Lincoln History Lecture with the Lincoln Record Society: Come along to hear about medieval petitions from Lincolnshire!

Please come along to our virtual Lincoln History Lecture, co-hosted by the Medieval Studies Research Group of the University of Lincoln and the Lincoln Record Society.

It will take place on Wednesday 21 April 2021 at 6:00pm-7:30pm.

Register for the Event here.

Lecture Title: ‘The Voice of the People? Petitions from Lincolnshire’.
Speaker: Dr. Alison McHardy

People from across England petitioned the king in parliament, council and the royal chancery in the later Middle Ages, seeking favours and redress for grievances. In this talk, Dr Alison McHardy examines the petitions that originated in Lincolnshire between 1200 and 1500, and which formed the subject for her recent book for the Lincoln Record Society that she edited jointly with Dr Gwillam Dodd in 2020. The Lincolnshire petitions contain a wealth of information about men and women at all levels of society. They are particularly valuable for looking at women, since they show that women of different ranks and backgrounds (including widows, wives and nuns) were able to use petitions to right wrongs which they had suffered, whether at the hands of the crown or others. In addition to this, the

Lincolnshire petitions offer fascinating insights into matters that resonate with today’s environmental and social concerns, including famine (climate cooling), plague and racism. Finally, Dr McHardy’s talk provides a timely warning that we should approach these petitions with a healthy degree of scepticism, as some expressions were routine legal common form, and not every allegation may have been entirely true.

Brief Biography:

Dr Alison McHardy is a leading expert on the history of the diocese of Lincoln in the later Middle Ages, and is a Trustee and member of Council for the LRS. She worked at the universities of London (Royal Holloway College) and Aberdeen and, in the years before her retirement, was Reader in Medieval English History at Nottingham. She published her first article about Lincoln’s diocese in 1972, and numerous books and editions of records have followed. These include: The Church in London 1375-1392 (London Record Society, 13, 1977), Clerical Poll-Taxes of the Diocese of Lincoln 1377-1381 (Lincoln Record Society, 81), Royal Writs Addressed to John Buckingham Bishop of Lincoln, 1363-1398 (Lincoln Record Society, 86), Petitions to the Crown from English Religious Houses, c. 1272-c.1485, with Gwilym Dodd (Canterbury and York Society, 2010), The Reign of Richard II: From Minority to Tyranny 1377-97 (Manchester Medieval

Sources, 2012), Proctors for Parliament: Clergy, Community and Politics c. 1248-1539, with Phil Bradford, 2 vols. (C&S, 107, 108, 2017, 2018).

Minster Yard Project (History 2020)

In this blog, Claire Arrand, Special Collections Librarian, University of Lincoln, who is seconded to Lincoln Cathedral Library, provides us with a fascinating overview of the Minster Yard Project.

Lincoln Cathedral is a beneficiary of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the resulting ‘Connected Project’ produced a renovation of the Old Deanery and a new exhibition space, amongst other things. The new Visitor Centre, which is due to open in Spring 2021 will feature an interactive map of the Cathedral Close detailing properties owned by the Cathedral, information about their occupants and interesting snippets gleaned from various documentary sources.
A photograph of the Visitor Centre, Lincoln Cathedral.
Visitor Centre, Lincoln Cathedral.

The Curator, Fern Dawson, recruited five Cathedral volunteers to undertake the research and, following a palaeography course, over the course of four years Angela Suttle, Joan Panton, Jonathan Joy, Lynne Green and Ros Mole sifted, transcribed and collated information to be used in the exhibition.

The initial trawl was undertaken with 16-19th century leases of properties in Minster Yard, Priorygate, Pottergate, Eastgate and Greestone Place searching for residents and their subsequent wills. The researchers met regularly with Carol Bennett (Interpretation Officer) to hand over their findings, which were added to the wealth of detail about the residents, including Katherine Swynford (c.1350-1403), William Byrd (c.1540-1623), George Boole (1815-1864), school mistresses and masters, choristers, illegitimate children, an ironmonger and maltster, a dancing master, solicitors, doctors, knights of the realm, MPs, artists, clergy and their families , army officers, bakers, a printer and a potter.

Sources such as wills and family letters tell stories of thefts, illegitimacy and murder.

Each volunteer tackled the research differently but regular and frequent trips were made to Lincolnshire Archives to record information found in thousands of Dean and Chapter documents, leases, wills, inventories, census, street directories, letters, business documents, maps, biographies and books about Lincoln.

A photograph of Angela Suttle, Jonathan Joy, Ros Mole, Joan Panton, Lynne Green. Image supplied by Angela.
Angela Suttle, Jonathan Joy, Ros Mole, Joan Panton, Lynne Green. Image supplied by Angela.

Without their input this fascinating insight into the people who lived in and around the Cathedral would not have been unearthed and enjoyed by visitors. The Cathedral is indebted to Angela, Joan, Jonathan, Lynne and Ros who must be congratulated for providing the text below, highlighting the treasures held in Lincolnshire Archives and revealing possibilities for future research for the University of Lincoln and other researchers.


3 Priory Gate (currently the Cathedral’s Works Department)

A photograph of 3 Priory Gate, currently the Cathedral’s Works Department
3 Priory Gate

This building is currently the administrative office of the Works Department of the Cathedral. A date on the outside of the present building states it was built in 1695 but in 1649 it was known as The Elephant Inn and divided into dwellings. This earlier property seems to date back to 1566 and occupants of a variety of occupations lived there: a tailor in 1566 (see Bij/3/16 f.138), a yeoman in 1604, a doctor of physic in 1626, a gentleman in 1726, a soldier in 1732, in 1812 it became 3 separate dwellings until 1851 when a carpenter lived there until 1888. In the late 19th century and early 20th century it was occupied by the Cathedral Clerks of Works, including Robert S. Godfrey 1918 – 1953. A memorial to Mr Godfrey CBE MA is on the wall in the Cloister and states he ‘served the Cathedral as a Plumber and later Clerk of the Fabric to whose inventive genius and skill the preservation of the Minster from collapse and ruin in 1921 was mainly due.

Memorial to R. S. Godfrey, Clerk of Works in Cathedral Cloister, south wall.


A photograph of Memorial to R. S. Godfrey, Clerk of Works in Cathedral Cloister, south wall.
Memorial to R. S. Godfrey, Clerk of Works in Cathedral Cloister, south wall.

12 Minster Yard / Graveley Place

A photograph of 12 Minster Yard / Graveley Place.

Jane (sometimes known as Joan) Duckett was a female servant in the household of Robert Swan according to the 1841 census when her father was a blacksmith. Jane married the jeweller James Usher, who was the son of a dyer. Their son James Ward Usher continued to work in the jeweller’s shop after his father died. He made a fortune from souvenir items decorated with figures of the Lincoln Imp. On his death he left money for the building of the Usher Gallery to house his own collection of clocks, porcelain and portrait miniatures, which he gifted to the City of Lincoln.

The Usher Gallery rotates this huge collection, including a golden Lincoln Imp tie pin, as well as a portrait of James Ward Usher. The image below has been supplied courtesy of Jim Newton, verger (and photographer) at Lincoln Cathedral.

A photograph of the Lincoln Imp in Lincoln Cathedral.
The Lincoln Imp in Lincoln Cathedral.

1A Vicars Court (gatehouse)

A photograph of 1A Vicar's Court.
1A Vicar’s Court.

William Hilton was a scenery and portrait painter, who did occasional painting for the Cathedral. Lincolnshire Archives holds fabric accounts detailing small payments (see D & C BJ/1/17). His son William painted large canvases in the grand manner, portraying great moments in history or the Bible and was a keeper to the Royal Academy. His sister Harriet married the landscape painter Peter de Wint, and all three owned a house in Lincoln. A cenotaph in the Cathedral’s north transept dedicated to their memory has renditions of paintings by both artists carved in stone.

A photograph of the William Hilton and Peter de Wint cenotaph in Lincoln Cathedral.
William Hilton and Peter de Wint cenotaph in Lincoln Cathedral.

Please visit Lincoln Cathedral for the latest update on the exhibition opening date and Lincolnshire Archives to view the records mentioned above.  Please also visit the Usher Gallery, Art at The Collection. See also Lincoln Civic Trust’s The survey of ancient houses in Lincoln series.

New Research Professor joins our Research Group, following exciting discoveries in Lincoln Cathedral Library

Mark Clark has recently joined the University of Lincoln and our Medieval Studies Research Group as a Visiting Research Professor. Professor Clark is the John C. and Gertrude P. Hubbard Chair of Medieval Church History and Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he has taught for many years. Professor Clark is working on two exciting projects that arise directly from discoveries he has made at Lincoln Cathedral Library.

First, he is editing, together with Joshua Benson and Riccardo Saccenti, the earliest known versions of Peter Lombard’s Sentences, preserved in Lincoln MS 230 and Lincoln MS 31, respectively. The former, which shows that Peter Lombard originally composed the Sentences in three books and not four, is invaluable, because it shows he began by working from the biblical Gloss early in his career to produce a book for teaching and not, as long supposed, by working on the Sentences late in his career as a theological masterwork. The latter, in four books but with a radically different organization from the version edited by Brady, which is now known to date to the mid-thirteenth century, shows Lombard’s development of the Sentences during his own teaching career at Paris from the early 1140s until his death in 1160. These are the only two copies we know of made by him during his teaching career. Together, and they are being juxtaposed in this edition and translation, they will literally remake and revolutionize all existing scholarship on the origins of Scholasticism, on the schools of Paris, and on the University of Paris that grew out of them.

Second, he is writing a monograph on how Scholastic lectures became schoolbooks in the High Middle Ages, a topic that will be of keen interest to the many scholars who study the history of the book. The two manuscripts just mentioned are crucial, since they illustrate this process beautifully between 1140 and 1160, when the first institutional processes were put into place. David D’Avray asked Professor Clark and Christopher de Hamel how to understand the change between the chaotic orality that he has documented in Professor Clark’s publications and the beautiful finished process that he showed for the Glossa ordinaria of the thirteenth century. Using manuscripts that preserve primitive and augmented versions of the Gloss, Professor Clark can now show, owing to these Lincoln mss and owing to still more recent discoveries of copies of Lombard’s actual lectures on the Old Testament (apart from the well-known work on the Psalms), that those who augmented the Gloss also turned the Sentences, even while Peter Lombard was still teaching, into a textbook. He is also using Lincoln MSS 80 and 86, which preserve early versions of Peter Comestor’s Historia scholastica, to show how this process continued in the next twenty years, from 1160 to 1180. A Hereford manuscript, O.VIII.9, which preserves another early version of the Sentences copied at Paris, is also of keen interest, since it is apparent that Lincoln, as the hub, and Hereford, together with other English cathedrals, were intimately connected to the cathedral school at Paris, first that of the old Cathedral of St. Mary and then of its successor, the current Notre Dame, from the time when Lombard first began to teach. This too is of considerable interest, since it would appear that scholars have mistaken the character of the cathedral schools in England during the twelfth century and leading up to the founding of the universities at Oxford and Cambridge.

We are delighted to welcome him to our group and look forward to hearing more about his work.

What did an aristocratic household eat in the Middle Ages?

Louise Wilkinson, who joined the University of Lincoln in June 2020 as Professor of Medieval Studies, recently celebrated the publication of her new book, The Household Roll of Eleanor de Montfort, Countess of Leicester and Pembroke, 1265: British Library Additional MS 8877 (The Pipe Roll Society new series 63, 2020). She was interviewed by Dr David Musgrove of the BBC History Magazine for a podcast as part of the BBC History Extra series. Eleanor de Montfort was the wife of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, the leading figure in the baronial regime that tried to dominate England during the Second Barons’ War of 1263-7. Eleanor was also the sister of King Henry III and the aunt of the Lord Edward (the future King Edward I). This placed Countess Eleanor at the very heart of English political affairs in 1265, the year covered by her extant household roll. 1265 began with the Montforts’ fortunes riding high, with King Henry III and the Lord Edward both in their custody. In the summer, Earl Simon was  killed at the battle of Evesham on 4 August by a force led by the Lord Edward, and King Henry III was restored to liberty and to full authority. In October, Countess Eleanor surrendered Dover castle to the Lord Edward after a brief siege and left England, permanently, for exile in France.

In the interview with Dr Musgrove, Louise discussed the eating habits of the medieval aristocracy, and what life was like in Countess Eleanor’s great household for the countess and those who served her at the castles of Odiham, Portchester and Dover.

An image of Dover castle
Dover Castle

For David’s blog and a podcast of his interview with Louise, click here.

An image of the cover of Louise Wilkinson's new book called The Household Roll of Eleanor de Montfort, Countess of Leicester and Pembroke, 1265

New Postdoctoral Researcher in our team of Medievalists!

The School of History and Heritage are delighted to welcome Dr Anaïs Waag, who has just been awarded one of the very competitive and prestigious Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships. This is the first of this kind to bring a postdoctoral researcher to the College of Arts, the School of History and Heritage and the Medieval Studies Research Centre at the University of Lincoln.Dr Waag will conduct her research on ‘Female Royal Rulership in Theory and Practice: Queens Regnant, 1109-1328’ under the supervision of Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo.An image of Dr WaagDr Waag is a medievalist interested in Women’s History and Gender Studies, with a particular focus on power – its management and representation – and political communication, which she approaches from a comparative perspective. Dr Waag was awarded her doctorate from King’s College London earlier this year with a thesis titled ‘Forms and Formalities of Thirteenth-Century Queenship: A Comparative Study’, in which she examined how female power was formally and publicly expressed in England, France and the Iberian Peninsula. Dr Waag completed her B.A. History at Fordham University in New York, and her M.A. in Medieval History at King’s College London.Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo, who led the submission of this application from the University of Lincoln said: “I am delighted to be supervising the development of this fascinating research project, which will examine the relationship and tensions between theory and practice of female rule in both An image of Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpomedieval Western Europe and the Mediterranean comparatively.

“Dr Waag’s research seeks to challenge some of the misleading views too often associated with the roles of women in the medieval period, by demonstrating that an heiress’ access to, or barring from, the throne was not evidence of a fundamental medieval opposition to female royal rule, but it was rather determined by specific contingencies and complex politics, differing according to political, legal and cultural contexts.

“Collaborating with Dr Waag towards the submission of this application has already been a very rewarding and intellectually stimulating experience, and I look forward to overseeing the next phase of this research journey. Dr Waag is a very talented and committed scholar, as well as a friendly and enthusiastic colleague, who will be a great addition to our team of medievalists at the Medieval Studies Research Centre and within the School of History and Heritage, as well as providing a valuable contribution to our vibrant Lincoln community more broadly”.

Visiting Fellow in Medieval Iberian History, Eduardo Manzano

Visiting Fellows in Medieval Iberian History

Santander Universities

International Exchange Mobility Award

Medieval Studies Research Centre

School of History and Heritage

University of Lincoln

Coordinated by Dr Graham Barrett


Eduardo Manzano Moreno

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Madrid)

Eduardo Manzano


Matching Facts and Artefacts: the new venues which multidisciplinary approaches can offer for the study of medieval Iberia

10am-12pm, 4 May 2017, BH 0101


Convivencia: Jews, Christians, and Muslims; or, how we have failed to tackle multiculturalism in medieval Iberia from a social perspective

5-6:30pm, 4 May 2017, DCB 1102

My stay at the University of Lincoln as a Visiting Fellow of the School of History and Heritage took place from the 2nd to the 4th of May 2017. I led a workshop entitled ‘Matching Facts and Artifacts: the new venues which multidisciplinary approaches can offer for the study of medieval Iberia’. My aim in this workshop was to offer an overview of the different sources we are using to reconstruct the medieval Iberian past. I started with a general description of the written sources (highlighting the increasing interest on manuscripts as an historical source in itself), singling out the main different Arab chronicles and their principal peculiarities. I also explained the fact that our written records are not limited to historical accounts, but also include legal, literary, and scientific works which provide us with precious data on the configuration of medieval societies. The main challenge that we are facing nowadays is how to adjust this formidable written corpus to the data emerging from the material record, particularly from archaeology, numismatics, and epigraphy. My thesis is that these records should not be considered as complementary, but rather as coherent, so that they should add to common historical interpretations. In delivering this workshop I was especially interested in explaining students the many possibilities which medieval Iberian history has to offer, and to bring about the exciting prospects which recent research is opening.

I also delivered a lecture entitled ‘Convivencia: Jews, Christians, and Muslims; or, how we have failed to tackle multiculturalism in medieval Iberia from a social perspective’. The main aim of this lecture was to show the possibilities which multiculturalism can offer for the study of medieval societies. The main point of departure is the idea that social history has not been concerned with the study of culture as a relevant social element, thereby failing to incorporate such a crucial element in medieval societies. This is particularly regrettable in the case of Iberia, which has one of the richest multicultural environments of the whole of western Europe. By assessing the various evidence which cultural interaction has left in the historical record, it is possible to compare the fate of different cultural communities and how they adapted to changing social circumstances. Again, this is an interesting case which shows the enormous possibilities that the study of Iberian history might offer prospective students.

In both the workshop and the lecture a number of interesting questions and debates were raised. My main aim was, on the one hand, to show the state of research which has been done in the last years in Spain, and, on the other, to promote the study of medieval Iberia as a promising field of study in the United Kingdom. Lincoln students responded admirably on both fronts.

Visiting Fellow in Medieval Iberian History Julio Escalona

Santander Universities

International Exchange Mobility Award 

Medieval Studies Research Centre

School of History and Heritage

University of Lincoln

Coordinated by Dr Graham Barrett

Julio Escalona Monge

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Madrid)

Julio Escalona


Body and Soul: Monastic Networks and the Laity in the County of Castile (10th c.)

10am-12pm, 27 April 2017, MC 0024

For an historian of medieval Iberia, Lincoln is quickly turning into a must-go location! In recent times several young scholars have gradually converged in the University of Lincoln’s Medieval Studies Research Centre to constitute what is bound to be one of the most significant clusters of Anglophone specialists in this field for the coming years. It was then a great pleasure to be invited to visit Lincoln with the financial support of the Santander Universities programme, which I did between the 25th and the 28th of April 2017.

Besides enjoying the medieval beauty of Lincoln’s old town, and the all-time hospitality of English weather – from sleet to sunshine, to sleet again – at the core of this visit were two academic activities. The first was a workshop for undergraduate and graduate students entitled ‘Body and Soul: Monastic Networks and the Laity in the County of Castile (10th c.)’. For two hours we discussed traditiones corporis et animae, a particularly abundant type of charter in tenth-century Castile by which one or more individuals give themselves to a monastic house, along with some property. By carefully de-constructing some examples, and through quantitative analysis of the charter corpus, we could establish that such operations involved primarily non-aristocratic actors who sought a favourable relationship with the monastery of their choice. However, an exploration of the court cases in which such deeds often ended up, and of the ambiguous ways in which the transferred properties were identified, reveals that, despite their individualistic appearance, the traditiones corporis et animae actually connected – willingly or otherwise – whole kin groups to the monasteries. Monasteries acted like hubs for locally intricate social networks which spread beneath the more visible layers of aristocratic patronage and alliances.



Spain, Feudalism, and the European Union

5-6:30pm, 27 April 2017, DCB 1102

Feudalism 1

The second event was a lecture aimed at a wider audience, entitled ‘Spain, Feudalism, and the European Union’. This was a critical reflection on the links between contemporary events and historiographical developments in Iberia over the 20th century, but mostly after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. I started from the identification by Cambridge historian Peter Linehan of a dramatic U-turn among Spanish medievalists of the 1980s, who swiftly disregarded the inherited notion that all of Spain (except Frankish-driven Catalonia) had stayed clear of the feudalism which dominated the rest of the continent and deemed medieval Iberia as feudal as any of its contemporary neighbours. Linehan lucidly saw this as a reflection of Spain’s urge to join the European Union and stop ‘being different’ as per the immensely successful slogan promoted by the late Franco-period tourism authorities. My aim, almost 25 years later, was to put those observations in context, by showing that the pro-feudal trend was actually twofold. One strand brought on board the influence of the French ‘Annales School’, mainly through the works of Marc Bloch and Georges Duby, while the other derived from Marxist historiography, itself a most sensitive development in Spanish academia as a turbulent 20th century approached its end. I sought to connect Spanish scholarly debates with political attitudes, but also to frame them within the more general shift from a French historiography which dominated the central decades of the 20th century to the global hegemony of Anglophone scholarship. This change did away with feudalism as an identity marker of the European Middle Ages, but had nothing to substitute for it. The result is the present state of things, where the disciplinary identity of Medieval Studies seems to drift between obsolete (but utterly undead) views of the origins of nation-states, a never-too-well-defined European common identity, and a global history where medievalists are largely ‘naked and far from home’.


Both events went extremely well. I was very impressed by Lincoln’s young students, who, never put off by the ‘exotic’ looks of Latin Iberian charters, fully engaged in the discussion of the underlying social processes. Similarly, the strong political implications of recent Spanish historiographical developments were debated enthusiastically by the participants. Having known colleagues like Graham Barrett, Robert Portass, Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo, and Jamie Wood for quite a while, it was hardly surprising that our talks on the Iberian Middle Ages over these days were the most enjoyable part of this visit’s informal face. However, the most important outcome was our realization that the link between Lincoln’s Centre and Spain’s CSIC should become formalized in a stable way, and we decided to explore the funding programmes that could make it possible in the near future.

MA Symposium Review


Copy of Medieval Symposium-32
Introduction by Prof. Philippa Hoskin

It is just over a week since the ‘Writing Medieval History’ symposium and the MA Medieval Studies students have finished their last exam and have had a chance to reflect on the success of the day.

Overall, the symposium committee are immensely proud of how the symposium ran. We managed to keep (mostly) to time, our speakers were engaging, and we had some thought provoking discussions in the Q&A sessions. The feedback we gathered on the day also suggests that attendees especially enjoyed the musical interludes performed by one of our committee members.

One issue we did not anticipate, however, was how hot the room got throughout the day! For future events, it would be worth booking an air-conditioned room so everyone is comfortable.


On behalf of the symposium committee, I would like to thank our lovely speakers for their contribution: you all presented marvellously! We hope this is the first of many MA Medieval Symposiums, and I look forward to attending them in the future.

Copy of Medieval Symposium-12 (1)
MA Symposium Committee

Dr A Liuzzo Scorpo Teaching at Palacký University

Thanks to the Erasmus European scheme which every year allows staff and student exchanges between the University of Lincoln and its partner HE Institutions, this April I had the opportunity to join our colleagues and their students at Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. What an exciting and enriching experience, which gave us the opportunity to share both research ideas and teaching practices!

Welcomed by the snow the day I arrived – an unexpected spring sight – I enjoyed a much warmer atmosphere when joining staff and students in class!

Snow Olomouc


Teaching Day 1: ‘The Iberian Reconquista: Historical Views and Historiographical Debates’. This session was aimed at MA and PhD students, especially those studying a module on the medieval crusades with Dr Antonin Kalous. We discussed the major historiographical issues regarding the study of Medieval Iberia, which include the prominent gap between Arabists and Medievalists (the former focusing on al-Andalus, while the latter considering predominantly Christian sources and perspectives); as well as the complexity of adopting historiographical tools such as ‘frontier’ and ‘Reconquest’ to label extremely complex and nuanced phenomena. This provided the framework which helped students to discuss inter-faith relationships and to dig into source analysis!

The Historia Roderici, a twelfth-century Latin chronicle which is considered one of the earliest biographies of a lay nobleman who would later become a Spanish national hero, attracted the students’ attention and this led to some thought-provoking questions about the nature of inter-faith contacts and military leadership, feudal loyalties and ‘identity’.

Gesta_Roderici_Campidocti Historia Roderici, ms. 9/4922, Real Academia de la Historia, f. 75r.º

Teaching Day 2: ‘Friends and Enemies: Medieval Perspectives’. This was a session for the L1 undergraduate students of History at Palacký, who are currently taking a survey module on Medieval History with Dr Jan Stejskal. We discussed approaches and methodologies applied to the study of friendship, as well as how emotional rhetoric was adopted to legitimise certain types of relationships. We focused on gender relationships and inter-faith contacts among some of the numerous types of bonds defined as friendships (or love, or companionship…) in medieval sources. All this was accompanied by lots of interesting questions at the end of the session: nicely bonus!


Some of our L2 students are getting ready for a term at Palacký University from next September and I hope there will be others from the Czech cohort to join us again soon!

It was a fantastic experience, which I look forward to repeat… next time in ‘real’ spring!

Olomouc 1 Church of the Virgin Mary of the Snow, Olomouc

Public and Private Emotions – Creative Analysis

In my second term module ‘Public and Private Emotions’ run by Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo, we use a range of source material to study medieval perceptions and expressions of emotion: a field of inquiry which has recently received significant scholarly attention. We address themes such as love, friendship, hatred, fear and examine whether, and to what extent, concepts of private and public can be applied to a pre-modern era.

As 21st-century historians, we must be able to engage with a range of different audiences through various means of media; so, for our first assessment, we were asked to produce a creative source analysis that could engage a modern-day audience in the discussion of a key theme from the module. This task aimed to enhance our ability to interpret, analyse and present primary source material and provided a refreshing change from our usual essay-based assessments!


Guibert de Nogent’s Facebook Profile

I chose to use Facebook as a platform to present a modern interpretation of Guibert de Nogent’s twelfth-century autobiography, Monodies. I think that the selectivity of Facebook networks calls into question the definition of concepts such as ‘public’ and ‘private’, and demonstrates the comparable nature of exclusive twenty-first-century virtual ‘friendship’ networks and the self-regulated twelfth-century Christian communities which are prevalent topic of discussion in Monodies. Similarly, the format of Facebook allows for a mix of both introspection and interaction, which Guibert demonstrates in his autobiography by simultaneously engaging with personal memories and interacting with contemporary twelfth-century theological debates.


FB Status USE

I chose fear as the filter through which to discuss ideas of identity and otherness, and the divisions between mind and body in Guibert’s emotional autobiography. My analysis of Monodies aimed to highlight Guibert’s retrospective engagement with fear as an internal feeling, an emotional response and a socio-religious construction. I studied Monodies for my undergraduate dissertation, and I thought I was quite familiar with Guibert’s personal anecdotes; yet, examining this autobiography in light of a more nuanced historical discipline such as the study of emotions has radically developed my understanding of Monodies while simultaneously giving cause to question everything I thought I already knew!



Further Reading:

Guibert de Nogent. Monodies, Joseph McAlhany and Jay Rubenstein (trans.)(New York, 2011).

Fleming, John V. ‘Medieval European Autobiography’. In, Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Autobiography (Cambridge, 2015), 35-48.

Kane, Bronach. ‘Social Representations of Memory and Gender in Medieval England’. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science 46 (2012), 544-558.

Rosenwein, Barbara H. Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (New York, 2007).

Rosenwein, Barbara H. ‘Worrying about Emotions in History’, American Historical Review 107 (2002), 821-845.

Scott, A. & Kosso. Fear and Its Interpretations in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Turnhout, 2002).