Medieval Matters: Week 7

It’s not even December yet, but the Oxford Christmas lights are now twinkling away on High Street and in colleges, Christmas trees have started to pop up in restaurants, and Oxmas is just around the corner. For those people starting to panic about buying gifts, here’s some wisdom for you from the Old English Maxims I:

Maþþum oþres weorð,
gold mon sceal gifan.

[One treasure deserves another; gold should be given away.]

We have a veritable wealth of medieval treasures for you this week, and it is my great delight to ‘give away’ their schedule to you, so that you might enjoy them:


  • Upcoming conference and exhibition on Anglo-Dutch Relations: As part of the Leverhulme project The Literary Heritage of Anglo-Dutch Relations 1050-1600, by Ad Putter (Bristol) and Elizabeth Van Houts (Cambridge), there will be a hybrid conference in the Bodleian Library (6-8 January) to accompany an exhibition of manuscripts and early printed books (3 December 2021 – April 2022) on the same subject. There is also a livestream panel discussion to mark the opening of the exhibition on 2 December at 5PM, online.


Monday 22nd November:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12.15-2pm on Teams. This week’s speaker is Callan Meynell (Oxford), ‘Roman? Greek? Byzantine? Some thoughts on the trial of Maximus the Confessor and Roman identity‘. To register, please contact the organiser at or visit the eventbrite page.
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning or Tuija Ainonen to be added to the Teams call.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm on Teams and in the Wharton Room. Attendance at the Wharton Room is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Bookings can be made at This week’s speaker is Rebecca Darley (Leeds) ‘The Diffusion of Governmentality in the Western Indian Ocean, c. 300-800 CE’.

Tuesday 23rd November:

  • The Islamicate Manuscripts and Texts Reading Colloquium 2021 meets at 3pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Arietta Papaconstantinou, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, Reading University, ‘Letters from Early Islamic Egypt‘.
  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3.30pm in Magdalen College, Old Law Library. This week’s topic is ‘Invoking Rituals’.
  • The Early Slavonic Webinar meets at 5pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Florentina Badalanova-Geller (Royal Anthropological Institute), ‘Ascending to the DivineScriptorium (The Concept of Heavenly Writings in the Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch)‘.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Old Dining Hall, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is Benjamin Thompson (Somerville), ‘Open or Closed? Late Medieval Monasteries and their Visitations‘.
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar meets at 5pm at Maison française d’Oxford. This week’s speaker is Dr Joseph Mason (New College, Oxford), ‘Sound, Music and Violence in the Old French Pastourelle’.
  • The Oxford Numismatic Society meets at 5pm on Teams. This week’s speaker will be Dr. Anna Blomley (New College, University of Oxford), ‘Between Magnesia and Macedon: The Bronze Coinages of Eastern Mount Ossa (Thessaly)‘. To receive meeting links and further updates, please email the Secretary at

Wednesday 24th November:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15-12.45 in New Powell Room, Somerville College. If you are interested to be added to the mailing list for the seminar, write to Linus Ubl.
  • The British Archaeological Association Postgraduate Conference takes place online at 1-5:30pm. Register for the conference here.
  • The Workshop on Manuscript Description and Cataloguing: Physical description and provenance takes place at 1-2pm in the Weston Library Horton Room. Places strictly limited: email or
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5pm on Google Meet, followed by drinks at 7pm at Corpus Christi College. This week’s speakers are Luke Lavan (Kent), ‘Everyday life beyond Symeon the Fool‘, Geoffrey Greatrex (Ottawa), ‘From Constantinople and its hinterland to Theophanes and Procopius‘, and Vincenzo Ruggieri (Pontificio Istituto Orientale), title tbc.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speaker will be Carl Kears (King’s College, London), ‘MS Junius 11: A Poetic Manuscript’. For further information, contact

Thursday 25th November:

  • The Middle High German Reading Group meets at 9-10.30am on Zoom. This week’s topic is Die Suche nach dem glücklichen Ehepaar (Heinrich Kaufringer). If you have any questions or want to participate, please send an e-mail to
  • The British Archaeological Association Postgraduate Conference takes place online at 1-5:30pm. Register for the conference here.
  • The Archives de l’Athos reading group meets at 3-4pm at Corpus Christi College. All interested in Byzantine history, non-Latin diplomatics, Greek palaeography or diplomatic edition are welcome. Contact or to sign up and receive the texts in advance.
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in St Edmund Hall. Room TBC: contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list. This week’s text will be Seneca, Apocolocyntosis 10-11.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5.15pm on Teams. For Teams link, contact David Willis. This week’s speaker is Deborah Hayden (Maynooth), ‘Cryptography, linguistic origin legends and medical education in medieval Ireland‘.
  • The Old English Reading Group meets at 5.30-7pm. For more information and to be added to the mailing list please email Eugenia Vorobeva.

Friday 26th November:

  • The Seminar in the History of the Book takes place at 5pm in the TS Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College. The speaker is Dr Daniel Sawyer, Merton College, ‘Manuscript Fragments and Manuscript Concepts‘.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5pm on Zoom. For texts, joining instructions, and further information, please email Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss.

Saturday 27th November:

  • The Church Monuments Society Lecture Series: Whose Dead in Vaulted Arches Lie meets at 5pm on Zoom. This week’s talk is ‘A crate of bones & gristle’: Welsh cadaver tombs & the art of the macabre’ with Professor Madeleine Gray. Attendance is free, but places must be booked via Eventbrite.


  • Call for Papers: Speculum Themed Issue: “Race, Race-Thinking, and Identity in the Global Middle Ages”: We invite proposals for full-length essays (8,000-11,000 words) that interrogate race, race-thinking, and identity in the Middle Ages. The themed issue on race, race-thinking, and identity and the articles selected for it will be in keeping with Speculum’s purview as stated in the Guidelines for Submission: “preference is ordinarily given to articles of interest to readers in more than one discipline and beyond the specialty in question. Articles taking a more global approach to medieval studies are also welcomed, particularly when the topic engages with one or more of the core areas of study outlined above. Submissions with appeal to a broad cross-section of medievalists are highly encouraged.” Proposals should be no more than 500 words in length and should be submitted by email to with SPECULUM PROPOSAL in the subject line by 31 January 2022. The authors of selected proposals will be notified by 28 February 2022. Completed essays will be expected by 1 December 2022.
  • Call for Papers: 16th GRACEH conference in European History. If you are a graduate student, please consider submitting an abstract to the 16th Annual Graduate Conference in European History (hopefully in-person at Oxford, 11-13 April 2022). The theme for this year is ‘Nature’, and the deadline for the submission of abstract is the 15th of December. Please find the link here (, along with the CFP.

Finally, some more Old English wisdom regarding gift-giving:

Gyfu gumena byþ gleng and herenys,
wraþu and wyrþscype.

Gift-giving amonst men is a glory an honour, support and worthiness.

In other words: not only is it lovely to give gifts to people, doing so will bring you some honour too!

A medievalist finds the perfect gift for a colleague who likes to wear scarves
Merton College, MS 249, f. 4r.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller

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