Medieval Matters: Week 4

We are half way through May, and half way through the term! Everything is starting to feel summery in Oxford: the days are getting warmer and the University parks, gardens and meadows are looking beautiful as all of the plants come into flower. Of course, there is also a flowering of knowledge at this time of year, particularly as our MSt students embark upon their dissertations! Here is some wisdom from Alcuin on the subject:

Quid pulchrius sapientiae floribus, quae numquam exhauriuntur?
[What is more beautiful than the flowers of wisdom, which never fade? Ep. 206]

We have a truly rich array of wisdom on display this week. See the full listings below for a veritable bouquet of knowledge!


  • A workshop on The Order of St Victor in Medieval Scandinavia will be held at Aula Magna, Stockholm University, 25–26 May 2023. The workshop is open to all interested, subject to availability. Register interest by contacting For a full programme and more information, see our blog post here.
  • The CMTC “Medieval Manuscripts Work in Progress” colloquium will be held on Tuesday 23rd May 2023, 3,30–5,00pm UK time, at Memorial Room, The Queen’s College (and Zoom). The speakers will be Marius Del Core (Pisa/Oxford), ‘Omitti possunt. Evidence for abridgement and athetesis in Plautine manuscripts’ and Stefano Milonia (Scuola Superiore Meridionale, Naples), ‘Super and Contra. Conversion and resemantisation of mediaeval French lyric in the Ludus super Anticlaudianum’. Registration is mandatory: please register here whether you are planning to attend in person or online.
  • Announcing a one-day-only exhibition at New College Library entitled Maleficia: Magic, Witchcraft, & Astrology at New College Library. We will be displaying some manuscripts, mostly astrological texts, along with a number of early modern printed books, mostly witchcraft treatises. The exhibition will be on Saturday, 3rd June in New College’s Lecture Room 4 and is open to the public. Contact for queries.
  • Provenance Unknown: A New CMTC Lecture Series: The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures (CMTC) is proud to announce this new lecture series, on unprovenanced manuscripts/inscriptions. The series seeks to gather a wide range of voices from academics in different fields or disciplines about the methodological pros and cons of working with unprovenanced mss/insciptions in academic contexts. The lectures will cover matters such as the legal concerns, ethical concerns, and academic concerns by keeping a strict focus on methodology. Our first speaker is Alexander Herman, Director of the Institute of Art and Law, on 30 May, 5.15pm (UK time), Memorial Room, The Queen’s College, Oxford, UK
  • Noblesse Oblige? Conference Programme – Limited Spaces for Attendance: The Noblesse Oblige? conference programme is now finalised and can be found here, and there are limited spaces for other attendees to join us in Oxford between the 25th and 27th May. To express interest in attending for one or more days, please email for further details.
  • Ervin Bossányi: Stained Glass Art and Linocut Workshop: St Peter’s College is pleased to host a practical art workshop on Friday, 26 May 2023, 2-4pm in the St Peter’s College Chapel as part of a current display exploring the works of Hungarian artist Ervin Bossányi (1891-1975) in the College collections and Chapel stained glass. A guided tour of the display by Dr Alison Ray (College Archivist) will be followed by a linocut workshop led by Dr Eleanor Baker and participants will produce their own linocut designs.  Attendance is free, but booking is required as space is limited. Please contact Alison Ray to reserve a place by email: For more details, click here.


Monday 15th May:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar will meet at 12:30-14:00 via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Benjamin Morris (Cardiff University), ‘Against All Men’: The Movement of Military Service in Byzantine and English Treaties, 900-1200 To register, please contact
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group led by Matthew Holford and Andrew Dunning is meeting as usual via Teams from 1-2pm. This term we will read some satirical poetry from a thirteenth-century manuscript, the so-called ‘Bekyngton anthology’ (Bodl. MS. Add. A. 44). 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 Werewolf romance: William of Palerne. All extremely welcome! To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Susannah Bain (Jesus) ‘Fashioning connectivity: Political communication and history-writing in late thirteenth-century Italy’. The seminar will also be available remotely via Teams. 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 16th May:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12:00 in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. This week’s speakers will be Annika Ester Maresia (Jesus College, Oxford) ‘›s to ‹æ›s: Looking at Early Old English Front Vowel Orthography‘ and Bond West (Lincoln College, Oxford), ‘Rhetoric and Style in Old Norse Religious Prose’.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at the Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College, with tea & coffee from 5pm; papers begin at 5.15pm. This week’s speaker will be Andrew Beever (Corpus), ‘Anglo-Saxon Crescentic Cross Pendants in their Insular and Continental Contexts’. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!

Wednesday 17th May:

  • The Medieval German Seminar will not meet at the usual time (11:15-12.45pm at St Edmund Hall Old Library) but rather concentrate all activities on the Nigel Palmer Memorial Symposium (see below Friday and Saturday); if you want to be added to the medieval German mailing list for future dates, please email Henrike Lähnemann.
  • The Old High German Reading Group at 11-12 in 41 Wellington Square, 2nd floor (Henrike Lähnemann’s office). This week’s text will be Wessobrunner Gebet. It will be an opportunity to read and analyse some simpler OHG texts and give people the chance to read the oldest form of German if they’ve not been exposed to it before. It will be very informal, and all are welcome. Led by William Thurlwell – contact him for updates
  • The Early Medieval Britain and Ireland Network will be hosting a lecture at 1pm at Staircase 5 Lecture Room, Worcester College. The lecture will be given by Professor Charlene Eska, on the topic of ‘Stolen Sheep and Wandering Cows: Reclaiming Lost and Stolen Property in Early Medieval Ireland and Britain‘.
  • The LGBTQ+ Network Seminar will be held at 2-4.30pm in the Rees Davies Room, History Faculty. Today’s speaker will be Dr Conrad Leyser, ‘Purity and Sodimitic Danger in the Eleventh Century West‘.
  • The Invisible East Group is hosting a seminar at 3pm in the Spalding Room, FAMES, Pusey Lane. This week’s speaker will be Prof. John Tolan, ‘Tracking the Qur’ān in European Culture‘. More information at this link.
  • 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
  • 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 Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5pm at Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles. This week’s speaker will be Mirela Ivanova (University of Sheffield) & Benjamin Anderson (Cornell University), ‘Is Byzantine Studies a Colonialist Discipline? Towards a Critical Historiography’. You can also join the seminar remotely via Teams, click here.

Thursday 18th May:

  • The Environmental History Group meets at 12-2pm in the Gary Martin Room, History Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Celeste van Gent, “The Materiality of Travel in Late Medieval England”. We try to keep discussions informal, and we encourage anyone at all interested in these kinds of approaches to join our meetings, regardless of research specialism or presumed existing knowledge. For those interested in joining the group, you can join our mailing list by getting in touch with us at
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Reading Group meets at 3-4pm at Lincoln College: meet at the lodge. This week’s theme will be Rhetorical strategies: how language is used to generate authority. Please email to be added to the mailing list and get texts in advance, or to find out more.
  • The Invisible East Group is co-hosting a webinar with the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies online at 5pm. The speaker will be Dr Jennifer Jenkins, University of Toronto, ‘Presence and Silence: The Iran Archives in the German Foreign Office‘. Registration and more information at this link.
  • Sarah Wood from Warwick is leading this week’s Piers Plowman in Context discussion group, which meets in the Butler Room at Univ (please note the change of college room) from 4:30-5:30. This week’s session will be on Passus X of the B-text, which we’ll be discussing in relation to the short contextual passages available through this link: All welcome! Email Jacob Ridley ( with any questions.
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5.15-6.45pm at St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speaker will be Hanna Vorholt, University of York, Ruled Lines and the Making of Manuscript Images. For further information, contact Elena Lichmanova (
  • The Oxford Interfaith Forum will host a talk on Mandaeans: A Minority on the Move and their Manuscripts by Prof. James McGrath, online at 6-7pm. For full details and to register, click here.

Friday 19th May:

  • Literary, religious and manuscript cultures of the German-speaking lands: a symposium in memory of Nigel F. Palmer (1946-2022) will take place. Everybody is welcome for the opening session at 1pm in the Taylor Institution Library, Main Hall. Please note that the sessions later in the Horton Room are for registered participants only.
  • The Colloquium starts actually at the Medieval Coffee Morning which meets as usual 10:30am in the Visiting Scholars Centre of the Weston Library (instructions how to find it). Join us for a presentation by Bodleian curators of items that have a special connection to the interests of the late Nigel Palmer or where given by him to the library. It will also be a chance to meet many German medievalists visiting for the colloquium – as well, of course, for coffee and the chance to see the view from the 5th floor terrace.

Saturday 20th May:

  • Literary, religious and manuscript cultures of the German-speaking lands: a symposium in memory of Nigel F. Palmer (1946-2022) continues at the Taylorian. There is a linked pop-up exhibition of books related to Nigel Palmer in the Old Library of St Edmund Hall open 5-6pm.
  • Dies Latinus et Graecus: ‘Quid antiqui de antiquis censuerint’ will take place from 1pm in the Ship Street Centre, Jesus College. The highlight of the event will be a talk by Professor Eleanor Dickey on the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana (ancient textbooks of the Latin language), incorporating a workshop in which participants can try using these learning materials the way they would have been used in antiquity; the talk and workshop will be in Latin, but questions and comments in English will be welcome. To register interest, please fill out this form. Any questions may be directed to or

Of course, the flowers of wisdom are always enjoyable, but they are best when they are shared. Indeed, Alcuin tells us:

Nec illis tuae decorem sapientiae abscondas, sed inriga florentes bonae voluntatis in eis areolas
[Don’t hide the beauty of your wisdom from others, but water the flowers of goodwill in their garden, Ep. 206]

If you would like to share the beauty of your wisdom with others, do come to our Medievalist Coffee Mornings, every Friday at the Weston! You can also ‘water the flowers of goodwill’ there: I’m sure Alcuin would agree that nothing is better for goodwill than a healthy ‘watering’ with free tea and biscuits! Wishing you a week filled with the flowers of wisdom and the flowers of Spring alike!

[A Medievalist takes a break from the flowers of wisdom to smell the flowers of University Parks]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 10v.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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