Medieval Matters: Week 2

I hope that you have all settled back into the rhythms of Oxford life. It’s terribly cold this week, with a thick layer of fog covering Oxford’s spires. Here’s some advice from Alcuin on how to wrap up warm:

Nullatenus capitis cura obmittenda est; levius est pedes dolere quam caput
[Care of the head should never be neglected: it is less serious that the feet should suffer than the head, Ep. 114 ]

I interpret this to mean: don’t forget to wear a warm hat! If you want to care for the head in a less literal sense, we of course have a whole host of intellectually stimulating seminars, reading groups and events for you to enjoy this week:


  • The Medieval Misuse discussion and reading group meets every 2 weeks, on a Thursday 5-6, for an informal discussion about the ways that medieval history, culture and literature are misused by modern political parties and extremist groups. Interested individuals should email:
  • The Old French Reading Group takes place at 4-5pm at St Hilda’s College (meet by the lodge) on Wednesdays of Even Weeks in association with Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). We welcome readers of Old French of all abilities. For further information, please email or
  • Oxford Ancient Languages Society (OALS) is running a great programme of classes and events this term – perfect for medievalists who want to brush up or acquire Latin! For full details, see their website here.
  • Please note that the Carlyle Lectures are medieval this year! This year’s lectures will be given by John Hudson, on common law and Roman law and custom, C12-13:


Monday 23rd January:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar takes place at 12.30-2pm online via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Rebecca Amendola (La Sapienza Università di Roma), Manuscripts in Motion: The Parma Gospel Book (Ms. Pal. 5) and Its Journey to Italy. To register, please contact the organiser at
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group led by Matthew Holford and Andrew Dunning is meeting as usual via Teams from 1-2pm. We will start with natural history from a medieval encyclopaedia. Sign up for the mailing list to receive updates and the Teams invite, or contact or for more information. 
  • The Queer and Trans Medievalisms Reading and Research Group meets at 3pm at Univ College, 12 Merton St Room 2. This week’s theme is Heldris of Cornwall’s Le Roman de Silence. All extremely welcome! To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email   
  • The Medieval History Seminar takes place at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College and on Teams (Teams link here). This week’s speaker will be Jamie Wood (Lincoln), The Memory of the Martyrs: The topography of sanctity in Visigothic Toledo.’. 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 24th January:

  • The Europe in the Later Middle Ages Seminar will take place at 2–3.30pm in the New Seminar Room, St John’s College. Tea and coffee available from 1.45pm. This week’s speaker will be Catherine Holmes, Oxford, ‘Networks, brokerage and identity in the late medieval eastern Mediterranean‘.
  • The Comparative Philology Seminar: Old High German meets at 2.15-4pm in the Lecture Theatre of the Centre for Linguistics and Philology (Walton Street). This week’s speakers will Luise Morawetz and Howard Jones, Introduction/Phonology. All are welcome, basic linguistic knowledge is assumed. 
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5-6pm in the Charlese Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker will be Susannah Bain (Jesus), ‘Maps, Chronicles and Treaties: defining political connections in late-thirteenth-century northern Italy‘.
  • The John Hudson Carlyle Lectures takes place at 5pm at South School, Examination Schools. This week’s lecture will be Legal development in Europe: a view from the 1190s. This lecture examines patterns of legal development in England, France and north Italy in the latter part of the twelfth century. It suggests that those patterns do not act as a clear guide to the developments that followed in the thirteenth century. This lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in North Schools. All are welcome!

Wednesday 25th January:

  • The Medieval German Graduate Seminar will meet at 11:15am in the island room of Oriel College for discussing the prologue of this term’s text, Heinrich von Neustadt’s Apollonius von Tyrland. If you are interested to come along, contact Henrike Lähnemann, to be added to the teams chat.
  • The Medieval Italian Seminar will take place at 2pm at Rees Davies Room, History Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Paul Oldfield (Manchester), ‘Inquest and History in Thirteenth-Century Puglia’.
  • GLARE (Greek and Latin Reading Group) takes place at 4-5pm at Jesus College. Please meet at Jesus College Lodge. This week’s text will be Demosthenes, Against Neaera, 72–8. All welcome to attend any and all sessions. For more details and specific readings each week, or to be added to the mailing list, email or
  • The Medieval Latin Document Reading Group meets on Teams at 4-5pm. We are currently focusing on medieval documents from New College’s archive as part of the cataloguing work being carried out there, so there will be a variety of hands, dates and types. A document is sent out in advance but homework is not expected. Contact Michael Stansfield ( for further details and the Teams link.
  • The Old French Reading Group takes place at 4-5pm at St Hilda’s College (meet by the lodge). We welcome readers of Old French of all abilities. For further information, please email or
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar takes place at 5pm at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles. This week’s speaker will be Olivier Delouis (Maison Française d’Oxford), ‘Teaching Greek grammar to one’s son: an unpublished manual by Nikolaos Artabasdos Rabdas (14th c.)’.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar takes place at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty, followed by a drinks reception. This week’s speaker will be William Sweet (Independent), ‘Lydgate and Humanist Reading After Arundel’. All welcome.

Thursday 26th January:

  • The Oxford Medieval Commentary Network will meet at 12.45-2.15pm in the McKenna Room at Christ Church. Please note the change of venue! Free lunch from 12.45, seminar paper begins at 1.15. The speaker will be Tristan Franklinos, Wolfson & Oriel Colleges, Oxford, ‘Peter Abelard’s Hymns as exegesis for the sisters of the Paraclete’. Please direct all questions to, or visit the website.
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music will take place on Zoom at 5pm. This week’s speaker will be Julia Craig-McFeely (DIAMM, University of Oxford), The Sadler Sets of Partbooks and Tudor Music Copying. If you are planning to attend a seminar this term, please register using this form. For each seminar, those who have registered will receive an email with the Zoom invitation and any further materials a couple of days before the seminar. If you have questions, please just send an email to
  • The Medieval Misuse discussion and reading group meets at 5-6pm, for an informal discussion about the ways that medieval history, culture and literature are misused by modern political parties and extremist groups. Interested individuals should email:
  • The Germanic Reading Group meets at 4-5pm on zoom. This week’s topic will be Old Norse skaldic verse (Nelson Goering leading). Please contact Howard Jones to be added to the mailing list and receive the zoom link.
  • The Celtic Seminar will take place at 5.15pm via Teams and in The History of the Book Room, English Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Mark Williams (Oxford), ‘Magic and violence in Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi‘. Please contact if you need a link.
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5.15pm at St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speakers are Sarah Griffin, Lambeth Palace Library, London, ‘From Hours to Ages: Time in the Large-scale Diagrams of Opicinus de Canistris (1296-c. 1352)‘ and Anya Burgon, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, ‘In a Punctum: Miniature Worlds in Late Medieval Art and Literature‘.
  • The Oxford Interfaith Forum is hosting a lecture by Professor Laurent Mignon, Professor of Turkish Literature at the University of Oxford, UK, at 6-7pm, online. The lecture will be ‘From the People of the Book to the Books of the People: Christian Literature and the 19th Century Ottoman Turkish Literary World‘. For full details and registration, click here.
  • The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies is hosting The David Patterson Lectures at 6-7pm, at the Catherine Lewis Lecture Room and on zoom. This week’s lecture will be of interest to anyone who teaches papers on the Central Middle Ages, English history, and also to feminist / gender historians of all stripes. The speaker will be Dr Emily Rose, ‘The Expulsion of Jews from England (1290): It is Not What You Think’. To register for online attendance, click here. For enquiries, email

This weekend marked Lunar New Year: Happy New Year to all who celebrate! This year is the year of the rabbit. I wanted to provide a suitable quote and image but to my knowledge, Alcuin has nothing to write about rabbits, and nor are any to be found in the Ashmole bestiary. So please forgive a temporary departure from our usual material. Here is Albertus Magnus describing the importance of camraderie amongst rabbits:

Est […] animal timidum, et ideo injuriatum relinquit habitationem, quod videns grex totus de loco transit, ac si indignetur ad injurias sociorum
[It is a shy animal, and for that reason when disturbed it flees its home, and seeing this the whole colony leaves the place too, as if offended by the insult to their companion 20:29]

May we medievalists enjoy such loyal companionship!

Announcing the year of the Rabbit (no rabbits were harmed in the making of this year)
Detail from La Queste del Saint Graal, France, N., early 14th century, Royal MS 14 E III, f. 89r

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