Medieval Histories News about the Middle Ages Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:46:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The King of Dublin and the Earl of Warwick Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:32:19 +0000 In 2004 John Ashdown-Hill traced the mtDNA sequence of Richard III to Joy Brown Ibsen in Canada. This research was published in the Last Days of Richard III; the book which prompted the search for the King in the Car-park. New book tries to move focus to Bisham Abbey and a search for the remains of the Earl of Warwick, presumed son of the Duke of Clarence.

No more than a year after the death of Richard III at Bosworth 1485, a Yorkist prince appeared in Flanders at the court of the sister of the late king. The boy, no more than 12 years old – but perhaps smallish like his father – must have come with letters documenting his identity as the young Earl of Warwick, son of the late Duke of Clarence, brother to both Edward IV and Richard III. At least his aunt took him for the real thing as did other Yorkist supporters and he was fitted out with an army and returned to Ireland and crowned in the Cathedral of Dublin. As Edward VI. Later he suffered a defeat at the Battle of Stokes, was taken prisoner and according to Tudor propaganda defrocked as Lambert Simnel, the son of a commoner from Oxford. The rest of his life was spent as kitchen boy and servant at the court of Henry VII and Henry VIII. It is probable that the boy was identical with the yeoman mentioned in 1524 and to whom livery cloth was issued that year. His later whereabouts have not surfaced.

However, as with other Plantagenet pretenders to the English Crown in the aftermath of Bosworth, everything is not as it seems to be. In a brand new book the historian John Ashdown-Hill has traced the history of this “Dublin King” and uncovered a host of fascinating details about his background and probable ancestry.

alleged remains of Duke of Clarence
Alleged remains of Duke of Clarence, the father of the Earl of Warwick, in Tewkesbury Abbey

Facts are that his father, the Duke of Clarence, on the eve of his imprisonment in 1478 planned to have his very young son – age 2 – shipped to Ireland, leaving a substitute back in England. One reason was that the George might have felt he had a better claim to the throne of England than his brother Edward IV, who was generally believed to be a bastard. Another reason was that George simply feared for the life of his son. He believed that his wife had died in childbed as the consequence of poisoning by the queen. The official story – upheld by both Edward the IV and Richard III – was that the substitution had never taken place. Accordingly another Earl of Warwick was brought up at the court of his uncles. This Earl of Warwick was later taken into custody by Henry VII and placed in the Tower, until he was executed in 1499.

Later history has tried to square the facts that both prominent Yorkists and his aunt were convinced by the bona-fide claims of the young King of Dublin and backed him with a considerable army. Hence historians have tried to identify him with either of the princes in the Tower, the presumably murdered sons of Edward IV. In this new book Ashdown-hill does not unequivocally as the son of the Duke of Clarence; but he does indeed argue convincingly that this was what his supporters must have believed. On the way we are generously treated to a very fruitful shifting of old sources, which does read much like a fascinating story of crime and suspense.

In the end the young boy – if he was indeed captured at Stokes – ended his life as a humble yeoman at the royal court, while the “real” Earl of Warwick, captured after Bosworth, spent his entire life in the Tower growing more and more deranged. At his death he was characterised by the chronicler Edward Hall as having been so “out of all company of men, and sight of beasts, in so much that he could not discern a Goose from a Capon.”

Nevertheless his execution was deemed necessary in 1499, when Henry VII was negotiating the wedding between Catherine of Aragon and Arthur (the elder brother to Henry VIII). It is believed that it was a downright demand that there should not remain “a doubtful drop of royal blood in the kingdom” if the Spanish King should agree to send his daughter to England.

As history shows both the presumed pretender to be the younger prince in the tower, Richard of Shrewsbury later called Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick were dutifully gotten rid of.

The Abbey at Bisham

Afterwards the official Earl of Warwick together with his head was laid in a coffin and kept at the Tower. Next day “it was conveyed by water to Bisham in Berkshire and there interred with his ancestors” (The great Chronicle of London). Bisham Abbey was where his sister; Margaret de la Pole, lived. Later Bisham Abbey was

This is of course where the plot thickens and the quest for (more) Plantagenet DNA is launched.

Today Bisham Abbey church no longer stands. The abbey was dissolved and none of the monuments or tombs were spared. However, the place is a National Sports Centre and positively overflowing with greens, ready to be archaeologically excavated.

And DNA-analysis would of course help to unravel at least some of the mysteries still surrounding the curious story of Henry VII and all the Plantagenet pretenders. Presumably not hat many beheaded people were interred in the Abbey, and it is not at all unlikely that the remains of the official Earl might be recovered…

This is an interesting read, both careful and well-argued. Unfortunately it is also a bit repetitious and perhaps slightly rambling. Nevertheless it is without doubt safe to claim that readers are treated to what may very well be the next installment in the never-ending saga of the King in the Car-park. That is, at least until the Dean and Chapter in Westminster agrees to open the urn with the remains of the children found under the staircase in the Tower.) Another option, which we may perhaps presume John Ashdown-Hill is already pursuing is of course to track down living individuals sporting the surname Simnell. Somewhere, there might be a needle in a haystack, an ancestor…

Have Fun!

Karen Schousboe 


dublin king coverThe Dublin King: The true story of Lambert Simnel and the princes in the Tower
By John Ashdown-Hill
The History Press 2015
ISBN: 9780750960342
ISBN: 9780750963169


A year after Richard III’s death, a boy claiming to be a Yorkist prince appeared as if from nowhere, claiming to be Richard III’s heir and the rightful King of England. In 1487, in a unique ceremony, this boy was crowned in Dublin Cathedral, despite the Tudor government insisting that his real name was Lambert Simnel and that he was a mere pretender to the throne. Now, in The Dublin King, author and historian John Ashdown-Hill questions that official view. Using new discoveries, little-known evidence and insight, he seeks the truth behind the 500-year-old story of the boy-king crowned in Dublin. He also presents a link between Lambert Simnel’s story and that of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Richard III. On the way, the book sheds new light on the fate of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, before raising the possibility of using DNA to clarify the identity of key characters in the story and their relationships.


The Third Plantagenet coverThe Third Plantagenet: Duke of Clarence, Richard III’s Brother
By John Ashdown-Hill
The History Press 2014
ISBN-10: 0752499491
ISBN-13: 978-0752499499


Less well-known than his brothers, Edward IV and Richard III, little has been written about George, Duke of Clarence and we are faced with a series of questions. Where was he born? What was he really like? Was it his unpredictable behaviour that set him against his brother Edward IV? George played a central role in the Wars of the Roses played out by his brothers. But was he for York or Lancaster? Who was really responsible for his execution? Is the story of his drowning in a barrel of wine really true? And was ‘false, fleeting, perjur’d Clarence’ in some ways the role model behind the sixteenth-century defamation of Richard III? Finally, where was he buried and what became of his body? Can the DNA used recently to test the remains of his younger brother, Richard III, also reveal the truth about the supposed ‘Clarence bones’ in Tewkesbury? John Ashdown-Hill exposes the myths surrounding this pivotal and central Plantagenet, with remarkable results.

the last days of Richard IIIThe Last Days of Richard III and the fate of his DNA. The Book that Inspired the Dig
By John Ashdown-Hill
The History Press 2013 (New Edition)
ISBN: 9780752462509
ISBN: 9780752459608


The Last Days of Richard III contains a new and uniquely detailed exploration of Richard’s last days. By deliberately avoiding the hindsight knowledge that he will lose the Battle of Bosworth Field, we discover a new Richard: no passive victim, awaiting defeat and death, but a king actively pursuing his own agenda. It also re-examines the aftermath of Bosworth: the treatment of Richard’s body; his burial; and the construction of his tomb. And there is the fascinating story of why, and how, Richard III’s family tree was traced until a relative was found, alive and well, in Canada. Now, with the discovery of Richard’s skeleton at the Greyfriars Priory in Leicester, England, John Ashdown-Hill explains how his book inspired the dig and completes Richard III’s fascinating story, giving details of how Richard died, and how the DNA link to a living relative to the king allowed the royal body to be identified.

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Disability in the Middle Ages Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:05:36 +0000 The history of disability in the Middle Ages and later is the subject of a new resource developed by English Heritage
leprosy in the Middle Ages
A leper begging for alms from the margins of an English Pontifical c 1425 MS Lansdowne 451, fo 127r

© British Library

In medieval England, the ‘lepre’, the ‘blynde’, the ‘dumbe’, the ‘deaff’, the ‘natural fool’, the ‘creple’, the ‘lame’ and the ‘lunatick’ were a highly visible presence in everyday life. People could be born with a disability, or were disabled by diseases such as leprosy, or years of backbreaking work. This story is told by English Heritage in a brand new resource: A History of Disability: from 1050 to the Present Day:

“Attitudes to disability were mixed. People thought it was a punishment for sin, or the result of being born under the hostile influence of the planet Saturn. Others believed that disabled people were closer to God – they were suffering purgatory on earth rather than after death and would get to heaven sooner”, we are told in the text, which continues:

“There was no state provision for people with disabilities. Most lived and worked in their communities, supported by family and friends. If they couldn’t work, their town or village might support them, but sometimes people resorted to begging. They were mainly cared for by monks and nuns who sheltered pilgrims and strangers as their Christian duty.

Care for sick and disabled people was based on the Church’s teachings. The monks and nuns would follow the seven ‘comfortable works’ which involved feeding, clothing and housing the poor, visiting them when in prison or sick, offering drink to the thirsty, and burial. The seven ‘spiritual works’ included counsel and comfort for the sick.”

Each of these themes are explored in detail with links to medieval heritage witnessing to the care of the disabled in a time wrought with lack of funding, knowledge and resources.

The First Hospitals

almshouses in Canterbury - st. Nicolas
St Nicholas Harbledown in Canterbury, Kent

Over this period nationwide networks of hospitals based in (or near) religious establishments began to emerge. Specialised hospitals for leprosy, blindness and physical disability were created. England’s first mental institution, later known as ‘Bedlam’, was originally the Bethlehem hospital in the City of London. At the same time, almshouses were founded to provide a supportive place for the disabled and elderly infirm to live.

Numerous outstanding examples of medieval almshouses can still be found across England. They include St Mary’s in Chichester, SussexSt John’s in Lichfield, Staffordshire; the Maison Dieu in Ospringe, Kent (founded by Henry III); Gaywood Road almshouses, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, and the Guild of the Holy Cross almshouses in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

Many of the buildings have decayed or were destroyed during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s. Some remain however, including the oldest, St Nicholas Harbledown in Canterbury, Kent (1070s); St Mary Magdalene in Stourbridge near Cambridge; St Mary & St Margaret in Sprowston, Norwich, Norfolk and the hospital of St Mary the Virgin in Ilford, Greater London. Others survive as ruins or archaeological sites.

Acting for Themselves

We know that disabled people made pilgrimages on foot to holy sites such as the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury in search of a cure or relief. Sometimes disabled people had to battle injustice. In 1297 the residents of the leper house in the Norfolk village of West Somerton mutinied against the thieving abbot and his men, looting and demolishing the buildings and killing the guard dog.

The Medieval Legacy

The people, religious institutions and towns and cities of the medieval period were pioneers in terms of providing a specialised response to disability. Only a small number of their buildings remain, but over the next 500 years their early professional approach would eventually develop into our modern system of public services.


A History of Disability: from 1050 to the Present Day. The resource links to a series of buildings linked to the care for the ill and the disabled.


Disability in the Middle Ages

Disability in the Middle Ages CoverBy Joshua R. Eyler
Ashgate 2010
ISBN-10: 0754668223
ISBN-13: 978-0754668220


What do we mean when we talk about disability in the middle ages? This volume brings together dynamic scholars working on the subject in medieval literature and history, who use the latest approaches from the field to address this central question. Contributors discuss such standard medieval texts as the “Arthurian Legend”, “The Canterbury Tales” and “Old Norse Sagas”, providing an accessible entry point to the field of medieval disability studies to medievalists more generally. The essays explore a wide variety of disabilities, including the more traditionally accepted classifications of blindness and deafness, as well as perceived disabilities such as madness, pregnancy and age. Adopting a ground-breaking new approach to the study of disability in the medieval period, this provocative book will be a must-read for medievalists and scholars of disability throughout history.

Disability in Medieval Europe: Thinking about Physical Impairment in the High Middle Ages, c.1100-c.1400

Disability in the Middle Ages cover routledgeSeries: Routledge Studies in Medieval Religion and Culture
by Irina Metzler
Routledge 2006
ISBN-10: 0415582040
ISBN-13: 978-0415582049


This impressive volume presents a thorough examination of all aspects of physical impairment and disability in medieval Europe. Examining a popular era that is of great interest to many historians and researchers, Irene Metzler presents a theoretical framework of disability and explores key areas such as: medieval theoretical concepts, theology and natural philosophy, notions of the physical body, medical theory and practice.

Bringing into play the modern day implications of medieval thought on the issue, this is a fascinating and informative addition to the research studies of medieval history, history of medicine and disability studies scholars the English-speaking world over.

On the Margins of a Minority: Leprosy, Madness, and Disability among the Jews of Medieval Europe

on the margins of a minority coverBy Ephraim Shoham-Steiner (Author), Haim Watzman (Translator)
Wayne State University Press (June 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 081433931X
ISBN-13: 978-0814339312


In medieval Europe, the much larger Christian population regarded Jews as their inferiors, but how did both Christians and Jews feel about those who were marginalized within the Ashkenazi Jewish community? In On the Margins of a Minority: Leprosy, Madness, and Disability among the Jews of Medieval Europe, author Ephraim Shoham-Steiner explores the life and plight of three of these groups. Shoham-Steiner draws on a wide variety of late-tenth- to fifteenth-century material from both internal (Jewish) as well as external (non-Jewish) sources to reconstruct social attitudes toward these “others,” including lepers, madmen, and the physically impaired. Shoham-Steiner considers how the outsiders were treated by their respective communities, while also maintaining a delicate balance with the surrounding non-Jewish community.

On the Margins of a Minority is structured in three pairs of chapters addressing each of these three marginal groups. The first pair deals with the moral attitude toward leprosy and its sufferers; the second with the manifestations of madness and its causes as seen by medieval men and women, and the effect these signs had on the treatment of the insane; the third with impaired and disabled individuals, including those with limited mobility, manual dysfunction, deafness, and blindness. Shoham-Steiner also addresses questions of the religious meaning of impairment in light of religious conceptions of the ideal body. He concludes with a bibliography of sources and studies that informed the research, including useful midrashic, exegetical, homiletic, ethical, and guidance literature, and texts from responsa and halakhic rulings.

Understanding and exploring attitudes toward groups and individuals considered “other” by mainstream society provides us with information about marginalized groups, as well as the inner social mechanisms at work in a larger society. On the Margins of a Minority will appeal to scholars of Jewish medieval history as well as readers interested in the growing field of disability studies.

Disability and Medieval Law: History, Literature, Society

Disability and the Law coverBy Cory James Rushton
Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2013
ISBN-10: 1443849731
ISBN-13: 978-1443849739


Disability and Medieval Law: History, Literature and Society is an intervention in the growing and complex field of medieval disability studies. The size of the field and the complexity of the subject lend themselves to the use of case studies: how a particular author imagines an injury, how a particular legal code deals with (and sometimes creates) injury to the human body. While many studies have fruitfully insisted on theoretical approaches, Disability and Medieval Law considers how medieval societies directly dealt with crime, punishment, oath-taking, and mental illness. When did medieval law take disability into account in setting punishment or responsibility? When did medieval law choose to cause disabilities? How did medieval authors use disability to discuss not only law, but social relationships and the nature of the human? The volume includes essays on topics as diverse as Francis of Assissi, Margery Kempe, La Manekine, Geoffrey Chaucer, early medieval law codes, and the definition of mental illness in English legal records, by Irina Metzler, Wendy J. Turner, Amanda Hopkins, Donna Trembinski, Marian Lupo and Cory James Rushton.

Difference and Disability in the Medieval Islamic World: Blighted Bodies

Difference and disability in the Medieval Islamic World coverBy Kristina Richardson
Edinburgh University Press; Reprint edition 2014
ISBN-10: 0748695885
ISBN-13: 978-0748695881


Medieval Arab notions of physical difference can feel singularly arresting for modern audiences. Did you know that blue eyes, baldness, bad breath and boils were all considered bodily ‘blights’, as were cross eyes, lameness and deafness? What assumptions about bodies influenced this particular vision of physical difference? How did blighted people view their own bodies? Through close analyses of anecdotes, personal letters, (auto)biographies, erotic poetry, non-binding legal opinions, diaristic chronicles and theological tracts, the cultural views and experiences of disability and difference in the medieval Islamic world are brought to life.

Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind: Medieval Constructions of a Disability

Stumbling blocks among the blinds coverby Edward Wheatley
Series: Corporealities: Discourses of Disability
University of Michigan Press 2010
ISBN-10: 0472117203
ISBN-13: 978-0472117208


Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind presents the first comprehensive exploration of a disability in the Middle Ages, drawing on the literature, history, art history, and religious discourse of England and France. It relates current theories of disability to the cultural and institutional constructions of blindness in the eleventh through fifteenth centuries, examining the surprising differences in the treatment of blind people and the responses to blindness in these two countries. The book shows that pernicious attitudes about blindness were partially offset by innovations and ameliorations—social; literary; and, to an extent, medical—that began to foster a fuller understanding and acceptance of blindness.

A number of practices and institutions in France, both positive and negative—blinding as punishment, the foundation of hospices for the blind, and some medical treatment—resulted in not only attitudes that commodified human sight but also inhumane satire against the blind in French literature, both secular and religious. Anglo-Saxon and later medieval England differed markedly in all three of these areas, and the less prominent position of blind people in society resulted in noticeably fewer cruel representations in literature.

This book will interest students of literature, history, art history, and religion because it will provide clear contexts for considering any medieval artifact relating to blindness—a literary text, a historical document, a theological treatise, or a work of art. For some readers, the book will serve as an introduction to the field of disability studies, an area of increasing interest both within and outside of the academy.

Edward Wheatley is Surtz Professor of Medieval Literature at Loyola University, Chicago.


Women and Disability in Medieval Literature

Women and disability coverNew Middle Ages
by Tory Vandeventer Pearman
Palgrave 2010
ISBN 9780230105119


This book serves as the first in its field to analyze how disability and gender both thematically and formally operate within late medieval popular literature. Reading romance, conduct manuals, and spiritual autobiography, the study proposes a “gendered model” for exploring the processes by which differences like gender and disability get coded as deviant


Leprosy in Medieval England

leprosy in the Middle Ages coverCarole Rawcliffe
Boydell Brewer Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009
ISBN 10: 1843834545
ISBN 13: 9781843834540


This is one of the most important publications for many years in the fields of medical, religious and social history. Rawcliffe s book completely overhauls our understanding of leprosy and contributes immensely to our knowledge of the English middle ages. This is a fascinating study that will be a seminal work in the history of leprosy for many years to come. Set firmly in the medical, religious and cultural milieu of the European Middle Ages, this book is the first serious, comprehensive study of a disease surrounded by misconceptions and prejudices. Even specialists will be surprised to learn that most of our stereotyped ideas about the segregation of medieval lepers originated in the nineteenth century; that leprosy excited a vast range of responses, from admiration to revulsion; that in the later Middle Ages it was diagnosed readily even by laity; that a wide range of treatment was available, that medieval leper hospitals were no more austere than the monasteries on which they were modelled; that the decline of leprosy was not monocausal but implied a complex web of factors – medical, environmental, social and legal. Written with consummate skill, subtlety and rigour, this book will change forever the image of the medieval leper. Carole Rawcliffe is Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia.

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Agincourt 1415 – 2015 Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:06:42 +0000 The battle at Agincourt in Nord-Pas-de Calais is famous for the heroic fight between the outnumbered English archers and the French iron-clad chivalry. This year England and France commemorates the battle.

Calvary at AgincourtThe battle of Agincourt took place on the 25th of October 1415. It had an enormous significance:

It was a battle between an outnumbered and cornered English army and a huge French force. Nevertheless, the underdog, Henry V and his army won the day. This win was not least due to the brilliant deployment of the famous English archers wielding their longbows against the heavily armoured French cavalry. However, the military strategy also played a significant role. Hence the battle of Agincourt is a favoured subject for military historians as well as re-enactors. 2015 sets the scene for multiple commemorations and events celebrating the 600-year anniversary.

Agincourt 600

Battle gear of Henry V Diverse organizations, though, are busy marketing somewhat different programmes. One – Agincourt 600 – is an English registered charity specifically set up by a number of prominent English partners. The aim is “to promote international friendship and understanding and advance knowledge and commemoration of the battle”. Included in this program are a service of commemoration in Westminster Abbey, exhibitions, academic conferences, a concert of French and English 15th century music, a one-man-show, guided walks through the city of London and fundraising events of diverse character. A Calendar lists the all the events.

Of special importance will be the exhibition planned at the Royal Armouries in the White Tower of London. This will include a specially constructed model of the battle as well as weapons, armour, manuscripts and other artefacts of the period.

Agincourt reenactment 2007Another event-manager is Azincourt2015, an Anglo-French counterpart established in collaboration between the Museum at Agincourt and The Agincourt Alliance. Unfortunately not much information is available at this point except it is presumed it will be partner in hosting the actual commemoration on site on the 25th of October 2015, which is planned to link back to an Anglo-French event which took place there during the First World War in October 1915.

The Agincourt Alliance is said to plan a recreation by archer re-enactors of the route taken by Henry and his army from Harfleur to Azincourt, and a mass arrow shoot as well as a medieval festival in July.

France 2015

Naturally official France is hesitant to take part in these festivities. The outcome of the battle was truly devastating and it is not easy to commemorate such a profound defeat for a nation otherwise obsessed with “gloire” . However, at Le musée de l’Armé at Hôtel des Invalides a major exhibition is planned with the title: 1415 – 1515: d’Azincourt à Marignan. Marignan or rather Marignano was the place south of Milan, where Francis I won the battle against the Swiss and Papal confederates a hundred year later. This exhibition is thus not planned as part of the “Azincourt commemoration”, but as part of the commemoration of the coronation of Francis I in 1515!


Agincourt 600

This is the website dedicated to promoting the activities of the registered English charity responsible for coordinating the commemorations and events in the English context.

Here it is possible to read a number of interesting introductions to the battle and its historical context:

  • Are there eyewitness accounts of the battle of Agincourt?
  • Did Henry V Found the Royal Navy?
  • D-Day 1415: Can we know the size of Henry V’s Fleet in 1415?
  • How did the city of London celebrate Henry’s return?
  • Can we follow Henry’s route today?
  • How did the city of London react to news of the battle?
  • How many French prisoners survived the massacre which took place at the battle of Agincourt?
  • What was the Hundred Years’ War?
  • What horses did the king have personally for the expedition?
  • Where was Agincourt fought?
  • How did the city of London fund Henry V’s expedition of 1415?
  • Did Henry V Fear the Scots?
  • What equipment was supplied to members of the royal household for the 1415 campaign?
  • What did John Mowbray, Earl Marshal, take with him on the campaign?

Azincourt 2015

This is a project launched by a group of re-enactors – The Agincourt Alliance, which wishes to organise a major re-enactment of 1000 shooters on site in October 2015. This event is planned as a joint venture with the Medieval Centre of Agincourt and local townships and tourist offices. Other planned events are re-enactments in July 2015. These are planned in connection with a medieval festival traditionally held each year. It used to be organised in October, but weather and muddy clay made the experience less appealing to both re-enactors and audience.

 Medieval Centre of Agincourt

The Medieval Centre of Agincourt was built in the heart of the Sept Vallées in 2001 as a museum dedicated to tell the story of the battle, which nearly changed the outcome of the Hundred Year War between France and England (1337 – 1453).


Here is a list of recent scholarly publications about Henry V, Agincourt and warfare in general in the 15th century

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Francis I of France 1515 – 2015 Tue, 06 Jan 2015 12:32:10 +0000 2015 France celebrates the 500-year anniversary of the coronation of Francis I in Reims

On the 25th of January 1515 François I was crowned king of France in Reims at the age of 20. Nine months later he routed the combined forces of the Papal States and the Old Swiss Confederacy at Marignano South of Milan. A series of exhibitions and other events seek to shed light on this famous French “Prince of the Reniassance”

Francis I of France at BnF

Portraits of 12 emperors  BnF
Portraits of 12 emperors © BnF

Francis I is emblematic for the French Renaissance. Not only known for his success as heroic leader of armies, he also left a marked imprint on the culture and literature of France. Amongst other things he is known for his buildings: the Château de Chambord, Château de St-Germain-en-Laye and Château de Fontainebleau as well as his patronage of Leonardo da Vinci. He is also known as a founder of the royal library, which is the germ of BnF.

In an upcoming exhibition at the Biblioteque nationale de France the creation of his images as François au Grand Nez, le Roi-Chevalier and le Roi-Guerrier will be explored in detail.

This upcoming exhibition promises to present us with the way in which his image was spun and created by artists. But it also promises to compare him to the other royal magnates on this scene: Henry VIII and Charles V.

The exhibition will comprise more than 200 objects – medallions, paintings and other pieces of art. Centrepiece, however, will be the recently acquired manuscript: Description des Douze Cécars avec leurs figures.

The exhibition is curated by Bruno Petey-Girard and Magali Vène and will be accompanied by a catalogue edited by them: Francois I. Pouvoir et image. Editions dé la BnF. 2015

A virtual exhibition on Francis I is under construction

An introductory presentation of the exhibition can be read in the Croniques, Vol 72 published by BnF

François Ier pouvoir et image.
Site François-Mitterand, Galerie 1
24.03.2015 – 21.06.2015

Francis I 1515 – 2015 at Loire

Heures de Claude de France
Heures de Claude de France ©BnF

The 500-year anniversary of the coronation of Françis I will also be celebrated in the Loire Valley. More specifically a trail of minor exhibitions and events will take place at Nantes, Brissac, Angers, Langeais, Azay le Rideau, Villandry, Loches, Clos Lucé, Amboise, Chambord, Sully-sur Loire and of course Blois. Highlights are:

Château royal d’Amboise

Francis grew up at Amboise and here a year-long programme of exhibitions, guided tours, concerts and re-enactments are being planned. Full programme has not been published yet.

Château de Blois

In July 2015 Château de Blois will present its take on the history of the French king. At the centre will be the Les Grandes Heures de Anne de Bretagne exhibited in a reconstruction of the first library of the king before he moved to Fontainebleau. For the first time his most precious books will be together once more. A number of priceless objet’s d’art will also be shown. The exhibition is mounted in partnership with BnF.
15.07.2015 – 18.10.2015

Château de Brissac
At Chateau de Brissac the story will be told about “a family in the service of the French Crown”. Château de Brissac was acquired in 1502 by René de Cossé, first Lord of Brissac.
01.04.2015 – 31.10.2015

Royal city of Lochs
In 1539 Francis I met with Charles V at Loches. This year’s celebration of the coronation of Francis includes an exhibition at Loches commemorating this meeting.
18.04.2015 – 20.09.2015

Château du Riveau
It was at Château de Riveau that Francis I raised the horses, which played such an important role in the crafting of his image as the last “Roi-Chevalier”. A visit to his stables is a must during the anniversary, where a series of jousts are planned to be organised.

The dedicated website for the activities in the Loire Valley has not been publicised as yet and the full programme is not available (07.01.2015).

Francis I at Marignano

MarignanoThe battle of Marignano, 15 km. south of Milano, took place as part of the Italian Wars (1494 – 1559). It took place at the 13.09 – 15.09.1515 and involved French, Italian and Swiss forces. The prologue to the battle was a remarkable Alpine passage, where the French hauled heavy pieces of artillery over new-made roads over Col d’Argentière, a hither-to unknown route. When the French army arrived the allied parties were stunned and it quickly surprised and captures the papal commander, Colonna, seizing 6000 horses and lots of equipment. Aided by his battery of canons and his German soldiers François succeeded in defeating the Swiss army. It is estimated more than 18.000 soldiers were killed in the bloody battle.

The victory at Marignano was ten years later wiped from the board when Francis was defeated at Pavia and taken prisoner by the Spanish.

Afterwards the battle of Marignano some historians have considered the defeat the origin of Swiss neutrality, while others have disputed this as an anachronistic take on the horrors from September 1515. The question has been heavily debated in German and Swiss newspapers since summer 2014.

The Pro Marignano foundation plans a series of commemoration. Further information may by found at the dedicated website – Another group – Hourra, perdu ! 499 and Marignano – wishing to protest what they call the “nationalistic celebrations” has published a series of papers explaining what they deem to be the so-called myth-making of the pro Marignano Foundation


Ferrand Francois I covermax gallo francois I coverFrançois Ier, Roi de France, Roi-Chevalier, Prince de la Renaissance française
By Max Gallo
XO Editions 2014

François Ier, roi de chimeres
By Franck Ferrand
Flammarion 2014





Doulce Mémoire à Chambord

As part of the celebrations the the musical group “Doulce Mémoire” known for its performances of musical from the renaissance will perform music from the court of Frances I: Magnificenses à la cour de François Ier, Musiques pour la Chambre de de François Ier and Musiques pour l’Ecurie de François Ier. Performances are scheduled in Paris, Rambouillet, Azay-le Rideau, Chambord and Tours as well as in Hong Kong, Séul, Bangkok and Singapore. Full programme

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1300-year old ski is being reconstructed Tue, 30 Dec 2014 13:25:04 +0000 Last year archaeologists found a very old ski with its ski-binding intact. Now the time has come to reconstruct the find

Reinheimen Ski-binding

Climate change is causing the glacier in Reinheimen National Park in Norway to melt, yielding lost artefacts from the Norwegian Iron and Viking age. So-far archaeologists have uncovered more than 2000 artifacts from the glacier in Oppland.

This summer archaeologists found a very old ski, dated to around AD 700. What makes this find especially valuable is the binding, which was intact.

Reconstructed skis from Reinheimen in UpplandThe ski was made of birch and measures 172 cm long and14.5 cm wide, making it somewhat akin to present day free riding skis, also called big mountain skis. The intact binding is at the back and consists of a wicker pulled through a hole in a slightly elevated platform and fastened with strings of leather around the back of the foot. This tells us a lot of how they manoeuvred, says the archaeologist Espen Finstad. He adds that the ski was probably used by a hunter moving across the glacier, tracking reindeers or other prey.

Other skis have been found in Norway and Sweden, some of which have been dated even earlier. However, the ski from Reinholmen is the only one found with intact binding; worldwide only one find predates this.

Currently local craftsmen from Garmo in Lom are reconstructing the ski in order to try the design out during winter. The point of the wide modern skis is that they glide on top of the snow. The question, the archaeologists wish to answer, is whether the ski from Reinheimen has the same quality.

The Sagas and Cronicles

Kullaberg in winter by Erik and Pia Sjostedt
Kullaberg in wintertime. According to Saxo this was the scene for the heroic skiing of Palnatoke. Photo: Erik and Pia Sjostedt

To be an adroit skier was not only important in daily life, but also considered an important and status-filled ability. In the Norwegian royal sagas skiing is mentioned several times as an important skill. Most famous, however, is the story about Palnatoke (alias the Norwegian hero, Heming Aslaksson alias the later Wilhelm Tell). About this mythical hero it is told by Saxo Grammaticus and in in the Icelandic Saga of the Jomsvikings that he was pagan who founded Jumla on the Baltic. He was a mighty warrior and a very proficient skier. The story Saxo tells is that:


Skiing hunter from Osterunda Church in Uppland, Sweden
Skiing hunter from Osterunda Church in Uppland, Sweden

“Harold [Bluetooth] boasted of his proficiency in that technique, which the Finns use when passing through snow-covered forests; Toke then dared to brag about his own talents and compare them to those of the king. This forced Toke to prove his capabilities on the mountain of Kullaberg. But what he lacked in practice, he made up for in courage. He went to the upmost top of the mountain and with smooth planks beneath his feet and only a slender staff to support him, set off at a terrifying speed. In breakneck fashion he hurdled down on his skis across sharp rocks; nevertheless he succeeded cold-bloodedly to control them. Neither the great danger nor panic of any art kept him from keeping erect. Any other would have been terrified by the great chasm before even venturing upon this experiment. At the end the skis splintered against the rocks  and he was hurled into the air, but this in fact saved his life… he hit the cliff at great speed, the skis broke and thus he ended the run in a safe manner. If not great boulders and deep holes had been in his way, he would for sure have ended up in the sea below the cliff. Here some sailors picked him up and in his hatred to the king he did nothing to slay the rumours that he had ended up worse than was the case… he decided then to shift his allegiance to the son of the king, Sven [Forkbeard]” (Saxo Grammaticus, 10: 7, 4. From c 1190 -1200.)

It is worth remembering that Saxo was part of the entourage of the Archbishop Absalon and had probably sailed past Kullen (Kullaberg) any number of times. Passing by he seems to have wondered what was the truth behind the fairy-tale about Palnatoke. An echo of these reflections may obviously be found in this vignette from his grand chronicle, Gesta Danorum (Acts of the Danes).


Rekonstruksjon av Reinheimskia


Norsk Fjellmuseum


Iron Age Tunic found in the glacier


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Bishop Richard Fox of Winchester Tue, 30 Dec 2014 10:37:40 +0000 Bishop Richard Fox of Winchester played an important role in the early Tudor age

Bishop Richard Fox of Winchester. 
Architect of the Tudor Age.

Clayton J. Drees
McFarland Books 2014
Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-9579-5
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-1727-5


Bishop Richard Fox of Winchester by Drees - CoverBishop Richard Fox of Winchester (1448–1528) was an important early modern English prelate whose tireless service to his church, to his king and to humanist studies single him out as one of the great shapers of the Tudor age. This book explores the life and career of Bishop Fox as an architect of his world, not only literally, physically designing chapels and colleges, but also figuratively, building the careers of other important Tudor personalities such as Thomas Wolsey and John Fisher. Fox also laid the foundation for humanist learning in England by establishing Corpus Christi College at Oxford, and he negotiated the treaties and marriages that in time produced the Tudor and Stuart successions.


  • Preface 1
  • Introduction 5
  • Beginnings 1448-85 17
  • Bishop and Lord Privy Seal 1485-94 37
  • Prince Bishop of Durham 1494-1501 54
  • Bishop of Winchester 1501-09 75
  • Bishop of Winchester 1509-16 96
  • Corpus Christi College 122
  • VII. Endings 1516-28 147
  • Chapter Notes 175
  • Select Bibliography 197
  • Index 203


Clayton J. Drees is a professor of history at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He lives in Virginia Beach


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Against the Friars Tue, 30 Dec 2014 10:15:00 +0000 Very early on the friars attracted vigorous support. But they were also continuously mocked and derided by those, who considered them hypocrites and deceitful


Against the Friars. 
Antifraternalism in Medieval France and England

Tim Rayborn
McFarland Books 2014
Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-6831-7
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-1914-9


Against the Friars CoverThe friars represented a remarkable innovation in medieval religious life. Founded in the early 13th century, the Franciscans and Dominicans seemed a perfect solution to the Church’s troubles in confronting rapid changes in society. They attracted enthusiastic support, especially from the papacy, to which they answered directly. In their first 200 years, membership grew at an astonishing rate, and they became counsellors to princes and kings, receiving an endless stream of donations and gifts.

 Yet there were those who believed the adulation was misguided or even dangerous, and who saw in the friars’ actions only hypocrisy, deceit, greed and even signs of the end of the world. From the mid–13th century, writings appeared denouncing and mocking the friars and calling for their abolition. Their French and English opponents were among the most vocal. From harsh theological criticism and outrage at the Inquisition to vulgar tales and bathroom humor, this thoroughly documented work is suitable for the newcomer, as well as for readers who are familiar with the subject but might like to investigate specific topics in more detail.


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Popular Religion, Heresy and Mendicancy
  • The University of Paris and the Quarrels
  • The Perils of the Last Times: The Writings of Guillaume de ­Saint-Amour
  • Antichrist’s Boy: False Seeming, the Apocalypse and the Roman de la Rose
  • Poetry and Song in 13th-Century France: Rutebeuf, the Trouveres and the Goliards
  • Scandalous Fables and Vulgar Animals: Reynard, the Fabliaux and Fauvel
  • England: The Turbulent 14th Century, and the Writings of Chaucer, Langland and Gower
  • English Religious Criticism: Matthew Paris, Oxford University, Richard FitzRalph and John Wyclif
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix A: Art Bibliography and Resources
  • Appendix B: Music Bibliography and Resources
  • Chapter Notes
  • Bibliography


Tim Rayborn is a medievalist with a Ph.D. from Leeds University. He is also a professional musician devoted to early music, with a specialty in medieval repertoire. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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The Miller’s Tale by Chaucer Tue, 30 Dec 2014 09:58:18 +0000 The miller’s tale is one of Chaucer’s most beloved and ingenious stories. A new book tells the story of how it has been adapted and retold through the centuries

The Lives of the Miller’s Tale. 
The Roots, Composition and Retellings of Chaucer’s Bawdy Story

Peter G. Beidler
McFarland Books 2015
Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-9393-7
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-1828-9
49  2015


The Lives of the Miller's tale Beidler coverWith his Miller’s Tale, Chaucer transformed a colorless Middle Dutch account into the lively, dramatic story of raunchy Nicholas, sexy Alison, foolish John and squeamish Absolon. This book focuses on the ways Chaucer made his narrative more effective through dialogue, scene division, music, visual effects and staging. The author pays special attention to the description of John the carpenter’s house, the suspension of the three tubs from the beams, and the famous shot-window through which the story’s bawdy climax is enacted.

The book’s second half covers more than 30 of the tale’s retellings—translations, adaptations, bowdlerized versions for children, coloring books, novels, musicals, plays and films—and examines the ways the retellers have followed Chaucer in dramatizing the story, giving it new life on stage and screen. The Miller’s Tale has had many lives—it promises to have many more.


  • Preface: A Whiter Shade of Pale  1
  • Introduction: Dramatizing the Miller’s Tale  3

Part One: Chaucer’s Transformation of the Miller’s Tale

  • Origins  9
  • Four Genres  15
  • Seeing and Hearing  30
  • Comedic Realism  38
  • The Structure of John’s House  48
  • The ­Shot-Window  60
  • Reconstructing John’s House  81
  • People and Props  87
  • The ­Pre-Bedroom Sequence  93
  • The Bedroom Sequence  108

Part Two: Modern Transformations of the Miller’s Tale

  • Early Retellings for Adults: Cobb (1712), Smith (1713), Anonymous (1791)  125
  • Early Retellings for Young Readers: Johnstone (1895), Darton (1904), Farjeon (1930)  132
  • Later Retellings for Adults: Clarke (1870), Haweis (1887), Raffel (2008), Ackroyd (2009)  138
  • Later Retellings for Young Readers: McCaughrean (1984), Hastings (1988)  145
  • In the Modern Missouri Ozarks: Milburn (1956)  151
  • In Coloring Books and Cartoons: Adkins (1973), Lorenz (1981), Williams (2007), Chwast (2011)  169
  • In Musical Performance: Starkie (1968), Pickering (1988), Brinkman (2006)  183
  • In Theatrical Performance: Woods (1974), Wengrow (1983), Riley (1998), O’Connor (2001), Price (2002), Poulton (2005)  195
  • In Filmic Performance: Pasolini (1972), Myerson (2000), Bowker (2003)  217
  • In San Francisco and Southwark: Miller (2014), Machin (2014)  227
  • Chapter Notes  251
  • Bibliography  267
  • Index  273


Peter G. Beidler, a professor emeritus at Lehigh University, has published widely on British and American life and literature. He lives in Seattle, Washington.


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The Abbey of Saint-Bénigne in Dijon Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:02:03 +0000 Saint Benignus was the patron saint of Dijon. A new book tells the story about the former abbey, now cathedral in Dijon, which was dedicated to him since the 6th century.
Shroud of Benignus -  Musee de Cluny
Piece of the shroud of St. Benignus of Dijon, samit from the 6th-7th century, Persia Cl.2156- Museum of Cluny

Saint Benignus of Dijon was a martyr honoured as the patron saint of Dijon. His feast falls on November I (All Saints). It is told that he was martyred at Epagny in AD 270 -75. However, in reality nothing precise is known about him.

According to Gregory of Tours there was a large sarcophagus located outside Dijon. This grave was revered by ordinary people and was the scene of at least one minor miracle. The bishop of Langres (Saint Gregory 507 – 539/40) tried to put a stop to this as he considered the grave pagan; however, in a dream the bishop had a vision of the martyr Benignus, who revealed that he was the one buried in the sarcophagus. Accordingly Gregory went about renovating an adjacent crypt, into which he moved the tomb. Soon after an account of the martyrdom of Benignus – the Passio Sancti Benigni – was discovered in Italy and the bishop had a large basilica built on the site, completed in 535; this functioned as the centre of an early monastic community. In 871 this was re-founded as a Benedictine abbey, which subsequently was joined with the Cluniac order (989).

Around AD 1000 the basilica was superseded by a larger church, built by William of Volpiano († 1031). This was replaced by an early Romanesque church, which collapsed in 1271. The present Dijon Cathedral, finished in 1325 and consecrated in 1393, still holds the sarcophagus in the crypt. This was excavated in the 19th century.

Saint Benignus

Early Romanesque head of Saint Benignus exhibited at the archaeological museum in Dijon, in the dormitory of the former abbey of St. Bénigne

he passio is preserved in several texts and is generally believed to have been edited at the time of Gregory of Tours. According to the passio, St. Polycarp had a vision of Irenaeus ordering two priests, Benignus and Andiochus to preach the gospel in Gaul. Shipwrecked on Corsica, the were joined by St. Andoleus there. Later they reached Marseilles from where Benignus went to first Auton and later Langres and Dijon. Shortly after this he was arrested at Epagny, tortured and finally died. He was buried in a tomb, which was disguised as a pagan monument in order to deceive the persecutors of his cult. It is believed the passio was part of a series of religious romances, written in the first half of the sixth century in order to describe the origins of the churches of Auton, Besançon, Langres and Valence in Eastern France. There exists a versified “Carmina de vita sancti Benigni” from the 11th century.

A new book tells the story of the Abbey and the practical and spiritual life of the Abbey from its earliest beginnings and until the revolution. The book is heavily illustrated and tells the full story. Another book is in preparation, telling the story of how the Abbey-church turned Cathedral in the 19th century.


l-abbaye-saint-benigne-de-dijon-coverL’abbaye Saint-Bénigne de Dijon
by Jean-Pierre Roze
Editions Universitaires de Dijon 2014
ISBN-10: 2364411068
ISBN-13: 978-2364411067

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European Association of Archaeologists 2015 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:42:47 +0000 The 21st annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists will be hosted in Glasgow in 2015

The European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) represents archaeologists and heritage professionals from across Europe. The Annual Meeting has become established as the premier archaeological conference in Europe and the 21st Annual Meeting will be hosted at the University of Glasgow in September 2015.

We look forward to welcoming c. 2,000 delegates to the EAA Glasgow 2015. It will be the first, biggest and best cultural heritage event ever to take place in Scotland and we have commemorated this by designing a special tartan entitled Ancient Gathering. The EAA Glasgow 2015 will be a marketplace for ideas and is an excellent opportunity to share Scotland’s rich, diverse and unique cultural heritage with an international audience. Scotland is also the perfect stage for the EAA’s Coming-of-Age celebrations!

Seven key themes define the framework for the EAA Glasgow 2015:

  • Archaeology and Mobility
  • Reconfiguring Identities
  • Science and Archaeology
  • Communicating Archaeology
  • Legacies and Visions
  • Celtic Connections
  • Interpreting the Archaeological

The EAA will contribute to the cultural legacy of Scotland’s great year of celebrations (2014). We will welcome around 2,000 delegates to celebrate the EAA’s 21st Annual Meeting at the EAA Glasgow 2015 and look forward to sharing Scotland’s rich and unique cultural heritage. Help us share Scotland’s archaeology.

21st Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists
Glasgow 2015
University of Glasgow
02.09.2015 – 05.09.2015


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Collected, Plundered and Saved Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:31:57 +0000 Conference: Collected, Plundered and Saved from Medieval Libraries

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

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

Programme – In German

Donnerstag, 26. Februar 2015

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

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

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

12.45 Uhr Mittagspause

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

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

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

Freitag, 27. Februar 2015

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

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

12.00 Uhr Mittagspause

Moderation: Prof. Dr. Sigrid Hirbodian

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Papers might address topics such as:

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

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

All enquiries and proposals should be sent to Eleanor Giraud:


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

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

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

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


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

166 Pen Drawings

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

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


Book of Kells

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


Utrecht Psalter

Catalogue Entry

Utrecht Psalter and Seuss


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

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




Utrecht Psalter, 20

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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



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

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