Medieval Matters: Week 1

Trinity term has arrived! I hope that everyone has been enjoying the warmer weather and arrival of Spring. We welcomed the beginning of term with the spectacular Mystery Plays last Saturday. On behalf of OMS, I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to all medievalists across Oxford who took part in the Plays whether as actors or spectators: we had 89 active participants and 320 registered attendants in person plus up to 150 simultaneous views on the live-stream! For those of you who missed out, you can catch up on all the action online – the recordings will be edited but are already watchable, warts and all, via the St Edmund Hall youtube channel; pics of the day are accessible via the hashtag #OxfordMysteries on twitter.

As we all return to term and to Oxford, some wisdom from the Old English Maxims:

Muþa gehwylc mete þearf, mæl sceolon tidum gongan.
[Every mouth needs food; meals must come at the correct time.]

Though technology doesn’t allow me to send you food of the traditional type, I bring you a whole smorgasbord of feasts for the mind in the form of the Trinity Term Medieval Booklet. Please do peruse it and whet your appetites for all of the exciting offerings that we have this term. For now, this is what is happening this week:


Monday 25th April:

  • The Book at the Bodleian: Whence, Where, Whither? takes place at 11am-6pm in the Lecture Theatre, Weston Library and also streamed live. Visit the webpage for further information.
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Sign up here for the mailing list to receive details of each week’s sessions: Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning or Tuija Ainonen for further details.
  • The Oxford Byzantine Graduate Seminar will take place on Zoom at 12.30-2pm. This week’s speaker is Jack Sheard (Royal Holloway), ‘Byzantium and the Black Sea, c.1000-1204′. To register, please contact the organiser at Please note that there is no need to register if you have previously subscribed to the seminar mailing list.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at The Wharton Room, All Souls College and online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Richard Purkiss (Lincoln/RAI), ‘The limits of the Danelaw’. The Teams session can be accessed by logging in to Teams with your account and joining the group “Medieval History Research Seminar” (team code rmppucs). If you have any difficulties please email:

Tuesday 26th April:

  • The Trinity Term OMS Lecture takes place at 5pm, online via the OMS youtube page. This term’s lecture is by Caroline Danforth, and will be on the subject of ‘Paper, Linen, Silk, and Parchment – Material Fragments from an Extinguished Convent‘.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Warrington Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is Lucy Pick (University of Chicago) ‘Parables and Commandments:  a Jewish text in Latin

Wednesday 27th April:

  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5pm at Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles. This week’s speaker is Baukje van den Berg (Central European University), ‘Twelfth-Century Scholars on the Moral Value of Ancient Poetry‘.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speaker will be Hannah Bower (University of Cambridge), ‘“And bi þe bodi he him hent, | And al to peces here torent”: violent fragmentation and productive uncertainty in The Seven Sages of Rome’ (chaired by Marion Turner). For further information, contact

Thursday 28th April:

  • The Middle High German Reading Group meets at 10am at Somerville College Productivity Room (Margery Fry). This term’s topic is ‘Maeren’. If you have any questions or want to participate, please send an e-mail to
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in Harold Wilson Room, Jesus College – meet at Jesus lodge. This week’s text is Catullus 5, 85 and 101. Contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list.
  • The After Rome and Further East Seminar takes place at Trinity College (Levine Room 5) at 5pm. This week’s speaker is Nadine Viermann (Durham), ‘In and out of Constantinople: Early-seventh-century coronation rituals in context’.
  • The Old English Reading Group takes place at 5.30pm. For more information and to receive the text in advance email

Friday 29th April:

  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5pm in Taylorian Room 2 and on Zoom. This term, Luca Crisma (EPHE, Paris) will lead reading of the Anglo-Norman Letter of Prester John. For texts, joining instructions, and further information, please email Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss.


  • Oxford-Cambridge student conversations on ‘Cross-Cultural Entanglements’. We are a group of students from Oxford and Cambridge interested to cross-cultural entanglements in the medieval and Early Modern Period. Building on a successful first meeting, we are aiming at expanding the network to include as many students as possible. The idea is to meet once a month on Tuesday to exchange ideas and discuss both sources and articles. Anyone interested into this theme should feel free to join this group, whose meeting will be online, monthly. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, send an e-mail to
  • CFP: Hyggnathing. Following on from last year’s sucess, Hyggnathing returns this year for a fully online one-day conference for graduate students of Old Norse. We hope that the online format will allow students to join regardless of their financial situation (in-person conferences are expensive!) and geographical location. For full details, please visit the OMS blog.

Finally, as we embark upon Trinity Term, some wisdom from the Old English Rune Poem:

ᛋ [sigel] se-mannum symble biþ on hihte
[The sun is always a hope for seafarers]

May the sun in Oxford similarly bring some hope to scholars! I wish you all a happy and productive first week in the April sunshine!

[A Medievalist whets their appetite with the many offerings of the Trinity Term booklet]
Merton College, MS 249, f. 7r.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller

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