Medieval Histories http://www.medievalhistories.com News about the Middle Ages Thu, 27 Nov 2014 09:42:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=157 Early Book Societyhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/early-book-society/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/early-book-society/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 08:58:20 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11801 The biennial conference of the Early Book Society 2015

The next biennial conference of the Early Book Society will take place at the University of Oxford, from lunchtime on Thursday 2 July 2015 to early afternoon on Sunday 5 July 2015. Abstracts of 300 words or fewer for 20-minute presentations should be sent to the organizers by 30 November 2014 to the conference e-mail address. Abstracts should include your name, affiliation (where relevant) and email address. Computers and data-projectors will be available for all sessions; speakers would need to bring presentations on a memory stick / USB plug-in device. People who have other AV needs should specify this on their abstract.

The theme, which may be interpreted narrowly or broadly, invites special attention to the material records of different genres of narrative, such as verse, romance, chronicle, biography or history. It might consider the ways that manuscripts, printed books and other media serve a narrative function: whether page layouts were modified for chronicles and annals, whether collections of documents were compiled to tell stories, whether images in books are important components of storytelling, whether poems on monuments recount lives.

The topic also invites participants to tell different kinds of stories about early books. In particular, we may reflect on our storytelling as scholars. What is the role of biography – of the author, of the ‘celebrity’ scribe, of the idiosyncratic reader – in the study of early books? How sure can we be of cause and effect, of chronology and dating, of different kinds of paleographical, codicological and bibliographical evidence, in studying these books? Are history and narrative the best models for ‘book history’ or might studies of manuscript and print serve literary criticism, linguistics or philology in other ways?

Finally, papers which concern books in or around Oxford are also encouraged. But, in general, proposals for papers on any aspect of the history of manuscripts and printed books from 1350 to 1550, including the copying and circulation of models and exemplars, style, illustration, and/or the influence of readers and patrons, artists, scribes, printers, are welcome.

Accommodation and most meals will be available at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Most lectures will take place there too, but part of the conference will take place in the newly renovated Weston Building of the Bodleian Library, which reopens officially in March 2015. There will be ‘masterclasses’ with manuscripts on show, a visit to the exhibition and some optional visits, on a first-come-first-served basis, ‘behind the scenes’ to departments of the library. We are grateful to the Centre for the Study of the Book in the Bodleian for co-hosting the conference and sponsoring these events.

The website with details of registration and accommodation will go live later this winter and will be announced on the EBS listserv, Facebook, and also on the EBS website.

For those making travel plans, there are some preliminary points to bear in mind.

Depending on availability, accommodation might be in St Anne’s or other Colleges for extra nights before or after the conference. Oxford is about an hour from central London by rail. The closest international airport is London Heathrow, and from there and from London Gatwick there is a convenient coach service, The Airline, which can be booked in advance. Birmingham International Airport is also close and has direct train connections to Oxford every half an hour.

People planning to combine the conference with a research trip might be reminded that the Special Collections department at the Bodleian Library and the Colleges’ libraries tend to be busy with visitors in the summer months, so planning is advised, given that dozens of early book enthusiasts will be in town!

Also, Leeds International Medieval Congress begins the day after our conference, on Monday 6 July 2015. Travel from Oxford to Leeds on Sunday evenings takes three and a half hours by rail, direct or with one change, and if booked far enough in advance (up to three months in advance) can cost (at this year’s rates) as little as £45.

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Recreating Norwegian Tunic from the Iron Agehttp://www.medievalhistories.com/recreating-a-norwegian-tunic-from-the-iron-age/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/recreating-a-norwegian-tunic-from-the-iron-age/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:02:25 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11782 A Norwegian tunic, dated to AD 230 -390, is going to be recreated

In Norway the ice is melting in the glaciers, shedding numerous treasures from the prehistoric as well as medieval past. A few years ago the Lendbreen glacier in Breheimen National Park thus coughed up shoes, hunting gear, tent pegs, textile rags and horse dung from the Iron Age as well as a woolen tunic from AD 230 – 390. Since then archaeologists and conservators have worked to study this, the oldest piece of textile ever found in Norway.

Iron age tunic as found in Norway under Glacier
Iron age tunic as found in Norway under Glacier

The tunic was found at a place where people had camped in order to hunt for reindeers. In summer the animals are so plagued by the warble flies that they seek refuge on the glaciers. The hunters took advantage of this by camping on the edge of the glacier. Here they tethered their horses before continuing on foot. It is not quite clear what happened at the camp afterwards. However, the fact remains that the archaeologists found not only arrowheads, but also complete arrows with fletching and shafts plus the tunic, which had been bundled up and left in the dung. Perhaps the hunting party was caught in a storm and died before they could retrieve their valuables and horses.

Reconstruction

Marianne Vedeler with Tunic. Photo: Yngve Vogt
Marianne Vedeler with Tunic. Photo: Yngve Vogt

The chief archaeologist, Marianne Vedeler, now tells that the shirt is going to be reconstructed. Hopefully this will shed new light on the ancient production process and the time, which was invested in making such a tunic.

Marianne Vedeler tells: “The remarkable thing is how old and well-preserved the tunic was. It is a very fine example of how prehistoric people used wool. One of our aims in reconstructing the tunic is to learn more about how the textile was made, how time-consuming it was to make, and how the wool was used.”

The reconstruction will take place in a collaboration between two museums, The Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Mountain Museum (Norsk Fjellmuseum) in Lom . Thw result will be two tunics: one tunic will be on display at the museum in Oslo, the other at the museum in Lom, which has a large exhibition of the other archaeological finds from the Lendbreen glacier, some ten kilometres west of Lom.

Overhair and underwool

The wool, which will be used, will come from present-day wild sheep provided by a sheep farmer at Hareid in Sunnmøre.

Villsau - Wild Sheep in Norway
Wild Sheep – villsau – in Norway

The wool of this ancient Norwegian sheep breed has two layers. The outer-layer hair, known as overhair, is long and stiff and acts as a sort of raincoat for the sheep. The innermost layer, called underwool, is soft and fine and resembles the wool we find in modern sheep breeds. The different properties of the wool were used for different types of textile.

“Textiles made from overhair were more water-resistant and more hard-wearing than if they had been made of underwool. We were therefore surprised to discover that the tunic from Lendbreen was made almost exclusively from underwool, that is to say the wool from the innermost layer. The tunic is a strange mixture of fine wool and simple cut. Most Iron Age clothing was repaired and re-used. More hard-wearing than today’s clothing, it might be used for several decades. The tunic may have been used for something else before it was left on the glacier. It was old and worn when found, and had several patches sewn on it. The sleeves had also been sewn on at a later date than the original tunic”, tells Marianne Vedeler.

“The glaciers were also used as transport routes for people travelling between the valleys, such as between Bøverdalen and Ottadalen. It was quicker to go over the mountain pass than to go round. The glaciers in those days were much bigger, and easy to walk on. The tunic may have been lost on just such a trip,” says Mai Bakke from the Museum in Lom.

Separating the wool

Tunic - detail. Photo: Mårten Teigen/ The Museum of Cultural History
Tunic – detail. Photo: Mårten Teigen/ The Museum of Cultural History

Among other things, the researchers will be seeking to assess how much work was required to separate the overhair from the soft underwool and how long it would have taken to make the tunic.

Before the wool can be spun, all the overhair must be removed. The traditional wool spinnery at Selbu Spinneri – http://selbuspinneri.com – will be responsible for separating the wool and spinning it. Some of the wool will be spun on a hand spindle – a long thin spindle with a round whorl – which was the only known method of spinning in olden times. It was not until the 1700s that the spinning wheel first appeared.

“Spinning the wool demanded an enormous amount of work and in those days represented a bottleneck in the production process. Having all the wool spun by hand would have been too costly for our project, so we are also spinning some mechanically,” Vedeler explains.

Distinctive diamond pattern

Iron age tunic. Reconstruction: Marianne VedelerWhen the archaeologists found the tunic on the glacier, it was possible to discern a diamond pattern in the textile, as long as the tunic was wet. The distinctive weaving technique used to make this pattern is known as diamond twill. This is held to be quite advanced.

“Two colours were used in the tunic to create a mottled pattern. The combination of the diamond twill weave and this pattern is unusual, and it is precisely this combination that we intend to copy”, she continues.

The underwool from the wild sheep can be sorted in shades from pale grey through to dark grey. For the recreation, Vedeler has chosen to use the palest and darkest shades.

Bronze Age weaving

The spun woollen yarn will be woven on a vertical warp-weighted loom, which is the oldest kind of loom we know of:

“The loom is simple, but time-consuming to use,” says Vedeler.

Consisting of a simple upright frame with two horizontal beams, the loom is leant against a wall. The vertical warp threads hang freely from the upper beam. To keep the warp threads taut, stones or other heavy weights are hung from the bottom of bundles of warp threads. The weaving is done from the top of the loom downwards and every line of weft thread is beaten tightly in place with a sword beater.

The textiles will be woven by handweaver Lena Hammarlund from Gothenburg in Sweden. Lena specializes in reconstructing prehistoric textiles.

Once the textile has been woven, the two tunics will be sewn by tailors at the traditional craft business Heimen Husflid in Oslo.

From Nordic Food to Nordic Wool

Woolen Jacket inspired by Norwegian Traditions
Woolen Jacket inspired by Norwegian Traditions

Marianne Vedeler hopes the reconstruction will inspire Norwegian designers to create new, modern textiles as had the wild food of Scandinavia been the inspiration for restaurants like world-famous Noma.

“Clothes were not consumer items in the Iron Age. It was important to be able to re-use clothing, and in those days clothes lasted a long time. Today, we spend enormous resources on clothes. And modern clothes are not durable. If we can use local raw materials and create clothing of high quality, it will be good for us all. We are therefore hoping that designers will be inspired by this example of old, Norwegian design. If we can create modern textiles from a prehistoric design, we hope also to be able to give a boost to the Norwegian wool industry. Sadly, much of the wool from the old sheep breeds is currently wasted,” adds Vedeler, who, in company with ethnologist Ingun Grimstad Klepp of the National Institute for Consumer Research, and journalist Tone Skårdal Tobiasson, the author of a number of books about fashion and design – has made an all-out effort to rectify this through the “VikingGold” project.

SOURCE:

Recreating clothes from the Iron Age
by Yngve Vogt

Villsau

Another find from Lendbreen – Old Skies

READ MORE:

Out of the Norwegian Glaciers: Lendbreen – a tunic from the early first millennium AD
By Marianne Vedeler and Lise Bender Jørgensen, Lise
In:  Antiquity 2013,  Vol. 87 No. 337 pp. 788–801
ISSN 0003-598X. 87(337)

 

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Monastic Europe – Landscape and Settlementhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/monastic-europe-landscape-and-settlement-international-conference/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/monastic-europe-landscape-and-settlement-international-conference/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:59:37 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11778 The Irish Research Council-funded Monastic Ireland: Landscape and Settlement research team are happy to announce that it is hosting a three-day conference in August 2015 on Monastic Europe: Landscape & Settlement

Monastic Europe: Landscape & Settlement International Conference
Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland, 22.08.2015 – 25.08.2015

The Irish Research Council-funded Monastic Ireland: Landscape and Settlement research team are happy to announce that it is hosting a three-day conference in August 2015.

Conference themes will include

•The topography of medieval monastic settlement (1100-1700), in both urban and rural environments
•The impact of Church reforms on the physical structures and landscapes of the monastic Church
•Monastic space (liturgical, social and architectural aspects)
•Patronage networks
•Architecture and identities
•Written sources for understanding the monastic environment

See the Call for Papers.
We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers exploring this theme across the stated time span, throughout Europe.

Papers may deal with either case studies or broader methodological questions, and are not limited to delivery in the English language.

Deadline for proposals is Friday, 28 November, 2014

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Major Museums Offer their Collections Onlinehttp://www.medievalhistories.com/major-museums-offer-collections-online/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/major-museums-offer-collections-online/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:26:15 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11768 A revolution in our way of accessing art has for some time been quietly underway: major museums in the world are finally opening up their vast archives of photos to the public, while employees from curators to guards are being deprived of their traditional gate-keeper function
Saint Paul. Vitrail du château de Rouen - N° Inventaire - Cl 22728 musee de cluny
Saint Paul. Vitrail du château de Rouen – N° Inventaire – Cl 22728 musee de cluny

For some years it has been possible to search the huge collections at the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert. In 2012 the Rijksmuseum followed and finally last May the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art including The Cloisters posted nearly 400.000 precious objects and pieces of art on the internet. Currently the National Museum in Copenhagen is posting the collection of photos online as is the Musée du Cluny in Paris. The aim is in the future to make everything available – perhaps even for ordinary people to use on t-shirts, tattoos, plates or even toilet-paper. Another over-arching project is the “Google Art Project” –  in which more than 400 museums have joined up to publish their treasures in High definition and for everyone to peruse. In view of this the offer of the European initiative, Europeana, is definitely paltry. It is obvious that many European Museums East of the Rhine are still dragging their feet. Old habits die hart as witnessed by their policy towards mobile cameras in Prague, Budapest and Warsaw. While guards in London have slowly learned to accept the fact that people are allowed to take selfies in front of their masterpieces, professionals are seldom allowed to take photos for the press in Eastern Europe.

Some, like for instance the Sociologist George Ritzer sees this as the ultimate McDonaldization of our world heritage. Arts should be seen in museums and not on tablets, films in cinemas and not on Netflix, while music should be experienced in concert halls and not on iPods. Others like, Gonzaga Gauthier, head of the digitization project at Centre Pompidou, are very critical in so-far as they do not consider a digital tour a proper aesthetic experience.

This may hold true for the well-endowed middle class. However, for the old, the infirm, the poor, the unemployed and the generally disfranchised this may be their only chance ever to experience some of the great wonders of this world. Of this politicians are becoming more and more aware. These collections are seldom the personal property of the museums, but collections entrusted by the people to the general care of the curators. In England as elsewhere free public entrance has accordingly also been dictated by the respective governments: in general people with or without the means should have free access.

In the meantime guerrilla-fighters in the art world have for some time experimented with new forms of communication: one such initiative is “Artips” founded by Coline Debayle and her partner Jean-Perret. Together with eighty volunteers they post a daily dose of art every day in English, Spanish, Italian, French, German or Portuguese.

 

 SOURCE:

Musées en ligne : une expérience esthétique ?

Artips

 

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Grotesques at St. Georgehttp://www.medievalhistories.com/grotesques-st-george/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/grotesques-st-george/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:13:29 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11756 St. George’s Chapel at Windsor has literally reinvented the medieval genre of grotesques

The College of St George has been working in partnership with the City and Guilds of London Art School in establishing an imaginative carving programme which is producing exciting new grotesque sculptures for St George’s Chapel.

The replacement sculptures aim to reproduce the scale and detail of the original mediaeval conception whilst allowing students the opportunity to be inventive in designing new carvings. The new grotesques replace heavily eroded Victorian grotesques which themselves replaced medieval carvings of unknown design.

In architecture the term “grotesque” means a carved stone figure. Grotesques are often confused with gargoyles, but the distinction is that gargoyles are figures that contain a water-spout through the mouth, while grotesques do not. This type of sculpture is also called a chimera. Grotesques and Gargoyles experienced their heyday in the Gothic period.

Grotesques ready to be positioned on the wall of St George at Windsor
Grotesques ready to be positioned on the wall of St George at Windsor

Students were encouraged and mentored throughout the process. Visits to the Chapel by City & Guilds students included a close up look at some of the 15th century wooden carvings in the Quire to help fire their imagination; visits to the City & Guilds by some of the Chapel team and the Sculpture Group of the Fabric Advisory Committee helped the dialogue remain fresh and exciting.

Among the really imaginative designs is a recreation of the famous ear-mouse from 1997, which had a human ear protruding from its back. Other designs are a fish with a human head, the earth mother and a the Hindu elephant god, Ganesha. Not all designs were accepted by the dean, though. For instance a pair of feet with sneakers was rejected. However, according to the Guardian the dean and canons feel elated by the charm of the new gargoyles laughing down from high up on the outer wall of the chapel. The new carvings are in a creamy Syreford stone from the Cotswold.

Vacanti- or Earmouse Source: WikipediaThe college and church of St George were founded by Edward III in 1348 at the same time as the Order of the Garter. However, the present chapel is a light-filled wonder of late Gothic architecture, which was commissioned by Edward IV in 1475, who was also buried there. Despite the fact that it is full of royal tombs including those of Henry VIII and Charles I the college of St. George is ain fact an independent institution. At its heart it is a community of people who live and work together to offer worship to God, prayers for the Sovereign and the Order of the Garter, service to the society and hospitality to visitors.

SOURCE:

Imaginative Sculpture – Protecting the Sacred Space

VISIT:

The exhibition – Imaginative Sculpture: Protecting the Sacred Space – in the Dean’s Cloister (at the exit from St George’s Chapel) will normally be open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm until 18 December; Windsor Castle admission charges apply. At the centre of the exhibition are ten grotesque sculptures together with an explanation of the creative and selection process.

READ MORE:

Imaginative Sculpture catalogueA catalogue, priced at £10, is available to purchase from the Chapel Shop in the Dean’s Cloister or from our website – click to purchase catalogue online. The catalogue feature photographs of all the new grotesques created as a result of the collaboration between the Dean & Canons of Windsor and the City & Guilds of London Art School.

To find out more about the sculpting process you can watch the video below and visit the website of the City & Guilds of London Art School

SEE MORE:

 

Creating new grotesques for St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle from St George’s on Vimeo.

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Medieval deer park found in Loughreahttp://www.medievalhistories.com/medieval-deer-park-found-loughrea/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/medieval-deer-park-found-loughrea/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:20:00 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11753 An Irish Anglo-Norman-period deer park and the site, which lies 2 km south-east of Loughrea, is exceptionally well preserved

A recent paper by the archaeologist Dr. Fiona Beglane in the international journal, Medieval Archaeology, examines the archaeological and historical evidence for a 13th-century deer park at Earlspark, Loughrea, Co Galway. This is the first detailed study of an Irish Anglo-Norman-period park to be published, and the site, which lies 2 km south-east of Loughrea, is exceptionally well preserved. It is documented in 1333, along with its deer, and field survey in the area has identified the park, which is still surrounded by a mortared stone wall 7.4 km long and standing up to 2.6 m in height.

Dr Beglane first identified the park in 2009, and has spent a number of years researching this and other medieval parks in Ireland. Large medieval parks such as the one at Earlspark, which is 913 acres in size, were designed as places to keep deer, they provided a source of venison for the lord’s table and were used for hunting and other leisure activities.

A radiocarbon date from a sample of charcoal in the mortar of the park wall showed that it had been built between 1251 and 1297. The date range lies perfectly between the founding of the town of Loughrea by Richard de Burgh in 1236 and the documentary evidence of the park being in existence by 1333. It ties the construction of the wall to the time of either Walter de Burgh (inherited 1248, died 1271) or his son Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl (died 1326). The construction of the park was an immense achievement, and would have used over 31,000 tonnes of limestone. Dr Beglane said “this was the ultimate status symbol of its day, something like owning a private jet or a yacht – to build it today would cost around €7 million excluding land costs”

Dr Fiona Beglane is a lecturer of archaeology at the Institute of Technology, Sligo and a consultant zooarchaeologist. She has an interest in hunting, medieval landscapes and settlement and in the use of scientific techniques in archaeology.  She has a particular interest in integrating scientific and social/cultural interpretations of archaeology and in examining the interaction of humans and animals.

Theatre of Power: the Anglo-Norman park at Earlspark, Co. Galway, Ireland
By Beglane, Fiona (2014)
In: Medieval Archaeology, 58, 20014, 307-317 DOI

FEATURED PHOTO

The Photo of the surrounding wall has been made available by Dr. Fiona Beglane

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Bright Lights in the Dark Ages – Early Medieval Ornamentshttp://www.medievalhistories.com/bright-lights-dark-ages-early-medieval-ornaments/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/bright-lights-dark-ages-early-medieval-ornaments/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:06:05 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11737 ‘Bright Lights in the Dark Ages’ features over two hundred stunning and extremely rare early medieval gold and precious stonework objects

Bright Lights in the Dark Ages: The Thaw Collection of Early Medieval Ornaments
by Noël Adams
GILES (October 14, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1907804250
ISBN-13: 978-1907804250

ABSTRACT:

Bright Lights in the Dark Ages - The Thaw Collection of Early Medieval Ornaments  CoverBright Lights of the Dark Ages is a major new volume on early Medieval art. It features over two hundred stunning and extremely rare early medieval gold and precious stonework objects, including brooches, buckles, shields, clasps, spoons and other “grave goods”, that were interred as status symbols with their owners in burials mounds across Europe.

The new societies of the early Medieval period which developed on the periphery of the great Roman Empire – Germanic barbarians in western Europe, Sarmatian and later Alanic tribes around the Black Sea, and the eastern frontier cities bordering the Parthian Empire in Iran – were all shaped by interaction with the Roman Empire, and profoundly influenced by its material culture.

Author Noël Adams surveys the magnificent pieces that were made to advertise power and wealth in these new “barbarian” kingdoms which arose after the fall of the Roman Empire, and in doing so shows the dramatic and surprising relationship
between these “migration era” objects and later medieval art. In a volume full of wonderful images, highlights include Gothic and Visigothic imperial style brooches from modern-day Slovakia and Crimea, superb Gallo-Roman spoons and enamelled domed brooches and buckles from Northern Europe and Britain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Noël Adams is currently Administrator and Deputy Curator of the Furusiyya Art Foundation. She publishes widely on material culture of the first millennium A.D. and has co-edited and contributed papers to the British Museum Research Publication series, most recently: Recent Research on Byzantine Jewellery (2010) and ‘Gems of Heaven’: Recent Research on Engraved Gemstones in Late Antiquity, AD 200–600 (2011). Dr. Adams has organized exhibitions at the National Trust Visitor Centre at Sutton Hoo, the British Museum, and the Morgan Library & Museum in New York.

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Learning to Die in London 1380-1540http://www.medievalhistories.com/learning-die-london-1380-1540/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/learning-die-london-1380-1540/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:56:53 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11733 An educated awareness of death and mortality was a vital aspect of medieval civic culture. This book tells the story of how to die in London in the Later Middle Ages

Learning to Die in London, 1380-1540 
by Amy Appleford
Series: The Middle Ages Series
University of Pennsylvania Press 2014
ISBN-10: 0812246691
ISBN-13: 978-0812246698

Learning to Die in London, 1380-1540 coverTaking as her focus a body of writings in poetic, didactic, and legal modes that circulated in England’s capital between the 1380s-just a generation after the Black Death-and the first decade of the English reformation in the 1530s, Amy Appleford offers the first full-length study of the Middle English “art of dying” (ars moriendi). An educated awareness of death and mortality was a vital aspect of medieval civic culture, she contends, critical not only to the shaping of single lives and the management of families and households but also to the practices of cultural memory, the building of institutions, and the good government of the city itself. In fifteenth-century London in particular, where an increasingly laicized reformist religiosity coexisted with an ambitious program of urban renewal, cultivating a sophisticated attitude toward death was understood as essential to good living in the widest sense.

The virtuous ordering of self, household, and city rested on a proper attitude toward mortality on the part both of the ruled and of their secular and religious rulers. The intricacies of keeping death constantly in mind informed not only the religious prose of the period, but also literary and visual arts. In London’s version of the famous image-text known as the Dance of Death, Thomas Hoccleve’s poetic collection The Series, and the early sixteenth-century prose treatises of Tudor writers Richard Whitford, Thomas Lupset, and Thomas More, death is understood as an explicitly generative force, one capable (if properly managed) of providing vital personal, social, and literary opportunities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amy Appleford teaches English at Boston University.

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Historians on Chaucerhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/historians-chaucer-the-general-prologue-to-the-canterbury-tales/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/historians-chaucer-the-general-prologue-to-the-canterbury-tales/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:36:17 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11724 The aim of this volume is to introduce historians to the literary qualities and characteristics of one of the most famous works of Middle English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘General Prologue’ to the Canterbury Tales.

Historians on Chaucer: The ‘General Prologue’ to the Canterbury Tales
By Stephen Rigby and Alastair Minnis (Eds)
Oxford University Press 2014
ISBN-10: 0199689547
ISBN-13: 978-0199689545

ABSTRACT:

Historians on Chaucer 2014  CoverAs literary scholars have long insisted, an interdisciplinary approach is vital if modern readers are to make sense of works of medieval literature. In particular, rather than reading the works of medieval authors as addressing us across the centuries about some timeless or ahistorical ‘human condition’, critics from a wide range of theoretical approaches have in recent years shown how the work of poets such as Chaucer constituted engagements with the power relations and social inequalities of their time. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, medieval historians have played little part in this ‘historical turn’ in the study of medieval literature. The aim of this volume is to allow historians who are experts in the fields of economic, social, political, religious, and intellectual history the chance to interpret one of the most famous works of Middle English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘General Prologue’ to the Canterbury Tales, in its contemporary context.

Rather than resorting to traditional historical attempts to see Chaucer’s descriptions of the Canterbury pilgrims as immediate reflections of historical reality or as portraits of real-life people whom Chaucer knew, the contributors to this volume have sought to show what interpretive frameworks were available to Chaucer in order to make sense of reality and how he adapted his literary and ideological inheritance so as to engage with the controversies and conflicts of his own day. Beginning with a survey of recent debates about the social meaning of Chaucer’s work, the volume then discusses each of the Canterbury pilgrims in turn. Historians on Chaucer should be of interest to all scholars and students of medieval culture whether they are specialists in literature or history.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Stephen Rigby and Alastair Minnis: Preface
Stephen H. Rigby: Reading Chaucer: Literature, History and Ideology
Caroline M. Barron: Chaucer the Poet, Chaucer the Pilgrim
Stephen H. Rigby: The Knight
Craig Taylor: The Squire
Anthony J. Pollard: The Yeoman
Katherine J. Lewis: The Prioress and the Second Nun
Marilyn Oliva: The Nun’s Priest
Martin Heale: The Monk
G. Geltner: The Friar
Richard Goddard: The Merchant
Charles F. Briggs: The Clerk
Anthony Musson: The Sergeant of Law
Peter Coss: The Franklin
Gervase Rosser: The Five Guildsmen
Christopher M. Woolgar: The Cook
Wendy R. Childs: The Shipman
Carole Rawcliffe: The Doctor of Physic
Ruth Mazo Karras: The Wife of Bath
David Lepine: The Parson
Mark Bailey: The Ploughman
Paul Freedman: The Miller
Nigel Ramsay: The Manciple
David Stone: The Reeve
Ian Forrest: The Summoner
Rosemary Horrox: The Pardoner
Martha Carlin: The Host
Stephen Rigby: Conclusion: Historicism and its Limits

ABOUT THE AUTHORS AND EDITORS:

Edited by Stephen Rigby, Emeritus Professor of Medieval Social and Economic History, University of Manchester

With the assistance of Alastair Minnis, Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English, Yale University
Stephen Rigby was educated at Sheffield and London universities. He has published widely on social theory, medieval English social and economic history, Middle English literature, and medieval political theory.

Alastair Minnis is currently the Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English at Yale University. Formerly he taught at the Queen’s University of Belfast, Bristol University, and the University of York. His research methodology brings together reading strategies from literary criticism and the history of ideas, and an interest in medieval philosophy and theology has informed much of his work. He is a Fellow of the English Association and of the Medieval Academy of America.

CONTRIBUTORS
Mark Bailey
Caroline M. Barron
Charles F. Briggs
Martha Carlin
Wendy R. Childs
Ian Forrest
G. Geltner
Peter Coss
Richard Goddard
Martin Heale
Rosemary Horrox
Ruth Mazo Karras
David Lepine
Katherine J. Lewis
Alastair Minnis
Anthony Musson
Paul Freedman
Marilyn Oliva
Anthony J. Pollard
Nigel Ramsay
Carole Rawcliffe
Stephen Rigby
Gervase Rosser
David Stone
Craig Taylor
Christopher M. Woolgar

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The Long Reformation in Northern Europehttp://www.medievalhistories.com/long-reformation-northern-europe/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/long-reformation-northern-europe/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:52:39 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11717

TUCEMEMS organizes a symposium in February 2015 on the Long Reformation in Northern Europe.

University of Turku, 21.02.2015
The TUCEMEMS project “500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation” launches a call for papers concerning the Reformation in Northern Europe. This Call functions as the first step for applications to individual fellowships of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) durable between 12 and 24 months at the Turku Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Turku, Finland. We encourage early career postdoctoral researchers and senior researchers of various fields of humanities (e.g. musicologists, archaeologists, linguists and philologists, philosophers, historians, art historians, legal historians, and researchers of comparative literature and religion) who are applicable in the MSCA and who are interested in participating in the MSCA Call (12 March – 10 September 2015) in collaboration with TUCEMEMS to propose an original research paper for a seminar to be held in Turku on 21 February 2015.
We encourage research plans with an inter-/multidisciplinary approach. Most preferable are contributions focusing on a longue durée perspective on European reforms. The topics related to the following areas are especially welcomed:
  • material reformation (e.g. liturgical vessels, devotional objects, art and archi-tecture)
  • book and reformation (e.g. vernacular translations of the Bible and early book prints)
  • Luther and other reformers and counter-reformers in northern Europe
  • educational, social and political dimensions of the Reformation

We welcome you to participate in the seminar and kindly ask you to send us:

  • a proposal for a paper (500-word abstracts of a 30-minute paper)
  • a short CV (max. 4 pages including your most relevant publications)
  • a two-page research proposal for a working period in Turku with a clear indication of why TUCEMEMS would be the best host institution for your research regarding the reformatory movements in Europe.
If the paper proposal is accepted, we ask the contributors to prepare their final papers in a clear relation to their complete research plan and present it in the Symposium on 21 February 2015.
The working language of the seminar is English. The application deadline is 15 December 2014. All proposals will be reviewed by the TUCEMEMS board which will select 8 to 10 candidates to the symposium. The programme of the seminar includes keynote lectures by David Gaimster, Director of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow and Sabrina Corbellini, Rosalind Franklin Fellow, University of Groningen, esteemed scholars on material culture and languages of Reformation and/or Counter-reformation. Candidates should ensure that they fulfill the conditions of eligibility and send their proposal with additional documents mentioned above by e-mail to mmonor[at]utu.fi.
TUCEMEMS will offer the participants accommodation and cover legitimate travel expenses. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 19 December 2014.
For information and questions regarding the CFP and the Call for MSCA (http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/calls/h2020-msca-if-2015.html  ), please contact Professor Kirsi Salonen (kilesa[at]utu.fi) or Dr. Tuomo Fonsén (tuofon[at]utu.fi).
A brief description of the TUCEMEMS project “500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation”
The Turku Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (TUCEMEMS) is a multidisciplinary centre funded by the University of Turku. It promotes interdisciplinary and cross-cultural studies of topics from Late Antiquity to the eighteenth century. The Centre aims at facilitating medieval and early modern studies at the University especially by coordinating international collaboration and encouraging interdisciplinary debate.
In 2014 the TUCEMEMS initiated a large research project related to the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017. Within this project, we study the Reformation from a wide multidisciplinary perspective. The project does not only concentrate on the Lutheran Reformation proper, but we are interested in reform movements within a long time frame: from the medieval reformatory actions aiming to change the Catholic Church up to the post-Lutheran movements. The project examines, for example, themes as the perception of Luther in course of time, the role of Luther as well as other reformers and counter-reformers, vernacular translations of the Bible, reformatory writings, music, arts and architecture, and the educational, social and political dimensions of the Reformation as well as material culture. The geographical focus of the project is in northern Europe but special attention is paid to the reformatory activity in Finland and in particular in the City of Turku.
The TUCEMEMS project “500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation” is carried out in national and international cooperation with ecclesiastical, academic and other institutional cooperation partners such as the City of Turku and the Evangelic-Lutheran Church of Finland. By providing new information in the form of lectures, exhibitions and other activities, the project benefits everyone interested in the Reformation: scholars, students, and the general public.
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Law and Language in the Middle Ageshttp://www.medievalhistories.com/law-and-language-in-the-middle-ages/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/law-and-language-in-the-middle-ages/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:32:16 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11710 The relationship between law and legal practice in a linguistic context will be the theme for the series of conferences on medieval law sponsored by Carlsberg

Law and Language in the Middle Ages
Royal Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark 10.09.2015 – 11.09.2015

We are happy to announce the upcoming interdisciplinary conference on medieval legal history and therefore invite colleagues whose research touches upon aspects of law and language in the Middle Ages to submit proposals for papers of 20 minutes’ duration. A title and an abstract of 200-250 words should be sent by e-mail to one or more members of the organising committee (see e-mail addresses below).

Keynote Speaker will be Prof. Bruce o’Brien from The University of Mary Washington

Deadline for proposals is 1st February 2015.

The final programme will be published soon thereafter. All proposals and presentations should be in English. The papers will be published.

Suggested thematic strands are:

The relationship between law and legal practice in a linguistic context, the similarities / dissimilarities in terminology and practice, the problems and possibilities of translating laws from this region into modern English or other modern languages, ‘Germanic’ legal language, law and language in the North Sea area, the relationship between Latin and vernacular in the legal texts, adoption and application of legal language in other domains. The list is by no means exhaustive and other proposals touching on the main theme of law and language are most welcome.

The conference is held at the Royal Academy for Science and Letters, H.C. Andersens Boulevard 35, in the centre of Copenhagen

Registration fee for non-speakers will be € 100 or 750 Danish Kroner payable upon arrival at the conference. The fee includes lunch on Thursday and Friday, the conference dinner on Thursday, and the closing reception on Friday, and all drinks and snacks. Speakers are of course exempt from paying the conference fee.

Please use the registration form which will be available on the conference web page in winter 2015: . Deadline for non-speakers’ registration is 1 September 2015. The Academy lecture room can only contain a limited number of participants so please do not hesitate to register.

The conference is sponsored by: the Carlsberg Foundation

and Ingeniør, kaptajn Åge Nielsens Familiefond

If you have any queries, or want to submit a proposal, please feel free to use any of these addresses: Helle Vogt (helle.vogt@jur.ku.dk), Jenny Benham (BenhamJ@cardiff.ac.uk) or Per Andersen (pa@jura.au.dk ).

The Organising Committee:

Helle Vogt, associate professor, The Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen

Jenny Benham, lecturer, Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University

Per Andersen, professor, The Department of Law, University of Aarhus

 

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Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry and Speculation in Europe, 1100-1450http://www.medievalhistories.com/medieval-thought-experiments-poetry-speculation-europe-1100-1450/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/medieval-thought-experiments-poetry-speculation-europe-1100-1450/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:21:42 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11707 The aim of this conference is to consider how intellectual problems were approached – if not necessarily resolved – through the kinds of hypothetical enquiry found in poetry and other kinds of fictive texts.

CfP: Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry and Speculation in Europe, 1100-1450
New College, Oxford, 13.04.2015 – 14.04.2015

Keynote speakers: Prof. Vincent Gillespie (Oxford), Prof. John Marenbon (Cambridge)

In the high and late Middle Ages, fictional frameworks could be used as imaginative spaces in which to test or play with ideas without necessarily asserting their truth. The aim of this conference is to consider how intellectual problems were approached – if not necessarily resolved – through the kinds of hypothetical enquiry found in poetry and other kinds of fictive texts. We hope to encourage an exploration of the relationship between poetry and speculation and the medieval understanding of speculatio, and we use the anachronistic term ‘thought experiment’ to provoke particular debate around two related questions:

(i)     to what extent can hypothetical and speculative texts be understood as ‘experiments’, as frames within which ideas can be tested rather than necessarily asserted?

(ii)  how far can speculation be understood not merely as an intellective process, but also as something affective and sensitive? In this respect we draw on both meanings of the medieval Latin experientia: not just ‘experiment’, but also ‘experience’.

We welcome papers that consider why a writer might choose a fictional or hypothetical frame to discuss theoretical questions, how a text’s truth content is affected and shaped by its fictive nature, or what kind of affective or intellectual work is required to read a speculative text. We hope that this conference will explore what happens to theoretical truth-claims in a wide range of hypothetical texts – allegorical dream-visions (such as the Romance of the Rose or Piers Plowman) as much as philosophical dialogues (such as those of Peter Abelard and Ramon Llull).

This conference aims to bring together scholars working across the spectrum of medieval languages and academic disciplines, including (but not limited to) literary studies, intellectual history, philosophy, and theology.

Papers may wish to consider some of the following questions:

  • Kinds of Meaning. How do fictional frames generate meaning, and how is this influenced by genre, mode, or context?
  • Space. What rules govern the imagined spaces of medieval thought experiments, and what issues do spaces raise?
  • Truth and lies. How are philosophical fictions used, abused, or condemned? When is it acceptable to lie in order to arrive at truth?
  • Imagination and intellect. What kinds of knowledge are accessible via different mental faculties?
  • Speculatio, speculum. specula How is the act of speculation represented or described in medieval texts, and how does this relate to the senses, in particular to sight?

Please submit abstracts for papers of up to 20 minutes in length to medievalthoughtexperiments+proposals@gmail.com by 10 November 2014.

The registration fee for this conference will be £60, with an optional dinner in New College on the Monday evening at an additional cost (to be confirmed).

Please note that there will be a small number of travel bursaries available for graduate students and early career researchers giving papers at the conference (up to a value of £200). When you submit your abstract, please state if you would like to be considered for a travel bursary.

Enquiries can be directed to the organizers at medievalthoughtexperiments+enquiries@gmail.com.

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Continuity and Change in the Birgittine Orderhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/continuity-change-birgittine-order/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/continuity-change-birgittine-order/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:41:42 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11698 The latest in the series of Birgitta conferences will take place at Dartington Hall in Devon, England, 21-24 July 2015

Continuity and Change in the Birgittine Order
(Syon Abbey 1415-2015)
Dartington Hall, Devon, 21.07.2015 – 24.07.2015

The Birgittine order, over its more than six centuries of existence, has seen many changes: periods of growth and decline, expansion and retrenchment, patronage and persecution; individual houses have been suppressed and restored, declined, revived, relocated, and finally closed; the Birgittine vine has put out new branches, some of which have taken, and some not. And all this against a backdrop of religious, political, and social upheaval and change, that has not always remained safely in the background.
Are there any constants? The office, perhaps, or the habit, the rule (or rules?!), the spirit of the saint herself … something intangibly, indefinably Birgittine? Is Birgittine identity about adherence to an essence or ideal, or something that is worked out in practice? Is the idea of charism useful, or an obstacle to historical analysis?

Such questions come into focus sharply this year, when England’s house of Birgittines, Syon Abbey, celebrates the six hundredth anniversary of its foundation by King Henry V in 1415. Those six centuries have seen dramatic fluctuations in fortune, and as many as twenty changes of abode, from the abbey’s medieval heyday by the Thames in Middlesex, through suppression under Henry VIII, restoration by Queen Mary, exile in the Low Countries and France, a two-hundred-year sojourn in Portugal, the return to south-west England, late twentieth-century downsizing, and closure of the convent in 2011. Rule and constitutions have been reinterpreted and rewritten; the office has been sung in Latin, abandoned for the Roman breviary, restored in Latin, and translated into English. The community has seen kingdoms rise and fall; lived through war, fire and earthquake, and responded to the councils of Konstanz, Trent and Vatican II.

The latest in the series of Birgitta conferences will take place at Dartington Hall in Devon, England, 21-24 July 2015.

Proposals for papers of 20 minutes duration will be welcomed by the organisers Eddie Jones and Claes Gejrot by the deadline of 15 January 2015. The language of the conference will be English. We are equally interested in proposals on Syon Abbey, other Birgittine houses, or the order as a whole. Papers need not engage directly with the question of ‘continuity and change’, though this will be an advantage if we are over-subscribed. Recognising that the period has so far been under-explored, we will be particularly pleased to hear proposals that look at Birgittine experience since 1800.

Contact-information at the website

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Early Medieval Monasticism around the North Seahttp://www.medievalhistories.com/early-medieval-monasticism-around-north-sea/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/early-medieval-monasticism-around-north-sea/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:36:52 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11695 CFP for Conference in Kent on Early Medieval Monasticism in the North Sea Zone

Early Medieval Monasticism in the North Sea Zone: New Research and Fresh Perspectives
University of Kent, Canterbury, 24.04.2015 – 26.04.2015

2015 marks the conclusion of a major AHRC-funded campaign of excavation at Lyminge, the first archaeological investigation to provide a detailed account of the origins and development of a royal monastery in the kingdom of Kent. The results shed light on many themes central to the interpretation of early medieval monastic foundations in their contemporary contexts.

The aim of the conference is to contextualise the results of this research by bringing together an international body of scholars to examine the theme of early medieval monasticism in the North Sea Zone from a variety of archaeological, historical and cross-disciplinary perspectives.

Sessions include: ‘Power and Place: the Politics of Monastic Foundation’, ‘What did Monasteries Look Like? Architecture and Layout’, and ‘Production, Consumption and Surplus: Monasteries as Economic Central Places’. The conference will conclude with a round table discussion to identify priorities for future research and opportunities for new scholarly collaboration. There is an optional excursion to Lyminge and other local sites on Friday afternoon followed by a keynote address by Professor John Blair and a wine reception.

Among confirmed speakers are:
Justine Bayley (London), John Blair (Oxford), Rosemary Cramp (Durham), Rosamond Faith (Oxford), Zoe Knapp (Reading) Elizabeth Lorans (Tours), Mark McKerracher (Oxford), Tomás Ó Carragáin (Cork), David Petts (Durham), Thomas Pickles (Chester), Gabor Thomas (Reading), Dries Tys (Brussels), Ian Wood (Leeds), Barbara Yorke (Winchester).

Conference registration fee is £42 which includes lunch and refreshments. The optional field trip to Lyminge is £10 per person. Please go to www.lymingearchaeology.org for details and registration. Please contact a.knox@reading.ac.uk with inquiries.

This conference is sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and project partners Kent Archaeological Society.

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Blessed Louishttp://www.medievalhistories.com/blessed-louis-the-making-of-saint-louis-kingship-sanctity-and-crusade-in-the-later-middle-ages/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/blessed-louis-the-making-of-saint-louis-kingship-sanctity-and-crusade-in-the-later-middle-ages/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:01:05 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11666 The hagiographical myth of Saint Louis compared to the image, which he himself floated, has for a long time been at the centre of a scholarly dispute. In her generous work, Gaposchkin has shown that even the hagiographers did not agree

The Making of Saint Louis: Kingship, Sanctity, and Crusade in the Later Middle Ages
By M. Cecilia Gaposchkin
Cornell University Press 2008
ISBN-10 0801445507
ISBN-13 978-0-8014-4550-7

Blessed Louis. The Most Glorious of Kings. Texts Relating to the Cult of Saint Louis of France.
By M. Cecilia Gaposchkin (Ed) and Phyllis B. Katz (Transl)
University of Notre Dame Press 2012
ISBN-10: 0268029849
ISBN-13: 978-0268029845

The Sanctity of Louis IX
Early Lives of Saint Louis by Geoffrey of Beaulieu and William of Chartres
Translated by Larry F. Field
Edited by M. Cecilia Gaposchkin and Sean L. Field
Cornell University Press 2013
ISBN-10 080145137X
ISBN-13 978-0-8014-5137-9

The making of Saint Louis by Gaposchkin coverOn August 11, 1297 Pope Boniface VIII canonized Louis IX of France as a confessor of the church. He was the last medieval king to be treated to this honour. Before this solemn event a carefully planned process had taken place, perhaps starting already with the first written account of the death of Saint Louis in Tunis, where he according to his brother died in a hair-shirt on a bedspread on the floor covered in ashes (as did St. Martin of Tours in AD 397 in and after him all proper saints in spe). After this his bones were boiled down in wine, wrapped in sumptuous silk and transported back to France, where he – minus his entrails and heart – was laid to rest in St. Denis among his forebears (his innards being left in Sicily at Monreale.)

There is no doubt that the sanctification of Blessed Louis was the result of a carefully laid plan by the family of the French king, which involved a number of parties. This process comprised the writing of the first vita by his Dominican confessor, Geoffrey of Beaulieu, as well as careful inquiries into Louis’ sanctity by another ecclesiastic and later Pope, Simon de Brie. Around 1275 – 80 yet another vita by William of Chartres was composed. Finally in March 1283 the formal inquest was initiated. At this inquest friends and relatives were called to testify. However the official sanctification was delayed until it was politically interesting for Rome to offer it as part of a set of concessions. It took nevertheless nearly another decade before the solemn translation of part of his relics from St. Denis to Sainte-Chapelle. At the same time other parts of his remains were packaged and presented to those religious institutions, which had been founded or furthered by Louis.

Blessed Louis by GaposhkinAlready at that time the grand liturgical machine had been spewing out the solemn texts needed to celebrate this new and shining French Saint. These texts together with sermons constitute a series of special witnesses, which the Cecilia Gaposchkin has made it her specialty to analyse.

Already in a ground-breaking book from 2008 she demonstrated how the different religious institutions used these religious genres to develop different images of the way in which Louis had behaved saintly. “Louis personified different values to different constituencies, institutions and individuals, in ways that were motivated by the religious and spiritual ideals of the later Middle Ages”, she writes (p. 243). In her detailed and very acute readings of some hitherto unused texts – liturgies and sermons – she demonstrates how for instance the Franciscans focused on his piety and active devotion, while the Capetian Royal family stressed his image as the most Christian King combining royal sanctity and sacral kingship (the title of chapter 4).Sanctity of Saint Louis Gaposchkin cover

However, through these different ways of unpacking a saint to the wider public, she also demonstrates how complicated it was to construe these different images. As an undercurrent in the life of Louis was never just his piety but also his masterful play-acting as a noble knight and crusader. The different constituencies might have tried to “market” their different sets of ideas about how to get a grasp of the saintly Louis. In reality he seems to have had a rather more complex personality. In the end this was probably his passport into a long and very complex story as the – at the same time – both Royal, French and Christian saint par excellence. Even today his legacy is the subject of political spin, when the French Royalists note with glee that one of their scions, the Count of Paris, was present at the official opening of the exhibition occasioned by the 800-anniversary of his birth.

This is a very generous book insofar as it not only presents the reader with an introduction to types of texts not often sourced. She also demonstrates how to use these texts as well as presents the reader with bountiful snippets.

Finally in recent follow-ups she has edited some of the more central texts in two companion volumes, where both the Latin texts and careful translations have been made available for the student. These are a real treat.

Karen Schousboe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cecilia Gaposchkin received her Ph.D. from Berkeley in 2001. She works on late medieval French cultural history, and has published on the intersection between politics, kingship, and representation. Her first book, The Making of Saint Louis (IX) of France: Kingship, Sanctity and Crusade in the Later Middle Ages, was published with Cornell University Press in 2008 (paperback ed. 2010). She is also the author of Blessed Louis, The Most Glorious of Kings: Texts relating to the Cult of Saint Louis of France (Notre Dame: 2012), and, with Sean Field and Larry Field, The Sanctity of Louis IX: Early Lives of Saint Louis by Geoffrey of Beaulieu and William of Chartres (Cornell: 2014).  She is now working on a devotional history of the crusades, tentatively entitled “Crusade, Liturgy, Ideology, and Devotion: 1050-1400.” She also serves as the Assistant Dean of Faculty for Pre-Major Advising.

]]> http://www.medievalhistories.com/blessed-louis-the-making-of-saint-louis-kingship-sanctity-and-crusade-in-the-later-middle-ages/feed/ 0 Saint Louis – a Biography by Le Goffhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/saint-louis-a-biography-by-le-goff/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/saint-louis-a-biography-by-le-goff/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:13:11 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=11649 The research took more than ten years before Le Goff could finish his magnum opus, a biography of Saint Louis (1214 – 1270). Today it is a classic

Saint Louis
By Jacques Le Goff (transl. by Gareth E. Gollrad)
Notre Dame University Press 2009 (French ed. 1996)
ISBN: 978-0-268-03381-1

The research took more than ten years before Le Goff could finish his magnum opus about Saint Louis (1214 – 1270). Today it is a classic

jacques le goff saint louis coverUnder the leadership of Fernand Braudel and together with Georges Duby, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie and Philippe Aries, Jacques le Goff worked his whole life to expand the inheritance of Marc Bloch and the Annales School in general. Part of this inheritance consisted of an emphatic resistance against the traditional history of politics as formed by heroes of a bygone time. Social, economical and cultural history were the mainstay of this tradition until the 80es, when the fashion for historical anthropology hit international academia. To say the least, biographies were for a long time considered anathema.

Nevertheless Jacques le Goff became fascinated by this idea – probably inspired by the work of Ladurie on Montaillou – that it might somehow be possible to get closer to at least some historical individuals of the past. Apart form some minor biographies we possess two: one on Saint Francis of Assisi and another one on Saint Louis (both from the 13th century). It is the last, which will continue to stand.

It is a remarkable book. It opens up with a traditional narrative of the life of Louis. However, we soon learn that the work is not a traditional biography per se. Le Goff obviously organises even this part – the introductory narrative – as a thematic exercise as seen for instance in such chapters as “The King and the Towns” or “The Flemish Inheritance”. None of this is a series of traditional historical stepping-stones whereby we can put one thing on top of another. This is – in spite of the obvious lack of a complete scholarly edition of the registers, charters and documents– a fascinating introduction to French history of the 13th century.

However, from the second part the plot thickens: Le Goff raises the question whether Saint Louis existed at all? Or rather, were their different images of the saintly king, which were passed around during his lifetime as well as afterwards? Who was this man in the eyes of the mendicant hagiographers, the mirrors of princes or the foreign chroniclers? And not least, who was the man in the eyes of his long-time seneschal and friend, Joinville? Did these portraits differ? Or were they nothing but shifting mirrors covering up a faint shadow?

In the end this question is answered by a historian, who keeps digging from ”the outside to the inside”: What were the gestures of this king? How did he move around? What did he like to eat? And what did he eat? How did he speak? What forms did his religious devotion take? In short: what did his daily life look like? And finally: how would we, Le Goff and his readers, have experienced this man, might we but meet him in the streets or sit in his garden and enjoy a hearty laugh? At the end of the book, Le Goff is insistent: yes, we might in fact get to know him somewhat and not just only on the surface.

This is a masterly wrought biography written with the explicit desire to “meet the man”. Thus In the end Le Goff also confesses that he wished he might dream of the man as Joinville did, when he around 1300 discovered that he was not to have even a tiny relic of a bone to kiss in remembrance of the man he had served so diligently most of his life. A fact, which Joinville compensated for by dreaming that his king came and stayed with him at his small castle:

“Now I must tell you some things about Saint Louis, which will be to his honour, and which I saw in my sleep. It seemed to me then, in my dream, that I saw him in front of my chapel at Joinville, and he was, I thought wonderfully gay and light of heart; and I, too, was happy to see him in my castle, and I said to him: Sir, when you leave, I will entertain you in a house I have in a village of mine called Chevillon. He answered me with a laugh: My lord of Joinville, by the faith I owe you, I have no wish to leave this place soon”.

The biography by Le Goff has been characterised of being too prone to conflate the hagiographical myths on one hand with on the other hand the shadowy outline of what seems to have been the identity of “Saint Louis” as he understood it himself. This may be. Perhaps some corrections may even be appropriate as archival digging lets us get nearer to the more detailed acts and deeds of his work as king.

In the end, however, this biography of Saint Louis is not easily pushed aside. It is simply a very good read…

READ MORE:

Saint Louis – a Man with a Hair-Shirt

Saint Louis – Catalogue with an introduction by Jacques Le Goff

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