Medieval Histories News about the Middle Ages Tue, 26 May 2015 11:47:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sacrality at the Medieval Court Tue, 26 May 2015 11:45:10 +0000 The sacred nature of the medieval ruler has been studied extensively. However, the physical performance of this sacrality has been relatively neglected. Major conference in Göttingen aims to focus on the materiality of the sacrality of medieval rulers.

Palatium Sacrum
Sacredness at the medieval court: places – things – rituals
International Conference, University of Göttingen
18.06.2015 – 20.06.2015

Organized by the Art History Seminar, the Department of Medieval and modern history and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Göttingen.

In general the political and intellectual history of the ruler as a sacred person or institution has been better researched than that of the actual sacral performance and cultural practice. This especially applies to the medieval palace where the sacred performances were enacted.

How was these sacred rituals performed? Where were they enacted? Which objects and artifacts were used? Where was the line drawn between sacred and secular spaces? More specifically, what was the interplay between such spaces as royal chapels and throne rooms? What role did relics, processional crosses, thrones, regalia etc. play? Which stories were told? Which role did literature and music play?

Papers will cover the period from ca. 350 – 1500 and Europe, Byzantium and the Islamic states.

The conference is open. Most presentations will be in German.



14.00 Welcome and Introduction (Manfred Luchterhandt)

Cult of relics and cultural procession at the Byzantine imperial court
(Moderator: Manfred Luchterhandt)

14:15 Jeffrey M. Featherstone, Paris / Fribourg: Sacred Space and processions in the Great Palace in the 10th century

15:00 Albrecht Berger, Munich: The emperor and the city: processions and receptions in Constantinople

15:45 Holger A. Klein, New York: Object culture and cult objects in Imperial Byzantine processions

Times of Change
(Moderation: Jörg Bölling)

17:00 Dorothée Sack, Berlin: Caliph residence and place of pilgrimage – the sacredness of Resafa during the Umayyad Caliphate

17:45 Achim Arbeiter, Göttingen: Cangas – Pravia – Oviedo: The residences of the Asturian kings

19:00 Patrick J. Geary, Princeton: Translations and transformations of royal treasures between Byzantium, Islam, Africa and Europe in the Middle Ages

Friday, June 19

Objects and treasures of Western royal courts
(Moderator: Hedwig Röckelein)

9:15 Wolfram Drews, Münster: The learned construction of sacredness in the Carolingian period

10:00 Matthias Hardt, Leipzig: Cunimund’s head and Solomon’s table: things as memorials at early medieval royal courts

11:15 Hedwig Röckelein, Göttingen: Reliqs in the Aachen treasure under Charlemagne and his followers

12:00 Michele Bacci, Fribourg: Collections of relics in Jerusalem, Cyprus and Rhodes (12th-14th century.)


Mediterranean contexts
(Chair: Galit Noga-Banai)

14:30 Manfred Luchterhandt, Göttingen: Holiness and history: clerics, visitors and pilgrims at the papal court

15:15 Bianca Kühnel, Jerusalem: Spiritual and Material Presence of Jerusalem in the Medieval Courts

16:30 Mirko Vagnoni, Florence: Royal sacrality and Royal Iconography at the Norman Court of Sicily.

17:15 Beat Brenk, Rome: The concept of the Royal Palace in Palermo

Saturday, June 20

Holy rooms in the Late Middle Ages
(Moderator: Frank Rexroth)

9:15 Ralf Lützelschwab, Berlin: Sacral competition? About the problematic relationship between Westminster Abbey and the royal Chapel of St. Stephen’s in the late Middle Ages

10:00 Christian Freigang, Berlin: Capellae sacro-sanctae. The French Saintes-Chapelles as sacred spaces and reliquaries

11:00 Matthias Müller, Mainz: Palaces of salvation: the manifestation of the God-willed ruler in the residence architecture of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period

11:45 Birgit Franke and Barbara Welzel, Dortmund: Maps of rule: Philip the Fair of Burgundy and the Chapter of the Toison d’Or 1501 in Brussels

Final discussion
(Moderation: Hedwig Röckelein)

Program and organization:

Prof. Dr. Manfred Luchterhandt, Art History and Art Collection

Prof. Dr. Hedwig Röckelein, Department of Medieval and Modern History


Prof. Dr. Manfred Luchterhandt
Art History and Art Collection
University of Göttingen
Nicholas Berger Weg 15
D-37073 Göttingen

Tel. +49 (0) 551-39-5092

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Medieval Histories Magazine May 2015 No.15 – Read about the Cistercians Thu, 21 May 2015 17:55:53 +0000 Medieval Histories Magazine 2015 May vol 15Medieval Histories Magazine May 2015, No. 15

Tired of reading long texts on the website? Try out our magazine as a pdf. Bonus are extra articles and many more medieval news!

Read about:

  • Claivaux 1115 – 2015
  • Cistercians at Kalamazoo
  • Cistercian business in the 21st century
  • Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet in Catalonia
  • The film: Of Gods and Men

Download & Enjoy!

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New Cistercian Studies – A Handlist of Good Books Wed, 20 May 2015 10:00:46 +0000 Cistercian Studies is a fruitful field inside Medieval Studies in general. Here is a list of books, which can be used as introduction.

Cistercian expansion mapIn the 11th century small groups of young noblemen from Northern France began to build communities, which they believed were closer to the original dreams of St. Benedict than those, which they experienced in the huge and successful Cluniac institutions. One of these groups, led by a young noble, Robert, founded a small monastery in Molesmes. Later he sought together with his friend Steven of Harding, to found an even more remote and austere community. This led to the first monastery in Cîteaux. In 1108 Steven of Harding was called as abbot. He was soon known as a charismatic leader as well as gifted administrator and soon it was possible to sprout new monasteries, called ‘daughters’.

From around 1120 it became obvious that the ‘Novum Monasterium’, Cîteaux, was not only a vibrant abbey, but the center of a whole new religious order, which came to revolutionise the way in which religious monasteries, convents and abbeys were organised. In short: the Abbot of Cîteaux was not only responsible for his own institution; he was also called upon to visit and oversee his “daughters”. This system laid the foundation for an enormous administrative bureaucracy, which means that the study of the spiritual as well as practical ways of life in the Cistercian Abbeys continues to uncover fascinating aspects of the life of the monks and (later) sisters.

As is well-known, the order grew exponentially in the few decades. From the very fragile start around 1100, the Order could muster 322 abbeys in 1150 and double that a hundred years later. Around 1300, when the religious fewer had expired, there were 697 abbeys from Lyse, north of Trondheim in Norway, to Roccadia in Sicily. All these abbeys were organized inside 5 families: Cîteaux and its four primary daughters, Clairvaux, Morimond, Pontigny,  and La Ferté.

A decisive factor was of course the recruitment of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whose spiritual and aesthetic inspiration came to define the Cistercian way of life in such a way, that we even today are able to recognise the special aura, which surrounds the physical remains of these many abbeys, monasteries and convents.

Companions and Introductions

istercian order routledge CoverThe Cistercian Order in Medieval Europe: 1090-1500 (The Medieval World) 
By Emilia Jamroziak
ISBN-10: 1405858648
ISBN-13: 978-1405858649


The Cistercian Order in Medieval Europe offers an accessible and engaging history of the Order from its beginnings in the twelfth century through to the early sixteenth century. Unlike most other existing volumes on this subject it gives a nuanced analysis of the late medieval Cistercian experience as well as the early years of the Order.

Jamroziak argues that the story of the Cistercian Order in the Middle Ages was not one of a ‘Golden Age’ followed by decline, nor was the true ‘Cistercian spirit’ exclusively embedded in the early texts to remain unchanged for centuries. Instead she shows how the Order functioned and changed over time as an international organisation, held together by a novel ‘management system'; from Estonia in the east to Portugal in the west, and from Norway to Italy. The ability to adapt and respond to these very different social and economic conditions is what made the Cistercians so successful.

  • This book draws upon a wide range of primary sources, as well as scholarly literature in several languages, to explore the following key areas:
  • the degree of centralisation versus local specificity
  • how much the contact between monastic communities and lay people changed over time
  • how the concept of reform was central to the Medieval history of the Cistercian Order

This book appeals to anyone interested in Medieval history and the Medieval Church more generally as well as those with a particular interest in monasticism.

The Cistercians in the Middle Ages CoverThe Cistercians in the Middle Ages (Monastic Orders)
by Janet Burton (Author), Julie Kerr (Author)
Boydell Press 2011
ISBN-10: 184383667X
ISBN-13: 978-1843836674


he Cistercians (White Monks) were the most successful monastic experiment to emerge from the tumultuous intellectual and religious fervour of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. By around 1150 they had established houses the length and breadth of Western Christendom and were internationally renowned. They sought to return to a simple form of monastic life, as set down in the Rule of St Benedict, and preferred rural locations “far from the haunts of men”. But, as recent research has shown, they were by no means isolated from society but influenced, and were influenced by, the world around them; they moved with the times. This book seeks to explore the phenomenon that was the Cistercian Order, drawing on recent research from various disciplines to consider what it was that made the Cistercians distinctive and how they responded to developments. The book addresses current debates regarding the origins and evolution of the Order; discusses the key primary sources for knowledge; and covers architecture, administration, daily life, spirituality, the economy and the monks’ ties with the world. Professor Janet Burton teaches at the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David; Dr Julie Kerr is Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, University of St Andrews.



the cistercian order companion coverThe Cambridge Companion to the Cistercian Order
By Mette Birkedal Bruun (Editor)
Series: Cambridge Companions to Religion
Cambridge University Press 2012
ISBN-10: 0521171849
ISBN-13: 978-0521171847


This volume presents the composite character of the Cistercian Order in its unity and diversity, detailing the white monks’ history from the Middle Ages to the present day. It charts the geographical spread of the Order from Burgundy to the peripheries of medieval Europe, examining key topics such as convents, liturgy, art, agriculture, spiritual life and education, providing an insight into Bernard of Clairvaux’s life, work and sense of self, as well as the lives of other key Cistercian figures. This Companion offers an accessible synthesis of contemporary scholarship on the Order’s interaction with the extramural world and its participation in, and contribution to, the cultural, economical and political climate of medieval Europe and beyond. The discussion contributes to the history of religious orders, and will be useful to those studying the twelfth-century renaissance, the apostolic movement and the role of religious life in medieval society.


The Cistercian World Penguin coverThe Cistercian World: Monastic Writings of the Twelfth Century (Penguin Classics)
By Thomas Wyatt (Author), Pauline Matarasso (Introduction, Translator)
Penguin Classics 1993
ISBN-10: 0140433562
ISBN-13: 978-0140433562


The Cistercian Order was born in Burgundy at the start of the twelfth century as a movement of radical renewal – an Order that survives to this day with the greater part of its written heritage preserved. This volume brings together a selection of its finest works, which speak powerfully across the centuries to modern readers. Writings by St Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090-1153) – including his letters, The Life of Malachy the Irishman, sermons on the Song of Songs and the sharply satirical Apologia for Abbot William – reveal him to be a highly individual and influential writer of the Middle Ages. Also included here are a charming description of Clairvaux, biographies of abbots and a series of exemplary stories, all drawing on the Scriptures to express intensely personal forms of monastic theology.


A Companion to Bernard of ClairvauxA Companion to Bernard of Clairvaux (Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition)
by Brian Patrick McGuire (Author)
Brill 2011
ISBN-10: 9004201394
ISBN-13: 978-9004201392


Bernard of Clairvaux emerges from these studies as a vibrant, challenging and illuminating representative of the monastic culture of the twelfth century. In taking on Peter Abelard and the new scholasticism he helped define the very world he opposed and thus contributed to the renaissance of the twelfth century.



Monasteries on the Borders CoverMonasteries on the Borders of Medieval Europe: Conflict and Cultural Interaction.
By Emilia Jamroziak Karen Stöber.
Series: Medieval Church Studies, 28.
Turnhout: Brepols, 2013.
ISBN: 9782503545356
ISBN: 9782503551623


As a historical and cultural phenomenon, monasticism always had a close connection with frontiers. The earliest monasteries were believed to be founded in wildernesses and deserts, thus existing beyond society and the inhabited world in general. As intercessors praying for their patrons and benefactors, monastic communities also existed on the border between the earthly and the spiritual worlds.

In medieval Europe, however, the frontier nature of monasticism had specific manifestations in addition to the founding myths of monastic wilderness. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the expansion of Latin Europe in East-Central Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Scandinavia, and into the Holy Land and Greece opened possibilities for extending monastic networks and establishing new houses. One of the most important parts of this process was the interaction between these new religious communities and the social world around them-an interaction that was characterised by various shades of hostility, cooperation, and adaptation to the local social and cultural framework.

This is the first collection to consider the phenomenon of monastic frontiers in a cross-disciplinary manner. The book’s ten chapters explore the role of monasteries in maintaining political and cultural borders, in breaking and sustaining linguistic boundaries in late medieval Europe, as well as in building and stabilizing Latin Christian cultural identities on the northern and southern frontiers of Europe. Using a wide range of textual, archaeological, and material evidence, an international group of authors examines the expansion of monastic and mendicant networks in Scandinavia, Iberia, East-Central Europe, the British Isles, northern France, the Balkans, and Frankish Greece.



Cistercian Europe CUP companion CoverCistercian Europe: Architecture of Contemplation (Cistercian Studies Series)
by Terryl N. Kinder (Author)
WB Eerdmans 2002
ISBN-10: 0802838871
ISBN-13: 978-0802838872


An illustrated journey led by a leading architectural historian and Cistercian specialist to an architecture of compelling simplicity. Living, working, worshipping and praying within this austerely beautiful environment the monks sought transformation and re-formation into the image and likeness of God.


Cistercian art in the British Isles CoverCistercian Art and Architecture in the British Isles
Ed. by Christopher Norton and David Park
Cambridge University Press 2012
ISBN: 9780521181358


From their introduction in the early twelfth century the Cistercians were one of the leading monastic orders in Britain. Many of the finest monastic remains – Fountains, Rievaulx and Tintern – are Cistercian. This 1986 book is a comprehensive survey of Cistercian art and architecture in the British Isles. The various contributions, all by leading specialists, cover the historical and literary background; the development of Cistercian architecture (especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when the Cistercians were in the forefront of architectural achievement, playing an important role in the introduction and dissemination of the Gothic style); and art forms such as wall painting, stained glass, tile pavements, and manuscript illumination, as well as liturgy and music. These studies reveal what was distinctively Cistercian in the art and architecture of the Order, and permit a distinct understanding of the remarkable contribution of the Cistercians to the culture of medieval Britain.


Cistercians at Kalamazoo

Cistercian Studies Conference – Past and Future

Clairvaux 1115 – 2015


The European Route of Cistercian abbeys


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Medieval Studies 2015 – New Catalogue from Boydell & Brewer Wed, 20 May 2015 06:48:37 +0000 This years medieval studies catalogue from Boydell and Brewer is available as a magazine published in issue

Few Highlights from the Programme 2015:

BOYDELL AND BREWER medieval studies catalogue 2015Representing Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia

The Complete Story of the Grail. Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval and its continuations

Medievalism: a Critical History

Brothers and Sisters in Medieval European Literature

The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England

Dudo of Saint-Quentin’s Historia Normannorum. Tradition, Innovation and Memory

Trees in the Religions of Early Medieval England

Political Society in Later Medieval England. A Festschrift for Christine Carpenter


Download the full catalogue and peruse the many interesting titles


From the cover of: The Complete Story of the Grail. Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval and its continuations



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Medieval and Renaissance Studies 2015 Wed, 20 May 2015 06:13:24 +0000 Brepols Publishers: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 2015

This catalogue presents the 2015 programme of English titles published by Brepols inside Medieval & Renaissance Studies

Some highlights this year are:

Brepols publishers 2015 medieval cover THE MEDIEVAL COUNTRYSIDE

Peasants and Lords in the Medieval English Economy. Essays in Honour of Bruce M. S. Campbell

Crisis in the Later Middle Ages. Beyond the Postan–Duby Paradigm

Land Assessment and Lordship in Medieval Northern Scotland

Power and Rural Communities in Al-Andalus. Ideological and Material Representations


Devotional Culture in Late Medieval England and Europe. Diverse Imaginations of Christ’s Life

The Secular Liturgical Office in Late Medieval England

Women in the Medieval Monastic World

Nuns’ Literacies in Medieval Europe

A Mendicant Sermon Collection from Composition to Reception


Visual Constructs of Jerusalem

Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of the Society of Antiquaries of London

Dressing the Part: Textiles as Propaganda in the Middle Ages

This is of course only a tiny selection. Do Download this catalogue with Brepols’ new and forthcoming English-language titles in Medieval & Renaissance Studies for 2015.

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Clairvaux 1115 – 2015 Tue, 19 May 2015 13:48:30 +0000 Aube en Champagne celebrates the 900th anniversary of the Cistercian foundation, the Abbey of Claivaux in 2015
clairvaux L’abbaye de Clairvaux est entourée par un mur de 3 km de long, symbole de l’enfermement © Sylvain Bordier
The Abbey of Clairvaux is surrounded by 3 km of high walls, symbol of the prison © Sylvain Bordier

Clairvaux was founded in a secluded valley in Champagne in 1115 by St. Bernard of Clairvaux together with a dozen brothers. The Abbey rapidly found itself as the head of the 339 other Cistercian abbeys across Europe. After the French Revolution the monks left the abbey and in the 19th century it was turned into a huge French prison. It still functions as such with infamous inmates like the Carlos the Jackal, imprisoned for life. The remaining medieval buildings may be visited as part of a guided tour, which has been reorganized in connection with the anniversary.

The main event in connection with the anniversary of Clairvaux is a large exhibition in nearby Troyes: “Clairvaux. L’aventure cistercienne”. With more than 150 rare documents and objects, the exhibition tells the story of the Cistercians and their monastic, political, economic, artistic and intellectual life at Clairvaux until the Revolution. The exhibition has been curated by André Vauchez, who has also edited the accompanying catalogue.

The Archive and the Library

The Bible of Bernard. Grande Troyes MS 0458 01
The Bible of Bernard. Grande Troyes MS 0458 01

However, in connection with the anniversary a digitization of the former archive of the Abbey of Claivaux has also been undertaken. This site will be “open for business” in June. The archive holds 230 charters from the 12th and 13th century plus a vast amount of other material. All-in-all 67.720 pages and 1700 manuscripts have been digitized. In the following years 20.000 royal and papal documents will be made accessible. The project is scheduled to be finished in 2020 under the auspices of “Les Archives de l’Aube”.

According to an inventory from 1472 made by the abbot, Pierre de Virey, the ancient library of Clairvaux comprised 1750 manuscripts. After the revolution the library was transferred to Troyes, where more than 1150 manuscripts of these are kept. It constitutes one of the most important medieval libraries and is designated as part of the collection: “Memory of the World” by UNESCO. For more than ten years the library in Troyes have worked to digitize and catalogue the collection properly. In 2015 the whole library will be placed on-line with more than 500.000 pages. This virtual library will be accessible from the 19th of June. Patners in this project is Equipex Biblissima, Grand Troyes, the Ministry of Culture, and the National Research Council in France.

Guided tour of the Remains of the Abbey and its Neighbourhood

Grange Cistercienne at Cornay
Grange Cistercienne at Cornay

Of primary medieval interest is the lay refectory from the 12th century. However, it is also possible to visit the monks’ refectory from the 18th century as well as the prisoners’ chapel. This tour will be available from mid-June. However “the old guided tour” is available from March – October. It is recommended, though, to make a trip app. 70 km southwest to Fontenay, which is the best preserved of the ancient abbeys.

  • Cistercian barn at d’Outre-Aube. This is used as a centre for local members and visitors, which are lay members of the Cistercian order.
  • Cistercian wine cellar at Colombé-le Sec, which is now owned by the family, Calon-Egger. They produce Champagne Monial
  • a Cistercian barn at Cornay (Saulcy) which is still in use by the local farmer

Find out about all the events:

Clairvaux 2015. L’abbaye de Clairvaux fête ses 900 ans


Shuttle bus between Troyes and Clairvaux with visit(s) to Clairvaux and Colombé-le Sec, including champagne tasting, transport and a meal.

Information and bookings: Voyages Collard


cover clairvaux 2015Catalogue Clairvaux. L’aventure cistercienne

Sous la direction de Nicolas Dohrmann, conservateur du patrimoine, directeur des Archives et du Patrimoine de l’Aube, Arnaud Baudin, directeur adjoint des Archives et du Patrimoine de l’Aube et Laurent Veyssière, conservateur général du patrimoine, chef de la Délégation des patrimoines culturels au Ministère de la Défense – Comité scientifique sous la résidence d’André Vauchez, Professeur émérite de l’université de Paris-Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense, membre de l’Institut
Coédition Somogy-Éditions d’art et Département de l’Aube 2015
EAN : 9782757209349

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Mural paintings in the Middle Ages Tue, 19 May 2015 10:19:31 +0000 Interdisciplinary Conference: new research on mural paintings in the Middle Ages

Mural wall paintings in Paderborn 2015Murals are among the most meaningful, but also the most fragile and enigmatic artistic legacies of the Middle Ages. Thus, recording, documentation, interpretation and contextualization are considered particularly challenging. Where the art of the Middle Ages is discussed – be it in academic and political forums or as part of a university curriculum or in the wider community of museums and exhibitions – the murals are often sidelined or treated as singular cases. They are simply difficult to access, visualize and interpret.

Next month an academic conference in Paderborn will focus upon recent research of murals from the high and later Middle Ages. At the meeting a series of significant casestudies will be presented. Special attention will be paid to diversity in terms of both mixed traditions and the adoption of techniques and materials. Both restoration and art historical perspectives will be presented. Next the tasks of studying and conserving wall paintings and architectural surfaces as well as building inventories will be explored as part of an inter-institutional cooperative network. The generic history of the murals will also be explored through the evolving synergy between the contributions. Creating a  comparative framework, geographically ranging from Central and Western Europe via Italy to the Balkans and the Caucasus will be at the center.

The location of the meeting in Paderborn is a reflection of a handful of significant and sometimes unique examples of mural paintings from the Carolingian period and later, which may be found in the vicinity. During the meeting this important regional heritage will be explored as part of the conference.

Finally, the meeting aims to establish an international and interdisciplinary discussion forum which may also provide a forum for younger art historians, scholars and scientists working in restoration.

Interdisziplinäre Tagung: Neue Forschungen zur Wandmalerei des Mittelalters
Paderborn Universität, Warburg Str. 100, auditorium O2
10.06.2015 – 12.06.2015

The language of the conference is in German. 

PROGRAMME (translated):

  • Welcome by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Heinrich (University of Paderborn)
  • Dr. Dörthe Jacob, Dipl.-restorer (State Conservation Office at Stuttgart Regional Council): Painting techniques of medieval murals
  • Dr. Matthias Exner (Bavarian State Conservation Office, Munich): The Ottonian murals in the cathedral in Augsburg
  • Dr. Dirk Strohmann (Monuments, landscape and building culture in Westphalia, Münster): ” Worlds of images – Imaginary worlds”. Research project on Romanesque wallpaintings in Westphalia.
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrike Heinrich (University of Paderborn): The image program and performativity of the cycle of paintings of the miracles of Christ in St. George’s Oberzell on Reichenau, where the believers seeking comfort or help are enlisted as active participants.
  • Caroline Schärli, M.A. (University of Basel): One building, two Saints, three founders. New studies of the Carolingian and Ottonian murals in the Sylvester Chapel in Goldbach and their mutual relations
  • Mechthild Noll-Minor, Dipl.-restorer (Brandenburg State Conservation Office, Zossen): Viewing, exploring and restoring – medieval murals in Northeastern Brandenburg
  • Katharina Pick, M. A. (University of Paderborn): The murals in the “liberaria” (Hartmann Schedel) in the upper cloister of the Cathedral in Brandenburg
  • Steffen Kremer, M. A. (University of Bonn): The meaning and function of heraldic motifs in the profane murals of the late Middle Ages – The example of the paintings in the Sala Baronale in Castello della Manta in Saluzzo
  • Prof. Dr. Barbara Schellewald (University of Basel): Blue – materiality and light. On the relationship between mural paintings and mosaics
  • Brigitta Schrade, M.A. (Freie Universität Berlin): The “Painter of the King”: Tevdore in Upper Svaneti. An example of an iconographic program of Georgian mural paintings from the 11th -12th centuries
  • Krisztina Zsuszanna Ilko, M.A. (Central European University Budapest): 14th century frescoes in Slovakia: the last prayer of the Virgin in the Cathedral of Neutra
  • Evening lecture in the LWL-Museum in the Imperial Palace in Paderborn: Prof. Dr. Harald Wolter von dem Knesebeck (University of Bonn): An art-historical classification of profane murals on the Gamburg in Taubertal
  • Excursion to Soest and Hoxter-Corvey:
  • Eva-Maria Bongardt, M.A. (University of Paderborn): Visit to the Church of “St. Maria zur Höhe” in Soest
  • Dr. Sveva Gai, (Westphalian Museum of Archaeology in Paderborn): Visit to the west wing of the former Klosterkirche Corvey

The conference is open. Excursion €25

Contact: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Heinrichs,, Katharina Pick M.A.,


Wallpaintings in St Marie zur Höhe in Soest near Paderborn. Source: Wikipedia

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Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland Mon, 18 May 2015 10:53:57 +0000 This project, running from February 2015 to April 2016, is a strategic effort inspire and mobilize all those with an interest in or responsibility for carved stones in Scotland

This project, running from February 2015 to April 2016, is a strategic effort to link, inspire, mobilize and help direct the efforts of all those with an interest in or responsibility for carved stones in Scotland.

We aim to take stock of existing and ongoing research and to identify priorities for future research. By involving leading practitioners from England, Ireland and Sweden we hope to benchmark Scottish initiatives to best practice internationally. Our aim is to stimulate research into all aspects of carved stones in Scotland in order to promote an increased awareness of the interest, significance and value of this important aspect of our heritage. This in turn will help improve handling of their care, for wider public benefit.

All participants, specialist and non-specialist, will shape the new research agenda, but, in consultation with the National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland, we have identified two specific areas to prioritize that seem particularly pressing or potentially fruitful: digital recording technology (a field in which Scotland aspires to play a leading role); and carved stones associated with churches (a major issue not previously addressed).

The objectives are to:

  • produce and publish a Research Agenda for Carved stones in Scotland. This will fill a perceived gap in the Scottish Archaeology Research Framework (ScARF) and will inform and inspire future research
  • bring together for the first time experts from across the research community with a wide range of specialist and non-specialist ‘stakeholders’ from the heritage and stewardship sectors in order to: share information and best practice (including knowledge transfer)
  • establish links that can form the basis of future collaborations
  • lay the groundwork for an international research network on digital applications in research on early medieval inscribed monuments.

For workshop details and summaries of findings, please follow the links for the individual workshops.

For further information please contact: Dr Sally Foster


Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland


Principal Investigator: Dr Sally Foster, University of Stirling

Co-Investigator: Dr Katherine Forsyth, University of Glasgow

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Long Lost Gothic Ivories Mon, 18 May 2015 10:08:29 +0000 Gothic Ivories were early on an important collectors’ item. The Gothic Ivories Project has been busy publishing some very old catalogues of photos of pieces with unknown whereabouts


A joint project of the Sculpture Department at the Musée du Louvre in Paris and the Medieval Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

The photographic archive of antiques dealers Georges-Joseph and Lucien Demotte is made up of over 5000 photographic glass plates. The majority of them reproduce art works sold in their two galleries in Paris and New York in the first quarter of the 20th century. Georges Demotte was based in Paris from c. 1900, and in New York from 1914 and he flourished as an antiques dealer in both cities. The domains he covered were varied (Islamic art, objets d’art, etc.), but sculpture was central to his business, and medieval sculpture in particular. At his death, his son Lucien took over, branching out to include modern and contemporary painting. The Albert Georges gallery, and later the Andrée Macé gallery took over their business and inherited the photographs the Demotte had assembled. The collection, initially offered to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1950s, who printed part of it on paper, was graciously deposited at the Sculpture Department at the Louvre in 1978.
In 2010, the decision was taken to create a database whose aim would be to describe the photographs and the art works reproduced. The Musée du Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have been collaborating to develop this database and its online publication is now imminent. In the meantime, it is possible to consult it at the Louvre Sculpture Department. For full details, see HERE. The study of these glass plates greatly increases the knowledge we have of the provenance of these art works and of their material history (restorations, questions of authenticity). It also gives us precious insights into the history of taste, the history of collecting and of the art market at the beginning of the 20th century.
 As the Demotte dealt in ivory sculptures, the Gothic Ivories Project has recently been working with the Louvre and the Metropolitan to add these historic photographs to the online catalogue (see image on this page).
To find them, just search for Demotte in the Copyright line (Advanced search page), or follow this link.


Crucifixion with the Virgin and saint John the Evangelist. © Bibliothèque des Arts décoratifs, Paris, Collection Maciet. Volume 325/13.
Crucifixion with the Virgin and saint John the Evangelist. © Bibliothèque des Arts décoratifs, Paris, Collection Maciet. Volume 325/13.

The Bibliothèque des Arts décoratifs does not only comprise books but also a very precious image archive which no one interested in art, and in particular decorative arts, should ignore. From 1885 to 1911, the art lover and collector Jules Maciet (b. 1846, d. 1911) assembled hundred of thousand of images, a vast collection of cuttings and photographs from very diverse sources arranged in large albums by material or type, then by period. After his death and until 1996, the curators of the Bibliothèque continued to enrich this unique resource. 250 000 images from this collection are now online, although this does not include the Ivory volumes.
As was to be expected, several volumes were dedicated to ivory carvings and contained some pieces for which the project had hitherto found no trace. Several volumes were particularly interesting, as they illustrated objects included in Koechlin’s corpus arranged by Koechlin number, some of which he had not reproduced (325/12 to 14).
To find which images come from the Maciet albums, just search for Maciet in the Copyright line (Advanced search page), or follow this link.
For more information on this resource and how to consult the albums, see HERE.


The Département des Objets d’art at the Musée du Louvre gave us access to their important documentation on the subject of ivories, and we were thus able to enhance a large number of entries, thanks to their support.
The Centre de Documentation is a very rich resource owing to the passion and dedication of generations of curators, several of whom had a particular interest for ivory carving. It is open to researchers and students every afternoon except on Tuesdays. 
For opening times and full details, see HERE.


The Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris has again tremendously enriched the Gothic Ivories catalogue. A few years ago, they provided us with images of classified objects scattered around France, in small parish churches and cathedral treasuries. But they are also home to the photographic archive of Raymond Koechlin, and you can imagine what THAT looks like…! 
The Médiathèque has done a fantastic job at digitising all of Koechlin’s photographs. This is not just medieval ivories, but also Asian and Islamic art, ceramics, metalwork, enamel… over 1700 images in total.
We thus have been working together to make some of these historical images available on the Gothic Ivories website, while directing you all to their online database Mémoire via the ‘To purchase and image’ links (any link showing as will bring you to relevant images on their site where you will be able to order high resolution images if you wish).


© Fonds Demotte at The Cloisters Archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Crucifixion with the Virgin and saint John the Evangelist; female kneeling figure in donor position; sun and moon; clouds. Unknown location.


Gothic Ivories Project at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London


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Cistercian Studies Conference – Past and Future Mon, 18 May 2015 08:56:29 +0000 Brian Patrick McGuire tells about his life-long immersion in Cistercian Studies and the Cistercian Studies Conference in Kalamazoo

The city of Kalamazoo in Western Michigan is best known for the Glenn Miller song “I’ve got a girl in Kalamazoo” but for the past fifty years it has been home every May to an international conference of medieval studies which now brings 3000 scholars from all over the globe to Western Michigan University for four intense days of seminars, lectures and events focusing on life and learning in medieval Europe.

Brian Patrick McGuireOne segment of the Medieval Congress is made up of the Cistercian Studies Conference. Here monks, nuns and lay scholars delve into the long history of the Cistercian Order, founded in Burgundy in the 12th century and still alive today in more than a hundred houses for men and for women all over the globe. The idea of the Conference is to make it possible to living Cistercians to talk about their heritage with lay persons. Some of these are Roman Catholics, but there are just as many Protestants and those with no religious faith but with a fascination for the group of contemplative monks that changed the geography of medieval Europe with their 700 foundations. Each of us is encouraged to give a 20 minute paper, followed by 10 minutes of discussion, and with three papers in a session, and three sessions in a day, plus an evening session, it is an intense and exhausting experience!

I first came to the Cistercian Conference in 1989 and was amazed to discover the openness of the monks and nuns to critical studies of their traditions and past. I was told that I was a “Cistercian scholar” and was welcome to visit Cistercian monasteries in the United States and lecture on the topics that I presented at Kalamazoo. So I am one of a privileged group of lay scholars who first visit the United States by spending a week in a monastery and live the daily life of monks or nuns and then come to Kalamazoo. I have just come from the Abbey of New Melleray in Iowa, founded by Irish monks in 1849 and now home to about 30 monks who listened to three days of my presentations on the history of private prayer and the life and writings of Bernard of Clairvaux, the best-known Cistercian of the twelfth century.

This year’s Cistercian Studies Conference will be especially memorable, for the key figure in Cistercian studies, Professor Rozanne Elder, who has been based at Western Michigan University since the 1970s, is retiring from her professorship. A successor has been chosen, but the future of the Cistercian Conference is in question, with a university that like other American institutions of higher learning is trying to cut back on expenses. It remains to be seen if Western Michigan will continue to house what Rozanne Elder helped create, the Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies, or if it will have to move elsewhere. If so, the Cistercian Conference would not be allowed to continue offering twelve sessions over three days with scholars from North America, Europe and Asia. There will no longer be a  Cistercian Conference separate from the Medieval Congress and a wonderful meeting place of kindred spirits will be lost.

The modern Cistercians used to be called Trappists, from the branch of the movement that was reformed in the 17th century, but most Cistercians today prefer their medieval name and not the name derived from the strict abbey of “La Trappe”. Thus the initials of these Cistercians remains OCSO, meaning the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. The Trappists were famous for never speaking, and there are still monks and nuns alive today who can remember the old regime when they only spoke to each other on special occasions. Today the Cistercians are much better known for loving to talk, and at Kalamazoo the talk will spread out of the lecture hall to the coffee room and the pathways of the university, bursting with spring flowers and a sense of renewal.

Brian Patrick McGuire – Professor Emeritus, Roskilde University


Abbey of New Melleray in Iowa. Notice the austere architecture, true to the aesthetic designs of Bernard of Clairvaux


Brian Patrick McGuire

Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies

Cistercians at Kalamazoo 2015

Selected Works of Brian Patrick McGuire:

Friendship and community coverFriendship and Community: The Monastic Experience, 350-1250 
by Brian Patrick McGuire
Cornell University Press (1988) 2010
ISBN-10: 0801476720
ISBN-13: 978-0801476723’


Human beings have always formed personal friendships. Some cultures have left behind the evidence of philosophical discussion; some have provided only private or semipublic letters. By comparing these, one discerns the effect exercised by the society in which the writers lived, its opportunities, and its restrictions. The cloistered monks of medieval Europe, who have bequeathed a rich literary legacy on the subject, have always had to take into account the overwhelming fact of community. Brian Patrick McGuire finds that in seeking friends and friendship, medieval men and women sought self-knowledge, the enjoyment of life, the commitment of community, and the experience of God.

First published in 1988, Friendship and Community has been widely debated, inspiring the current interest among medievalists in the subject of friendship. It has also informed other fields within medieval history, including monasticism, spirituality, psychology, and the relationship between self and community. In a new introduction to the Cornell edition, McGuire surveys the critical reaction to the original edition and subsequent research on the subject of medieval friendship.

The difficult saint CoverThe Difficult Saint: Bernard of Clairvaux and His Tradition by Brian Patrick McGuire
Cistercian Publications Inc. 1989
ISBN-10: 0879076267
ISBN-13: 978-0879076269


Controversial in his own day, Bernard still today excites both admiration and dislike. McGuire looks at various facets of Bernard’s personality, and at the enduring legacy that has followed him for over eight centuries.




Conflict and Continuity at Om Abbey CoverConflict and Continuity at Om Abbey A Cistercian Experience in Medieval Denmark
by McGuire, Brian Patrick
Museum Tusculanum Press 1976
ISBN 978-87-7289-226-9







A Companion to Bernard of ClairvauxA Companion to Bernard of Clairvaux
Ed. by Brian Patrick McGuire
Series: Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition
Brill 2011
ISBN-10: 9004201394
ISBN-13: 978-9004201392


Bernard of Clairvaux emerges from these studies as a vibrant, challenging and illuminating representative of the monastic culture of the twelfth century. In taking on Peter Abelard and the new scholasticism he helped define the very world he opposed and thus contributed to the renaissance of the twelfth century.

Christopher Holdsworth, Michael Casey, James France, Diane Reilly, John Sommerfeldt, Mette B. Bruun, Burcht Pranger, Chrysogonus Waddell, E. Rozanne Elder, and Brian Patrick McGuire.

Friendship and Faith - Cistercian men CoverFriendship and Faith: Cistercian Men, Women, and Their Stories, 1100-1250
Brian Patrick McGuire
Series: Variorum Collected Studies Series: CS742
Ashgate Variorum 2002
ISBN: 978-0-86078-892-8
ISBN: 9780860788928

In these articles Professor McGuire explores the riches of the Cistercian exemplum tradition. These texts are made up of brief stories, often with a miraculous content, which provided moral support for novices and monks in Cistercian abbeys all over Europe in the High Middle Ages. The Cistercians have been seen mainly in terms of their great writers like Bernard of Clairvaux and the impressive buildings they left behind. But Cistercian literature also provides us with more humble insights from daily life, shedding light on questions of sexuality, anger, depression, and bonds of friendship, also between monks and nuns. They bring a freshness of insight and immediate experience, and their seeming naivety lets us be aware of monks’ commitment to each other in individual and community bonds. In Cistercian storytelling, the Gospel’s message meets an historical context and bears witness to a transformation of Christian life and idealism, while at the same time allowing us precious insights into how ordinary men and women, not just monks and nuns, lived and thought.

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Cistercians at Kalamazoo 2015 Tue, 12 May 2015 09:02:58 +0000 1115 Clairvaux was founded in France. Commemorating the events 900 years later, the 2015 Cistercian Studies Conference will once more be held at Kalamazoo.

This year Kalamazoo is impregnated with Cistercian scholars, who are busy convening for this year’s Cistercian Studies Conference organised under the auspices of the “Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies” at the Western Michigan University. All-in-all twelve sessions have been planned on a variety of topics pertaining to the medieval history of the Cistercian order and organized by the Center’s  director, E. Rozanne Elder, and by Henrike Lähnemann from Oxford University. The center also hosts a couple of social arrangements (drinks etc.)

To this list should be added a separate session on Cistercian preaching and a handful of other papers.

However, the main event is the Cistercian Studies Conference.


Introducing the Cistercian conference is of course Professor Emeritus Brian Patrick MacGuire from Roskilde University in Denmark, who is (rumour has it) currently writing his magnum opus: a biography of Bernard of Clairvaux. With the intriguing title: “Living on his Nerves” participants will be introduced to his on-going search to fathom this “difficult saint” (to quote from the title of his first biography of the man from 1991.

After this follows a distinct bonanza of papers approaching the man and his world from all sorts of interdisciplinary angles:

Below is the full programme (numbers refer to the number of the session):

Clairvaux’s First Abbot (11)

Presider: E. Rozanne Elder, Western Michigan University

  • “Living on His Nerves”: In Search of the Founder of Clairvaux
    Brian Patrick McGuire, Roskilde Univ.
  • The Vita Quarta and the Cistercian Literary Tradition
    Spencer J. Weinreich, Yale Univ.
  • Cistercian Bestsellers by Anonymous Authors: An Outline History of the Main Pseudo-Bernardine Works
    Elias Dietz, OCSO, Abbey of Gethsemani
Lectio Divina and Its Echoes (58)

Presider: Cassian Russell, OCSO, Monastery of the Holy Spirit

  • Lions in the Desert
    Kyler Williamsen, Western Michigan Univ.
  • Saint Bernard and John Scotus Eriugena: Flying with the Evangelist’s Eagle through the Spiritual Landscape
    Natalie B. Van Kirk, Loyola Univ. Chicago
  • Lectio Divina in the Cistercian Visionary Texts of the Thirteenth Century
    Elena Kuzmenko, Lomonosov Moscow State Univ.
Theologians and Hagiographers (108)

Presider: Elias Dietz, OCSO, Abbey of Gethsemani

  • Soteriologial Epistemology? Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Paul’s Exinanitio
    Marvin Döbler, Univ. Bremen
  • Liberum Arbitrium in Saint Bernard’s Theology
    Luke Anderson, O.Cist., St. Mary’s Priory
  • Impeccantia according to William of Saint-Thierry
    Aage Rydstrøm-Poulsen, Kalaallit Nunaata Univ.
  • Aelred’s Biographer and His Sources
    Ryszard Groń, Archdiocese of Chicago
Cistercian Influences (154)

Presider: Cornelia Oefelein, St.-Jakobus Gesellschaft Berlin-Brandenburg

  • Apocalyptic Prophecy and Cistercian Identity in the Thirteenth Century
    Magda Hayton, McGill Univ.
  • How Far Did the Apple Fall from the Tree? Cistercian Elements in the Alphabet of Tales
    Marjory E. Lange, Western Oregon Univ.
  • Gilbert of Hoyland’s Heaven, and Dante’s?
    Marsha L. Dutton, Ohio Univ.
Medingen Manuscripts in America (184)

Presider: Susan M. B. Steuer, Western Michigan Univ.

  • The Medingen Prayer Book: Obrecht MS 23 at Western Michigan University
    Henrike Lähnemann
  • The Interwoven Language of Houghton Library MS Lat 395, Harvard University
    Gennifer Dorgan, Univ. of Connecticut
  • A Miniature of the Resurrection of Christ in Cambridge: Houghton MS Lat 440, Harvard University
    Laura Godfrey, Univ. of Connecticut
The Devotional Culture of Cistercian Nuns (238)

Presider: Henrike Lähnemann, Univ. of Oxford

  • Devotional Print Culture in Northern Germany
    Elizabeth Andersen, Newcastle Univ.
  • Letters from the Cloister: The Nuns’ Networks of Communication
    Anne Simon, Univ. of London
  • Material Culture in the Digital Age: A Discussion
    Susan M. B. Steuer, Western Michigan Univ.
Cistercians in a Changing World (293)

Presider: Philip F. O’Mara, Bridgewater College

  • Clairvaux, Its Abbots, and the Papal Curia in the Fourteenth Century
    Ralf Lützelschwab, Freie Univ. Berlin
  • Katharina von Bora: A Cistercian Lutheran?
    Rose Marie Tillisch, Diocese of Elsinore
  • Bernard and Augustine on Curiosity and Creation, and the Impetus for Science
    Cheryl Kayahara-Bass, Independent Scholar
Cistercian Exempla Tradition (348)

Presider: Brian Patrick McGuire, Roskilde Univ.

  • You Must Remember This: The Recording and Preservation of Exempla in Britain and Ireland, ca. 1200
    Helen Birkett, Univ. of Exeter
  • Rewriting Herbertus in Bavaria: The Changing Nature of Cistercian Exempla Collections
    Stefano Mula, Middlebury College
  • The Miraculous and the Mundane
    Lawrence Morey, OCSO, Abbey of Gethsemani
Cistercians as Landowners (406)

Presider: Thomas X. Davis, Abbey of New Clairvaux

  • This is Our Forest: Cistercian Expansion in Angoumois and the Conflict with Saint-Amant-de-Boixe
    Michael F. Webb, Univ. of Toronto
  • Conflict Involving the Collection of Tithes at Cistercian Houses in Northeastern France
    Kathryn E. Salzer, Pennsylvania State Univ.
  • Cistercians and Their Towns in Medieval England
    Anna Anisimova, Russian Academy of Sciences
Cistercian Property Management (465)

Presider: Kathryn E. Salzer, Pennsylvania State Univ.

  • Building the Desert: Property Management according to the Early Cistercians
    Jean Truax, Independent Scholar
  • The Founder of Henrykow in the Light of Medieval Monastic and Secular Founding Traditions
    Monica Michalska, Univ. Jagiellonski w Krakowie
  • Does It Really Make Sense to Operate in All Countries?
    Klaus Wollenberg, Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften München
Cistercian Textual Studies I (520)

Presider: Charles Cummings, OCSO, Holy Trinity Monastery

  • Secular Desire and Biblical Violence: Cistercian Interpretations of Dinah and Tamar
    Tristan Sharp, Newman Theological College
  • “Are the eyes never to be raised at all?”: Curiosity and Sanctity among the Cistercian Fathers
    James DeFrancis, Christendom College
  • New Writings by Roger of Ford
    Bryan VanGinhoven, Arizona State Univ.
Cistercian Textual Studies II (547)

Presider: John R. Sommerfeldt, Univ. of Dallas

  • Miles Christi : The Image of the Soldier in Bernard’s Writings
    Stephen Russell, Hofstra Univ.
  • Sponsus et Sponsa: Aelred of Rievaulx on Relationships
    Daniel Marcel La Corte, St. Ambrose Univ.
  • Contemplation and Action in Bernard of Clairvaux’s Angelology
    Gilbert Stockson, Univ. of Notre Dame

More Cistercian Stuff

As if this is not enough, at least four other sessions include presentations of Cistercian matters:

The International Anchoritic Society (111)  includes a presentation on
  • Robert of Knaresborough and the Problem of Eremitic Authority: Noble Patrons and Cistercian Neighbors
    Joshua Easterling, Murray State Univ.
The International Medieval Sermon Studies Society has organized a whole session on Cistercian Preaching (session 177) with the following presentations:
  • How to Rejoice in the Physical Departure of Christ: The Six Ascension. Sermons of Bernard of Clairvaux
    By Philip F. O’Mara, Bridgewater College
  • From Mud Bricks to Living Stones: Twelfth-Century Cistercian Exegeses of Ascension
    Timothy M. Baker, Harvard Divinity School
  • Continuities in Cistercian Formation: Twenty-First-Century Interrogations of Aelred’s Sermons for All Saints
    Cassian Russell, OCSO, Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Post-Conquest Religiosity (258) includes a presentation on
  • Conquering Cistercians: Savigny, Sempringham, and Obazine, ca. 1147
    Lochin Brouillard, Centre for Medieval Studies, Univ. of Toronto
Religious Persecution and Heretical Identities in Medieval Europe (425)

Violence and the Construction of the Heretical Identity in the Cistercian Anti-Heretical Discourse
Stamatia Noutsou, Masarykova Univ.


The Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies encourages and facilitates research on all aspects of the Cistercian tradition and in the broader field of religious traditions. It was established in 2010 as a research center under the aegis of the Medieval Institute as the successor to the Institute of Cistercian Studies, which had been founded in 1973 as a cooperative venture between Western Michigan University and Cistercian Publications, Inc.

The Center offers a Graduate Certificate in the History of Monastic Movements, which is open to students enrolled in a graduate degree program at WMU.


St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church is a medieval Spanish monastery cloister which was built in the town of Sacramenia in Segovia, Spain, in the 12th century but dismantled in the 20th century and shipped to New York in the United States. It was eventually reassembled in North Miami Beach, Florida, where it is now an Episcopal church and tourist attraction. It is one of the oldest buildings in the Western Hemisphere. Source: Wikipedia. Rolf Müller (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Professor Brian patrick McGuires fond memories of the Cistercian Studies Conference and Kalamazoo

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The Middle Ages in the Modern World Mon, 11 May 2015 12:56:53 +0000 MAMO aims to explore the continued return to, and relevance of, the Middle Ages. This years conference will be held at the University of Lincoln

The Middle Ages in the Modern World
A multidisciplinary conference on medievalism in the post-Middle Ages

Following the success of MAMO 2013, held at St Andrews last year, we are proud to announce that a follow-up conference will be held from Monday 29th June to Thursday 2nd July 2015 at the University of Lincoln. It will also be held in conjunction with Lincoln’s celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, where Lincoln’s own copy of the Magna Carta will have returned and be back proudly on display in the castle.

As the title suggests, MAMO aims to explore the continued return to, and relevance of, the Middle Ages in the modern world, and why the period continues to attract audiences and scholars. Particularly, its interdisciplinary focus is designed to explore a range of areas, from popular culture to public history, from science to advertising, and even legal frameworks and political rhetoric. Given the popularity of medievalism as a growing discipline, and given the fantastic reception of the last conference, we are expecting a wide audience from a range of fields and disciplines including History, Literature, Film & Television, Video Games, Performing Arts, Drama, Languages, Museum Curation and more besides.


Elaine Treharne (Stanford University), The Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities
Louise D’Arcens (University of Wollongong), Associate Professor of English Literature
James Hannam, author of God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
Kevin J. Harty (LaSalle University), Professor and Chair of English
Claire Breay (British Library) Lead Curator of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts

The 2015 MAMO conference is being organised by Andrew Elliott and Joanna Huntington. Follow the links to our profiles for our individual contact details, or else you can get hold of either of us at the conference email account, And if you just can’t get enough of us, well, you can follow MAMO2015 on our social media links, too!



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Saint Martin, expansion and revivals Mon, 11 May 2015 11:54:35 +0000 2016 witness the 1700-year anniversary of St. Martin of Tours. An international symposium will be organized in Tours in 2016 to address St, Martin and his world in an interdisciplinary context. Several scientific fields, History, Archeology, Art History, Literary Studies, Ethnology and Anthropology, Theology, Economics, are called to participate.

Saint Martin, expansion and revivals of his popularity from the origins to the present day
12.10.2016 – 14.10.2016


As part of the Saint Martin’s year 2016 (1700th anniversary of the birth of Saint Martin), an international conference will be held at the University of Tours, October 12th-14th 2016, on the theme of “Saint Martin, expansion and revivals in his popularity from the origins to the present day”. The conference concerns not only historians but also archaeologists, art historians, sociologists, theologians, and literary scholars. Focus will be on the lesser known aspects of the theme, e.g. the revivals of saint Martin’s cult in some regions of Europe at different periods; or ethnological and anthropological dimensions and their impact on art and literature; or theological appropriation of the saint Martin’s figure.

Call for Papers

2016 will be St. Martin’s year and we shall celebrate the 1700th anniversary of his birth. This is a good opportunity to review the studies on St. Martin.

There is a huge bibliography on this subject, but the research topics are also very numerous. Reference should be made to the fundamental work of Jacques Fontaine (for editing the works of Sulpicius Severus), Clare Stancliffe (for the historical context of the fourth century) and Luce Pietri (for the historical context of late antique and early medieval city of Tours). Archeological works in the Touraine have been conducted by Charles Lelong and Henri Galinié. Recently it is to Elisabeth Lorans that we owe the renewal of archeology in Marmoutier.

St. Martin’s year 1960-1961 was marked by several symposia held in Tours, in Ligugé and in Rome. The proceedings remain a reference even today. St. Martin’s year 1996-1997 also gave the opportunity to hold conferences focusing on Tours and on the sharing of the mantle.


The international symposium organized in Tours in 2016 aims to address the figure of Martin from a holistic perspective. Several scientific fields, History, Archeology, Art History, Literary Studies, Ethnology and Anthropology, Theology, Economics, are called upon to review some fundamental issues:

  • If the origin of the cult has been well studied (cf. L. Pietri), further reflection should be hoped for on the relationship between the spreading of a book and the success of a cult, as well as on the different dimensions of the cult. This original phase is marked by foundations in Touraine, in Poitou, but also in Rome and elsewhere in Gaul and Italy. The characterization of an original phase should allow us to study the issue of revitalization, revival, renaissance, reappropriations, reinterpretations of the history of the cult; as well as obviously the opposite phenomena of extinction, decline, erasure, obliteration, etc. All this has been little studied in previous work. The various dimensions of the “martinian” cult are not necessarily combined in the same degree in the same period. Each phase of growth of the cult has probably its own source and its own geography. It is particularly useful to combine historical texts and archaeological data on these different phases: the first foundations, the Merovingian and Carolingian foundations, foundations of the central Middle Ages and foundations in more recent periods. At each stage there are issues of scale: across all regions of Europe where the cult was revived as opposed to those where it disappears; on a local scale the transfer of a patronage of a vanished church to a new church does not necessarily occur in the same place but may involve a series of local relations and transformations.
  • How may we characterize the cult of St. Martin in Italy, in the British Isles, Spain, in the Germanic area, in the Scandinavian area, in the Slavic area, in Hungary …
  • In a broader context covering the 1700 years participants are also invited to examine the testimony of literature, folklore, music, theology and art.
  • Finally, the historiographical question, especially in the nineteenth century, should not be forgotten.

Proposals for presentations should be formulated in one page and may be submitted in English, French, German or Italian. The Scientific Committee will select the proposals according to their relevance to the argument of the conference.

The scientific committee is especially composed of Luce Pietri (professeur d’Histoire ancienne, université de Paris IV Sorbonne), Clare Stancliffe (Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Durham university), Elisabeth Lorans (professeur d’Archéologie médiévale, université de Tours), Bruno Judic (professeur d’Histoire du Moyen Âge, université de Tours), Thomas Deswarte (professeur d’Histoire du Moyen Âge, université d’Angers), Sylvie Labarre (maître de conférences de Latin, université du Mans), Christine Bousquet (maître de conférences d’Histoire du Moyen Âge, université de Tours), Yossi Maurey (professeur de musicologie, Hebrew University Jérusalem), Hervé Oudart (maître de conférences d’Histoire du Moyen Âge, université de Paris IV Sorbonne), Chantal Senséby (maître de conférences d’Histoire du Moyen Âge, université d’Orléans), Bruno Maes (maître de conférences d’Histoire moderne, université de Lorraine Nancy), Robert Beck (maître de conférences d’Histoire contemporaine, université de Tours).

The deadline for submitting proposals is April 30th 2016.

département d’Histoire, université de Tours
3, rue des Tanneurs BP 4103
F 37041 Tours Cedex 1
02 47 36 66 28
Visit the website at

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Sacred Plunder Mon, 11 May 2015 09:04:28 +0000

In 1204 the Fourth Crusade famously ended with the capture of Constantinople. One result was a massive influx of valuables to the city of Venice. New book explores how the stories told about these events helped to recreate Venice as an important political player in the later Middle Ages.

Sacred Plunder venice and the Aftermath CoverSacred Plunder
Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade
David M. Perry
Penn State University Press 2015
ISBN: 978-0-271-06507-6

In Sacred Plunder, David Perry argues that plundered relics, and narratives about them, played a central role in shaping the memorial legacy of the Fourth Crusade and the development of Venice’s civic identity in the thirteenth century. After the Fourth Crusade ended in 1204, the disputes over the memory and meaning of the conquest began. Many crusaders faced accusations of impiety, sacrilege, violence, and theft. In their own defense, they produced hagiographical narratives about the movement of relics—a medieval genre called translatio—that restated their own versions of events and shaped the memory of the crusade. The recipients of relics commissioned these unique texts in order to exempt both the objects and the people involved with their theft from broader scrutiny or criticism. Perry further demonstrates how these narratives became a focal point for cultural transformation and an argument for the creation of the new Venetian empire as the city moved from an era of mercantile expansion to one of imperial conquest in the thirteenth century.


David M. Perry is Associate Professor of History at Dominican University. He is a frequent contributor to, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Atlantic, and Al Jazeera America.


List of Illustrations



Part I: Contexts

  • Constantinople’s Relics, 1204–1261
  • Pope Innocent III and Sacrilege, 1204–1215

Part II: Texts

  •  The Translatio Narratives of the Fourth Crusade
  • Interpretations

Part III: Outcomes

  • Translatio and Venice Before and After 1204
  • Translatio and the Myth of Venice





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Medieval riverboat found in the Grado Lagoon Sun, 10 May 2015 15:19:09 +0000 Medieval riverboat from the 10th century has been discovered in the river Stella near the Grado Lagoon close to Udine in Northern Italy
Medieval ship from River Stella near Friuli
Medieval ship from River Stella near Friuli © Anaxum

The river Stella was one of the most important inroads to the Roman city of Aquileia. For some years an international group of scientists, archaeologists, historians and others have worked to map the historical river and its fluvial delta. During this work a number of exciting finds have been made; many from Roman Antiquity, but also from the Middle Ages.

Already in 1981 a group of divers discovered a unique boat from late Antiquity, which had sunk together with its full cargo of tiles and amphorae. Since 2012 a group of archaeologists – the Anaxum Project –  have worked to register this find and do a full report on the cargo.

Working the area, the archaeologists struck luck in 2012, when they found what appears to be an abandoned medieval riverboat from the 11th century. Preservation of the boat is still going on and publication of this find is pending.

However, at this point we know that

  • the boat has been dated to the 11th century (Radiocarbon).
  • It measured app. 8 m x 1.86 m
  • Its construction differs from the late antique boat found in 198. In fact, it seems to represent an intermediate type between boats

It appears to have been used both in the river as in the lagoon

The find helps to understand the historical context of the River Stella, which appears to have been a dynamic trade rout connection the lagoon with the commandery at Precenicco, which was inhabited by the Teutonic order from 1210 – 1623. They used the location to organize part of the maritime traffic to the Holy Land in the time of the crusades.

The plan is to build an Eco-Historical Museum around the finds, which have been made not far from the natural park of Riserva Naturale Foci dello Stella. Exactly where this museum will be located is at present unknown.


A new shipwreck of XI AD from Stella river

Waterlands. The eco-historical landscape of the Stella River (2014)


Medieval boat is lifted from the ground near the river stella – Foto: Turco Massimo


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Sunken Dream of Venice Sun, 10 May 2015 09:53:35 +0000 No-one in their right mind travels to Venice these days. Overcrowded with tourists and empty of local Venetians, it does no inspire to any sort of travel, but that of the armchair. We bring you a short overview of the history and a list of books
The Funeral of Venice 2009. Source:
The Funeral of Venice 2009. Source:

A few years back the Venetians staged a dramatic burial of their city. Officially the number of inhabitants had sunk beneath 60.000 and a group of concerned citizens rigged a gondola with a traditional casket and organized a funeral procession down the Canal Grande. More than 300 boats and gondolas took part in the funeral procession, which ended in front of the Palazzo Cà Farsetti, where a funeral prayer for the “Serenissima” was offered in the Venetian dialect.

This was no idle joke. Venice is threatened; and more so, today, when more than 80.000 tourists visit the city every day, many of them arriving on gargantuan cruise-ships, for which plans are currently underway to make further room.

We, though, may well ask, what the city would be like, if “the others” had to queue for years (which may in fact be the only solution in the future, when a billion Chinese and Indians are expected to roam the world each summer). The answer is of course, that it might once again be the city of our youth: Medieval Venice.

Early History

Brother Paolino, Map of  Venezia, 1346
Brother Paolino, Map of Venezia, 1346

Venice was built on the archipelago in the centre of the extensive Venetian Lagoon in the 7th century as a refuge for Roman citizens fleeing the barbarian invasion of the Lombards. One of twelve such settlements in the lagoons, it was not a particularly important partner in the first confederation. In AD 810 strife and flooding led to a relocation of the central government of the confederation to Venice. At the beginning the centre was no more than a small chapel dedicated to S Todaro. However in AD 829 the body of the Evangelist, St. Mark, was brought to the city from Alexandria.

The archipelago on which the city was constructed measured no more than 1.5 X 5 km with two centres around S. Marco and Rialto, with the latter functioning as the market and the former as the guardian of the entrance to the Canal Grande. But other islets were also settled with churches, monasteries and palaces at this time. S. Pietro di Castello, S. Zaccaria, S. Giogio Maggiore and SS Apostoli are but a few of the better-known examples. As the city grew the number of these parishes exploded and around 1200 there were more than 70 such parishes or local centres around the city. Each was built around a campo with a well and with an adjoining palace and church and linked by bridges to the other islets.

As the Venetians had little access to timber, buildings were soon constructed from spoliae nearby Roman cities like Altinum and further away. Later Mestre on the mainland functioned as a supplier of building bricks, sourced inland. When buildings grew in the height, foundations of solid timber became necessary. This was sourced as far away as Friuli and the colony of Istria.

Trading Hub

Marco Polo leaving venice in 1271
Marco Polo leaving Venice in 1271

By the 10th century Venice had established itself as an important trading hub between Eastern and Northern Europe. Commercial links secured trading privileges from the Byzantine Emperors and the huge shipbuilding enterprise was placed under state control at the Arsenal in the eastern part of the city, which was founded in 1104. Venice became de facto the capital of a huge trading empire with S. Marco as the spiritual and political centre and Rialto as the commercial hotspot. Symbolic were the two famous columns erected by the Doge Sebastiano Ziani (1172 – 78) after he had reclaimed the inlet, which today forms the piazzetta San Marco. At the same time the market was moved to the Western bank of the Canal Grande and the first bridge was erected.

City of Dreams

Ca' d'Oro in Venice © Didier Descouens
Ca’ d’Oro in Venice
© Didier Descouens CC By-SA 4.0


In 1204 the Fourth Crusade resulted in the taking of Constantinople and a vast booty of relics, sculptures, arts and other valuables were brought to the city; most famous, are of course the four horses, which were placed on the terrace of S Marco in 1254 and whose replicas still reigns over the city. (The originals may be admired in the basilica). At the same time the piazza was paved for the first time, while the mint was moved from the market to the centre of government. Nearby huge granaries were erected to secure the city in times of hunger and a series of civil works were commenced, basically resulting in the present palace complex, which may be enjoyed today.

Ca' d'Oro Courtyard in venice. Source. Wikipedia
Ca’ d’Oro Courtyard in venice. Source. Wikipedia

By 1200 the population of Venice had risen to more than 100.000, literally turning it into one of the largest cities in Europe at that time (London could only master ca. 40.000). Venice was simply a metropolis, surrounded by a string of satellites, working to provide the city is necessary victuals and daily supplies. Torcello thus functioned as a spiritual centre and Chioggio produced salt and furnished the city with fish, while Murano produced its famous glass. Around the lagoon, wine, fruits and vegetables were produced and send to market every day.

Plague and War

In 1348 plague swept through the city and killed half of the population. This was followed by war (1378 -80) against Venice’s great rival, Genoa. It nearly resulted in a violent conquest. Although the Genoese were repulsed, it took centuries for the city to reclaim some of its former vivacity. Around 1420 Venice is reckoned to have been top of the list, once again. At that time Venice governed not only the city and the surrounding Lagoon, but the whole republic including Vicenza, Padua and Verona.


Palazzo Bernado a San Polo CC By-SA 4.0  © Didier Descouens
Palazzo Bernado a San Polo CC By-SA 4.0 © Didier Descouens

Once again a series of palaces and public constructions were initiated. Built on timbers driven into the underlying ground and built of bricks, they were decorated with details made of white Istrian stone – windows, balconies, doorways came to embellish these magnificent buildings, of which many of course may still be seen in the cityscape.

Characteristically they were constructed around the Androne, the large hall, which ran from central entrance opening up to the canal and all the way through the house. On either side of this hall were the offices and stocks. On the first floor was the apartment of the noble family. Further up were the kitchens and the servants’ quarters. Towards the rear of the palace was a courtyard with a well and an external staircase leading to the apartment above.

The most famous of these palaces is of course the 15th century Ca’ d’Oro. Earlier examples are the Donà palaces (one of which is a hotel) and the Ca’ da Mosto.

Most of these medieval palaces, which still line the Canal Grande were rebuilt in the early modern period. Later they were turned into hotels. While several palaces are dedicated to tell the story of daily life in 17th and 18th century Venice, the city museum curiously enough do not have at its disposal a palace, which may showcase the daily life of a medieval merchant. (The two most famous examples: Ca’ Farsetti and Ca’ Loredan are used for municipal administration).


The architectural history of Venice  coverThe Architectural History of Venice
by Deborah Howard
Yale University Press; Revised and enlarged edition 2004
ISBN-10: 0300090293
ISBN-13: 978-0300090291




Venetian Venacular Architecture CoverVenetian Vernacular Architecture: Traditional Housing in the Venetian Lagoon
by Richard J. Goy
Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition 2011
ISBN-10: 0521154901
ISBN-13: 978-0521154901



Art and architecture Venice coverArt & Architecture: Venice
by Marion Kaminski
Ullmann Publishing 2013
ISBN-10: 3848003236
ISBN-13: 978-3848003235



The New Palaces of Medieval Venice CoverThe New Palaces of Medieval Venice
by Jürgen Schulz
Pennsylvania State University Press 2004
ISBN-10: 0271023511
ISBN-13: 978-0271023519


The House of Gold Venice CoverThe House of Gold: Building a Palace in Medieval Venice
by Richard J. Goy
Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition 2011
ISBN-10: 0521181348
ISBN-13: 978-0521181341




Sacred Plunder venice and the Aftermath CoverSacred Plunder: Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade
by David M. Perr
Pennsylvania State University Press 2015
ISBN-10: 0271065087
ISBN-13: 978-0271065083




Venice and the East CoverVenice and the East: The Impact of the Islamic World on Venetian Architecture 1100 – 1500
by Deborah Howard
Yale University Press 2000
ISBN-10: 0300085044
ISBN-13: 978-0300085044



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