Trinity Term 2022 OMS Lecture: Caroline Danforth

Paper, Linen, Silk, and Parchment – Material Fragments from an Extinguished Convent

Tuesday 26 April 2022, 5p. Watch the recording on the OMS Youtube Channel

Apollonia von Freyberg was a Poor Clare nun living in the medieval village of Mülhausen (today, Mulhouse, France). We know of Apollonia through an artefact housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC – a colored woodcut by Lienhart Ysenhut (1959.16.15) which is housed inside a box made, in part, of recycled materials. Among these materials is the fragment of a letter addressed to Apollonia. Apollonia enriched her convent with manifold gifts and subsequently experienced the dissolution of her cloistered home during the Protestant Reformation. Beginning with Ysenhut’s print and the clues hidden in its enclosure, learn more about Apollonia’s family, wealth, and fate following her departure from Mülhausen in the early 16th century.

Caroline Danforth holds an MFA in painting from The George Washington University and a BA in German, Art History, and Fine Arts from Mary Washington College. She also studied art history in Germany for two years, in Munich and Tübingen. Since 2008, she has worked as a preservation framer of prints, drawings, and photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Her research interests include the history and manufacture of parchment, German to English translation, and the Poor Clares of late medieval Germany. Most recently, Caroline served as guest editor for a special issue on parchment for Art in Translation and co-authored Letters for Apollonia for Franciscan Studies.

Medicine and Healing: The 18th Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference

The 2022 Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference organising committee is pleased to announce the programme for Medicine and Healing.

Medicine and Healing: The 18th Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference

21st-22nd April, online and in-person at Ertegun House, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LD.

Sponsored by the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities, Oxford Medieval Studies, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature.

Organising Committee: Katherine Beard, Ashley Castelino, Corinne Clark, James Cogbill, Nia Moseley-Roberts, Diana Myers, Grace O’Duffy, Caleb Prus and Eugenia Vorobeva.

To register for online or in-person attendance, please visit our website.



9:30-9:55 Registration (in-person)

9:55-10:00 Opening Remarks

10:00-11:30 Session 1: Charmed (chair: Katherine Beard)

  • Grace Pyles, ‘The Medicinal Unicorn Horn in the European Middle Ages’
  • Emer Kavanagh, ‘Shape and Form: The Use of Sympathetic Magic in Irish Charming Tradition’
  • Radka Pallová, ‘Humane Treatment? Animal Bodies in Alexander of Tralles’

11:30-12:00 Break with refreshments

12:00-13:30 Session 2: Call the Midwife (chair: Diana Myers)

  • Ailie Westbrook, ‘‘Mulieribus non est dicendum’: Mediated Knowledge in Women’s Health in Medieval Denmark’
  • Shir Blum, ‘Appositusque Iuvat Mulierem Parturientem: the Material Variety of Amulets as Obstetrical Aides’
  • Rachel Chenault, ‘Experiencing Childbirth: The Search for Female Voices, 1000-1200 C.E.’

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-15:30 Session 3: The Seventh Seal (chair: James Cogbill)

  • Ben Hatchett, ‘‘A suitable medicine against all crimes’: John of Rupescissa’s Purgative Plague’
  • Stephen Pow, ‘Was Bubonic Plague behind the Epidemic that Affected the Mongol Army in China in 1259?’

15:30-16:00 Break with refreshments

16:00-17:00 Keynote Address 1

  • Dr Hannah Bower, ‘Locating Authority in Medieval Medical Writing: Playing with Presence and Absence’

17:00 Drinks Reception

19:00 Conference Dinner (optional)


9:30-10:15 Medicine & Healing at Oxford: Manuscript & Social Session (with refreshments)

10:15-11:15 Session 4: Being Human (chair: Caleb Prus)

  • Melanie Socrates, ‘Impatient Medicine: Agency and Urgency in Middle English Medical Works’
  • S. Doğan Karakelle, ‘Knowing Horses and Thyself: Spiritual Healing and Rulership Practices in Ottoman-Turkish Veterinary Manuals 1400-1600’

11:15-11:45 Break with refreshments

11:45-13:15 Session 5: Inside Out (chair: Corinne Clark)

  • Ruth Rimmer, ‘Healing Through Lists in Lacnunga
  • Colette Sarjano Utama McDonald, ‘A Stitch Through Time: the Besloten Hofjes at Mechelen, Alberto Burri, and Judith Scott’
  • Madeleine Killacky, ‘Challenging the Monopoly of 16th-Century Anatomical Knowledge through Pop-up Paper Figures’

13:15-14:15 Lunch

14:15-15:45 Session 6: Sister Act (chair: Eugenia Vorobeva)

  • Magdalena Buszka, ‘Saint Barbara of Medieval French Mystery Plays – Healer of Bodies and Souls’
  • Hólmfríður Sveinsdóttir, ‘The Use of Lead Tablets and Anatomical Votives in Medieval Healing Practices: Case studies from the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo’

15:45-16:15 Break with refreshments

16:15-17:15 Keynote Address 2

  • Professor Emilie Savage-Smith, ‘Modern Myths and Medieval Medicine’

17:15-17:20 Closing Remarks

Image: Medieval dentistry, from the fourteenth-century Omne Bonum of James le Palmer (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Workshop Report: ‘The Murbach Hymns (MS. Junius 25) – Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages’

The workshop ‘The Murbach Hymns (MS. Junius 25) – Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages’ (17–18 February 2022) highlighted a remarkable text ensemble: the Murbach hymns, a Latin hymnal with Old High German interlinear glosses. Taking this text, one of the oldest sources of Old High German, and its manuscript MS. Junius 25 (Oxford, Bodleian Library) as starting point, the importance of vernacular glossing and writing in the Early Middle Ages became clear: It sits at the crossroads of theological, linguistic, and layout approaches to the text.

Helen Gittos and Luise Morawetz discussing MS. Rawl. C. 697 (Oxford, Bodleian Library) at the Weston Library.

Participants from all over the world were able to participate thanks to the hybrid conference format, accessible online as well as in person. To allow all participants the same close-up insights into the materiality of the valuable and fragile manuscripts, the workshop opened with a presentation of the manuscript MS. Junius 25. Due to the excellent equipment of the Bodleian Library, it came to life in the expert hands of the curators, who turned the pages and the whole volume as real-time reaction to questions and requests from the audience, who were introduced to the material and linguistic peculiarities of the rare object. The speakers present at Oxford had the chance to consult and discuss the original manuscripts beforehand.

Over the course of further sessions, scholars from different research communities came together and presented their work on linguistics, pragmatics and material studies. Combining different disciplines resulted in a comprehensive survey of the use and characteristics of vernacular in the Early Middle Ages, including Old High German, Old Frisian and Old English. The theoretical insights were put into practice in a Latin-Old High German compline, which demonstrated how the oldest variety of the German language could be brought back to life. For the first time in history, the glosses of the Murbach hymns were set to music, among other Old High German texts read during the service. The workshop was brought to a close with a consultation of further glossed manuscripts of the Bodleian Library (MS. Auct. F. 1. 16, MS. Rawl. C. 697, MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 57), partly neither digitised nor edited, which put the focus again on the object – the foundation of historical linguistic studies.

The St Edmund Consort performing the Latin-Old High German compline in the crypt
of St-Peter-in-the-East in Oxford.

The event was designed as a workshop and was intended to allow the participants to interact with each other and develop ideas collectively. Extended breaks were included in which discussions could continue in person as well as online. This opportunity was used by many, despite sessions already overrunning to address all questions. During the sessions, breakout groups allowed smaller groups of participants to share their thoughts before entering the main discussion, enabling equal contributions from listeners and speakers and leading to lively participation.

The interdisciplinary approach to early vernacular and the workshop format worked well, as the high numbers of registrations and intense and vibrant discussions showed. The workshop brought the exciting text and manuscript of the Murbach hymns back into the focus of linguistic research.

We hope to deepen the collaborations established during the event and continue the debates about the status of the vernacular in the Early Middle Ages in future, exploring the interdisciplinary approach further and testing it on other material from the rich collections of Oxford and beyond.

The manuscript in focus. The setup of the workshop in St Edmund Hall (Oxford) during the presentation of Auct. F. 1. 16 (Oxford, Bodleian Library).

I want to thank all participants and supporters of this workshop, above all the speakers (in order of their presentations): Prof. Dr Daniela Mairhofer (Princeton); Prof. Dr Michael Stolz (Bern); Dr Elke Krotz (Vienna); Dr Matthias Standke (Berlin); Prof. Dr Alderik Blom (Marburg); Dr Helen Gittos (Oxford); Prof. em. Dr Elvira Glaser (Zurich); Prof. Dr Stephan Müller (Vienna).

I also want to thank the team of the Bodleian Libraries, Dr Alexandra Franklin, Dr Matthew Holford and Dr Andrew Dunning; Tom Revell, who produced this event; James Whitbourn, who set the Murbach hymns to music, and the St Edmund Consort, who performed the compline; and Will Thurlwell, Prof. Dr Howard Jones and Prof. Dr Henrike Lähnemann, who supported the workshop in person.

In association with the Bodleian Libraries and Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by the Centre for the Study of the Book (CSB), The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML).

Convenor: Luise Morawetz (

The Lyell Lectures 2022: From Memory to Written Record: English Liturgical Books and Musical Notations, 900–1150

You can book to attend the lectures in person or watch Lecture 1 live online. Click here to register.

3 May 2022, 5–6pm (BST)
Lecture 1: Sound and its Capture in Anglo-Saxon England

5 May 2022, 5–6pm (BST)
Lecture 2: Lecture 2: A Community of Scribes at Worcester

10 May 2022, 5–6pm (BST)
Lecture 3: St Augustine’s and Christchurch, 950–1091

12 May 2022, 5–6pm (BST)
Lecture 4: From Neumes in campo aperto to Neumes on Lines (at Christchurch, Canterbury)

17 May 2022, 5–6pm (BST)
Lecture 5: Assimilation or change? Normans at Winchester

Booking information


Registration is essential for attending in person at the Lecture Theatre, Weston Library. 

Booking is for the whole series, for the sake of simplicity. Your booking entitles you to attend as many lectures in the series as you are able.

View our guidance about attending in-person events in the Lecture Theatre.


An alternative way to see Lecture 1 in the series is online via livestream. Registration is required. 

All lectures will be available as recordings after the conclusion of the series.

(11 April) Workshop: ‘The Literary heritage of Anglo-Dutch relations, 1050-1600’

On 11 April, the research team working on the Leverhulme-funded project ‘The Literary heritage of Anglo-Dutch relations, 1050-1600’ holds an informal workshop / reading group in the Weston Library at the Bodleian, 14:00-16:00.

The format are three papers by Laura Cleaver (School of Advanced Studies, University of London: ‘Illuminated Manuscripts and the Shaping of English and Flemish Identities’; Thea Summerfield, University of Utrecht, ‘Lodewijk van Velthem on Edward I’), and David Murray (University of Utrecht, ‘The Circulation of Lyrics between England and the Low Countries’).

If you are interested to join the workshop please contact Ad Putter,

(11 April) The Masters of the Dark Eyes in England

Date: Monday 11 April 2022
Time: 5.15–6.15pm
Location: Lecture Theatre, Weston Library & online
Speaker: Professor Kathleen Kennedy, British Academy Global Professor, University of Bristol
The event is free but booking for in-person tickets is required.
Click here to register for the event

The Masters of the Dark Eyes in England and the invention of the Tudor court artist

This lecture re-examines the corpus of the Masters of the Dark Eyes in England and argues that their work played a part in the developing role of the King’s Painter. In the Netherlands, the Masters of the Dark Eyes were premier decorators of luxurious books of hours. Their English patrons recast the Masters as courtly, Renaissance painters. Moreover, in England the Masters were sometimes primarily miniaturists, and other times valued instead for their border and initial art. Unrecognized before now, the Masters in England completed some commissions without any illustrations at all. Finally, the Masters of the Dark Eyes in England sometimes also partnered with English artists, a direct collaboration illuminating the topic at the heart of the North Sea Crossings: Anglo-Dutch Books and the Adventures of Reynard the Fox exhibition. In proving that Dutch artists could adapt to the wide-ranging artistic needs of the early Tudor court, the Masters of the Dark Eyes in England paved the way for more formal employment of the better-known Horenbout and Holbein.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception 6.15-7.15pm for those attending in-person. Attendees will be able to access the North Sea Crossings exhibition throughout the public event.

(2 April) Ages of Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Ages of Politics, Philosophy and Economics:
From Ancient Rome and Medieval Europe to the Modern Day

Leading academics reflect on aspects of politics, philosophy or economics at different times in history. Can the lessons of the past help us move towards a better future?

Date: Saturday 2nd April, 2022
Location: The Pontigny Room, St Edmund Hall, Queens Lane Oxford OX1 4AR.
Time: Lectures start at 9-30am, with a coffee break at 11am and lunch from 1pm to 2pm.
The final lecture will end by 3-30pm. To reserve a free place, please visit or just come along on the day.

Dr Andrew Sillett is a Lecturer in Latin Literature and Roman History in the Department of Classics and St Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford. His chief interests in the ancient world are the life and times of Marcus Tullius Cicero. His lecture will be a very timely ‘Idiot’s Guide to Toppling a Dictator’

Dr Emily A. Winkler is a Fellow by Special Election at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, working on historical writing and the literary, political, and intellectual culture of the high Middle Ages, with interests in the British Isles, the Anglo-Norman world, and the North Sea zone. She also works on the social and material culture of the Norman Mediterranean world, especially Sicily and southern Italy.

Professor Bill Durodie is Professor and Chair of International Relations in the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies at the University of Bath, where his research interests include Risk, Resilience, Radicalization, Fear, Security, Science and Society. Bill held posts in Canada and Singapore, as well as at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and in the War Studies Group of King’s College London before joining the University of Bath in 2014.

(25 April) The Book at the Bodleian

For twenty years, the Lyell benefaction has offered a career development fellowship that has enabled scholars to study subjects that have included the History of the Book, bibliography and palaeography. Now, these nine Lyell Fellows come together for the first time to reflect on developments in their respective fields and present their current research.

Register now for what promises to be a lively, engaging and thought-provoking conference! 

Date: Monday 25th April 2022

Venue: The Weston Lecture theatre (Oxford) and also streamed live

Time: 11am-6pm (BST)

Programme for “The Book at the Bodleian”
Richard Ovenden: Welcome
Session 1
Niels Gaul: “Reconstructing Transmission in the Absence of Manuscript Evidence: The Case of Classicising Learning in (Early) Ninth-century Byzantium”
Georgi Parpulov: “Revolutions in the History of Greek Handwriting”
David Rundle: “The Library of Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester: The State of Our Ignorance”
Qs: 12.30pm-12.45pm

12.45pm-2pm: Lunch

Session 2
Cristina Dondi: “The European Printing Revolution”
Irene Ceccherini: “Italian Palaeography Through the Lenses of the Canonici Collection in the Bodleian Library”
Barbara Bombi: “Papal Letters, Canonical Collections and Diplomatic”
Qs: 3.15pm-3.30pm

3.30pm-4pm: Coffee break

Session 3
Jason McElligott: “Book Theft as a Methodology for the History of Reading”
Giles Bergel: “Book History and the Digital Turn”
Stewart J. Brookes: “Intelligently Artificial and Palaeographically Digital”
Qs: 5.15pm-5.30pm
Marc Smith and Tessa Webber: Closing remarks

6pm-7.15pm: Wine reception

Church Monuments Society Spring online lectures 2022: ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’

The Church Monuments Society is for everyone who is interested in the art of commemoration – early incised stones, medieval effigies, ledgerstones, brasses, modern gravestones. The Society was founded in 1979 to encourage the appreciation, study and conservation of church monuments both in the UK and abroad. The Spring series of online lectures will be on the topic of ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’.

All lectures will take place via Zoom, and begin at 5pm GMT. To register for a lecture, please click on the title link.

26th March: The Eloquent Dead: Elizabethan and Jacobean Monuments in Gonville and Caius College Chapel, Cambridge: Dr Christina Faraday

The Chapel of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, contains four impressive Elizabethan and Jacobean monuments: to John Caius, re-founder of the College; William Webbe, Fellow Commoner; Dr Stephen Perse, Fellow and benefactor; and Dr Thomas Legge, Master and successor to Caius. This talk will analyse the monuments alongside nearby contemporary examples, and consider them as indicative of the College’s desire to consolidate its corporate identity in the first half-century after the refoundation, and of the deep diffusion of classical and rhetorical influences in a post-Reformation Cambridge College.

2nd April: The Farnham Monuments: Myths, Legends and Family Fables: Moira Ackers

This is a story about the Farnham family who were pretty average members of the early-modern Leicestershire squirarchy. They were neither particularly prominent in the honour community nor very wealthy. So why do they have a chantry chapel in Quorn crammed with monuments? Between 1502 -1587 the Farnham’s commissioned nine memorials. Why did they suddenly engage in this expensive elite activity? What were they trying to tell their contemporaries and how do we read their monuments today?

9th April: Medieval child memorials: myths and mistakes: Dr Sophie Oosterwijk FSA

There is a tenacious belief that monuments to children did not exist in the medieval period because high child mortality rates left parents resigned or even indifferent to losing offspring. Such claims have been convincingly dismissed by scholars, however. For one thing, there is plenty of evidence that parents did mourn deceased children. And for another, there are numerous example of medieval children being commemorated and memorialised. Yet memorials are not necessarily proof of affection and some of these ‘child tombs’ are not what they are claimed to be, having become the focus of local legend and misinterpretation over time. This talk will look at some well-known and lesser-known monuments, from the presumed ‘Boy Bishop’ in Salisbury Cathedral and the dubious ‘Stanley Boy’ in Elford (Staffordshire) to examples on the Continent.

16th April: Piety and power in the Welsh march: the story of Gwladus Ddu and William ap Thomas of Raglan Castle: Professor Madeleine Gray

Not a love story – but a couple who rose from relative obscurity to found one of the most powerful dynasties in Wales. William ap Thomas (d. 1445) may have fought at Agincourt, and he built much of Raglan Castle, Wales’s most spectacular late medieval stronghold. Gwladus (c. 1380 – 1454) was commemorated by the Welsh bards, and her tomb tells us a lot about the priorities and beliefs of women in late medieval Wales.

Hesychasm in Context: Theology and Society in the Fourteenth Century

The Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Maison française d’Oxford invite you to attend the hybrid conference Hesychasm in Context: Theology and Society in the Fourteenth Century, Thursday 17th – Friday 18th March 2022. All of the papers will be livestreamed.

To register for the in-person event (including lunches), please email Dr Rei Hakamada ( as soon as possible, as numbers are limited.

Registration to participate online is via the following link:


Thursday 17th March
Lecture Room, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles’, Oxford, OX1 3LU

9.00: Welcome

9.15: Rei Hakamada (Okayama University / University of Oxford), Lay Hesychasts? Isidore and Palamas among Lay People

10.00: Mihail Mitrea (Babeș Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca / Institute for South-East European Studies, Bucharest), Hesychasm and Hagiography in Fourteenth-Century Byzantium [online]

10.45: Coffee

11.15: Ralph Greis (St Joseph’s Benedictine Abbey, Gerleve), The Connection Between Liturgical Theology and Hesychastic Spirituality in the Homilies of St. Gregory Palamas

12.00: Christiaan Kappes (Ss Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary), Gregory Palamas’s Theotokos in Light of Latin Contacts and his Reception of Latin Literature in Byzantium

12.45: Lunch

13.45: Marie-Hélène Blanchet (CNRS, UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée, Paris), John VI Cantacuzene, the Hesychast Crisis and the Latin World: An Ambiguous Strategy

14.30: Judith Ryder (University of Oxford), When To Speak and When To Hold Your Peace: The Conflict between Demetrios Kydones and Philotheos Kokkinos

15.15: Coffee

15.45: Monica White (University of Nottingham), Hesychasm in Rus?

16.30: Norman Russell (St Stephen’s House, Oxford), Engaging with Islam in Late Byzantium: Strategies of Resistance and Accommodation

17.15: Drinks – The Maison française d’Oxford is delighted to offer participants a glass of champagne

Friday 18th March
Miles Room, St Peter’s College, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, OX1 2DL

10.30: Eiji Hisamatsu (Ryukoku University), The Jesus Prayer and Yoga: The Early Literature of Hesychasm and the Svetasvatara Upanishad [online]

11.15: Vassa Kontouma (École Pratique des Hautes Études, PSL, Paris), The Re-enchanted Universe of Iakovos of Nea Skete (19th c.). A Hesychast Response to the Copernican Revolution?

12.15: Final remarks

12.30: Lunch

Image: St. Gregory Palamas, Monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos (Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)