Night Office in 15th-Century Oxford

A re-enactment of a forgotten liturgy for St Thomas Becket

When: Tuesday 6 June at 9 pm
Where: New College Chapel

Free entry. All welcome!

The service has been prepared specially by Dr Henry Parkes (University of Nottingham), currently Albi Rosenthal Visiting Fellow in Music at the Bodleian Library. His research project ‘Music in the Shadows: Staging the Medieval Night Office’ explores the cultural history of Christian night worship through a mixture of archival, performance-led and ethnographic research.

Many Oxford colleges preserve the late evening office of Compline, once sung daily. But in medieval times there was a much more substantial service to follow, known as Nocturns, Vigils, or the Night Office.

New College Choir will enact a short-form Night Office as it might have been known in 15th-century Oxford, to explore how this now- forgotten liturgy worked in performance. In southern England from the late 14th century on, Tuesdays were commonly given over to the veneration of St Thomas Becket. This service recreates a ‘commemorative’ Tuesday Becket office, as precribed in late medieval books of the Sarum Use—many of which survive in Oxford libraries.

For an introduction to the service, watch a presentation of some of the manuscripts in the Bodleian Library

The Pursuit of Musick. The Taverner Consort at 50

When: 1 June 2023, 3-4pm
Where: Taylor Institution Library, Room 2

Andrew Parrott will be in conversation with Henrike Lähnemann on musical life in medieval and early modern Europe. This is a celebration of 50 years of the Taverner Consort and Andrew Parrott’s The Pursuit of Musick: Musical Life in Original Writings & Art c1200–1770, a uniquely colourful compendium of almost everything to do with pre-modern musical life. The lecture will take as its starting point how the examples on music in the everyday life of medieval and early modern Germany can be used as a teaching tool and will also discuss questions of translation of premodern sources. All original source material is open access available on the publication website, e.g.

With over 60 albums under its wing, the Consort is internationally renowned not only for Parrott’s insights into early music like Taverner, Tallis and Josquin des Prez, but also for award-winning recordings of composers including Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel, Bach, and unexpected carols. To announce the 50-year milestone, the Consort has made a special two-track recording involving Fretwork and boys from New College choir with a total of some 30 assorted instrumentalists. The tracks are being released on June 16th via Avie Records:
J. S. Bach, ‘O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht’ (BWV 118, version I), c1736/37
Giaches de Wert, ‘Egressus Jesus’ (a7) / Michael Praetorius

Commercial pre-save link for Apple, Spotify, etc. Previous recordings have clocked up over 1,000,000 listens (for his 2018 Bach Magnificat alone).

Followed at 7pm by a reception hosted by Merton College and Benjamin Nicholas on the cherry tree lawn outside the chapel after evensong for informal drinks and chats.
Buy the book: £35.00, 560 pages, ISBN: 978-1-915229-54-0

Provenance Unknown: A New CMTC Lecture Series  

The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures (CMTC) in the University of Oxford is proud to announce a new lecture seriesProvenance: Unknown 

The new lecture series on unprovenanced manuscripts/inscriptions 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/inscriptions 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.

The aim of the lecture series is to work towards a general framework of good academic practice in the field of manuscript cultures.

Our first speaker is Alexander Herman, Director of the Institute of Art and Law. His most recent book is ‘Restitution — The Return of Cultural Artefacts’.

Title: Don’t Turn That Page! The Legal Risks of Dealing in Unprovenanced Manuscripts

Time and place: 30 May, 5.15pm (UK time), Memorial Room, The Queen’s College, Oxford, UK


Researching and curating historical manuscripts is not without its risks, and these include legal risks. Questions arise in the context of dealing in unprovenanced manuscripts, such as when it is not clear when a manuscript left its country of origin nor under what circumstances. Also at issue are manuscripts that have a clear, but controversial provenance, such as those looted during periods of armed conflict or oppression. This talk will discuss the legal risks – if any – of dealing in such material, both from a national and international perspective. It will also raise the separate, but interlinked, question of morality of such activities.

The speaker:

Alexander Herman is the Director of the UK-based Institute of Art and Law. He has written, taught and presented on an array of topics in relation to art, law and cultural property. His writing appears regularly in The Art Newspaper and he has been quoted widely in the press on art law topics (including in The GuardianThe New York TimesThe Atlantic, The Telegraph, ArtNETThe Globe & Mail and Bloomberg). His work has also been cited in the UK House of Lords and before the US Supreme Court. He trained in both common law and civil law legal systems at McGill University and practised law in Canada. He is Programme Co-Director of the Art, Business and Law LLM which runs as a partnership between the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University of London and the Institute of Art and Law. His latest book is Restitution: The Return of Cultural Artefacts (Lund Humphries, 2021).

Online link will be provided later

…and keep an eye out for further announcements!

Image: Beinecke MS 408, also known as Voynich Manuscript, p.32

Literary, religious and manuscript cultures of the  German-speaking lands:  a  symposium  in memory of Nigel F. Palmer (1946-2022) 

Friday 19 – Saturday 20 May 2023

To celebrate the life and scholarship of Nigel F. Palmer, Professor of  German  Medieval Literary and Linguistic  Studies at the University of Oxford, the academic community honours his memory with a symposium, which brings together colleagues from around the world. Their presentations speak to the wide spectrum of Nigel’s intellectual interests, which ranged extensively within the broad scope of the literary and religious history of the German- and Dutch-speaking lands, treating Latin alongside the vernaculars, the early printed book alongside the manuscript, and the court and the city alongside the monastery and the convent.

Friday, 19 May 2023 

10:30-11:30         Weston Library, Visiting Scholars Centre

  • Presentation of incunables and blockbooks linked with Nigel F. Palmer in the Bodleian Library by Alan Coates.

13:00-13:45             Taylor Institution Library. Main Hall

  • Welcome and introduction. Video by Jeffrey Hamburger in honour of Nigel Palmer

14:00-15:00             Taylorian Main Hall: Chair: Racha Kirakosian

  • Henrike Manuwald, ‘German-language pericopes between retelling, exegesis and prayer: the case of the Begerin Prayer Book’
  • Martina Backes and Barbara Fleith, Extraordinary or conventional? Überlegungen zu einem un­ge­wöhnlichen Bildmotiv im Begerin-Gebetbuch

14:00-15:30             Weston Library. Horton Room: Chair: Henrike Lähnemann

  • Erik Kwakkel, ‘The problem of dating medieval manuscripts’.  Recording.
  • Victor Millet and Lorena Pérez Ben, ‘‘Fragmentology’ around Hartmann von Aue’s Iwein’.  Recording.

16:00-17:30             Taylorian Main Hall: Chair: Almut Suerbaum

  • Ben Morgan, ‘Critiquing critique: how Erich Fromm’s reading of Meister Eckhart can transform contemporary conceptualisations of human flourishing’
  • Freimut Löser, ‘Latest news on Nigel Palmer’s Meister Eckhart’
  • Racha Kirakosian, ‘Philology meets visionary practice’

16:00-17:30             Weston Library: Chair: Martin Kauffmann

  • Andrew Honey, ‘‘I believe they were fixed in some low places in the Church, Chapell or House’: further investigations into the glue stains of Douce 248, a blockbook Biblia pauperum of c.1465-1470’. Recording.
  • Geert Warnar, ‘The Roman van Limborch in a European framework’. Recording.
  • Luise Morawetz, ‘Gregory the Great in Old High German: the newly discovered glosses of MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 57’.

Saturday, 20 May 2023

A small exhibition of medieval German manuscripts used by Nigel Palmer for teaching Palaeography and History of the Book will be on display in the Voltaire Room of the Taylor Institution Library.

10:00-11:30             Taylorian Main Hall: Chair: Annette Volfing

  • Elke Brüggen, ‘Parzival-Lektüren im komplexen Zusammenspiel von Edition, Übersetzung und Kommentierung’
  • Daniela Mairhofer, ‘Almost lost in transmission: the peculiar case of a Staufer song’
  • Nikolaus Henkel, ‘Liturgie im Schulunterricht um 1500. Der Osterhymnus ‚Salve festa dies‘ des Venantius Fortunatus und seine deutsche Reimpaarübersetzung’

10:00-11:30             Taylorian Room 2: Chair: Stephen Mossman

  • Adam Poznański and Reima Välimäki, ‘Petrus Zwicker’s Cum dormirent homines: transmission history and prospects for a critical edition of a popular anti-heretical treatise’
  • Linus Ubl, ‘Palm(er)ing material culture – medieval German manuscripts in the
    National State Library of Israel’
  • Astrid Breith, ‘Locked away for love – the Vita Wilbirgis inclusae and the manuscript holdings of St. Florian (Upper Austria)’

13:00-14:30             Taylorian Main Hall: Chair: Sarah Bowden

  • Jonas Hermann, ‘What gives? Marquard von Lindau and the ›Buch von geistlicher Armut‹’
  • Anne Winston-Allen, ‘Sibilla von Bondorf’s art of reform’
  • Edmund Wareham Wanitzek, ‘Soror in Christo dilectissima: Learning and exchange in the correspondence of Nikolaus Ellenbog and his sister Barbara’

13:00-14:30             Taylorian Room 2: Chair: Elizabeth Andersen

  • Peter Rückert, ‘Bücher zwischen Kloster und Hof. Neues zur literarischen Topographie in Württemberg’
  • Monica Brinzei and Giacomo Signore, ‘The rise of ars moriendi at the University of Vienna before the printing press’
  • Nigel Harris, ‘“Nach dem text und etwen nach dem sin”. Heinrich Haller und das Cordiale de quattuor novissimis des Gerard van Vliederhoven’

15:00-16:30             Taylorian Main Hall: Chair: Christine Putzo

  • Ralph Hanna, ‘On exempla: “Hoc contra malos religiosos”‘
  • Peter Tóth, ‘The early history of the Meditationes Vitae Christi: quotations and references’
  • Hans-Jochen Schiewer, ‘Kollektive Autorschaft und Baukastenprinzip. Geistliche Literatur dominikanischer Provenienz um 1300’

15:00-16:30             Taylorian Room 2: Chair: Lydia Wegener

  • Sarah Griffin, ‘Unfolding time in a late medieval German concertina-fold almanac (SPKB, Libr. pict. A 92)
  • Youri Desplenter, ‘Newly discovered interlinear Middle Dutch translation of the Psalms (c. 1300?). Analysis and contextualization within the Middle Dutch and medieval Psalm translations’
  • Wybren Scheepsma, ‘Laudate dominum in sanctis eius: a Limburg sermon with French roots’

17:00-19:00 Old Library of St Edmund Hall

Followed by speeches in honour of Nigel F. Palmer

  • The Pro Principal of St Edmund Hall, Rob Whittaker. Recording.
  • A performance of a medieval poem by Ruth Wiederkehr, Monika Studer, Claudia Lingscheid-Andersen and Racha Kirakosian
  • Words of memory by Eva Schlotheuber and in dialogue by Hans-Jochen Schiewer and Michael Stolz

The event was supported by the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, the Meister-Eckhart-Gesellschaft, SSMLL, Oxford Medieval Studies and St Edmund Hall. Here a link to the call of papers; please contact Henrike Lähnemann if you have any comments on the content of this page.

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

Noblesse Oblige? Barons and the Public Good in Medieval Afro-Eurasia 10th-14th Centuries

1st and 3rd Conference – 25th-27th May 2023 St Cross College and Pusey House, Oxford

25th May Thursday

9h Registration and Coffee
9h30-10h Introduction and Problematique (Maximilian Lau Worcester College, University of Oxford and Gregory Lippiatt University of Exeter)
10h-10h30 Coffee
10h30–11h15 Political argumentation in the 1150s and 1160s: the example of the Saint-Victor Register (Alice Taylor)
11h15–12h The Maliks of Hindustan: A New Conquest Nobility? (Abhishek Kaicker UC Berkeley and
Hasan Siddiqui University of British Columbia)
12h–12h30 Questions and Discussion
12h30–13h30 Lunch
13h30–14h15 Benevolent Elites? Shared Rulership and Privileges in Early Medieval Japan (Mickey Adolphson University of Cambridge)
14h15–15h The Kouroukan Fouga and Oral History: Further Reflections on African Narratives of Noblesse oblige (Adam Simmons Nottingham Trent University)
15h–15h30 Questions and Discussion
15h30–16h Tea
16h Optional Visit to Oriel College Archives (Magna Carta, Papal Bulls and More)
19h Speakers’ Dinner

26th May Friday

9h30–10h Coffee
10h–10h45 Minority Rule in Medieval Syria: The Establishment and Maintenance of the Burids
in Damascus during the Reign of Tughtegin (1104-1128) (Alex Mallett Waseda University, Tokyo)
10h45–11h30 L’aristocratie, l’empereur et le bien commun dans l’empire romain d’Orient (Jean-Claude Cheynet l’Institut universitaire de France)
11h30–12h15 The common good and baronial rebellion in England, c. 1199-1327 (Sophie Ambler University of Lancaster)
12h15–12h45 Questions and Discussion (Alice Taylor King’s College London)
12h45–14h Lunch
12h–12h30 Questions and Discussion
14h–14h45 A Shatterzone on an Ecotone: Fortifying the Steppe-Sown Frontier and Contending for Authority in the Ordos Region of Asia, Circa 800- 1200 (Ruth Mostern University of Pittsburgh)
14h45–15h30 Defining Elite Alterity in the medieval Maghrib and al-Andalus, c. 1000-1300
(Amira Bennison Magdalene College, University of Cambridge)
15h30–16h Questions and Discussion
16h–16h30 Tea
19h Conference Dinner

27th May Saturday

9h30-10h Coffee
10h–10h45 The Limits of Leadership: Cities, Frontiers, and Incursion in the Narratives of North-Western
Europe, 1100–1300 (Emily Winkler St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford)
10h45–11h30 Basqaqs, darughas or envoys? Transience, mobility and Mongol elites in Rus (Angus Russell Trinity College, Cambridge)
11h30–12h15 The Rich, The Poor, and The State: Ideas of Good Government in Song Dynasty China (Sukhee Lee Rutgers University)
Questions and Discussion
12h30–13h30 Concluding Remarks, Round Table Discussion, Next Steps (Gregory Lippiatt University of Exeter and Maximilian Lau Worcester College, University of Oxford)
13h30-14h30 Lunch and Farewell

About the Noblesse Oblige? Project

This project and its conference is a forum for the re-evaluation of ‘baronial’ government and the common good between the tenth and fourteenth centuries across Afro-Eurasian polities. By bringing together emerging and established international scholars, it challenges the traditionally Eurocentric approach to this problem and uses new methodologies to reassess our framework for studying the medieval period, leading to a fundamental reappraisal of the teleological narrative that has previously explained the rise
of modern states.
The story of the medieval barons is commonly a negative one. Because aristocracies have been almost universally eclipsed by centralised states in the modern world, they are often cast as regressive forces whose self-interest held back ‘progress’. Nor is this exclusively a European narrative: the historiographical
attention paid to the ‘rise of the State’ has privileged the Latin Christian experience of political formation and shaped the way in which non-royal élites are seen in other historical contexts. As a result, ‘private’ rulers such as lords, amirs, jun and kshatriya are often assumed to have been at odds with the needs of the wider society.
This network is challenging this understanding of the role of ‘barons’ in their relation to public good in two important and complementary ways. First, we are exploring case studies of how these non-royal élites conceived and implemented responsible government, whether for themselves or for others. Second, we are comparing these case studies in a bold transnational framework, reaching from western Europe to China, that spans the collapse of major centralised imperial projects in the ninth century to the destabilising experience of the Great Death in the fourteenth.

We would like to thank the following organisations for their support of this project and the organisation of this conference:

Supervisory Board
Nandini Chatterjee – University of Exeter
Bernard Gowers – Keble College, University of Oxford
Catherine Holmes – University College, University of Oxford
Yasuhiro Otsuki – Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo
Nicholas Vincent – University of East Anglia

Associate Members
Fernando Arias – University of Valladolid
Susannah Bain – Jesus College, University of Oxford
James Cogbill – Worcester College, University of Oxford
Lars Kjaer – Northeastern University London
Mario Lafuentee – University of Zaragoza
Carlos Laliena – University of Zaragoza

Staging Marguerite des Navarre’s ‘Comédie de Innocents’

Report by Elisabeth Dutton, Université de Fribourg, on the staging of the Comédie des Innocents, by Marguerite de Navarre. Presented by les perles innocentes as part of the Medieval Mystery Cycle 2023 at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford (see there for a synopsis of the play and the cast list).

The play at first reading seemed to me a fairly conventional dramatization of the story, not so different from the story as told in the English mystery plays, for example– the idea that Herod kills his own son is found in the Golden Legend and thus well established in European tradition.  But Marguerite gives particular force to female characters, not just the feisty mothers and Nurse who care for the slaughtered babies, but also most importantly Rachel, whose lengthy lament, a rhetorical tour de force, is really the climax of Marguerite’s script. In a play which shows mothers and Herod violently deprived of their children, and which foreshadows God’s loss of his own Son, the Old Testament matriarch Rachel powerfully gives voice to the grief of women, King, and ultimately God. She also raises a protest against tyranny and abuse that feels all too contemporary.   

I knew that I needed an actress for Rachel who could be at once strong and feminine, and utterly absorbing to the audience, and I was delighted that Elisa Pagliaro agreed to play the role.  I wanted the speech to be supported by some haunting music, and am grateful that Lucy Matheson found a medieval French setting of the Vox in Rama, and agreed to sing it for us for the performance in Oxford. The effect of Marguerite’s verse, delivered by Elisa directly to the audience, with Lucy’s haunting song underneath, was very powerful indeed, and quite unlike anything I had experienced in other dramatisations of the Innocents.  Its power took us all a little by surprise. 
There was a completely different reading and understanding of the Comédie des Innocents – in particular of Rachel’s lament – from the very first time I independently read it, and the way I felt and understood it on the day of the performance in Oxford.

Elisa Pagliaro on performing Rachel’s lament

The original play is 1075 lines long: in order to fit into our allotted 20 minutes, Aurélie Blanc cut more than half of its lines, while expertly maintaining a sense of the versification.  Aurélie was also essential to my vision of the play from the start, as I needed her exceptional talents for the roles both of Herod and of God.  As a travelling troupe, we had to keep our costs down through maximal doubling – and the structure of the various scenes required that God be doubled with the royal tyrant, as well as one of the mothers.  This doubling was in fact rather pointed, as Aurélie writes: 

The main challenge when participating in this play was to take on three roles: I played God, then Herod, and then one of the women whose child is killed by the soldiers. During the play, I did not have much time to go from one character to another. I struggled with those transitional moments because God, Herod, and Woman 1 seemed so different from each other. I tried to find what their main characteristics were so I could focus on these while changing roles. God and Herod are both rulers, both authoritative and confident (at least at times in the case of Herod). However, Herod is more frantic, chaotic, and changeable than God. Surprisingly perhaps, I found the character of God harder to play. It was much easier to relate to Herod with his mood swings and emotional outbursts! As for the Woman, she seemed completely unlike the other two characters. Her tender love for her child is her main concern throughout her scenes. Thinking about these characters helped me understand them, but I felt that things truly came together when I realized that all three were parents and all three lost their child
God’s worry for his son is what prompts him to send an angel to Joseph and Mary, it is the reason motivating his first speech. Understanding this helped me relate to God: when playing him, I did not have to try to pretend to be all powerful and all knowing, I had to focus instead on thinking about saving a person that I loved. Herod’s motivations are more selfish, but he also acts with his son in mind: he wants his son rather than Jesus to rule over his kingdom after him. Once I saw this, I found it much easier to play his shock and grief when his dead son is presented to him. And Woman 1, of course, was always a character focused on her child. Understanding these connections between my three characters was really helpful to me. These people no longer seemed entirely different from each other but were united by the same love and the same grief. This love and grief could stay with me throughout the play as I moved between God, Herod, and Woman 1. 

Aurélie Blanc on playing God, Herod and a grieving mother

Aurélie’s performance of all three roles was extraordinary.  And the requirements of the doubling also lay behind the blocking of the piece, which came to me very early on in rehearsals.  I wanted to find a way to use the whole of Teddy Hall’s front quad: early drama, I believe, always exploited its venues to the full, and it’s good to make actors do hard physical work. Then, the actors would have no ‘offstage’ space for changing, and in any case they wouldn’t have time to do anything other than change ‘onstage’; but the audience needed to recognize clearly their changes of role, so we associated role with place (an idea most clearly demonstrated in medieval drama by the extant stage plan of the Castle of Perseverance, with its ‘skaffolds’ for the God, the World, the Flesh and the Devil.)  

I enjoyed the sense of empowerment that came from filling the front quad with our voices and bodies.

Helene Wigginton on performing in a medieval venue

God begins the play in a scene of heavenly harmony, commanding his angels. We established him standing on the well in the centre of the quad (scriptural associations of wells are a pleasing coincidence).  In each of the four corners of the quad we placed a black storage stool, containing costume changes, and Mary and Joseph began sitting on the stools to God’s right, while Herod was to occupy the stool on God’s left.  The effect was formal and stylized, which matches the verse. The angels could move freely between ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’, delivering messages and also distributing chocolates to the audience (we are a Swiss troupe, after all); when the angel actors had to become soldier-tyrants, they went to the other ‘left’ stool to swap their wings for helmets. 

As the scene shifted from heaven to Herod’s court, Aurélie left her golden cape on the well and donned regal robes on Herod’s ‘throne’: since Herod then issues quick-fire commands to doctors and soldiers, frantic activity ensued as all the other actors rushed backwards and forwards across the playing area to obey his orders. The pace contrasted with the calm order of heaven, and the audience had a disconcerting sense that the focus was pulled ‘off-centre’ with Herod’s power.  Tyranny pulls all things out of joint.  

The babies (dolls with soft torsos) were slaughtered using a sword and two spears, mainly because I am haunted by the image of ‘naked infants spitted upon pikes’.  We used this device once before, in a staging of the Middle English Digby Killing of the Children, and it provoked horrified laughter in the audience.  I was fascinated that the effect in Marguerite’s play was completely different: there was no laughter, but there was genuine horror. I think this is partly because, whereas the Digby play includes a Fool character among Soldiers, who all seem rather dim, Marguerite writes her killers concisely and explicitly as Tyrants.

Carmen Vigneswaren-Smith on her role as soldier: ‘the audience flinched back from my spear, gasped and covered their mouths in surprise at the murder of the babies, and I was suddenly reminded of what the familiarity of rehearsal can make you forget — that it was in fact a brutal massacre that we were acting out.’ One woman in the audience clutched her own baby to her. Audience members commented that their stomachs were knotted.

The sense of horror was not entirely dispelled by the final song, which was a Christmas song, since the play would originally have been performed on the feast of the Innocents, December 28th. The script states that it should be sung to “Si j’ayme mon amy”: for our performance, Sandy Maillard, founder of the all-female choir Fa Mi Cantar, adapted a tune of that name found in the songbook of Françoise de Foix, Countess of Châteaubriant, 1495-1537, celebrated beauty and lover of King Francis I (the songbook is now British Library MS Harley 5242.) It is a strangely unnerving ending to a powerfully disconcerting play.  

The sixteenth-century French seemed to present no obstacle to the audience’s engagement, and we are grateful to have had such an opportunity to explore its quality.  Our production was probably different in many ways from any performance Marguerite might have seen or even envisaged, but we hope that our all-female production, delivered with precise attention to the words she wrote, may have captured something of their spirit, which seems that of an almost feminist protest against tyranny. 

Cf. also the blog post on the whole cycle by Alison Ray

Highlights of the Oxford Medieval Mystery Plays 2023

A fantastic day was had by all at the third Medieval Mystery Cycle held on Saturday, 22 April that took place across the Front Quad and St Peter-in-the-East churchyard of St Edmund Hall. Actors, directors, singers and designers staged six plays dating from between the 12th and 16th centuries. Retelling Biblical stories from the Nativity to the Last Judgement, the cast expertly performed in medieval and modern languages, including Latin, Middle English and Middle High German.

Master of Ceremonies Jim Harris (left) and the Choir of St Edmund Hall (right)

Master of Ceremonies Jim Harris (Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum) delighted everyone as audience guide and play narrator with linking verse composed by David Maskell, and we were treated to Peter Abelard’s ‘O quanta qualia’ sung by the Choir of St Edmund Hall led by College Chaplain the Revd Dr Zachary Guiliano.

Piers Plowman with tackling the seven deadly sins (left) and the Virgin and Christ Child of the Nativity scene (right)

Group ‘Swonken ful harde’ performed first with extracts from Piers Plowman in Middle English, that saw Piers taking on the seven deadly sins through the visions of Will the Dreamer. Following in Middle English, The English Faculty wonderfully performed the Chester Nativity and Salutation with a humorous interpretation of Roman Emperor Octavyan as King Charles III in time for the Coronation!

Scheming Herod delights in news of the Slaughter of the Innocents (left) and Mary Magdalene steals a member of the audience (right)

Marguerite de Navarre’s 16th-century French play of the Comédie des Innocents was performed by group ‘Les perles innocentes’ with singing by Lucy Matheson (read a report by director Elisabeth Dutton), with the dark scenes of the Slaughter of the Innocents countered by a comically scheming Herod and angels supplying chocolates to the audience. We were then treated to a charity coffee and cake stall in the break by the Oxford German Society in support of the German Red Cross. This was followed by a fantastic adaptation of the Carmina Burana Bavarian Passion play by the ‘Sorores Sancte Hildae’ group in Latin and German, with audience participation!

Professor Henrike Lähnemann and trumpet leading the angels (left) and a gleeful Lucifer capturing lost souls for Hell (right)

The unofficial award for best costume design went to the Medieval Germanists who performed the Harrowing of Hell in Middle High German with English narration, that saw a troupe of winged angels and Lucifer herd an imaginative array of lost souls to the Crypt’s Hellmouth. The day closed with Past and Present Teddy Students delivering a high-energy staging of a modern English version of the Last Judgment with St John of Patmos being guided by an exacerbated angel through comic visions of the battle between Christ and Satan for souls.

St John of Patmos and his visions of Heaven and Hell in the Last Judgement

We are particularly grateful to Professor Lesley Smith and Professor Henrike Lähnemann, co-directors of Oxford Medieval Studies, the driving force behind the Mystery Cycle, Michael Angerer, Graduate Convenor for the Mystery Cycle, and to the Fellows and Principal of St Edmund Hall, for once again agreeing to host our medieval madness!

A full programme and listing of the wonderful cast and crew can be found on the Oxford Medieval Studies website here:

Medieval Matters: Week 1

Welcome back to Oxford for Trinity Term! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to making the Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference and Medieval Mystery Cycle so wonderful. So much hard work goes into these events, and you really showcased the wide range of approaches and the incredible vivacity of Oxford’s medieval community. We could not have hoped for a better start to the term. In the words of Alcuin:

tantas grates et laudes agimus […] quantas habet liber ille syllabas!
[I give you as many thanks and praises as the book has syllables! Ep. 206 ]

But of course, these events were only the beginning of what is sure to be a busy Trinity. Indeed, you will notice that a certain book of very many syllables has arrived in your inboxes this week: the Trinity Term Medieval Booklet is now live! I have attached the compressed pdf version for your reference, but for all of the very latest updates you can consult the live version here on our website. If events are cancelled or details change, we will update them on the calendar, so check that out in case of doubt. For a guide to everything happening this week, please see below:


  • SAVE THE DATE! The Oxford Medieval Studies Trinity Term Lecture will take place on May 4th at 5:30-6:30pm in St Edmund Hall, Old Library. Alison Ray (Archivist at St Peter’s) and Heather Barr (Library Trainee at St Edmund Hall) will be speaking on “GLAMorous work: Medievalist Pathways in Archives and Libraries”. Join us for a careers talk with a twist and with coffee and cake PLUS the chance to see an exhibition in the Old Library and handle some of the special collections!
  • To celebrate the life and scholarship of Nigel F. Palmer, Professor of German Medieval Literary and Linguistic Studies at the University of Oxford, Faculty, College and academic community will honour his memory with a symposium, to be held at the Taylorian and the Weston Library on 19-20 May 2023. Admission is free for symposium and reception; dinner to be charged (subsidized for graduate students and early career people). Please register to attend the symposium by 30 April 2023. There will be a separate registration deadline for attending the Garden reception on Saturday, 20 May, 5pm, to which everybody is welcome, and the dinner 7:30pm, both at St Edmund Hall.
  • The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures invites to a Round table: Digital publishing and future research in manuscript studies on Wednesday 5.15pm in the Memorial Room of The Queen’s College, Oxford in celebration of the release of vol. 2 of the Journal of Manuscript and Text Cultures (MTC), edited by our Co-Director Lesley Smith. All welcome!


Monday 24th April:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar will meet at 12:30-14:00 via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Prolet Decheva (University College Dublin), Late Antique Personifications of Abstract Ideas and Elite Identity. To register, please contact
  •  The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Brianne Dolce (Merton) ‘Hell’s Army: Heretics and Usurers in Medieval Arras‘. 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:
  • The Oxford Interfaith Forum is hosting lecture on The Popes and the Jews in Sixteenth-Century Italy through the Chronicle of Pope Paul IV at 6pm, online. For full details and to register, please click here.

Tuesday 25th April:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12:00 in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. This week’s speaker will be Hannah Lucas (Newnham College, Cambridge): Contemplating Criticism.
  • The Medieval Churchy 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 Claire Holthaus (Christ Church): Royal Displays of Power in the Welsh Castles of Edward I.
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar will meet at 5pm for drinks, with the presentation starting at 5:15pm, at the Maison Francaise d’Oxford on Norham Road. This week’s speaker will be Marion Uhlig (Université de Fribourg), ‘Tuer l’auteur. Sur quelques curieux cas de métalepse dans la littérature médiévale en français’. For more information, to be added to the seminar maillist, or for the Teams link to join a seminar remotely, contact

Wednesday 26th April:

  • The Medieval German Seminar will meet at 11:15-12.45pm at St Edmund Hall Old Library. This week we will have a shorter organisational meeting. In Trinity Term, we are continuing to discuss Heinrich von Neustadt’s texts, focussing on ‘Von Gottes Zukunft’. We will meet in person in the Old Library of St Edmund Hall. Further information and reading recommendations via the teams channel; if you want to be added to that: please email Henrike Lähnemann.
  • 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 Ivana Jevtić (Koç Üniversitesi, Istanbul) ‘The Landscape and Rock-Cut Architecture of Medieval Thrace: Historiography, Fieldwork, and Photogrammetry across Three Countries’.
  • The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures (CMTC) meets at 5.15pm in the Memorial Room of The Queen’s College, Oxford. In celebration of the release of vol. 2 of the Journal of Manuscript and Text Cultures (MTC), which takes an explicitly experimental approach of involving digital tools for the presentation of research in manuscript cultures, Round table: Digital publishing and future research in manuscript studies. To find out more, click here. The volume features two articles by Oxford Medievalists! One on The Karlevi runestone by Heather O’Donoghue and one on Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B.5.4, folio 135v: the Psalms, with commentary by Peter Lombard by Lesley Smith

Thursday 27th April:

  • The Piers Plowman in Context discussion group, for those who believe more Langland is better than less, kicks off in the Main Quad Boardroom at Univ from 16:30-17:30. This week’s seminar will be led by Professor Lawrence Warner (KCL). In preparation, please read Passus III of the B-text, plus the following short contexts: the Westminster Chronicle (pp. 60-65), John Leeder’s proclamation of 1421, and Deguileville’s Pilgrimage of Human Life (lines 2921-3300), all available through this link All welcome! Email with any questions.
  • Interface of Old English Dictionaries: Inflection and Derivation, a special talk by Javier Martín-Arista, Professor of Old English Linguistics at the Universidad de La Rioja and the President of SELIM (Spanish Society for Medieval English Language and Literature) will take place at 5pm at Magdalen College, Daubeny Laboratory.
  • The Oxford Interfaith Forum is hosting lecture on Seventy Languages (and Translations) for Seventy Nations at 6pm, online. Register here.

Friday 28th April:

  • The Medieval Coffee Morning meets as usual 10:30am in the Visiting Scholars Centre of the Weston Library (instructions how to find it) with presentation of items from the special collections. This week, Charles Webster will present some rare 17th century books from the Hartlib network.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm at the Julia Mann room, St Hilda’s College and online. This term we are reading extracts from Hue de Rotelands’s Protheselaus. Please contact Jane Bliss and/or Stephanie Hathaway to let us know if you can come in person (so we know whom to expect), also to obtain copies of the texts, and for the Zoom invitations.


  • CFP: Pax Normanna. This conference will address the notion of “first generations” in relation to the medieval Norman conquests in England, Wales, Ireland, southern Italy, Sicily, and the Crusader states. Focusing on the conquerors’ departure from their places of origin, the papers will explore the rhythms, modalities, reasons and objectives for leaving. Please send your paper proposal to and Deadline: 10 May 2023. For full details, please see the blog post here.
  • “Noblesse Oblige? Barons and the Public Good” Network: Last Call for Associate Membership! Though there might be another call next year, if you wish to take part in this year’s conference and associated events, please email with your CV and a brief cover letter. Full details can be found at and”
  • Job in Medieval History: UCD’s School of History has just advertised a position in medieval history through the Ad Astra Fellowship scheme. Appointments will be made with a view to permanency subject to a review after four years. Further details attached. To apply click on the ‘apply’ button in the link below:
  • PhD Opportunity: The Cluster of Excellence “Understanding Written Artefacts” is looking to recruit doctoral research associates to pursue their dissertation project. The core responsibility of the research associate is to pursue their dissertation project that fits the overall comparative research profile of the Cluster of Excellence “Understanding Written Artefacts”, and to contribute to the collaborative research activities of the Cluster. Candidates should have a strong interest in cooperating beyond disciplinary boundaries, especially across the humanities, natural science and computer sciences. For further information, see:
  • A postdoctoral position in Manuscript Studies and Digital Humanities is advertised at Princeton University through the Manuscripts, Rare Books, and Archive Studies working group and the Center for Digital Humanities. The deadline is May 7, 2023.
  • ASIMS announcement: The Terence Barry Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Irish Medieval Studies: The prize is open to graduate students from any field who either have presented or have written and intend to present a paper on a subject of relevance to Irish Medieval Studies at any conference, including virtual ones, during the year beginning with the Kalamazoo Congress (ICMS) in May 2022 and ending with the Kalamazoo Congress (ICMS) of 2023. Please note that only graduate student papers written/presented by members of ASIMS will be considered.  Membership may begin at the time of submission. For membership and more details, please see

It is always a pleasure to assemble your submissions for the Booklet: I’m always struck by the incredibly wide range of events and seminars happening at Oxford, and how lucky we are to have such a vibrant, busy community. In fact, there’s so much on that it can be hard to keep track. Afterall, as Alcuin says:

[memoria] saepe perdit quod servare debet, nisi in thesauro litterarum reconditum teneat
[the memory often loses what it should keep, unless it holds it stored away in the treasure hoard of the written word, Ep. 49]

I’m honoured to once again be your guide to the term’s events, and to store all of your information about Oxford’s medievalist happenings in the treasure hoard of our booklet and blog! If you have any treasures you would like to add to our proverbial hoard, be they news of publications, calls for papers, upcoming events, or even media appearances, please do get in touch: we’d love to advertise all of these things on our blog and celebrate them. For now, I wish you all a joyful first week!

[The communications officer gathering submissions to store in the treasure-hoard of the Medieval Booklet…]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 35v.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

CFP: Pax Normanna

The First Generations of the Conquest (Norman Worlds, 9th-12th Century) – 1. Departing
Symposium at the
Maison Française d’Oxford, 22-23 September 2023

Image: Dove of peace between two soldiers: Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, Ms. 568, f. 249v © BMT

This conference will address the notion of “first generations” in relation to the medieval Norman conquests in England, Wales, Ireland, southern Italy, Sicily, and the Crusader states. Focusing on the conquerors’ departure from their places of origin, the papers will explore the rhythms, modalities, reasons and objectives for leaving.

The conference aims at:

1/ Determining how relevant the notion of “first generations of the conquest” is. All these movements were phenomena that took place over several generations and featured different kind of protagonists – soldiers, mercenaries, pilgrims, merchants, clerics and monks.

2/ Considering the horizons of those who departed, while avoiding teleological and unilinear assumptions. These horizons require an analysis of diverse dynamics and “push and pull” factors: political motivations, economic grounds, social mechanisms, acculturation processes, social and political creativity.

3/ Exploring the documentation, approaches, and tools that help to answer these questions. Our documentation was often produced in the regions where the conquerors settled, and it focuses on their new status; it must be compared retroactively with sources from Normandy (and more broadly speaking from northern France) to enlighten the dynamics that led to the mobility of these people.

This symposium is part of the 2022-2026 research project Pax normanna (dir. Prof. Pierre Bauduin, University of Caen-Normandie, and Prof. Annick Peters-Custot, University of Nantes). Please send your paper proposal to and

Deadline: 10 May 2023