Late-Medieval German Love Songs. Concert and Talk

Tuesday week 8, 7 March 2023

5:30pm Pre-concert talk in the Old Dining Hall at St Edmund Hall: music editor and viol player David Hatcher, Professor of German Literature & Linguistics Henrike Lähnemann, and singer James Gilchrist in conversation, discussing music, literature and culture in early 16th century Germany. The pre-concert talk includes tea at 17:30 with the discussion from 17:55 to 18:45

7:30pm Concert in the Hollywell Music Room with the Linarol Consort of viols and James Gilchrist (tenor); free entry for students, £20 for everybody else

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/linarolconsort

In 1524 the Augsburg organist Bernhart Rem started writing the part books Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Ms. 18 810 from which the songs for the concert are taken. The pre-concert talk will explore the writing and music-making of late medieval Germany. The early 16th-century soundscape was varied and colourful, ranging from street cries, via religious songs in processions and meetings of the Meistersinger, to instrumental music performed by “town waits”, groups of instrumentalists playing for festive occasions. The songs of Ms. 18 810 retain features of this exclusive aristocratic song culture. They might look like pop music with run-of-the-mill lyrics but in fact these are cutting-edge text-musical combinations. Singing about love’s woes and (occasionally) joys, and of how the poet, assuming the persona of a male lover, constantly runs into and (occasionally) overcomes the obstacles society throws in his way, is as noble a pastime as falconry or commissioning costly manuscripts.

The authors were members of the same courtly circles or, in cases such as Ludwig Senfl’s autobiographical song ‘Lust hab ich ghabt’, even writing texts themselves as singer-songwriters of the period. In line with the poetic habits of the period, they pay more attention to stanza form than to originality of content. Maximilian’s court was an international meeting point: not only would all forms of German dialects have been spoken, but Latin, French, and even English as well; Ludwig Senfl’s teacher Heinrich Isaac was Dutch. It is appropriate that with James Gilchrist this repertoire is interpreted by a non-native speaker. Coming to the repertoire not from within the system gives performers the advantage over a German singer to be aware of temporal and regional varieties of the language of song. I was delighted when James contacted me via Claire Horacek – alumna of my own College St Edmund Hall – to check out historical pronunciation. It was exciting to go through this repertoire which can only be grasped when spoken out aloud; this is not a text for silent reading!

The pre-concert talk will concentrate on the autobiographical song Lust hab ich gehabt zur musica, a song in praise of music education which spells in the verse initials the name of its author and composer, LUDWIG SENNFL, and charts his musical training.

1 Lust hab ich ghabt zur Musica
von Jugend auff wie noch bisher,
von erst ut re mi fa sol la
geübt darnach durch weytter leer;
kam es darzu,
das ich kain ruw
mer haben mocht, dann nur im gsangk
stund mein begir;
da halff nicht für;
aus dem ervolgt der erst anfang.

2 Und bald ich das ergriffen hett,
das ich kund von mir selber wol
den gsang verstenn, darnach ich thett
mer fragen, wie dann ainer sol,
dem sollichs liebt,
und sich selbst yebt,
das er erlanng den rechten grund;
hueb mich darzu,
spat und auch fru
zu dienen wol, wie ich nur kund,

3 Dem Herren mein mit ganczem vleys,
daran er dann ein Gfallen trug.
Es schicket sich mit solcher weys,
das er mir gab zu schreiben gnug.
Was von im gmacht,
ward wol betracht,
darnach ich mich auch richten solt;
das gfiel mir seer,
weyl er steets mer
mir zaigen thett, was ich nur wollt.

4 Wie er mit seinem namen gnandt,
das thu ich nachher melden schon.
Er ist in aller welt bekanndt,
lieblich in kunst, frölich Im thon.
Sein Melodey
was gstellt gar frey,
darab man sich verwundern thett.
Es was gut ding,
zu singen ring,
künstlich darzu die gnad es hett.

5 Izac das war der name sein;
halt wol, es werd vergessen nit,
wie er sein Composicz so fein
und clar hat gsetzt, darzu auch mit
Mensur geziert,
dardurch probiert
noch heuttigs tags sein lob und kunst
verhanden ist;
herr Jhesu crist,
tail im dort mit götlichen gunst.

6 Gern wolt ich gott drumb dankpar sein,
wann ich nur das verbringen kundt
wie yeder soll. Es steet gar fein,
das man ihn lob, weil er aym gundt
zu lernen hie.
Was er vor nye
hett mugen von im selb verstan,
des mir erzaigt
und zugeaygt
mit gnaden ward durch diesen Mann.

7 Sein vleyß der ward an mir erkennt,
deßhalb trug mir der kayser huld;
dann weyl man mich sein schüler nent
Must ich erfüllen on mein schuld
den Chorgsang sein,
wie wol da mein
erlernte kunst was vil zu schwach.
Noch thett ichs pest,
so vil ich west
mit arbait groß, die ich noch mach.

8 Erkenn erst yecz, was mir gebricht
und sich, daß als auss gnaden kombt
von oben rhab; drumb wann ainer spricht
Er künd so vil, wie wenig frumbt
Im soliches lob;
thut er ain prob
empfind sein unvolkomenhait.
Erst wirt er ynn
sein hohen synn,
darzu Im all sein kunst erlaydt.

9 Nach dem ich dann derselben kunst
Ergeben bin, das ich verricht
Mein dienst, damit so wers umbsonst,
wo ich nit hielt, es würd für nicht
geachtet hie
alls, was ich ye
hett gmacht, gleichwol mit höchstem vleys,
Wann ich darinn
nit hett den synn
das ich gut geb den höchsten breyss.

10 Nun danck ich got umb das ich hir
dermassen bin versehen wol,
dann wer in pit, den liess er nie,
das selb ain yeder mercken sol
und dancken offt;
wer in In hofft,
der wirt nymer in schand gestellt;
soll haben acht,
das er betracht
allain zu thun, was Im gefelt.

11 Fürstliche gnad mir bschehen ist,
dieweyl ich mich darein ergab
Zu dienen undertänigist
dem herren mein und lass nit ab,
vorauss so ich
sich, das man mich
zu gottes eer noch prauchen mag
mit Chorgesanng,
das ich yetz lanng
getriben hab unnd thus alltag.

12 Liebt mir auch seer für ander ding,
das man yecz treybt in dieser welt;
dann wers versteht, der achts nit ring
wie wol es nit ain yeden gfelt;
ligt mir nit an;
Weyl ich nur han
die gnad und gunst des herren mein
so acht ichs nit
und bhilff mich mit,
will got mein tag drumb danckpar sein.

1) I have had a passion for Music ever since my youth, at first trained with solfeggio (do re mi fa sol la) and then through further instruction; it recached a stage when I could find no rest, only in song; it could not be helped; that was how it first began.

2) As soon as I had grasped as much of song as I was able to achieve on my own, then I began to ask more questions, which is what somebody ought to do who loves such things and wants to train themselves to achieve the proper foundation; I applied myself at all times, as best I could, to serve

3) my master well, sparing no effort. In this he in turn took pleasure which led to him giving me plenty to copy out. Whatever he produced I carefully studied and used as a guide also for myself; I greatly enjoyed it when he kept showing me more and more of exactly what I wanted.

4) What his name was, I will reveal shortly. He is known throughout the world, pleasing in his art, joyful in his music. His melodies were arranged very freely which was a surprise to everyone. These were excellent works, very singable as well as artfully, that was its special grace.

5) His name was Isaac; I am sure it will not forgotten how expertly and clearly he put his compositions together, as well as embellishing them rhythmically, and ensured that his renown and his art continue to this day; Lord Jesus Christ, bestow on him your divine mercy.

6) I would be very thankful to God if the only thing I managed to do was what anyone ought to do. It is entirely fitting to praise Him while He allowed one to advance here in learning. What one would never previously have been able to understand by oneself was revealed and granted to me by this man through grace.

7) His efforts were recognised in me, so that the emperor showed me favour; then, while I was called his pupil I was – not by my own doing – made to fill a post in the choir even though the skill I had acquired was then far too feeble. Still, I did my best and worked as hard as I could, as I still do.

8) I only now realise what is lacking in me, and I see that everything comes through grace, from above; so when somebody claims to be able, how little benefit comes from this praise; as soon as these people have to prove themselves, they sense their deficiency. They will only then realise his (Isaac’s) high intellect which will then make all their own art loathsome.

9) Since I am devoted to this art and to doing my duty, it would all be for nothing if I did not uphold the principle that everything which I have ever done, albeit done with the greatest effort, would count for nothing here, if in doing so I were not minded to set the greatest store by what is good.

10) Now I thank God for the fact that I am so well equipped here, for whoever prays to Him, He would never abandon, which is something everybody should note and often thank Him; whoever trusts in Him will never be put to shame (quotation from the Bible / proverbial saying: wer auf Gott traut / hat wohl gebaut); everybody should take care to think of doing only what pleases Him.

11) Princely grace was bestowed on me when I gave myself up to serving my lord in all humility, and I continue to do so, as I foresee that, to honour God, I may still be needed to sing in the choir, as I have long done and keep doing daily.

12) This is also my pleasure above other things which are now practised in this world; for whoever understands it does not consider it trivial even though it is not to everyone’s taste; this does not bother me; as long as I have the grace and favour of my lord, I do not pay attention to this; I am content, and will be thankful to God as long as I live.

Working Group on Race & Gender in the Global Middle Ages

Emory University and the Medieval Academy of America are pleased to announce the launch of a Zoom working group on Race & Gender in the Global Middle Ages. The aim is to bring together scholars from various disciplines (history, art history, and literary studies) who work on Europe and the Mediterranean, the Islamic world, Africa, and Asia to discuss works-in-progress that deal with race and gender from 500 CE to 1600 CE. The working group is open to all medievalists, including graduate students.To participate in the working group, please register at https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/raceandgenderglobalmiddleages/

Spring 2023 schedule of meetings:

February 17 at 12pm-1:30pm EST
Angela Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University “Charity and Slavery: Childcare and Race in the Ospedale degli Innocenti in Premodern Florence”

March 24 12pm-1:30pm EST (9am Pacific time)
Roland Betancourt, Professor of Art History, University of California, Irvine”The Case of Manuel I Komnenos: Articulating Identity through Gender, Sexuality, and Racialization”

April 28 at 12pm-1:30pm EST
Nicole Lopez-Jantzen, Associate Professor of History, CUNY: Borough of Manhattan Community College and Graduate Center”Shifting Concepts of Race: Italy through the Earlier Middle Ages”

May 19 at 12pm-1:30pm EST 
Sierra Lomuto, Assistant Professor of English, Rowan University “Mongols in Medieval Europe: Exoticism and the Legend of Prester John”

June 9 at 12pm-1:30pm EST
Alexa Herlands, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago”Juan Martínez Silíceo as Historian: Toledo’s 1547 Blood Purity Statute Revisited”

“INVESTIGATIONS INTO ROMANIAN AND EUROPEAN BIBLICAL TRADITIONS”
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM

“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi
Institute of Interdisciplinary Research – Department of Social Sciences and Humanities
Centre for Biblical and Philological Studies “Monumenta linguae Dacoromanorum”,
Romanian Association of Philology and Biblical Hermeneutics
Metropolitanate of Moldavia and Bukovina
“A. Philippide” Institute of Romanian Philology


are pleased to invite you to the

“INVESTIGATIONS INTO ROMANIAN AND EUROPEAN BIBLICAL TRADITIONS”
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM

12th Edition
Iaşi, 18-20 May 2023


The Symposium aims to encourage multi- and interdisciplinary debates on the issues raised by the publication, translation, interpretation, dissemination and reception of sacred texts into Romanian and other modern languages.
Sections

  1. Philological Challenges
    – Publication of the biblical texts. Textual criticism and palaeography. Sacred texts computerization and digitization.
    – The biblical text as a reference point in the diachronic study of language. Lexicology and biblical semantics.Biblical phraseology. Biblical onomastics.
    – Lesser known, partial translations of the Bible: books and book fragments kept in old manuscripts from the 16th and 17th centuries, and their textual relationship with popular Romanian versions.
    – Stylistic interference and demarcation: biblical, liturgical and theological-sapiential varieties of clerical styles. The role of the Bucharest Bible (1688) in the creation of the Romanian clerical style in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  2. Translation Challenges
    – Typology of biblical translations. Literal and free translation. Translation theory and sacred texts.
    – Unique source vs. multiple source. The “original texts” of the Bible – different textual traditions reflected in the Romanian translations.
    – Relationships among successive biblical versions: the Sibiu Gospels (1551-1553) and the Coresi Gospels; the Coresi Gospels and Epistles and the Bălgrad New Testament (1648); the Bucharest Bible (1688) and the Blaj Bible (1795); the Blaj Bible and the Şaguna, Filotei editions and the 1914 Bible, the Cornilescu versions etc.
    – Reference works for all time Bible translations: lexicons, dictionaries, concordances, critical editions,
    auxiliary versions, etc.
  3. Biblical Hermeneutics
    – Confessional and theological choices and conditioning (dogmatic, canonical, clerical, worship-related etc.). Theological censorship, political censorship.
    – Patristic tradition — reference points and criteria for sacred texts’ interpretation.
    – The Bible and the literary clerical system: relationships and determinations between the sacred text and clerical hymnography, worship-related literature, iconography, exegetic and homiletic literature.
  4. Sacred Texts’ Historical Reception
    – Integration, dynamics and stylization of biblical quotations in Romanian and other literatures.
    – Dissemination of Romanian Bible versions. Historical references and main Romanian biblical versions criticism (the Bucharest Bible, the Blaj Bible etc.). Textual relationships (borrowing, “corrections”, adaptations etc.) between different biblical versions.
    – Romanian culture and the Bible. Biblical motifs, symbols, structures and characters.
    – Cultural interferences and mentalities impacting the reception of sacred texts: anthropological, sociological, political or philosophical aspects.

    In addition to the traditional sections, for this edition the organizers propose two thematic sections:
    I. Saint Nicodemus of Tismana – 700 years. Production and transmission of the biblical manuscript in the Byzantine Commonwealth
    These years mark seven centuries since the birth of Saint Nicodemus from Tismana, the author of the oldest dated manuscript from Wallachia and the founder of the first Romanian monasteries. These were the first major cultural centers in the Romanian countries, which were incorporated into the network of cultural centers already existing in the Byzantine Commonwealth of Greek and Slavonic languages, which produced biblical manuscripts of great value, with circulation throughout this cultural area, on which the oldest biblical Romanian texts are based. We propose the following thematic directions, any other approaches being welcome:
    – Nicodemus’ Tetraevangelion – the oldest dated manuscript from Wallachia
    – Byzantine biblical lectionaries: production, typikon, circulation, textual tradition
    – Biblical manuscripts in the monastic scriptoria and libraries of the Byzantine Commonwealth
    – Biblical manuscript copying and diffusion centers in the Byzantine Commonwealth
    – Patrons, scribes, calligraphers, illuminators and possessors of biblical manuscripts
    – Illumination of biblical manuscrips in the Byzantine Commonwealth
    – From the Old Church Slavonic to the oldest Romanian lectionaries: Tetraevangelion, Apostle, Psalter and Prophetologion
    II. 350 years since the publication of the Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter. The versification of the Psalms in the Romanian and European culture
    – Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter: sources, genesis, reception
    – Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter as a monument of the Romanian language
    – The place of Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter in the history of Romanian literature
    – Rhymed / Metrical Psalters in the European culture
    – Versification as interpretation
    – Rhymed Psalters in Romanian literature: Teodor Corbea (ca 1705), Ioan Prale (1827), Nicolae Liciu (1846), Vasile Militaru (1933), Eugenia Adams Mureşanu (1985), etc.

    We also welcome other interpretations of the Conference theme.

    The official languages of the Symposium will be Romanian, English and French.
    The organisers invite all interested participants to fill in the registration form and send it at simpozionmld@gmail.com. Please email for the form. Selected papers will be published in Reception of the Holy Scriptures: at the crossroads between philology, hermeneutics and translation studies (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University Press, Iaşi), a CEEOL indexed journal.

    The conference fee is 180 lei (40 Euro) and will cover organisation and publication costs. You will only be required to pay this fee if you are accepted to the symposium, in which case we will kindly ask you to transfer the money to the following bank account:

    – Account holder: Asociaţia de Filologie şi Hermeneutică Biblică din România;
    – IBAN code: RO72BRDE240SV57759112400;
    – Bank: BRD, Agenţia Copou, Bd. Carol I, nr. 8, Iaşi

    (Please include Investigations into Romanian and European Biblical Traditions Symposium in the transaction details, and kindly e-mail a scanned copy of the bank receipt to simpozionmld@gmail.com)

    Important dates:
    March 1 – abstract submission deadline
    March 10 – decision for acceptance
    April 15 – fee payment deadline (180 RON / 40 EUR)
    May 18-20 – conference days
    July 15 – full paper submision for the proceedings of the conference

    Information about the previous editions:
    http://consilr.info.uaic.ro/~mld/monumenta/simpozionMLD.html

    Scientific Committee:
    Prof. Eugen Munteanu, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Iaşi) (chairman)
    Rev. Dragoş Bahrim, Ph.D. (“Saint Basil the Great” Orthodox Theological Seminary, Iaşi)
    Prof. Gheorghe Chivu, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Ioana Costa, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Mihai Moraru, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Mihaela Paraschiv, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza University”, Iaşi)
    Prof. Andrei Pleşu, Ph.D. (New Europe College, Bucharest)
    Rev. Prof. Gheorghe Popa, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza University”, Iaşi)
    Rev. Prof. Ion Vicovan, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza University”, Iaşi)
    Prof. Wilhelm Tauwinkl, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Rodica Zafiu, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Organising Committee:
    Iosif Camară, Ph.D. (secretary)
    Anca Bibiri, Ph.D.
    Ana Catană-Spenchiu, Ph.D.
    Mioara Dragomir, Ph.D.
    Ana-Maria Gînsac, Ph.D.
    Maria Moruz, Ph.D.
    Mariana Nastasia, Ph.D. student
    Mădălina Ungureanu, Ph.D.

Interdisciplinary Conference ‘Trust in the Premodern World’: An Overview

Written by Annabel Hancock (St John’s College, Oxford) 
Lead Organiser 
@annabel_hancock 

@PremodernTrust

After over a year of preparation, the conference took place on 13-14th January 2023 in the Oxford History Faculty, and it was a great success! We were thrilled to welcome five eminent keynote speakers as well as 26 speakers and 20 attendees. Attendance was truly international with speakers from the US, Taiwan, Israel, Australia, The Netherlands, and Spain, to name a few places. There were also participants from a range of career stages with a large number of postgraduate students and ECRs speaking alongside renowned professors.  

The call for papers generated a much greater response than expected, from researchers at a variety of career stages and disciplines. While it led to greater organisational challenges, this led to the decision to run parallel sessions, allowing the acceptance of a greater number of papers and wider conversations. This meant we had panels which focused on trust as an emotion and experience, on trust and its relationship to power, to professions, in trade, credit, and debt relationships, and in spaces and systems.  

The keynote speakers acted perfectly to direct the focus of the conference and encourage wide-ranging discussions. Dr Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz (University of Amsterdam) started us off perfectly, thinking about generalised trust, encouraging us to think about how communities engage with trust in the common good in the medieval city. Professor Teresa Morgan (Yale Divinity School) then encouraged us to think about the ways in which language and meaning develops, showing how ideas of trust in Early Christian faith developed to relate to belief, redefining one’s relationship to God. Dr Nicholas Baker (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) then ended the first day perfectly. He showed us that the ways in which merchants thought about time in sixteenth century Italy was deeply complex, looking at the ways in which language related to trust and time expressed anxieties as well as positive hopes. Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo (University of Lincoln) started day two with a look at trust as an emotion, specifically encouraging us to think about the ways in which women took part in the construction of trusted spaces in diplomacy in thirteenth-century Iberia. Our final keynote speaker, Professor Sheilagh Ogilvie (All Souls College, Oxford) delivered a paper encouraging us to think about the voices of premodern people and the ways theories of social capital/networks can hide the darker side of trust communities. She highlighted the ways in which economic approaches to trust can help us to look deeper into the ways in which communities functioned and encouraged us that as historians we have much to add to this conversation. 

Papers and keynote talks led to a great number of discussions and engagement with trust across a range of times and places. Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of many conversations was the realisation that though the 54 total participants all worked on varied times and places across the globe, and on various forms of trust, we all had knowledge and ideas that could be related it, and questions that could be the start of new ways of thinking.  

There is still much to think about and I know that all participants will be processing the discussions we had for a long time to come. Perhaps one of the main take aways at this early stage is the great power that comes with thinking about trust in the past. Through this focus, we can learn more about the economic, social, and cultural lives of people in premodern Europe, and consider the ways in which rationality and emotions are negotiated. 

The organising committee was thrilled to receive much positive feedback, including on social media, from attendees about the event and a great desire for conversations started at the event to continue. This will be an ongoing global network. 

This event would not have been possible without a great amount of support and encouragement from friends, colleagues, various members of the History Faculty admin team, and our generous sponsors. 

Piers Plowman Performance at St Edmund Hall

The Fair Field of Folk. Piers Plowman: A Potted Adaptation of the B Text

When: 11 February 2023, 2–3pm
Where: Broadbent Garden (behind the library church of St-Peter-in-the-East) at St Edmund Hall, Queen’s Lane, OX1 4AR Oxford. Part of the National Garden opening day 2-5pm. The performance ticket is included in the charity donation of 4GBP to see the gardens
Director: Eloise Peniston

Starring

  • Solas Macdonald as  Will
  • Jonathan Honnor as Piers Plowman
  • Clare-Rose McIntyre as Holychurche
  • Rei Tracks as Conscience

With original music by Anna Cowan

Eloise writes: I first discovered Piers Plowman at a bus stop. I was characteristically lost with a dead phone and only a charity shop book to keep me company. While no one murmured ‘Thou still unravished bride of quietness’, at me, I was acutely aware of being in the presence of the literary as I thumbed through the wind-swept pages. I was intensely confused, which, at the age of fifteen, I supposed was the hidden intention of all literature. With the charmed hand of A. V. C. Schmidt to guide me, I followed a man named Will, who fell asleep beside a stream on a May morning in Malvern Hills. There he falls into a succession of dreams, beginning with a tower on a hill, a dungeon, and a fair field of folk. On his quest for Truth, Will meets a host of allegorical personifications, wandering through the marriage and later trial of Lady Mede, the confession of the Seven Sins, the Crucifixion, and the Harrowing of Hell. In the midst of all, Piers Plowman emerges, taking only momentary repose from his plough to guide Will towards Truth and, rather scandalously, chastise members of the clergy. I remember after being “found” an hour later how I, rather breathlessly, recounted the events of the B text to my mother as she, mid-flap, chastised me about reckless spontaneity and the need for charged phones.

At that bus stop, I knew that, by the fortuity of an Oxfam find, I had discovered something wonderful, but I had no idea that seven years later, I would be scavenging liripipes and slit-mittens in an attempt to bring this dream-vision to life. Now, I often take that humble copy with me to Malvern Hills, and it is positively crammed with pressed, may-morning flowers. However, little did I know then how deeply entrenched this text was into the public sphere or about the literary and literal rebellions that have emerged beneath the mouldboard.

From the pen of a man who described Piers Plowman as “not worth reading”, Gerard Manley Hopkins perfectly captured the flesh-good of the text:

And features, in flesh, what deed he each must do–
His sinew-service where do.

He leans to it, Harry bends, look. Back, elbow, and liquid waist
In him, all quail to the wallowing o’ the plough: ‘s cheek crimsons; curls
Wag or crossbridle, in a wind lifted, windlaced–
See his wind – lilylocks – laced;
Churlsgrace, too, child of Amansstrength, how it hangs or hurls
Them – broad in bluff hide his frowning feet lashed! raced
With, along them, cragiron under and cold furls –
With-a-fountain’s shining-shot furls.
Harry Ploughman
G. M. Hopkins

This particular poem encapsulates the essence of Piers Plowman: pure inscape, or as Stephen Medcalf calls it, an “extraordinary combination of roughness and a delicate magic.” It is incredibly difficult to describe what happens in Piers Plowman but “churlsgrace” is certainly the perfect descriptor for the essence of the text. A mere ploughman knows the way to Truth and is gracious enough to guide the reader, in return for help in plowing and sowing a half-acre.

Piers Plowman is ultimately a text that encourages mental labour, in a field, at a bus stop, or even in the gardens of St Edmund Hall…

We invite you to toil with us at Teddy Hall on the 11th of February. From a tower on toft, a trumpet shall hail the dream, before the gentle plucking of a harp will guide you to sleep.

Come and set forth on a dream-pilgrimage, exploring political satire, social upheaval, and spiritual crisis. Maybe salvation will be found in the ridge and furrow but if not, you will- at the very least- have a pilgrim badge to take home as a souvenir.

We hope to see you soon in the fair field. God spede þe plouȝ!

Performance poster for Piers Plowman

Medieval Matters: Week 2

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

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

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • The Medieval Misuse discussion and reading group meets every 2 weeks, on a Thursday 5-6, for an informal discussion about the ways that medieval history, culture and literature are misused by modern political parties and extremist groups. Interested individuals should email: tristan.alphey@stx.ox.ac.uk
  • 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 alice.hawkins@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk or irina.boeru@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk
  • Oxford Ancient Languages Society (OALS) is running a great programme of classes and events this term – perfect for medievalists who want to brush up or acquire Latin! For full details, see their website here.
  • Please note that the Carlyle Lectures are medieval this year! This year’s lectures will be given by John Hudson, on common law and Roman law and custom, C12-13: https://www.history.ox.ac.uk/carlyle-lectures

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 23rd January:

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

Tuesday 24th January:

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

Wednesday 25th January:

  • The Medieval German Graduate Seminar will meet at 11:15am in the island room of Oriel College for discussing the prologue of this term’s text, Heinrich von Neustadt’s Apollonius von Tyrland. If you are interested to come along, contact Henrike Lähnemann, to be added to the teams chat.
  • The Medieval Italian Seminar will take place at 2pm at Rees Davies Room, History Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Paul Oldfield (Manchester), ‘Inquest and History in Thirteenth-Century Puglia’.
  • GLARE (Greek and Latin Reading Group) takes place at 4-5pm at Jesus College. Please meet at Jesus College Lodge. This week’s text will be Demosthenes, Against Neaera, 72–8. All welcome to attend any and all sessions. For more details and specific readings each week, or to be added to the mailing list, email john.colley@jesus.ox.ac.uk or jenyth.evans@seh.ox.ac.uk.
  • 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 (michael.stansfield@new.ox.ac.uk) for further details and the Teams link.
  • The Old French Reading Group takes place at 4-5pm at St Hilda’s College (meet by the lodge). We welcome readers of Old French of all abilities. For further information, please email alice.hawkins@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk or irina.boeru@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar takes place at 5pm at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles. This week’s speaker will be Olivier Delouis (Maison Française d’Oxford), ‘Teaching Greek grammar to one’s son: an unpublished manual by Nikolaos Artabasdos Rabdas (14th c.)’.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar takes place at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty, followed by a drinks reception. This week’s speaker will be William Sweet (Independent), ‘Lydgate and Humanist Reading After Arundel’. All welcome.

Thursday 26th January:

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

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

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

May we medievalists enjoy such loyal companionship!

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

Oxford Medieval Visual Culture Seminar

Where: St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building
When: Thursdays 5.15 p.m.

Convenors: Elena Lichmanova (elena.lichmanova@merton.ox.ac.uk) and Gervase Rosser

The Oxford Medieval Visual Culture Seminar series is exploring visual aspects of medieval knowledge: from anatomy to alchemy, from geometry to the concepts of time and space. We hope that the programme may appeal to audiences beyond those studying the medieval period and art history, so please do share it with anyone who might be interested. 

Week 2, 26 January
Sarah Griffin Lambeth Palace Library, London
From Hours to Ages: Time in the Large-scale Diagrams of Opicinus de Canistris (1296-
c.1352)
Anya Burgon Trinity Hall, Cambridge
In a Punctum: Miniature Worlds in Late Medieval Art and Literature

Week 4, 9 February
Lauren Rozenberg University College London
In the Flat Round: Brain Diagrams in Late Medieval Manuscripts
Sergei Zotov University of Warwick
Christian Motifs in Fifteenth-Century Alchemical Iconography

Week 6, 23 February
Jack Hartnell University of East Anglia
Visualising Wombs and Obstetrical Fantasies in Late Medieval Germany

Week 8, 9 March
Mary Carruthers New York University, All Souls College, Oxford
Envisioning Thinking: Geometry and Meditation in the Twelfth Century

We very much look forward to seeing you in the Hilary Term!

Medieval Matters: Week 1

Welcome back to Oxford, and to Hilary term! I hope that you all had a peaceful and enjoyable vac, and are returning to Oxford well rested and ready for an exciting and busy term. Since many of you have newly returned to Oxford, here is some wisdom for Alcuin about returning:

ex pietatis vestre apicibus audita prosperitate itineris vestri atque reversionis in patriam … toto cordis affectu animoque letissimo gratis egi
[Hearing from your letter of your successful journey and your return to our country … I gave heartfelt and joyful thanks, Ep. 190]

To welcome you all back, we have a new medieval booklet for Hilary 2023: please find a pdf copy attached to this week’s email, and a high-quality version on our website here. We also have a special blog post by Laure Miolo, who has the honour of giving the first medievalist paper of the term, at the Seminar in Manuscript Studies and Palaeography, today at 2.15-3.45pm! To read more about Laure’s paper, see the blog post.

Please note also that this week’s Medieval Church and Culture Seminar, on Tuesday 5pm, Harris Manchester College, is a special medievalist social! Please do come along to enjoy tea, coffee, biscuits, and a chance to catch up / advertise your seminars and events! All very welcome.

Please see below for full details of the week’s events:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • Workshop: Staging a Medieval Mystery Play: On Friday 3 February 2023 (Week 3), 5–6.30pm, at St Edmund Hall, Old Dining Hall (postponed from 20 January). Join this workshop for tips and guidance on how to adapt medieval mystery plays for modern performance or if you are just interested in taking part in some form and shape. The workshop will be led by David Wiles, Emeritus Professor of Drama at the University of Exeter and a veteran director of the Oxford Medieval Mystery Cycle. Let us know if you’re interested in joining by emailing Michael Angerer, the graduate convenor. Meanwhile, we’re still looking for groups to join the Medieval Mystery Cycle: have a look at the original blog post with the sign-up link!
  • Save the Date! The Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference 2023 will take place on 20th-21st April at Ertegun House and online. For more details, visit oxgradconf.wixsite.com/omgc or follow @OxMedGradConf on twitter.
  • The Oxford Interfaith Forum runs its signature Thematic International Interfaith Groups, and our several groups, such as Manuscripts in Interfaith Context, Sacred Literature in Interfaith Contexts, Mysticism in Interfaith Contexts, Eastern Christianity in Interfaith Contexts, etc. Events organised by these groups might be of interest to the Medieval Studies Network, e.g. the Psalms in Interfaith Context Series. The full details of our past and upcoming events are available on our website, or follow us on Twitter at @FaithsOxford.
  • The OMS Small Grants Hilary Term Applications are now open! The TORCH Oxford Medieval Studies Programme invites applications for small grants to support conferences, workshops, and other forms of collaborative research activity organised by researchers at postgraduate (whether MSt or DPhil) or early-career level from across the Humanities Division at the University of Oxford. For full details, please see our blog post.

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 16th January:

  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group led by Matthew Holford and Andrew Dunning is meeting as usual via Teams from 1-2pm. We’ll start this term continuing the natural history theme with another text on elephants, this time from the encyclopaedia of Thomas of Cantimpre (1201-?1272), De naturis rerum. We’ll read it from a 14th-century copy now in Bruges Public Library, https://sharedcanvas.be/IIIF/viewer/mirador/B_OB_MS412, with the text starting on fol. 61v. Sign up for the mailing list to receive updates and the Teams invite, or contact matthew.holford@bodleian.ox.ac.uk or andrew.dunning@bodleian.ox.ac.uk for more information. 
  • The Seminar in Manuscript Studies and Palaeography will take place at 2.15-3.45pm, in the Weston Library, Horton Room. This week’s speaker will be Laure Miolo (University of Oxford), “Astronomy and astrology in fourteenth-century Oxford: MS. Digby 176  in context“. For further information contact matthew.holford@bodleian.ox.ac.uk or andrew.dunning@bodleian.ox.ac.uk
  • The Medieval History Seminar takes place at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College and on Teams (Teams link here). This week’s speaker will be Lorenzo Caravaggi (University of East Anglia), ‘Magic Saracen treasures, credulous merchants, and other stories: itinerant notaries and their “judicial novellas” in fourteenth-century Italy.’. The Teams session can be accessed by logging in to Teams with your .ox.ac.uk account and joining the group “Medieval History Research Seminar” (team code rmppucs). If you have any difficulties please email: medhistsem@history.ox.ac.uk 

Tuesday 17th January:

  • The Europe in the Later Middle Ages Seminar will take place at 2–3.30pm in the New Seminar Room, St John’s College. Tea and coffee available from 1.45pm. This week’s speaker will be Christopher Fletcher, CNRS, Lille, ‘The politics and anti-politics of labour in late medieval England‘.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5-6pm in the Charlese Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s meeting is a special medievalist social! Come along for tea, coffee, biscuits and a chance to share ongoing research, catch up informally, and give suggestions for themes and speakers in coming terms. All are welcome.

Wednesday 18th January:

  • The Medieval German Graduate Seminar will meet at 11:15am in the island room of Oriel College for a short organisational meeting on this term’s text, Heinrich von Neustadt’s Apollonius von Tyrland. If you are interested, contact Henrike Lähnemann, to be added to the teams chat.
  • The Medieval Italian Seminar will take place at 2pm at Rees Davies Room, History Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Chris Wickham (Oxford, All Souls/ History Faculty): ‘Governing twelfth-century city communes’.
  • GLARE (Greek and Latin Reading Group) takes place at 4-5pm at Jesus College. Please meet at Jesus College Lodge. This week’s text will be Cicero, Letters to Atticus. All welcome to attend any and all sessions. For more details and specific readings each week, or to be added to the mailing list, email john.colley@jesus.ox.ac.uk or jenyth.evans@seh.ox.ac.uk.
  • 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 (michael.stansfield@new.ox.ac.uk) for further details and the Teams link.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar takes place at 5pm at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles and online via Teams. This week’s speaker will be Joshua Hitt (St Hilda’s College), ‘The Poetics of Age in Twelfth-Century Byzantine Literature’. Teams: Click here to join the meeting.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar takes place at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty. This week’s paper will be followed by a special drinks reception to celebrate recent book publications. This week’s speaker will be Luisa Ostacchini (University of Oxford), ‘After Dido: Carthage in Old English Literature’. All welcome.
  • CfP: The Medieval Church: From Margins to Centre (26-27 June 2023): This conference aims to consider the relationship between the Church and the marginalised in medieval society – minority genders and sexualities, racial minorities, disabled people, non-Christians, and the poor. The conference is prompted by current trends in medieval race studies, trans studies and disability studies, and aims to provide a particular platform for postgraduate and early career researchers who work in these areas. To support this aim, we plan to offer a bursary of £30 per person for up to 10 postgraduates and ECRs. Please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Tim Wingard (tim.wingard@york.ac.uk) by no later than 5pm on Sunday 5 February 2023. For more information, see the website here.

Friday 20th January:

  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm at St Hilda’s College, in the Julia Mann Room. The text will be extracts from the Chronicle of Langtoft; pdf will be provided. For access to the text and further information, please email: stephanie.hathaway@gmail.com or jane.bliss@lmh.oxon.org.
  • The Old Norse Reading Group meets at 5pm at The Royal Oak. Please email Ashley Castelino (ashley.castelino@lincoln.ox.ac.uk) to be added to the mailing list.

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • CFP: Old Norse Poetry in Performance: Inheritance and Innovation. Following its covid-induced hiatus, the third iteration of the triennial Old Norse Poetry in Performance conference will take place at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, on the 21st and 22nd of June 2023. This conference will maintain the format of its previous iterations, showcasing academic research, practical performances, and the possibilities offered by combining the two. The organisers invite proposals for 20-minute papers and/or performances. Proposals should be no more than 300 words and should be sent to oldnorsepoetryinperformance@gmail.com, accompanied by a brief biographical note, by midnight on 17th February 2023. For full details, see the blog post.
  • Workshop on manuscript description and cataloguing: This workshop, to be held over 3-4 weeks in the second half of term, is intended for postgraduate students working on Western medieval manuscript/s in the Bodleian Library who would like, as a by-product of their research, to produce formal catalogue description/s for publication on Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries. Please express interest using this form.
  • Teaching with manuscripts: Thinking of incorporating medieval manuscript material in your teaching but not sure where to start? Sign up for a workshop with Andrew Dunning and Matthew Holford, curators at the Bodleian Library, where we will try to answer your questions and lead a discussion on what does and doesn’t work when teaching with manuscripts. Please sign up using this form. We will hold one or more workshops (depending on interest) early in term.
  • The Latin Works of Piccolomini (Pius II): A Colloquium: Registration is now open for this colloquium, taking place on Thurs. 23–Fri. 24 March 2023 at the Faculty of Classics, Oxford in collaboration with the Abteilung für Griechische und Lateinische Philologie at Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn. More information and the link to register here.
  • CFP: Bristol CMS Postgraduate Conference, IDENTITIES, COMMUNITIES AND ‘IMAGINED COMMUNITIES’, 14-15 April 2023. We welcome abstracts from postgraduates and early-career researchers, exploring all the aspects and approaches to concepts of identity and communities, in all relevant disciplines pertaining to the medieval period, broadly construed c.500-c.1500. Abstracts are 300 words for 20-minute papers. This year’s conference will be a hybrid event online and on the campus of the University of Bristol. Abstracts and enquiries: cms-conferenceenquiries@bristol.ac.uk DEADLINE: 10 February 2023. For full details, see the blog post here.

Finally, some more wisdom from Alcuin:

novi rerum eventus novos iterum caritatis penna exarare meam devotionem apices exhortantur
[New events urge me to write anew in devotion with the pen of love, Ep. 156]

I’m delighted to be writing anew to you all with the week’s round-up of events, announcements and opportunities, and look forward to seeing you all throughout the term. Wishing you all a productive and enjoyable Hilary!

[Medievalists emerging from the Christmas Vac to peek at the first Medieval Matters of term]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 69 r.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

Seminar in Manuscript Studies and Palaeography

All seminars will take place in the Weston Library, Horton Room, 2.15 – 3.45. For further information contact matthew.holford@bodleian.ox.ac.uk or andrew.dunning@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

16 Jan. (week 1): Laure Miolo (University of Oxford), “Astronomy and astrology in fourteenth-century Oxford: MS. Digby 176 in context”

30 Jan. (week 3): Laura Saetveit Miles (University of Bergen), “The Influence of St. Birgitta of Sweden’s Revelationes in Late-Medieval England” 

13 Feb (week 5): Sonja Drimmer (University of Massachusetts Amherst): “The ‘Genealogy Industry’: Codicological Diversity in England, c.1400–c.1500.”

27 Feb. (week 7): Laura Light (Les Enluminures), “Latin Bibles in England c. 1200-c. 1230”

Astronomy and astrology in fourteenth-century Oxford: MS. Digby 176 in context

The manuscript Oxford, Bodleian, Digby 176 is a key witness for better understanding the astronomical and astrological practices and innovations of a group of practitioners trained in Oxford around mid-fourteenthcentury. This group of scholars sharing a same background and interest in the ‘science of the stars’ (scientia stellarum) was closely linked to Merton College. Modern historiography mainly tended to focus on the so-called calculatores, eclipsing the scientific activities of this circle of astronomers and astrologers. In this group, Simon Bredon (d. 1372) or William Reed (d. 1385) played the role of patrons, providing subsidies, books and doubtless a scientific expertise. The codex Oxford, Bodleian, Digby 176 is representative of these activities and intellectual exchanges. It also allows to better understand the earliest phase of reception of Alfonsine astronomy in England and the role played by William Reed in this circle. This composite volume assembled by William Reed displays highly sophisticated and cutting-edge scientific innovations fostered by a rapid flow of information and technical data within this ‘community of learning’. Finally, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Digby 176 also raises the problem of the complementary practices between astronomy and astrology, and the growing specialisation of scholars in one or the other of these disciplines.

MS. Digby 176, fol. 71v Almanak Solis 1342

OMS Small Grants HT 2023  

The TORCH Oxford Medieval Studies Programme invites applications for small grants to support conferences, workshops, and other forms of collaborative research activity organised by researchers at postgraduate (whether MSt or DPhil) or early-career level from across the Humanities Division at the University of Oxford.

The activity should take place between the beginning of Hilary term 2023 and end of Trinity term 2023. The closing date for applications is Friday of Week 1 of Hilary Term = 20 January);  decisions will be made promptly after the closing date.

Grants are normally in the region of £100–250. Recipients will be required to supply a report after the event for the TORCH Medieval Studies blog. Recipients of awards will also be invited to present on their events at the next Medieval Roadshow.

Applicants will be responsible for all administrative aspects of the activity, including formulating the theme and intellectual rationale, devising the format, and, depending on the type of event, inviting speakers and/or issuing a Call for Papers, organising the schedule, and managing the budget, promotion and advertising. Some administrative and organisational support may be available through TORCH subject to availability.

Applications should be submitted to  lesley.smith@history.ox.ac.uk  using the grant application form. Applications submitted in other formats or after the deadline will not be considered.

Informal enquiries may be directed to lesley.smith@history.ox.ac.uk

The Oxford Medieval Studies Programme is sponsored by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).

For more medieval matters from Oxford, have a look at the website of the Oxford Medieval Studies TORCH Programme and the OMS blog!