Aristocracies
5. Medium élites and Church Clientèles: The Society of Rome’s Regions in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries
6. The Geography of Ritual and Identity
7. The Crisis, 1050-1150


Chris Wickham is Chichele Professor of Medieval History, University of Oxford. He taught at Birmingham for nearly thirty years before coming to Oxford as Chichele Professor in 2005. He has travelled to Rome for short and long research visits over a hundred times and written several books on the economy and society of Medieval Italy

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The Political Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan of York Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:05:18 +0000 Wulfstan of York is famous for his sermons, legal tracts and other writings chastising the English for moral decrepitude. Now his writings have been translated into modern English

The Political Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan of York
Series: Manchester Medieval Sources
By Andrew Rabin
Manchester University Press; annotated edition 2014
ISBN-10: 0719089751
ISBN-13: 978-0719089756


The Political Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan of York - CoverArchbishop Wulfstan of York (d. 1023) is among the most important legal and political thinkers of the early Middle Ages. A leading ecclesiastic, innovative legislator, and influential royal councilor, Wulfstan witnessed firsthand the violence and social unrest that culminated in the fall of the English monarchy before the invading armies of Cnut in 1016. In his homilies and legal tracts, Wulfstan offered a searing indictment of the moral failings that led to England’s collapse and formulated a vision of an ideal Christian community that would influence English political thought long after the Anglo-Saxon period had ended. These works, many of which have never before been available in modern English, are collected here for the first time in new, extensively annotated translations that will help readers reassess one of the most turbulent periods in English history and re-evaluate the career of Anglo-Saxon England’s most important political visionary.


Part I: Political tracts
1. The laws of Edward and Guthrum
2. Concerning episcopal duties (Episcopus)
3. The ‘compilation on status’
Concerning the ranks of people and law (Geþyncðu)
Concerning Wergild (Be wergylde/Norðleoda laga)
Concerning the law of the Mercians (Mircna laga)
Concerning the Mercian oath (Að)
Concerning priests’ oaths and clerical compensation (Hadbot)
4. Concerning sanctuary (Grið)
5. Northumbrian church-sanctuary (Norðhymbra Cyricgrið)
6. The canons of Edgar
7. The institutes of polity

Part II: Homilies and homiletic tracts
1. On the laws of God and the world (Napier 51)
2. On various misfortunes (Napier 35)
3. On the proper support of the Church (Napier 22/Bethurum 13)
4. On the duties of the clergy (Napier 52)
5. On the sins of the clergy (Napier 53)
6. On justice, virtue and the law (Napier 50)
7 . On the duties of the laity (Napier 59)
8. On heathen practices (Napier 60)
9. On christian practices (Napier 61)
10. On tithes and tithing (Napier 23)
11. On baptism and confirmation (Napier 24)

Part III: Sources and analogues
1. God’s threat to a sinning Israel (Bethurum 19)
2. Evil rulers (Bethurum 21)
3. An admonition to bishops
4. Two versions of VII Æthelred
5. Cnut’s proclamation of 1020
6. The Northumbrian priests’ law



Andrew Rabin is Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville

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Friendship in Medieval Iberia Tue, 16 Dec 2014 10:52:37 +0000 New study explores friendship as witnessed in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, Siete Partidas and other similar texts from 13th century Iberia

Friendship in Medieval Iberia
by Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo
Ashgate 2014
ISBN-10: 1472412028
ISBN-13: 978-1472412027

Friendship in medieval Iberia - coverPrivate and public relationships between individuals or groups – frequently labelled as friendships – have played a central role in human societies. Yet, over the centuries ideas and meanings of friendship transformed, adapting to the political and social climate of a period, and consequently resisting rigid definitions.

Changing concepts and practices of friendship characterized the intellectual, social, political and cultural panorama of medieval Europe, including that of the fascinating and yet understudied thirteenth-century Iberia.

The Peninsula’s fascinating history, as the subject of conquests and ‘Reconquest’, land of convivencia, but also of rebellions, political instability, and secular and religious international power-struggles, makes the articulation of friendship within its borders a particularly fraught subject to study.

Drawing on some of the encyclopaedic masterpieces produced in the scriptorium of ‘The Wise’ and ‘The Learned’ Kind, Alfonso X of Castile (1252-84) – namely the Marian songs of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, the law code of the Siete Partidas and the chronicle Estoria de Espana – this study explores the political, religious and social networks, inter-faith and gender relationships, legal definitions, as well as bonds of tutorship and companionship, which were frequently defined through the vocabulary and rhetoric of friendship. This study also highlights how the values and meanings of amicitia, often associated with classical, Roman, Visigothic, Arabic and Eastern traditions, were later transformed to adapt to Alfonso X’s cultural projects and political propaganda.

This book contributes to the study of the history of emotions and cultural histories of the Middle Ages, while also adding another crucial piece to the broader historiographical debate currently challenging the most traditional view of the Iberian Peninsula’s ‘exceptionalism’. This interdisciplinary study considers whether Iberia should be rather considered as a peripheral, but still vital, ring in a chain which linked it to the rest of Europe, while occupying a central role in the historical and cultural developments of the Western Mediterranean.


  • Introduction
  • A history of friendship: classical and medieval perspectives
  • Friendship in the works of Alfonso X of Castile
  • Spiritual and religious friendships; Political friendships
  • Pragmatic alliances and interfaith relationships
  • Friendship, sex and gender relationships
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index.


Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo completed her first degree in European Languages and Cultures at the University of Catania (Italy), before undertaking doctoral research at the University of Exeter. She worked at the University of Exeter and as a Lecturer in Medieval History at Queen Mary University of London, before joining the University of Lincoln in 2013. She is interested in the legal, cultural and political history of the medieval Western Mediterranean, and in particular in thirteenth-century Iberia. Her main areas of research include the history of emotions, social implications of inter-faith collaborations and political agreements, as well as the connections between friendship and gender relationships. She has also published on ideas and representations of power in medieval Castile and Leon. She has also been actively involved in international research projects with other European Institutions.

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Healthcare in Early Medieval Northern Italy Tue, 16 Dec 2014 10:52:16 +0000 The knowledge of medicine proper in the Middle Ages is generally thought of as very primitive. This books sets out to rectify this

Healthcare in Early Medieval Northern Italy: More to Life Than Leeches
by Clare Pilsworth
Series: Studies in the Early Middle Ages
Brepols 2014
ISBN-10: 2503528554
ISBN-13: 978-2503528557


Healthcare in Early Medieval Northern Italy coverAfter the fall of the last Western Roman Emperor in 476 AD, Northern Italy played a crucial role – both geographically and culturally – in connecting East to West and North to South. Nowhere is this revealed more clearly than in the knowledge and practice of medicine.

In sixth-century Ravenna, Greek medical texts were translated into Latin, and medical practitioners such as Anthimus, famous for his work on diet, also travelled from East to West. Despite Northern Italy’s location as a confluence of cultures and values, modern scholarship has thus far ignored the extensive range of medical practices in existence throughout this region.

This book aims to rectify this absence. It will draw upon both archaeological and written sources to argue for redefinitions of health and illness in relation to the Northern-Italian Middle Ages.

This volume does not only put forward new classifications of illness and understandings of diet, but it also demonstrates the centrality of medicine to everyday life in Northern Italy.

Using charter evidence and literary sources, the author expands our understanding of the literacy levels and social circles of the elite medical practitioners, the medici, and their lesser counterparts. This work marks a significant intervention into the field of medical studies in the early to high Middle Ages.

  • Introduction: More to Life than Leeches? Medicine in Post-Roman Italy
  • Part I: Illness, Disease, and Treatment
  • Introduction: Blood and Ink – Health, Medicine, and the Body in Early Medieval Northern Italian Books
Chapter 1: Disease, Medicine, and the Law
Chapter 2: Live, Eat, Die: Health, Diet, and Life Expectancy
Chapter 3: Treating Illness – Herbs, Scalpels, and Cupping Vessels
  • Part II: Healing – People and Places
Chapter 4: Shrines and Healing
Chapter 5: The Age of Anxiety? Homes, Hostels, and Unsanctioned Healers
Chapter 6: Doctors – in Search of the Early Medieval medicus
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Psalter and Hours of Humphrey de Bohun Tue, 16 Dec 2014 10:08:10 +0000 Between 1361 and 1384 a group of Augustinian friars created the de Bohun manuscripts at Pleshey Castle. The story about the patrons, the friars and the eleven books is told in a new book

Illuminators & Patrons in Fourteenth-Century England: The Psalter & Hours of Humphrey de Bohun and the Manuscripts of the Bohun Family.
By Lucy Freeman Sandler
The British Library Publishing Division 2014
ISBN-10: 0712357572
ISBN-13: 978-0712357579


Illuminators & Patrons in Fourteenth-Century England: The Psalter & Hours of Humphrey de Bohun and the Manuscripts of the Bohun Family  cover The Bohun Psalter and Hours (c.1361-73) is one of a series of splendidly illuminated devotional books made in a very distinctive style during the second half of the 14th century for the Bohun family, Earls of Hereford.

The Bohuns are known to have employed John de Teye, an Augustinian friar, as their personal illuminator at their Essex castle of Pleshey. The manuscript was begun for a Humphrey de Bohun, probably vastly wealthy 7th Earl (d.1373), father of Mary de Bohun (d.1394), wife of the future Henry IV and mother of Henry V. It is believed the Earl employed two or more illuminators to work on the manuscript in his own castle at Pleshey, Essex.

The manuscript contains eight large historiated initials subdivided into four compartments, each with a narrative subject.

Above is shown the sequence of the Three Maries at the Sepulchre. To the left of this initial are scenes depicting the death, funeral and catafalque of a knight: his effigy lies on a carved tomb decorated with the arms of the Fitzalans, Earls of Arundel, who made several marriage alliances with the Bohuns. Also there is a vignette showing two men who put treasure into a chest (conceivably a reference to Edmund, Earl of Arundel, executed in 1326 and his treasure seized by order of Queen Isabella).

Recently (2014) a richly illustrated study of this treasure in the British Library, was published. The interaction between the Bohun patron and the Bohun artists is a major focus of the book. Along with a detailed commentary on the manuscript’s more than 300 pictorial subjects from the books of Kings of the Old Testament, the Gospel of Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles, the book includes revised versions of twelve essays originally published between 2002 and 2011 linking the British Library manuscript with others illustrated by the same artists for members of the Bohun family in the second half of the fourteenth century. All in all the group of manuscripts encompass elven volumes.


Lucy Freeman Sandler is Helen Gould Sheppard Professor of Art History emerita at New York University. Among her numerous publications on fourteenth-century English illuminated manuscripts is the standard survey, Gothic Manuscripts 1285-1385 (London, 1986).

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The Use of Water Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:33:58 +0000 Conference: The Use of Water – practical habits and symbolic customs in the Middle Ages

Next year – 2015 – the German Society of Medievalists – the Mediävistenverbands – invites participants to take part in their 16th symposium. Theme of the conference is the “Use of Water” in both practical and symbolic contexts in the Middle Ages.

More than a hundred presentations aim to shed light on

1) Environment, climate and ecology

2) Transport, access and power-play

3) Science and Natural Philosophy

4) Water as symbol in religion, literature and art

The conference is interdisciplinary and presentations are given by historians, philologists, archaeologists, art-historians and others

As part of the conference guided tours through Bern with an introduction to the medieval wells and canals of the city will be organised

A full introduction to the conference can be found here

Full programme can be downloaded from the website of the Mediävistenverband

Gebrauch and Symbolik des Wassers in der mittelalterlichen Kultur
Bern, Haus Der Universität
23.03.2015 – 25.03.2015

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Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cross Found after 100 Years Sat, 13 Dec 2014 12:14:37 +0000 Crystal Cross from the 16th century returned after a hundred years. It is believed to have belonged to either Mary Stewart or her mother Marie de Guise
Croix de la Sainte-Croix du cardinal de Lorraine © Philippe Berthé / Centre des Monuments nationaux Philippe Berthé / Centre des Monuments nationaux
Croix de la Sainte-Croix du cardinal de Lorraine © Philippe Berthé / Centre des Monuments nationaux Philippe Berthé / Centre des Monuments nationaux

The Crystal Cross was stolen from the treasury of Reims Cathedral on the eve of WW1. Recently an anonymous individual passed it on to the Cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand.

In July 1915 the treasury of the cathedral of Reims was evacuated to Louvre in Paris in order to preserve it from the looting Germans. However, the newly resurfaced cross is believed to have been stolen already on the eve of the war.

The cross is made of 13 pieces of Italian rock crystal joined together with a silver mount. It measures 63 cm x 36 cm. Since it was offered as a gift to the Cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand in 2009, it has undergone a prolonged process of restoration. Recently it was returned to Reims.

For a long time it was believed that the cross was presented to the Cathedral by the cardinal of Lorraine, archbishop of Reims from 1538 – 1574. However, recent research carried out by Maxence Hermant, who is curator at the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris has shed further light on the context of the gift. He believes that the cross was originally a gift by either Marie de Guise (1515 – 1560) or her daughter Mary Stewart (1542 – 1587) to the abbey of Saint-Pierre-Les-Dames in Reims. Marie de Guise was buried there and Mary Stewart stayed there after the death of her first husband, Francis II. She expressed her wish to be buried here, next to her mother, but was instead buried at Westminster.

During WW1 more than 3500 pieces of the Cathedral of Reims were stolen: paintings, tapestries, chandeliers, 900 pieces of goldsmith-work and countless embroideries.

The cross is currently on display at the Palace du Tau in Reims


Crystall Cross PosterPalace du Tau
2 place du Cardinal-Luçon
07.12.2014 – 04.01.2015


Le Centre des monuments nationaux présente:
100 ans àpres, la croix
 de cristal retrouve son trésor

Le trésor volé restitué à Reims100 ans après


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Boring Medieval Art Fri, 12 Dec 2014 14:17:06 +0000 Ever fallen asleep in an Italian provincial museum full of Madonnas from the 14th century? We now seem to know that medieval paintings were – perhaps – “boring” compared to what came later
Taddeo gaddi - St John the Evangelist Drinking from the Poisoned Cup. Collezione Vittorio Cini, Venice (Photo in public domain)
Taddeo gaddi – St John the Evangelist Drinking from the Poisoned Cup. Collezione Vittorio Cini, Venice (Photo in public domain)

Digital imaging of paintings has made rapid progress in the last decade as more and more museums agree to open up their collections of photos to the joy of both lay and learned. Now researchers have come to a point where it is possible to perform statistical analysis of a large-scale database of paintings to create a bridge between art and science.

Using digital image processing techniques, a group of scientists have investigated three quantitative measures of images – the usage of individual colours, the variety of colours, and the roughness of the brightness.

Overall, they found a difference in colour usage between classical paintings and photographs, and a significantly lower colour variety in art from the Middle Ages.

The digital images were obtained from the WEB Gallery of Art, which has a searchable database for European paintings and sculptures consisting of over 29,000 pieces ranging from the years 1000 to 1850. Most of the identifiable images contain information of schools, periods, and artists, and are good quality in resolution to apply statistical analysis.

Nature Scientific Report Large-Scale Quantitative Analysis of Painting Arts 07370-f4
Illustrative example of brightness surface. The brightness of each point is considered as its height. (c) An example of a two-point HDC function G(r) on the brightness surface of an image in the inset, a panel painting of Italian painter Taddeo Gaddi (1348–1353) titled “St John the Evangelist Drinking from the Poisoned Cup” (This image is out of copyright.). The horizontal axis indicates the distance r, where a unit is a pixel, between two distinct points on the surface. Red points show the HDC of an original image and blue ones represent that of a randomized image. The slope is approximately 2α~0.28. © CC

In their own words, the scientists have analysed artistic styles “various statistical techniques such as fractal analysis1, the wavelet-based technique, the multi-resolution hidden Markov method, the Fisher kernel based approach, and the sparse coding model,. Recently, these methods have also been applied to other cultural heritages such as and music. Such quantitative analysis is called “stylometry,” which originates from literature analysis and is used to identify characteristic literary styles” (See article for references).

In the present articles (probably the first of many) the researchers have focused on the usage of colours, the variety of painted colours and the roughness of the brightness of images.

These analyses tells us, that while an explosion of colours may be detected from the Early Renaissance and onwards, artists in the middle ages preferred (or were obliged) to limit themselves significantly.

First of all, specific rare pigments and colours were preferred for political (red) and religious (blue) reasons. To this, however, should also be added technical reasons: the techniques of mixing oil colours was not fully developed. To this might be added that specific techniques of painting like chiaroscuro and sfumato were not yet invented or applied. Hence the feeling that medieval paintings might seem rather flat and uninteresting compared to the output of the Renaissance and later.

Perhaps, though, the Middle Ages did produce at least some artists, who were never boring. For instance, who has ever been bored visiting the Capella Scrovegni in Padua with the paintings of Giotto?

In view of such reflections it might  be interesting to get a list of the different artists in the database ranked according to their “boringness”. Perhaps published on the internet?


Large-Scale Quantitative Analysis of Painting Arts
Daniel Kim, Seung-Woo Son & Hawoong Jeong
In: Nature Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 7370 doi:10.1038/srep07370



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Magna Carta Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:23:15 +0000 2015 England and with it large parts of the Anglo-Saxon World is set to celebrate the 800-year anniversary of Magna Carta. A spat of books are in the crucible

The books are listed according to date of publication. The most recent first

Magna Carta UncoveredMagna Carta Uncovered 
by Anthony Arlidge and Igor Judge
Hart Publishing  2014
ISBN-10: 1849465568
ISBN-13: 978-1849465564

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the grant at Runnymede of liberties to the freemen in Magna Carta. The story of how Magna Carta came into being and has been interpreted since has more twists and turns than the best soap opera. The authors bring their unrivalled interpretative skills to uncover the original meaning of the liberties enshrined in Magna Carta, and to trace their development in later centuries up to the drafting of the Constitution of the United States. The Charter was ground breaking in the way subjects tried to limit the power and conduct of government. At the same time it was a conservative document, following the form of Anglo Saxon Charters and trying to return government to the ways of early Norman and Angevin kings. This book tells the history of Magna Carta in a concise and readable fashion and will be of interest to lawyer and layman alike.


Anthony Arlidge has been a Queen’s Counsel for over 30 years. In 1990 he was called upon during a case to argue the meaning of clause 40 of Magna Carta. Igor Judge was a judge for 25 years and retired as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in 2013.


Magna Carta Cover dan jonesMagna Carta. The making and the legacy of the great charter
By Dan Jones
Head of Zeus 2014
ISBN: 9781781858851

On a summer’s day in 1215 a beleaguered English monarch met a group of disgruntled barons in a meadow by the river Thames named Runnymede. Beset by foreign crisis and domestic rebellion, King John was fast running out of options. On 15 June he reluctantly agreed to fix his regal seal to a document that would change the world.

A milestone in the development of constitutional politics and the rule of law, the ‘Great Charter’ established an Englishman’s right to Habeas Corpus and set limits to the exercise of royal power. For the first time a group of subjects had forced an English king to agree to a document that limited his powers by law and protected their rights.

Dan Jones’s elegant and authoritative narrative of the making and legacy of Magna Carta is amplified by profiles of the barons who secured it and a full text of the charter in both Latin and English.


Dan Jones studied history at Cambridge. He is an award-winning journalist and a pioneer of the resurgence of interest in medieval history. He is the bestselling author of Summer of Blood, The Plantagenets and the Hollow Crown. He lives in London.


Magna Carta Penguin Classic coverMagna Carta (Penguin Classics)
by Prof David Carpenter
Penguin Classics 2015
ISBN-10: 0241953375
ISBN-13: 978-0241953372

With a new commentary by David Carpenter

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Magna Carta is probably the most famous declaration in western legal history. Wrested by rebellious barons from a very reluctant King John, it set out a series of rights and duties which have been appealed to, ignored, suppressed and argued about ever since.

2015 is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta’s creation – an event which will be marked with exhibitions, commemorations and debates in all the countries over whose constitutions and legal assumptions the shadow of Magna Carta hangs.


David Carpenter is a professor of medieval history at King’s College, London.


Magna Carta and the rule of Law CUPMagna Carta
by J. C. Holt (Author), George Garnett (Preface), John Hudson (Preface)
Cambridge University Press; 3 edition 2015
ISBN-10: 1107093163
ISBN-13: 978-1107093164

A revised edition of J. C. Holt’s classic study of Magna Carta, the Great Charter, offering the most authoritative analysis of England’s most famous constitutional text. The book sets the events of 1215 and the Charter itself in the context of the law, politics and administration of England and Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Additionally, a lengthy new introduction by two of Holt’s former pupils, George Garnett and John Hudson, examines a range of issues raised by scholarship since publication of the second edition in 1992. These include the possible role of Archbishop Stephen Langton; the degree of influence of Roman and Canon Law upon those who drafted the Charter; other aspects of the intellectual setting of the Charter, in particular political thinking in London; the Continental context of the events of 1212–15; and the legal and jurisdictional issues that affected the Charter’s clauses on justice.


Robin Griffith-Jones is the Reverend and Valiant Master of the Temple Church at the Temple, London and Senior Lecturer in Theology at King’s College London.

Mark Hill QC is the UK’s leading practitioner in the field of law and religion. He also teaches at Cardiff University’s Centre for Law and Religion and as an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.


Magna charta cum statutis angliae 14th century
Cover not available yet

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy
by Claire Breay and Julian Harrison (Authors and Editors)
The British Library Publishing Division 2015
ISBN-10: 0712357637
ISBN-13: 978-0712357630

When it was granted by King John in 1215, Magna Carta was a practical solution to a political crisis. In the centuries since, it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. This catalogue accompanies a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition at the British Library commemorating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. It takes us on a journey from the charter’s medieval origins through to what it means to people around the world today. Drawing on the rich historical collections of the British Library – including two original copies of Magna Carta from 1215 – the catalogue brings to life the history and contemporary resonance of this globally important document. It features treasured artefacts inspired by the rich legacy of Magna Carta, including Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence and an original copy of the Bill of Rights.


Dr. Claire Breay is Lead Curator, Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts at the british Library
Dr.  Julian Harrison is British Library Curator


king john and the death of norman englandKing John: England, Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant
by Stephen Church (Author)
Publisher: Macmillan (12 Mar 2015)
ISBN-10: 0230772455
ISBN-13: 978-0230772458

No English king has suffered a worse press than King John: but how to disentangle legend and reality?

The youngest of the five sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the empire builders of the Angevin dynasty, John had small hope of securing any significant inheritance. Then, in 1199, on the death of his older brother Richard, John took possession of the vast Angevin lands in England and on the continent. But by his death in 1216, he had lost almost all that he inherited, and had come perilously close to losing his English kingdom, too.

Drawing on thousands of contemporary sources, Stephen Church tells John’s story – from boyhood and the succession crises of his early adulthood, to accession, rebellion and civil war. In doing so, he reveals exactly why John’s reign went so disastrously wrong and how John’s failure led to the great cornerstone of Britain’s constitution: Magna Carta. Vivid and authoritative, this is history at its visceral best.


Stephen Church is professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia, and widely acclaimed as an expert on twelfth-century kingship, especially the reign of King John. He is a member of the council of the Society of Antiquaries and is actively involved in the national commemoration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015. He lives in Norwich.


King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta coverKing John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta
by Marc Morris
Hutchinson 2015
ISBN-10: 0091954231
ISBN-13: 978-0091954239

Many will be familiar with King John as the tyrant whose misgovernment gave rise to Magna Carta, or will perhaps remember him as the villain in the stories of Robin Hood – but as the youngest son of Henry II, John did not grow up expecting to be king. Nonetheless, as his brothers died off one by one, John began to move closer to the throne and to power.

Ambitious and formidable, John was tireless in his desire to be acknowledged as Richard the Lion Heart’s heir. A young man whose early adult life was full of plots and intrigues, he was driven by his hunger for the crown. Yet when he did eventually become King, it was against a backdrop of great uncertainty.

Despite gaining the throne that he had always coveted, John quickly lost the great Continental empire assembled by his ancestors. This gave the remainder of his reign its dominant, urgent narrative: it was imperative that he regain the lands that he has surrendered. And twelve years into his reign, King John was regarded as an awesomely powerful monarch. Yet, when after immense planning he finally crossed into to France to recover his lost empire, he met with disaster. His allies were defeated in battle at Bouvines, and John returned home penniless to face a tide of criticism about his unjust rule. The result was Magna Carta.


Marc Morris is a historian who specializes in the Middle Ages. He studied and taught history at the universities of London and Oxford, and his doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk was published in 2005. In 2003 He presented the television series Castle and wrote its accompanying book, and after that he spent several years writing a biography of Edward I, published in 2008 as A Great and Terrible King. His latest book is The Norman Conquest.


Magna Carter Cover Third millenium publishingMagna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015
by Nicholas Vincent,  Anthony Musson,  Justin Champion et al
Third Millennium Information 201
ISBN-10: 1908990481
ISBN-13: 978-1908990488

Magna Carta has resonated through the centuries and across the globe like no other legal text. The 800th anniversary of its first issue at Runnymede in 1215 presents an opportunity to reflect on the seminal importance of a text that enshrines the individual’s right of access to due process in law.

For this richly illustrated volume Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia, is joined by a range of leading experts on Magna Carta from across the world to reflect on the circumstances of its genesis and its enduring importance through subsequent centuries. Magna Carta was serially reinterpreted by later generations in contexts that were often far removed from the specific grievances of King John’s barons.

It became a totem in fierce political debates on the liberties of the people in the face of the tyranny of the king. As such, it became a sacred text for English Puritans of the Civil War, for the American patriots of the War of Independence, and for all those in the English-speaking world who have striven to build democratic rights and freedoms in the post-colonial age.

A significant percentage of every copy sold will go to the Magna Carta Trust, a non-profit body which promotes and supports the principles of Magna Carta and its associated historical sites.

For news and book updates, please visit the book’s dedicated website at


Magna Carta Bodlian Library CoverMagna Carta: Making and Legacy 
By Nicholas Vincent
The Bodleian Library 2015
ISBN-10: 1851243631
ISBN-13: 978-1851243631

Magna Carta is arguably the most famous document in world history. 2015 marks its 800th anniversary. Yet, until relatively recently, it was unknown how many versions of the document survive, the means by which they were distributed, or the relationship between the charter of 1215 and Magna Carta as it was transmitted in subsequent issues. From Oxford to London, and from Washington to Canberra, more than thirty Magna Cartas are displayed in this book, each of them claiming to be an ‘original’ version of the charter granted by King John or reissued by his son or grandson. How did this situation arise? Precisely how many original Magna Cartas are there, and in which particular archives can they be seen? Were they written by the same or by many different scribes? How were they broadcast to the people at large? What differences are there between their appearance or their texts? Drawing on recent extensive archival research, this book looks at the publication and survival of Magna Carta. It also tells the story of how a peace treaty between a group of barons and a medieval English king became one of the chief cornerstones of civil liberties, informing universal ideas of liberty and justice across the centuries.


Professor Nicholas Vincent has published a dozen books and some hundred academic articles on various aspects of English and European history in the 12th and 13th centuries, having arrived at Norwich via Oxford, Cambridge, Paris and Canterbury. He is currently finishing an edition of the charters of the Plantagenet kings and queens from Henry II to King John, and leads a major project researching the background to Magna Carta. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.


Magna Carta and Us by David Starkey CoverMagna Carta and Us
by David Starkey
Hodder & Stoughton 2015
ISBN-10: 1473610052
ISBN-13: 978-1473610057

2015 is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, which took place in 1215. In this new book published in celebration of that event, eminent historian David Starkey explores the many aspects of Magna Carta and its relevance today.

In this book Starkey reveals:

  • The historical background of Magna Carta
  • How it created the modern British constitution
  • Its importance for Britain today
  • The international impact of Magna Carta



David Starkey is an Honorary Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and the author of Elizabeth, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII and Henry: Virtuous Prince. He is a winner of the Norton Medlicott Medal for Services to History, and of the WH Smith Prize. He is well-known for his historical television series focusing on the Tudors, monarchy and Britain, and for his radio appearances. Starkey was made a CBE in 2007 and lives in London.

Magna Carta Rule of Law CoverMagna Carta and the Rule of Law
by Daniel Barstow Magraw and Andrea Martinez
American Bar Association 2015
ISBN-10: 1627226974
ISBN-13: 978-1627226974

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, widely recognized to be a pillar of liberty, major source of the modern concept of executive accountability, and foundation of the rule of law in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth countries. Magna Carta and the Rule of Law, is a comprehensive and insightful new book from the American Bar Association. It takes a fresh look at Magna Carta and its impacts on various issues and the rule of law in light of contemporary legal concerns. It includes an examination of the following aspects of Magna Carta; historical background, importance to constitutionalism and the rule of law, impact on the United States Constitution, executive power, role as a foundation for women’s rights and individual rights (such as habeas corpus), relevance to international law, and much more. This fascinating book was written by a distinguished international group of scholars and features a foreword by Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor


Daniel Barstow Magraw is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, and a professorial lecturer at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Andrea Martinez is an Associate with the International Justice Initiative at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Roy E. Brownell II is an attorney residing in Washington, D.C.


Magna Carta and the England of King John BoydellMagna Carta and the England of King John
Janet S. Loengard (Editor)
Contributors: Janet S. Loengard, Ralph V. Turner, John Gillingham, David Crouch, David Crook, James A. Brundage, John Hudson, Barbara Hanawalt, James Masschaele
Boydell Press 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1843835486

medieval law in context growth egalconsciousness-from-anthony-musson-cover-Manchester University PressMedieval Law in Context: The Growth of Legal Consciousness from Magna Carta to The Peasants’ Revolt
By Anthony Musson
Manchester University Press 2001
ISBN-13: 978-0719054945

Magna Carta a very short introduction oxford University press coverMagna Carta: A Very Short Introduction
By Nicholas Vincent
Oxford University Press 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0199582877


he year of Magna Carta - Simon and schuster cover1215: The Year of Magna Carta
By Danny Danziger and John Gillingham
Touchstone; Touchstone Edition edition 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0743257787


Magna Carta – a Sacred Heritage

Magna Carta 800

Four Magna Cartas


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Richard III had fair hair and blue eyes Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:21:19 +0000 Model of Richard III has to be redone in view of genetic evidence. It appears Richard III Richard III had fair hair and blue eyes

In 2012, a skeleton was excavated at the presumed site of the Grey Friars friary in Leicester, the last-known resting place of King Richard III. Archaeological, osteological and radiocarbon dating data were consistent with these being his remains. To this was added the evidence of an analysis of the mitochondrial DNA of the skeleton and living relatives of the king (descendants of his sister). All of this made the presumed identity of the King in the Carpark as Richard III highly likely.

Nevertheless some historians quibbled about this identification saying it might as well be another victim from Bosworth.

Recently the scientific report of the full DNA analyses was published. These confirm without doubt the identity of the man, whose remains are to be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral next spring.

According to the report published in Nature, there is a perfect mitochondrial DNA match between the sequence obtained from the remains and one living relative, and a single-base substitution when compared with a second relative.

However Y-chromosome haplotypes from male-line relatives and the remains do not match; however this might be attributed to a false-paternity event occurring in any of the intervening generations and does not impinge on the identification of the remains as those of the king. In plain English, this means that along the way someone in the royal family was cuckolded…

Nevertheless, the scientists have calculated the likelihood ratios for the non-genetic and genetic data separately and concluded that the combined evidence for the remains being those of Richard III is overwhelming – 99.99%.

A further result is that the DNA-predicted hair and eye colour are consistent with Richard’s appearance in an early portrait, now owned by the Royal Historical Society. The amusing consequence of this is that the now widely spread reconstruction of the facial remains of Richard III has to be redone!


Identification of the remains of King Richard III
By Turi E. King, Gloria Gonzalez Fortes, Patricia Balaresque, Mark G. Thomas, David Balding, Pierpaolo Maisano Delser, Rita Neumann, Walther Parson, Michael Knapp, Susan Walsh, Laure Tonasso, John Holt, Manfred Kayser, Jo Appleby, Peter Forster, David Ekserdjian, Michael Hofreiter & Kevin Schürer

In: Nature Communications 5, Article number: 5631. Received 05 August 2014 Accepted 21 October 2014 Published 02 December 2014


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Hagia Sophia and the Aesthetic Experience Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:00:41 +0000 The church of Hagia Sophia built in the period AD 532 -537 in Constantinople was praised for its extraordinary luminosity

Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience
By Nadine Schibille
Ashgate 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4724-3758-7
ISBN Short: 9781472437587


Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Experience 2014 CoverThe church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was built in the period 532 -537 CE. This building was praised for its extraordinary luminosity. In this paradigmatic building beauty, wisdom and light became interwoven through the architectural structure as well as the interior decoration in a manner, which opens up for a wider exploration of Byzantine civilisation.

Paramount in the shaping of early Byzantine identity was the construction of the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (532-537 CE). This book examines the edifice from the perspective of aesthetics to define the concept of beauty and the meaning of art in early Byzantium.

Byzantine aesthetic thought is re-evaluated against late antique Neoplatonism and the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius that offer fundamental paradigms for the late antique attitude towards art and beauty. These metaphysical concepts of aesthetics are ultimately grounded in experiences of sensation and perception, and reflect the ways in which the world and reality were perceived and grasped, signifying the cultural identity of early Byzantium.

There are different types of aesthetic data, those present in the aesthetic object and those found in aesthetic responses to the object.

This study looks at the aesthetic data embodied in the sixth-century architectural structure and interior decoration of Hagia Sophia as well as in literary responses (ekphrasis) to the building. The purpose of the Byzantine ekphrasis was to convey by verbal means the same effects that the artefact itself would have caused.

One of these literary descriptions of the Hagia Sophia was written by Paul the Silentiary (Paulus Silentarius ✝ AD 575 – 580). This is a poem consisting of 1029 verses in Greek, beginning with 134 lines of iambic trimester, with the rest composed in dactylic hexameter. This poem was probably commissioned by the emperor Justinian himself and it is believed that Paul had to read verses aloud to the emperor during the inauguration.

The other ekphrasis (in the “De Aedificiis”) was written by Procopius (c. AD 500 – 560), the principal historian of the 6th century. (An old translation of these texts may be found here)

According to Schibille, both authors “wrote in classising style with a “flowery language” and abundant use of archaisms and metaphors reminiscent of Homeric vocabulary” (Introduction)

A literary analysis of these rhetorical descriptions recaptures the Byzantine perception and expectations, and at the same time reveals the cognitive processes triggered by the Great Church.

The central aesthetic feature that emerges from sixth-century ekphraseis of Hagia Sophia is that of light. Light is described as the decisive element in the experience of the sacred space and light is simultaneously associated with the notion of wisdom. It is argued that the concepts of light and wisdom are interwoven programmatic elements that underlie the unique architecture and non-figurative decoration of Hagia Sophia. A similar concern for the phenomenon of light and its epistemological dimension is reflected in other contemporary monuments, testifying to the pervasiveness of these aesthetic values in early Byzantium.


  • Introduction: Byzantine aesthetics
  • Viewing Hagia Sophia through 6th-century eyes
  • Animation and illumination of Hagia Sophia’s architectural structure
  • Clad in a luminous membrane: the interior decoration of Hagia Sophia
  • Building a house of wisdom – a question of meaning
  • Hagia Sophia and the concept of beauty in the 6th century
  • The function of art in the 6th century
  • Hagia Sophia – embodiment of an early Byzantine aesthetics
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography
  • Index.


Dr Nadine Schibille is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of Sussex, UK.


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The Afterlife of the Roman City Wed, 03 Dec 2014 12:44:50 +0000 Roman cities continued to develop in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages because kings, emperors, caliphs and bishops needed  urban stages to manifest their power

The Afterlife of the Roman City: Architecture and Ceremony in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages 
by Hendrik W. Dey
Cambridge University Press 2014
ISBN-10: 1107069181
ISBN-13: 978-1107069183


afterlife of the Roman City cover cup 2014This book offers a new and surprising perspective on the evolution of cities across the Roman Empire in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages (third to ninth centuries AD).

It suggests that the tenacious persistence of leading cities across most of the Roman world is due, far more than previously thought, to the persistent inclination of kings, emperors, caliphs, bishops, and their leading subordinates to manifest the glory of their offices on an urban stage, before crowds of city dwellers. Long after the dissolution of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, these communal leaders continued to maintain and embellish monumental architectural corridors established in late antiquity, the narrow but grandiose urban itineraries, essentially processional ways, in which their parades and solemn public appearances consistently unfolded.

Hendrik W. Dey’s approach selectively integrates urban topography with the actors who unceasingly strove to animate it for many centuries.

  • Proposes a new way of understanding the evolution of the late Roman and post-Roman city, from Western Europe to Byzantium to the Islamic world
  • Synthesizes a wide range of both textual and archaeological evidence, and includes eight color plates
  • Provides an up-to-date historiographical overview and summary of prevailing perspectives on late Roman and post-Roman urbanism


1. Introduction: urban living and the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire
2. New urban forms for a new empire: the third century and the genesis of the late antique city
3. Ceremonial armatures: porticated streets and their architectural appendages
4. ‘Dark ages’ and the afterlife of the classical city
5. Postscript: architecture, ceremony, and monastic cities in Carolingian Francia.


Hendrik W. Dey is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Hunter College, City University of New York. Previously he held a two-year Rome Prize fellowship at the American Academy in Rome and an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts of the National Gallery in Washington, DC. He is the author of The Aurelian Wall and the Refashioning of Imperial Rome, AD 271–855 (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and the co-editor, with Elizabeth Fentress, of Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (2011). He has written articles and book chapters for the Journal of Roman Archaeology, the Journal of Late Antiquity, Early Medieval Europe, Antiquité Tardive, The Cambridge History of Western Monasticism, Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, and Storia dell’architettura in Italia da Costantino a Carlo Magno, among others.

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