Medieval Matters: Week 7

Although the weather wasn’t always sunny, this weekend saw much celebration in Oxford, bringing both the platinum jubilee and LGBTQIA+ Pride! In honour of these events I have, of course, been on the look out for some seasonal wisdom. There is plenty of Old English guidance on kingship, but the Instructions for Christians holds some particularly pertinent wisdom on the subject for us as academics:

[Leornunge] geeadmodað eghwylcne kyng,
swilce þone earman eac aræreð

[Learning humbles every king, and likewise raises up the poor]

Though some seminars have now wound down for the summer, we still have plenty of opportunities for leornunge this week which are sure to raise us all up, both in mind and in spirit. Please see below for the weekly schedule:


Monday 6th June:

  • The Oxford Byzantine Graduate Seminar will take place on Zoom at 12.30-2pm. This week’s speaker is Natacha Puglisi (KCL), ‘Sanctity in Late Antiquity‘ (exact title TBC). 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 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 Tuiija Ainonen for further details.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at The Wharton Room, All Souls College and online on Teams. This week’s speaker is David d’Avray (UCL), ‘How to do medieval papal (and perhaps most) history’. 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 7th June:

  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3.30-4.30pm at the Old Law Library in Magdalen College. We will be reading on Women Writers: Women’s Letters.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Warrington Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is Scott Moynihan (Pembroke), ‘God Wills It? Crusade and inter-religious diplomacy in the 13th century‘.
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar meets online only at 5.15pm. This week’s speaker will be Domenic Leo (independent researcher): ‘“Authorial Presence” in a Manuscript of Guillaume de Machaut’s Collected Works (Paris, BnF, ms. Fr.1584)’. Please email for video-conference link.

Wednesday 8th June:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15-12.45 in St Edmund Hall, Old Library. We are discussing Seuse’s ‘Büchlein der ewigen Weisheit’, this week Nia Moseley-Roberts on Citational Practice in German and Latin and Rebekka Gründel on Women as readers. For more information, please email
  • Dumbarton Oaks Ukraine Lecture Series: The Cathedral of St. Sophia, Kyiv takes place online at 12-1.30pm. The cathedral of St. Sophia in the historic center of Kyiv dates to ca. 1037 and is one of the most remarkable medieval monuments of Kyivan Rus. This roundtable brings together three scholars who will address the distinctive architectural and decorative features of this impressive monument, as well as its visual and symbolic transformations from the Middle Ages into the present. Speakers: Thomas Dale (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “‘In Heaven or on Earth’: Saint Sophia in Kyiv and the Reinvention of Byzantine Sacred and Palatine Architecture in the Kyivan Rus”; Ioli Kalavrezou (Harvard University), “The Original Mosaic Program of St. Sophia in Kyiv”; and Sofia Korol’ (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), “To the History of the Interwar Church Decorations in Galicia: Kyivan Rus’ Images and Motifs (P. Kholodny and M. Osinchuk)”. To register, please click here to visit the website.
  • 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 Arietta Papaconstantinou (University of Reading) – Greek letters from the Arab chancery: who wrote the governors’ missives in eight-century Fusṭāṭ.

Thursday 9th June:

  • 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
  • Oxford Medieval Society Public Lecture: Christine de Pizan: Guilty Feminist? Dr Charlotte Cooper-Davis will give this lecture in the New Seminar Room in St. John’s College, 1-2.30pm. All are very welcome, and please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions at We look forward to seeing many of you there!
  • The After Rome and Further East Seminar takes place at Trinity College (Levine Auditorium) at 5pm. This week’s speaker is Adrian Pirtea (Universität Wien), ‘Syriac Monastic Networks and the Transfer of Knowledge between the Eastern Mediterranean, Sasanian Iran and Central Asia’. Follow the link to the Zoom meeting.
  • The Old English Reading Group takes place at 5.30pm. For more information and to receive the text in advance email

Friday 10th June:

  • The Medievalist Coffee Morning takes place at 10.30pm in the Visiting Scholars Centre in the Weston Library (access via the Readers Entrance on Museum Road: straight ahead and up two floors!)
  • 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.
  • Lecture at St Edmund Hall: Dag Nikolaus Hasse (Würzburg University) will speak on ‘What is European? Medieval, Colonial and Postcolonial Perspectives‘ at 5pm in St Edmund Hall Old Library and on Teams. If you would like to participate remotely, please contact Henrike Lähnemann to be added to the teams call.

Finally, in the spirit of Pride, some wisdom contained in a 12th Century lesbian love letter written by a nun, preserved in München Clm 19411:

Revera iuxta quendam sapientem magna miseria est hominis,
cum illo non esse
sine quo non potest esse

[Indeed, as a certain wise person says, it is a great misery for somebody not to be with the person without whom they cannot be.]

May your week be filled with all of the people and learning without whom you cannot be!

[A couple of Medievalists, having had a rather celebratory weekend, take a small break from being raised up by learning to enjoy just ‘being’]
Merton College, MS 249, f. 9v.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller

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