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.Dr 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 medieval 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”.
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Madrid)
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.
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Madrid)
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
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.
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.
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!
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’.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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).
In this world of instant messages and emojis, we rarely have cause to put pen to paper. If you are finding it difficult to convey your feelings in a Valentine’s Day card this year, take heart (and inspiration) from this fifteenth-century Middle English poem recently re-discovered in Trinity College Cambridge.
Susane the secunde, patron of plesaunce 1
That called is so throwe alle lumbardye,
Righte demure of chere and of contenaunce,
And in daunsyng, sport and curtesie,
Wele demeand and lady of venerye:
Remembre your servaunt that righte true is;
With that reward not disdayne hym to kys.
And of youre gentilnes se that he
This frosty wedir be nat lost for colde,
And that not defawte in you founde be; 10
So that in somer it may be said and tolde
Ye kept him warm with your armys folde,
And with the chere that ye hym made
Fulle ofte ye made his hart righte glade.
Nowe redres of alle my sorowes smert, 15
That righte true be withouten variaunce,
I you biseche, with sore wounded hert;
Me counforte throwe youre daliaunce,
And of my body take youre plesaunce;
And kepe it secret and not disclose 20
Whome to be true I can suppose.
By him that in forestes walkethe wyde
Where noone may passe with out his gyd,
Nor kene may in dale nor doune
But that he is other blake or broune. 25
In her detailed review of this poem, Julia Boffey explains that these 25 lines of Middle English verse present a ‘humorously uneven’ tone that seems to poke fun at the clichés of contemporary courtly love poetry. The poem is addressed to Susane who is praised for her ‘pleasunce’, ‘gentilness’ and ‘curtesie’ by an anonymous admirer but is also revered as a ‘lady of venerye’: a mistress of hunting or sexual activity. The poem also refers to the couples’ ‘daliaunce’ and ends with a call for discretion, further adding to the sexual undertone of the verse. Like many modern-day Valentine’s cards, the admirer maintains his anonymity but offers a clue as to his real name in the final four lines.
Below the verse is a painted red heart, pierced by two red arrows. While bleeding hearts occur with some frequency in devotional contexts its appearance in this secular poem is somewhat unusual. The interplay between religious imagery and secular verse demonstrated in this poem is also briefly explored by Boffey in other forms of material culture such as ‘posey rings’. A beautiful example is the early fifteenth-century ring found at Godstow Abbey which has a secular verse inscribed on the inside but is decorated with images of the Virgin on the outside.
While this poem does not make a direct reference to St Valentine, Boffey argues that the poems’ allusions to the seasons ‘do not preclude the possibility that it was conceived as a Valentine’s day gesture’. Similarly, we cannot be certain that this poem changed hands in the form of a missive; yet, this fragment still raises the intriguing possibility that such poems were produced for personal delivery and not conceived simply as components of social ‘courtly love’ games. Thus, while the vogue for sending Valentine’s Day cards started in the late eighteenth century, this fifteenth-century love poem is testimony to practices of amorous exchange well before the commercialisation of St Valentine’s Day.
We were very pleased to host Guy de la Bédoyère at Lincoln yesterday, Wed 9 November 2016.
Guy is a historian who has written widely on Roman Britain and the Roman world, and has also published several books on the correspondence of the English seventeenth century diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, among other subjects. He is best known to the general public for the fifteen years he took part regularly in Channel 4’s popular archaeology series, Time Team, between 1998 and 2013.
From 2007 to 2016 he taught History and Classical Civilization at Kesteven and Sleaford High School in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, and is pleased with the number of students who went on to study History, Classics or Archaeology at university. Despite his French name, Guy is also descended from the ancient Lincolnshire family of Thorold. Married, with four adult sons, Guy lives near Grantham and has now given up teaching to return to freelance writing, lecturing, travelling in the United States (indeed he was touring in southern California and Arizona only five days ago) and Australia and elsewhere, while also enjoying the recent arrival of his granddaughter. His next book, Praetorian; the Rise and Fall of Rome’s Imperial Bodyguard, is to be published by Yale University Press in March 2017.
Today’s talk was about “The Real Lives of Roman Britain”: an exploration of the evidence for individuals during the Roman era in this island. Using anthropological parallels and also the European arrival in Australia, this developed the idea that modern western societies, being classical in origin, can access the Roman classical record but have no other easy conduit into the culture of the indigenous tribal societies. The Roman sense of self, and the desire to record that in the transmissible form of epigraphic records and written histories, enables us to access Romanized identities because, culturally, we have inherited Roman language forms and methods of visual depiction. When the Britons are visible to us it is almost invariably because they have been recorded in Romanized form because their other methods are literally and metaphorically invisible to us. This includes the acquisition of Roman name forms, the use of the classical sense of realistic visual forms, and the medium of a Romanized individual choosing to record a Briton in his milieu. If a Briton presents him or herself within the record it is only because of the adoption, apparently willingly, of the cultural motifs and language of the invading Roman culture. This raises the question of a key paradox – if we need Romanized forms to access a Briton then when we have that opportunity has the essence of the Briton been destroyed in transmitting his or her identity through a Roman medium? The arrival of Europeans in Australia mirrors this to some extent. The record of Britain in Australia in the early years is of a colonizing imperial culture in which indigenous peoples are marginalized, barely understood and left as an opaque backdrop. This paper explores the evidence for the Britons within the Roman record and considers the extent to which access is an illusion or even simply impossible. This raises questions about our own upbringing and how rapidly we become configured within narrow cultural parameters that challenge access to wider understanding.
In a day in which the world was in shock after the results of the American elections, this talk provided a breath of fresh air which made us think about imperial culture, assimilation of indigenous traditions and customs, as well as acculturation in a different light, while also promoting the adoption of more interdisciplinary approaches to dig deeper into these subjects.
First History and Heritage Research Seminar for this academic year!
Dr Ed Roberts(University of Liverpool) joined us on Wednesday12 October (MHT Building, MC0024 from 4.30pm to 6pm) to talk about:
‘An ‘age of iron and lead’? Reassessing intellectual culture in the tenth-century West’
In continental western European history, the tenth century – long dismissed as an unsavoury ‘dark age’ – has recently seen a revival of interest which is leading to major reassessments of the period’s social and political history. Re-evaluation of tenth-century intellectual and cultural life has been comparatively lacking, however. Here the period still seems ‘dark’ next to the heady days of the Carolingian Renaissance and the apparent renewal of learning after the millennium which culminated in the advent of scholasticism and the ‘discovery of the individual’ in the twelfth century. Can the tenth century’s intellectual standing be salvaged, or was this really a dismal era of cultural malaise?
Ed’s paper examined two case studies of two of the period’s most learned but ‘idiosyncratic’ figures – Flodoard of Rheims (d. 966) and Rather of Verona (d. 974) – which might be useful to reframe the intellectual history of the tenth-century West. Ed argued that these individuals operated within a distinct and innovative intellectual community, which reflected changing attitudes towards scholarship and composition.
The paper was thought-provoking and it was followed by a lively debate. Staff and students asked about the criteria of selection of these two case studies and the extent to which they should be regarded as representative of their period; how ideas of intellectual networks within the Ottonian context reflected similar trends across Western Europe; as well as whether and to what extent the personal intervention of Rhather of Verona in his chronicles could be read as an ‘autobiographical’ statement and how this might help historians to answer questions of authority and reception of his work.
Ed also suggested that considering the political changes which followed the emergence of Ottonian power and the geographical shift of most ‘learned centres’ towards Lotharingia is extremely important when trying to answer some of the aforementioned questions. However, whether places like Rheims and Italy could be considered as ‘peripheries’ by the 10th century is highly debatable and this was something which we continued discussing after the seminar…over a pint!
Many thanks to Dr Roberts for providing food for thought!
The International Congress of Medieval Studies, hosted by Western Michigan University’s Medieval Institute, is an annual gathering of around 3,000 scholars interested in medieval studies. It is a sort of Mecca for any medievalists, who are encouraged to attend it…at least once in an academic life time!
The congress features 550-575 sessions of papers, panel discussions, roundtables, workshops and performances.
Dr Jamie Wood and I were involved in some of those sessions.
Dr Wood presented a paper on ‘Formative Spaces: Making Female Ascetics in Early Medieval Iberia’ in a session on Enclosure, Transgression, and Scandal in Medieval Nunneries. The session included also Victoria Kent Worth (Univ. of Massachusetts–Amherst), Michelle Herder (Cornell College) and Laura Cayrol-Bernardo (University of Paris).
Simultaneously, I was delivering my paper on ‘Kings in Each other’s eyes: Alfonso X of Castile and James I of Aragon. Regulating Emotions’ in a session entitled ‘Affect and Emotions II’ which was part of a series, which also included a conclusive roundtable for discussion. These three sessions were extremely productive, thought-provoking and good fun! Scholars who contributed to the panels, organized by Prof Simon Doubleday (Hofstra University), were: Alicia Miguélez (Universidade Nova, Lisbon), Emily Francomano (Georgetown Univ), Miriam Shadis (Ohio Univ.), Henry Berlin (Univ. at Buffalo), as well as Sarah McNamer (Georgetown University), who led the roundtable.
Dr Wood and I also had the chance to attend a lovely dinner organized by IMANA (Iberomedieval Association of North America), which gave us the opportunity to meet over 70 colleagues working on Medieval Iberian Studies across the world.
Excellent experience overall!