Memory – The #IMC2018
The International Medieval Congress 2018 is held from 2-5 July at the University of Leeds. The special thematic strand of this
year’s IMC is “Memory”. For the next few days we will regularly report from the IMC and offer reviews of papers and sessions. It’s a collaborative, steadily growing blog-post, so check back for updates! We are: Sébastien Barret (SB), Martin Bauch (MB), Anja Blode (AB), Annabell Engel (AE), Ryan Goodman (RG), Vanina Kopp (vk), Thomas Labbé (TL), Christian Oertel (CO), Daniela Schulz (DS) and Dominik Waßenhoven (DW). Do you want to join us with your own session reports and help us to preserve the memory of as many sessions and papers as possible? Your contributions would be welcome, please send us an email!
Or join our short meet-up on Monday, 2 July, 6:30 pm at the Marquee.
NETWORK ANALYSIS FOR MEDIEVAL STUDIES, I: NETWORK ANALYSIS OF MEDIEVAL CHARTERS (Session 112)
Speakers: Sébastien de Valeriola, Clemens Beck, Christian Knüpfer
This session was the first in a row of three to present new approaches to the use of network analysis for medieval studies.
The first paper „Et se en defaloient de cest paiement“. Personal pledging and social networks (Ypres, XIIIth century)“ (112-a) was given by Sébastien de Valeriola, originating in his ongoing PhD project about risk management. By which criteria was the guarantor, paying for debt if a debitor failed to do so, selected? Based on the analysis of around 6000 debt contracts from 13th-century Ypres, he created assortativity coefficient for specific links: It comes as no surprise that debtors chose guarantors within their families and social class, having the same occupation was not a necessary criterium, depending on the sector in which they worked. And while he was not able to determine if solvency was an argument for the choice of the guarantor, his results indicated that the social connectedness was important: The guarantor had to have a reputation and a well established network in his field, being rich alone was not sufficient. The paper argued convincingly that social network analysis can provide satisfying answers at least for certain questions.
It was Clemens Beck’s paper „Recipients and Witnesses of High Medieval Charters: A Social Network Analysis of the German Political System during the Reign of Frederick I Barbarossa, 1152-90“ (112-b) that focused on the Relationship between the Archbishop of Cologne and the Holy-Roman Emperors from 1180-1198, i.e. form the Fall of Henry the Lion to the Onset of the German Throne Dispute. His central hypothesis was that in this period there was more of a clash of adverse political groups than a conflict of hostile personalities. The sources for his work were networks of marriages, chronicles, but most of all a database of charters issued by high-ranking actors with the ability to influence the network, from the Emperor down to abbots. One special focus was to identify legates, although these might not be names as such in the source material. On first results, Beck demonstrated the usefulness of this approach by showing substantial changes in the networks after 1180 or even arguing that after the downfall of Henry the Lion the Emperor was forced more by the network to distance him from his relative than by his own will.
Connected to Beck’s paper, Christian Knüpfer continued with the technical background in a paper titled ‚A knowledge base of Charters from the Regesta Imperii for Generating Networks in Medieval Social and Constitutional History‘ (112-c). Ideal-typically he described how Historical Network Research was made in an analogue way, with a single historian and his card index, and why there’s a lack of transparency in this process. As a solution to this, Knüpfer argued in favour of a „knowledge base of charters“, giving a very practical and instructive description how data from charters gets coded into network relevant information. One major condition for more transparency was that facts and rules are made explicit and documentation of this can be automatically generated: Just clicking on one linking line in a network reveals the underlying rules and facts. Furthermore, the possibility to change rules and facts easily allows to play with variations like lists of issuers or date ranges. In combination with the previous paper, the combined approach of medievalists and IT specialists to develop feasible approaches, easy to use tools for Historical Network Analysis suddenly became less abstract
There was no time left for longer discussion of the papers given as rather annoying accustic disturbances from the audio equipment had consumed a lot of time and tested the patience of both audience and presenting researchers. (MB)
„Sharing Books, Sharing memories: Book Fragments illuminating Inter-European Connections“ (session 119)
Speakers: Synnøve Myking, Olli-Pekka Kasurinen, Åslaug Ommundsen
The first paper was given by Synnøve Myking. Her talk was based on her finished phd-project about fragment studies from the Norwegian National Archives, especially medieval books of French origin. She covered the time-period of the Norwegian High Middle Ages (1050-1320). Her aims were to find material of French-origin in the archive’s fragment collection and situate these fragments in their historical context. This task was complicated by the fact that very few medieval books from Norway suvived intact. Therefore, she tried to use fragments as a source to study book history. Each fragment was treated as a tangible witness of a book that once existed. By examining the historical context, the project was able to trace several fragments from France, the Netherlands and Denmark. Many Norwegians travelled through Europe during the Middle Ages and left their own traces, especially in France and the Netherlands. So it’s not surprising that books of Northern French/Flemish-origin are found amongst the Norwegian material. The corpus for this study comprises of 70 fragments in the National Archives and includes liturgical and non-liturgical (theology, law, medicine) sources. The existence of all these fragments in Norway can be explained by the historical context. „University books“ are amongst the French-made material, which can be explained by Norwegian studying abroad. The largest number of liturgical fragments correspond to the period after the archdiocese was established. She ended by showing some convincing examples.
The second paper by Olli-Pekka Kasurinen centred around the question on The use of English liturgical texts in Sweden and Finland. He focused on the few fragment collections in Sweden and Finland. After the reformation parchment was collected all over the country and most of the medieval liturgical books were confiscated from monasteries and cathedrals. The Parchment from most of the medieval liturgical books was recycled as book covers or for other purposes. The over 700 fragments stem from the period from the early 11th century until the 13th century and many of them are from England or made after English models, because a large number of missionaries came from England to Sweden. Unfortunately, many framents were destroyed by the fire in the Stockhom castle. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to identify the fragments and connect them anew.
Åslaug Ommundsen spoke about European book fragments in Norway. She focused on the chaos of fragment collections and that there is still no real or organized way of sorting through the material. There are about 5000-6000 Latin fragments in the Norwegian National Archives, but only 12 complete books in Latin. The fragments seem to correspond to a number auf 1000-12000 different books. Many fragments result of early modern reuse of medieval parchment. Bailiffs from the 16th and 17th century found the parchment in medieval books, mostly liturgical ones and in stacks of already reused parchment (which constitutes at least 10% of the fragment material). Some material was found locally or in the Norwegian administratives centres and less commonly in stacks of parchment brought in from Denmark. So far 15 manuscripts from Denmark has been identified. The last point centred on the question why so few fragments from each book or codicological units have survived. Ommundsen pointed out that there was a 18th century clear-out in Copenhagen and since some leaves were found as singletons, the rest of the books were possibly long gone already at the time of the binding. Some leaves also come from composite manuscripts and it’s no longer possible to find the other texts which belonged to the composite manuscripts. (AB)
„Dominican Poverty in the Middle Ages: Counsel, Criticism, and Conflict“ (Session 148)
Speakers: Cornelia Linde, Ingrid Würth, and Johnny G. G. Jakobsen
In this session various forms of mendicant poverty were discussed as well as the relations between some of the mendicant orders. The first talk „Franciscans versus Dominicans: An English Debate on Poverty“ by Cornelia Linde started from the example of a controversy on poverty between the Brothers Preacher and Brothers Minor of Oxford in 1269. After several stages of inter-order dispute the discussion was taken to the wider public by the Dominicans in asking five university masters for their opinion in the matter of how the two orders dealt with donations made towards them. This inclusion of the university was marked as exeptional by the speaker as was the fact that all five university masters were first ready to support the Dominican position but were all „converted“ to the opinion of the Franciscans in the process of discussing the subject.
In the second paper „Dominican Influence in the Development of the Ordo Servorum Mariae„ Ingrid Würth discussed the influence of Dominican ideals in the foundation of another mendicant order, that of the „Ordo servorum Mariae“. This (rather small) mendicant order was founded in 13th-century Northern Italy by seven founding fathers. During a time of crisis, after the dissolution of a number of smaller mendicant orders, a legenda de origine was composed in which the Dominican saint Peter of Verona played a decisive role. In her conclusion, Ingrid Würth supposed that it was not so much the Dominican ideal that was interesting for the Servite Order but that it was their main purpose to show their closeness to one of the large mendicant orders and to find a charismatic founding figure in the very popular Dominican saint Peter.
The session was closed by Johnny G. G. Jakobsen with his talk „‚Not friaries, but rather palaces and manor houses‘: Monastic Criticism against Mendicant Claims of Poverty in Late Medieval Scandinavia“. In this he concentrated on two examples: a) one of the revelations of St Birgitta of Sweden in which the Virgin Mary (and through her Birgitta) complains about the lavish livestyle of the Dominican Brothers, and b) the writings of the Danish Carmelite Poul Helgesen (Paulus Helie) who tried to fend of Reformist criticism by some self-criticism of the mendicant orders of Denmark admitting that many brothers were nor anymore able to stand the original mendicant lifestyle asking for many papal dispenses in order to make their lives easier. (CO)
New Approaches to Manuscripts and Libraries (Session 216)
Speakers: Erin Connelly & Heather Wacha, Elizabeth Linville, Lisa Fagin Davis
216-a: Labeculae Vivae: A Reference Library of Stains Found on Medieval Manuscripts
Erin Connelly started off with a brief introduction to the project which aims at building up a reference library for various kinds of stains in medieval manuscripts. Stained and multilated manuscripts are often those that have been overlooked by research, but especially stains bear valuable information, and also highlight the human experience and interaction with manuscripts (e.g. coffee stains or remains of some ingredients of a recipe within a medical codex). Here, „beauty lies in the imperfection“ of the manuscripts. Heather Wacha then explained the application of multispectral imaging to stains in more detail, and how data was assembled and analysed. A stack of images is taken at different light waves. The calculation of the reflection level forms the basis of the visualizations. Based on these, relations between stains can be established as well as hypotheses on stain stories, which are fragmentary narratives of a manuscripts history. The dataset of stains will be available open access. Future plans include the visualization of data in digital mappa.
216-b: Get your Library Card: Medieval Patrons of Medieval Libraries
The second paper was given by Elizabeth Linville and focused on late medieval libraries (mostly English and French), which she considered to be crucial for the spread of information and the increasing popularity of certain books. After classifying late medieval libraries into monastic, scholastic and private libraries, the issue of accessibility of a library collection was discussed in more detail. Among other documents, library catalogues, loan records and instructions for librarians are valuable sources to investigate lending, circulation and copying practises. Due to a lack of records, here especially the circulation practises of private libraries are most often problematic to reconstruct. Investigating the access to medieval libraries and thus to the spread of knowledge can help trace intellectual history.
216-c: Fragmentology in America: Methods and Outcomes
The third paper of the session was given by Lisa Fagin Davis, who also acted as session chair. With more than 25 years experience in cataloguing medieval manuscripts, she can definitely be considered an expert on medieval manuscripts and fragments. Fagin Davis started off by presenting the Swiss Fragmentarium project, which aims at virtually reconstructing manuscripts that were broken apart by using a shared canvas based on the IIIF manifest. At the moment, 951 fragments are available on the website. Manuscripts were often used as bindings or served as flyleaves. Therefore, books bound by the same binder might contain pieces of the same manuscript which can thus shed a light on the history of the host codex. In early modern times it was also common to cut out initials or samples from a manuscript. Whereas the collector’s interest in art might explain such a behaviour, within the 20th century manuscripts were also broken apart for economic reasons. Selling single leaves to many costumers was a way to gain more money, compared to selling a complete book to just one costumer. The book dealer Otto Frederick Ege is just one representative of these biblioclasts. With Fragmentarium and IIIF single folia scattered around the world can now be virtually reunited.
The discussion mainly focused on the future perpectives of different approaches to the analysis of stains and the application of multispectral imaging to further library collections. The audience showed great interest in the Fragmentarium project and its potentials for further research. Among other things, also the question of long term preservation was discussed. (DS)
„Honour, Family, and Collective Memory in England and Germany, 1250-1500: The Country and the City“ (Session 234)
Speakers: Marcus Meer, Rhiannon E. Snaith, Christian Liddy
In this session a number of aspects of late medieval heraldry and the concepts of reputation and honour were discussed. In the first paper, „Shields of Chivalry and History: Grants of Arms and the Visual Communication of Corporate Identity in England and Germany“ Marcus Meer presented the findings of his PhD-project about the granting of coats of arms to crafts- and guildsmen in late medieval England and the notions of honour connected with them. He also compared these finding with parallel developments in Germany at the same time. He concluded that such grantings of coats of arms were not as common in Germany as they were in England but that similar concepts of honour can be found in both regions. His main source for Germany was, in this respect, the “Chronik der Augsburger Weber”.
In her paper “The Scrope versus Grosvenor Controversy: A ‚matter of common fame and report’” Rhiannon E. Snaith stated that in late medieval England to fight for and to defend one’s reputation was the main occupation of the nobility. Therefore, she devoted large parts of her paper to the concept of reputation, reviewing earlier scholarship about it, defining its scope in comparison to other concepts like “honour”, “glory” and “fama”, and tracing the steps which finally led to a good or bad reputation of a certain person. These theoretical considerations were grounded by numerous source citations which showed the importance of the concept of reputation to contemporary nobles.
In the last paper of this session, „Family, Lineage, and Dynasty in the Late Medieval City“ Christian Liddy presented a forthcoming project of his which will be concerned with researching the differences in the social structure of urban communities in England, Italy, the southern Low Countries, and Germany. Research on this subject has stated yet that in English cities the social structure was comparatively permeable and no dynasties emerged which were to rule a city for decades or even centuries. Liddy wants to put this assumption to trial. If it should prove to hold he intends to ask how English urban elites functioned instead and if a different understanding of „honour“ may have played a crucial role. (CO)
Creative Memories: Shaping Identity in Medieval Culture, II (Session 253)
Moderator: Gert Melville
Speakers: Mirko Breitenstein, Johanna Scheel, Carlos Rafael Ruta
This was the second session of a short series (sponsored by the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig / Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte [FOVOG], Technische Universität, Dresden), which sought to explore how diverse communities or individuals in the Middle Ages actively shaped identities – their own or other people’s – through memorial strategies. Although the three papers treated very different subjects, they succeeded in responding to one another in some of their dimensions, thus ensuring a coherent session.
Mirko Breitenstein (Making History: The Remembrance of the Beginnings within the Pauline Order) showed how the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit (re)created its past as a way to assert itself. It was born of the gradual reunion of several eremitic communities in the twelfth and thirteenth century, and given Forma vivendi by local bishops; the figure of Paul of Thebes as a role model seems to emerge in the fourteenth century. At latest in the seventeenth century, notably in Andreas Eggerer’s Fragmen panis Corvi, did Paul’s representation in Pauline historiography shift to make him the founder of the order instead of Eusebius of Gran, who holds the position of the « founder » before. With this, the Pauline could pretend to be the oldest of all orders, albeit with a founding figure whose actual life certainly did not make him the most fitting candidate. This was a way to assert the order in its social and cultural context as well as to give it a renewed, more stringent identity.
Johanna Scheel (Changing Memoria: Adapted Donor Portraits in Late Medieval Art) gave a talk on the (at least from the author of this note) little-known topic of later interventions on donators’ and patrons’ representations, especially in Flemish paintings of the late Middle Ages. The images could be altered in several ways, from transforming the patrons into saints through the addition of a halo above their head, or repainting their head and hands, to vast changes in the pictures giving the figured persons a new identity (that of a later owner’s, for instance), by changing or introducing heraldic elements in addition to the rest. This had deep implications for the treatment of the memoria of the ‘painted actors’: some were erased, some made their apparition in the books. There is certainly no simple and unequivocal explanation for this phenomenon; J. Scheel suggested a link with the new forms of religiosity of the late Middle Ages, which, being more personal, could lead to the wish for the reader/owner to be able to identify with the representations in religious books (which represent the vast majority of such cases). Thus, the aim of the manipulations would not be to replace someone’s memoria, but to obtain a praying mirror-image of oneself.
Carlos Rafael Ruta (The Hermeneutics of Forgetting in the Work of Master Eckhart, new title: Towards a Hermeutics of Oblivion in the Work of Master Echart) concluded the session with an analysis of the central role of oblivion in Eckhart’s spirituality. Oblivion is a grade towards a virtuous life, and a central concept: to forget is the only way to acquire the necessary knowledge that leads to God. Oblivion is an integral part of the experience of the soul with God; the soul must forget everything that exists, and forget itself to be able to meet its Creator. This implies to understand what knowledge and what memory are, as knwoledge must become pure ignorance to make the experience of Gof possible. Oblivion is a departure from the field of normal language and the key to the name God; finally, the soul must forget God himself, as all living creature is driven by the very thought of Him, and can only escape this drive through oblivion. Thus, the session went from the changing of an institution’s past to the aim of total oblivion in God, and from the annihilation of personal knowledge to the reshaping of individually conceived images (SB).
“Diana and all her Sect”: Remembering Women Warriors (session 526)
Speaker: Rebecca Hill, Kim McNelly, Gabriel Wassermann
The session series (four sessions of which the reporter only attempts to write up the first one) questioned over all the intersection between race and strong female figures. Under the preliminary hashtag #TeamDiana thoughts had been exchanged ahead of time via social media. The following sessions featured talks on women as Knights, Zenobia, Aucassin & Nicolette etc.
The first speaker, Rebecca Hill on Reviving Dihya, the Once and Future Queen of the Berbers, introduced the audience to the figure of Dihya, a Berber woman warrior leading the resistance against the Ummayad conquest in the Maghreb (nowadays Algeria, Marocco, and Tunesia). The historical figure dies eventually around 702/703, though it remains uncertain whether by poison, beheading, capture… The talk analyses the literary figure of Dihya (sometimes still spelled in tifinagh writing) as “patron saint”, “warrior queen” and symbol of “free people” or, on the opposite, as “Al-Kahina”, translatable as “seer” or rather “witch” depending on the political instrumentalization and narrative context. In Islamic medieval chronicle tradition, Dihya was descending from the Berber King Aksel (d. 690), stylized as maybe Christian or associated with Jews; the aim was to give her a bad image because she resisted the Arab expansion. The French colonials feature her as Roman and in their depiction (i.e. Lecomte-Vernet) glorify her as a strong female warrior figure, as the leader of the free folk against the Arab invasion. During the struggle against the colonial empire, salafist movements draw back on her in an attempt to find examples of leaders before colonialism. Her figure gets depicted as a semite Berber, and the question whether she converted to Islam rose. Her role as a mother figure, protecting her land for her son and for her people aimed at turning her into a protector and point of rally against the French colons and the local Frenchified elites and raising a national consciousness in the Maghreb. So after the independence, Dihya starts a new life as a literary figure for women in their fights against the repression of rights and the oppressive patriarchy as a symbol for a time where women had agency and rights; her Berber identity gets played out against Arabization in ethnic political movements. Dihya’s figure gets used by many for political instrumentalization; the „real Dihya“, though, the historical figure, remains unknown.
The second speaker, Kim McNelly, took the audience to medieval Japan with her talk In the family Way: Containing the Power of Female Japanese Warriors in which she examins how female warriors with superhuman powers are interpreted in their context: these strong characters work as daughter, wife or mother on a „gendered timeline“ in a patrilinear system that manages to contain and control these women. The speaker draws on two examples. 1) The legendary empress Jingū: known from chronicles around 169-269 CE, she was an imperial ruler, known for a (fictional) invasion of the Korean peninsula on behalf of her husband while pregnant due to a prophecy told to the emperor stating that their son shall rule the promised land. Her female identity gets blurred by her masculine transformation and cross dressing interpreted as an expression of her liminal state: as a female warrior, she is not a wife, not yet a mother, while her son, the promised rules, acts through her. Once the invasion finished, she resumes her female identity and will never become the souvereign – she gets never even called tenno. 2) In the Tale of the Crescend Moon of the twelfth century character Minamoto no Tametomo, two female figures play the most important role: Shiranui, a warrior, and Nei, a princess. Shiranui is depicted using naginata martial art for revening her husband thought dead; and even torture on an enemy in a domestic context in which violence in the gendered space by her and her ladies in waiting is possible. In a nineteenth century retelling, Shiranui sacrifices herself during a storm to safe her husband’s life, but her ghost still protects him and inhabits his new wife, the princess Nei, sort of blending together the two female identities. The speaker insists on the writing context in the nineteenth century retelling of the Shiranui storyline and the changing social status of women in Japanese society: while medieval women stayed in their families even if married, more as daughter than wife (with a right for the husband to visit), the narrative eventually follows a later pattern where Shiranui is more wife than daughter but a warrior class wife and mother with the right to fight. Despite the hybridity of identities showcased in the two examples and the possibility of women to use violence in the case of need, it remains a masculine attribute and as soon as order is restored, and female warriors are pushed back into their female roles. Violence is used as a self defence on behalf on male relative; its liminal status allows to extent power that later relinquishes again and goes back to patrilinear context.
In the last talk of the session, Gabriel Wassermann analyses Judith as Jewish Heroine in the Medieval European Synagogue with the initial depiction of the Rothschild Miscellanae from 1479. To illuminate a biblical poem for Hanukkah, two warrior figures are shown: Judaa Maccabeus with his shield, and Judith Holofernes in the domestic context of a tent. The speaker introduces the audience in details to the variety of narrative changes and textual transmissions. I.e. the Book of Judith was written in the sixth century BC, originating from a Jewish context but written in Greek; the transmission of the Vulgate has minor changes. Somehow in this process, Judith gets associated with the origins of Hanukkah; “Judith” meaning “Judean woman”. The Tale of two Women from tenth century Southern Italy marks the “reclaiming” of the story preserved via Christians by the Jews reading Greek and Latin. Via piyyutim (liturgical poetry), the Judith story line gets integrated in the sacred liturgy; a few variations of texts do exist, for example the Ahavvekhem Shema’uni from eleventh century France.
The discussion questioned the use of images in all three talks. Another set of questions focussed on the status of these warrior women, with the example of an institutionalized female warrior art possible for women. To whether the female warrior was a mere revenge trope of a „warrior by accident“ in case of defense against an aggression, the speaker underlined that none (except the Japanese case) were proactively inhabiting their warrior identity, but still had a codified right to become warriors and were accepted as models. While Dihya was responding to an aggression, Japanese martial art for women tended to include only defensive fighting skills or the defense of a castle by women, Judith on the contrary was acting on behalf of her own agency. (vk)
A Digital Key to Matthew Parker’s Legacy: New Contributions through Parker on the Web 2.0 (Session 538)
Speakers: Alexander Devine, Trisha O’Connor, Stewart Brookes
In his paper “Matthew Parker’s Library: ‚The chief treasury of his manuscripts‘ as resource Collection and Digital Resource“ (538-a) Alexander Devine presented the Parker Library. Matthew Parker was the most influential collector of the 17th century, who collected more than 1000 early printed books, and also a lot of manuscripts. In the first part of his talk, Devine analysed, what Parker actually collected and why. Parker prefered vernacular manuscripts, especially chronicles and histories, which served him as documentary evidence for the continuity of English church. Hence, there seems to be an overall ideological agenda underlying his collection. The second part focused on the Parker Library as a digital resource, whose early prototype was launched as early as 2009, with a massive update to version 2.0 in 2018. Images are now freely available under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence, and are IIIF compatible. Future plan include to improve the metadata, provide downloads and to integrate a transcription plattform for teaching purpose.
Trisha O’Connor presented her PhD project. In her talk, she focused on “Marginalia, Memory and Metadata in Cambridge, MS 4“, which is an 11th century manuscript containing a multitude of marginal texts, interlinear glosses, marginal notes, and even doodles. Whereas former research claimed the text added in the margins to be unconnected to the main Bede text, O‘Connor could – by taking a systematic approach to the study of the marginalia also based on theories about memoria – convincingly demonstrate, that there seems to be a fundamental system underlying the compilation of the manuscript.
The final paper (538-c: An Eye For An Eye: IIIF, Archetype, and Parker Too) of this stunning session was given by Stewart Brookes, who presented various recent developments concerning digital assets/services to the study of medieval manuscripts which have been digitized. Digitization thus means accessibility, sharing, scholarly interchange, and even the possibility to bring dispersed manuscripts together. A huge part of the presentation was used for a live demonstration of the IIIF-compatible Mirador viewer, which allows to just drag images from different sources into the viewer to compare, and also manipulate, and annotated them. Also DayenuPal and Archetype were included in the live demonstration.
The passion and enthusiasm of all presenters for their research topics was clearly noticeable, and was also reflected in the lively discussion that revolved around various aspects of the new digital possibilities. (DS)
Disaster Memory in the Middle Ages I (Session 549)
Organizer: Christian Rohr
Speakers: Chantal Camenisch, Kathleen Pribyl, Christian Rohr
In the first paper of the session, Chantal Camenisch talked about Disaster Memory in the Norman Historiography from 1000-1550, whereby she focused on the city of Rouen and its chronicles to investigate the historiographical description of natural extreme events.
Because of its river, Seine, which was – due to the near sea – also the object of strong tides, floods as well as ice jams were the most relevant natural hazards for this town. Camenisch observed that floods were often mentioned in the context of miracles, especially related to Saint Roman, who was reported to have successfully commanded a flood to leave the town, during his lifetime. Therefore his relics where successfully used for the protection against floods in later times, as the Deux chroniques de Rouen report for 1296. Other chronicles containing accounts about natural extreme events in Rouen are the one of Orderic Vitalis and the chonicle supposedly written by Pierre Cochon.
In her conclusion, Camenisch stressed the different perspectives of chronicles written either by monks or merchants. Whereby in the older texts, mostly written within a monastical content, natural extreme events were often described in the context of miracles and seen mainly as a punishment of God, in later times the descriptions became more frequent and took less reference to a Godly punishment. All in all, how often and in which detail a chronicler reported about natural extreme events was mainly determined by his personal interest in these phenomena as well as his temporal vicinity to the event, as eyewitnesses normally provided the most detailed accounts.
The second speaker, Kathleen Pribyl gave a talk about The Great Famine and the Cattle Plague and the Interest in Astrometeorology in 14th Century England. By reference to grain prices, she showed that, while directly after the Great Famine, a recovery of the prices can be observed, from 1320/21 onwards they went up again. In contrast to the former years of dearness, there are no clear climatological explanations for this second rise of prices. However, between 1319 and 1321, the country was striken by a severe cattle plague, which resulted in a lack of ploughing animals.
The relation to astrometeorology was established through the works of several scholars of this discipline, who tried to compile weather forecasts on the basis of the characters of the planets, which were associated with certain weather conditions. Since the 13th century, these astrometeorologists also compiled weather diaries for the sake of the justification of their previously made forecasts. One of them was William Merle, who wrote such a diary for the years 1337-1344 and also published a weather forecast in which he combined astrometeorology with farmer’s rules and hereby linked his interest in meteorology to agriculture. Not only did he focus himself on humidity, which actually represented the greatest risk for wheat cultivation in England, but he also rightfully stressed the lack of ploughing as a factor for bad harvests.
The last paper of the session with the title Flood Marks as Relics of Medieval Disaster Memory Culture in Central Europe was given by session organizer Christian Rohr. Besides some basics about historical hydrology and its sources, he presented seven parameters which he sees as crucial for the perception of a natural hazard as disaster: Helplessness, lack of satisfying explanations, material and personal suffering, unexpectedness, serial occurrence and therefore increased vulnerability, symbolic (e.g. biblical) interpretation patterns, and general predicament (e.g. caused by simultaneous economic, religious and climatic crises). According to Rohr, if three or four of these are applicable, the event was probably perceived as a crisis.
Flood marks, for which he showed several examples and which were always installed in well visible places, are to be mainly understood as signs of memory for specific events or general memento naturae. Therefore they where often moved over time, which constitutes a problem for modern hydrological research, but didn’t constrain their historical function.
In the last part of his talk, Rohr gave an outlook into today’s dealing with historical flood marks as well as new forms of memory culture, for which he cited a blog about the 2005 flood in Bern as well as the website ueberschwemmungsgedaechtnis.ch, which functions as a collective flood memory project and can be seen as a modern collection of flood marks. (AE)
„Manus-on manuscripts, I: Visual collation – A Workshop (Session 553)
This session was led by Dorothy Carr Porter, Curator of Digital Research Services at the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies. She gave an overwiev of digital collation resources and how they can be utilized when studying a codex and its foliation using the programme VisColl. VisColl is used for building models of the physical collation of manuscripts and the visualisation of these manuscripts in various ways. It’s especially for scholarly and institutional use and focus on the order of the quires in a manuscript. It’s a way to model the books, take them digitally apart and look at them. The programme deals with which leaves are attached to other leaves and will result in a quire diagramme with synoptical representations. The idea behind VisColl is to create a model of the manuscript. The data model is the heart of the VisColl tool, because of the shared date model on which everyone can create their own tools, such as a modelling tool and a visualization tool. Everyone can set the model up to create their own formula of quires. This programme is free and available for anyone to use. Porter started with a walk-through of the programme and showed how easily the folio numbering can be changed. The progamme will also create a xml computer code but the user is not forced to work with that. An updated model is coming up wich includes taxonomy, a programme for miniatures, lists of texts, information on parchment/paper, hair/flesh sides of manuscripts and more complex physical structures. It is also possible to work on early printed books with this new version. During the following workshop, the participants were able to use this programme and see for themselves how it works and how it could apply to their own research. (AB)
Glossing Books, II: Teachers and Students Annotating Pages (Session 619)
Speakers: Jesse Keskiaho, Mariken Teeuwen, Erik Kwakkel
The section was the second section of two dedicated to glossing books. Glosses are an excellent source for studying the practice of reading and writing. How did readers use books? Which topics were of interest to readers? Which tools, e.g. in the sense of reading aids, were used to make them suitable for reading?
In the first lecture of the section, Jesse Keskiaho dealt with late antique and early medieval annotations to City of God by Augustine (619-a: Late Antique and Early Medieval Annotations to Augustine’s City of God). As numerous annotations prove, the text has been intensively studied and commented. Based on the analysis of the first 10 books, Keskiaho demonstrated what particularly interested the former readers and to what extent the interests of late antique and early medieval users differ. The glosses, which are not only content-related, but often text-critical comments (e.g. on variants), certainly show similarities but also differences. In the Carolingian manuscripts there are numerous notes on textual variants, which obviously do not reflect the interests of readers. But readers seem to have been particularly interested in passages dealing with murder and suicide or with the question of whether these can be justified during this period.
In the second paper of the section, given by Mariken Teeuwen (619-b: Reading Boethius around 900), the annotation of Boethius was discussed. Boethius is the ultimate teacher, especially through his moral instruction and argumentation, who was considered an authority not only by scholars but also by students. His popularity is clearly reflected in the numerous annotated manuscripts. Some were prepared for annotation from the very beginning by leaving a particularly wide margin. A rough distinction can be made between manuscripts whose annotations were planned and systematically (and neatly) executed, and those that were annotated ad hoc. The Parisinus 12949 from the 10th century is an example of the latter approach. It contains a collection that focuses on logic. In the extremely wide margins, particularly dense annotations, with glosses in different directions, and also diagrams schematizing the textual content can be found. Furthermore there are inserted sheets, which partly support the contents of the main text, but partly contradict it.
The final paper (619-c: Annotating textbooks: making the Corpus Vetustius in the 13th-century) was given by Erik Kwakkel. He presented his current and future project, which is just out of its infancy. The Corpus Vetustius consists of at least 9 standard texts on natural philosophy and has come down to us in about 96 surviving copies. These share some common features such as split running titles and the division of the text with the lecture parts for the teacher. There are also special types of tie marks (circles and lines) and an extended marginal space (65-80% blank) for annotation. These features then seem to have been applied to manuscripts from other scientific domains such as law. As part of commercial book production, scribes probably prepared a certain codicological model with specific annotation zones (but with potential deviations) for the students that were their customers. Within the 13th century, the size of the Corpus Vetustius manuscripts increase – and with it the annotation space. These manuscripts can hardly be carried to class because of their size and weight, making it probable that students took schedula with notes from the classroom, to put or copy them into their manuscripts. Or they might have just carried the quire they needed to class. Since many annotations are so close to the fold, these manuscripts seem to have been kept unbound. An annotation generally started on the same height as the text it annotated. Therefore, the margin was most often divided into columns, to allow for more than one annotation at a certain height. One future area of research will – among other things – deal with the questions, whether there is a relation between the choice of location and content of an annotation, and also how the package of features did migrate.
The section, which aroused a lively discussion, was able to show that glosses are indeed a rich source for the study of intellectual history. (DS)
Save the Date!: Conflicting Ideas about the Quality of Time in Memory and for Prognosis, II (session 636)
Speaker: Ria Paroubek-Groenewoud, Annemarie Veenstra, Carine van Rhijn
In her first talk, There will be blood…: Deciding on the Best and Worst Day to Let Blood in Carolingian Times, Ria Paroubek-Groenewoud takes a stance against “traditional” historiography in which prognostic and medical text were considered as pagan knowledge for the early medieval ages. This talk wants to focus on the fact that the Carolingians had knowledge from numerous source available: Roman antiquity, Near East or Merovingian Gaul. This knowledge was complicated, sometimes contradicting, and never harmonious, and thus difficult of approach. The speaker introduces several types of ninth century manuscripts on hygienic guideline: for health, for appropriate food and drink depending on the seasons or the days or even months, but also for recommendations to let or not let blood. Blood letting was known early, but in Carolingian times it gained importance as it can be seen from the several guidelines in use, sometimes collected in the same manuscripts: over 40 manuscripts from the ninth century survive, plus a few tenth century manuscripts. Several manuals and methods for calculating and recommendations of blood letting emerge: The Regimen; Blood Letting Lunary; the Egyptian Days (calculation of unhappy days, see next talk); the Dog Days. The function of those manuals was to identify the days that were (un)suitable for blood letting; all methods needed calculating and computistic knowledge, otherwise letting blood could be too dangerous. Thus, the speaker insists that learning on when to let blood was a knowledge for the learned. Some hypotheses were formulated, since nevertheless, sometimes manuals were contradicting each other, which raises the question on how to decide. But maybe this difficulty was not obvious for a medieval reader, since all methods were included in the manuscript, and since knowing all kinds of calculations was crucial to finding the ideal day and cure for the patient.
In her talk on Be Still and Wait for Better Times: Unlucky Days in Early Medieval Manuscripts, speaker Annemarie Veenstra examins the so-called Egyptian days: in the ninth century, those were considered cursed and evil days. Even though their etymology is unknown, this type of unhappy days was known in antiquity. While Dog Days were connected to the computus, Egyptian Days and their bad luck were associated with superstition and concerned a wide range of features: marriage, war, diet. But Egyptian Days were notoriously unfortunate when it came to medicine or health, trending towards mortal danger. The best solution was just to wait it out! Some medieval scholars warned against the superstition, nevertheless, over 40 manuscripts with Egyptian Days are extant, and since the work is in progress more manuscripts are likely to come up. The manuscript corpus features different methods of calculating the Egyptian Days: 1) some were on set days: the textual evidence sometimes doesn’t even have an intro nor title. This suggests that these calculations were common knowledge, and maybe even memorized with mnemonic verses. 2) Determination of Egyptian Days by weekdays: they occur three times a year, and on Mondays only. Since there were no variations, the texts explained how to calculate them. 3) Calculating depending on the day of the lunar month: in five nine century texts following the Gregorian calendar, there can be 34 (or 35) Egyptian days in the lunar cycle. This high variation was depending on the text, and sometimes on the calculation of the days in combination with other calculation methods, i.e. for set days. In general, the texts explaining the calculation of Egyptian Days often appear together, which let to the hypotheses that combinations of calculation and the use of multiple calculation methods was practiced. Because the information gained via those processes was not easy to use, complementary knowledge was necessary which suggests that the texts were used by the learned. Marginalia with a different calculation shows that indeed different methods could co-exists and references to different methods were supposed to be complementary to each other; thus it appears that no method was deemed superior. The computus was a prerequisition to find out how time affected human life; a strict border between good and bad sciences was blurred.
In the last talk, Carine van Rhijn spoke on As sure as the Sun will rise? Dealing with Conflicting Ideas about Days and Times in the Carolingian Period with the general theme on reconstructing knowledge, copy and compilation and the study of knowledge. The fact that knowledge came to the Carolingian scriptoria from different contexts and from difference realms raises the question on the world of thoughts, “a mixed bag” of sometiemes strange and contemporary ideas. The talk explored how people worked with those texts and how medieval scholars dealt with the possible variations. The example used is the date of March 25th, a highly important date in the Christian calendar since it marks the creation of the world on a Sunday. It is also the Spring equinox and thus a full moon, and a date on which many events important to the Christian history enfolded, like the Announciation of the Virgin Mary, the conception of Christ, the Crucifiction and the passion of Christ. When applying prognostic methods to the date, it turns out to be an Egyptian Day, so a highly unlucky day. And even if calculating from the lunar cycle, it appears as not being a good day for blood letting. If the computus method gave reliable and correct knowledge without superstition, it clashed with the other methods. How then was it possible to discuss the “right way” ? Since the correct Easter date was so essential to Christians’s scholars, some prognostic methods were condemned by scholars as deemed as unfit for Christian traditions, rejected as paganism and superstition close to magical methods, which all had to be avoided, i.e. the night sky observation was deemed dangerous for the soul in some patristic tradition. But at the same time, prognostic texts were accepted if associated with the computus. The speaker underlines that neither position was dominant, and that “precarious knowledge” (coined by Martin Mulsow) existed as a sort of grey area. The speaker shows that medieval scholars were open to experiment and doubt and that no fixed categories of good and bad existed. For example in prognostic texts, almost none has been crossed out (one exception from an eleventh century intervention), no content warning was formulated, and the prognostic texts were treated the same as authorized pastoral knowledge and early medieval scholars could consult all these texts. Her corpus contains over 200 manuscripts with 600 prognostic texts, but again, this collection is work in progress. The speaker concludes by making a point to take these text serious since they coexisted in parallel to other knowledge, and that it was by far not a harmonious corpus. Finally, it was suggested that no general disapproval stemmed from the fact that time always carried layers of meaning for health, salvation, or luck. The methods only clashed with Good Christianity and were deemed dangerous only when it came to important Christian feasts.
The Q&A brought up some complementary sources and anecdotes on the importance of the calculation of dates for medieval reasons. A lively discussion araised as to know why the changes in the ninth century were so massive, as the manuscript evidence shows. It was suggested that the transfer of knowledge available and the higher amount of people involved in the learned spheres was to consider. Another strand of questions revolved around the practical use of blood letting manuals and the use of the calculation methods, and it seems as if calculations of days was an information the doctors took into consideration. Also, calculation texts served for educative purpose, a sort of background knowledge learned and memorized. (vk)
Remembering the Past after the Carolingian Empire, II: Learning and Liturgy (Session 639)
Speakers: Erik Niblaeus, Sarah M. Hamilton, Robert Gallagher
639-a: The Birth of the Breviary: Reorganising the Divine Office in the 11th Century
Erik Niblaeus began his paper with a short introduction of breviaries which he described as an ‘amalgamation’ of other liturgical books that contain hymns, chants, readings, and prayers. His aim was to ask how and why these breviaries were established before they got in frequent use in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He made two preliminary observations, namely first that breviaries came into existence at different places across Europe roughly at the same time without there being a single origin, and, second, that breviaries were more frequent before 1200 than scholarship recognized until now. Most of the breviaries took one type of liturgical book as a base (e.g. a lectionary) and augmented other types of liturgical texts to it. Thus, the process was not mainly about abbreviating, but rather about fixing the texts – Niblaeus used the term ‘juxtaposed breviaries’. As to why breviaries were introduced, he presented three pathways: 1) an economic or pragmatic explanation, since you had many books fitted in to one; 2) a move from a more oral to a more textual liturgical culture – with the caveat that breviaries might not only have been used for the Mass, but also for private use; 3) in connection with eleventh-century reforms. Niblaeus concluded by saying that all three of these pathways were relevant for the birth of the breviary (a term not used by the texts themselves).
639-b: ‘What they should most understand’: Educating the Pastoral Clergy in the Post-Carolingian World
Sarah Hamilton looked at different texts about episcopal preparation for the ordination of priests in order to ask what the legacy of the 9th century meant for the 10th and 11th centuries. Although authors like Regino of Prüm and Burchard of Worms reproduced earlier texts, they put in some new details, especially on the practicalities of the priests’ preparation for the exams before the ordination. The same is valid for Anglo-Saxon Pontificals (Hamilton’s examples were the ‘Dunstan’ Pontifical and BL Junius 121, a manuscript connected with bishop Wulfstan of Worcester), where the examination is presented in even more detail (and lasts four weeks, not only three days as in Regino’s work). The Anglo-Saxon texts tend to be more pessimistic on the educational level of the priests, since also ‘half-educated men’ should be ordained, if need be, but they should then of course be further educated afterwards. Her last example, Rather of Verona, revealed conflicts over the interpretation of Carolingian texts in Verona. Hamilton pointed out that the 9th century legacy was used differently and bishops adapted the material to their needs and circumstances.
639-c: Old Books in a New Age: The Reuse of Continental Manuscripts in 10th-Century England
Robert Gallagher looked at the use of Carolingian manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon England, c.900–940. In the first part of his paper he presented a list of 26 manuscripts, admitting that both the dating and the claim for Anglo-Saxon use rest upon palaeographic evidence and are thus debatable. Especially the presence of Anglo-Saxon script (as marginal notes, for instance) is no proof for the manuscript to have been in England at some point, since the scribes could have travelled to the Continent as well. The second part of the paper focused on one specific manuscript: BL Cotton Vespasian D.xiv, written in north-eastern France at the beginning of the 9th century. It seems to have come to England by 912 and is known to have been at Canterbury in the 12th century. A marginal note in this manuscript hints at a possible assignment to a step-daughter. In the discussion it was pointed out that some of the manuscripts might have been produced on the Continent in order to export them to England. (DW)
Disaster Memory in the Middle Ages II (Session 649)
Organizer: Christian Rohr
Speakers: Heli Huhtamaa, Feyza Doğruyol
The first speaker in this session was Heli Huhtamaa, who presented a paper about Christopher of Bavaria and Climate-Related Crises in the Light of Memory of Nature. Sweden in the Mid-15th Century. She investigated if Christopher of Bavaria (1441-1448), who was remembered as “the bark king” in the Karlskrönikan, gained this nickname rightfully. As it refers to bark bread, a typical Swedish famine food made of dried and grounded pine cambium, the main question therefore was if there had been severe crop failures causing famine during his reign in the 1440s.
While there are some records for crop failure and famine to be found in contemporary correspondence as well as in descriptive sources, Huhtamaa showed that the grain prices showed no significant signal and also reconstructions from tree rings, which are sensitive to temperature, precipitation and light availability, fail to show any evidence for a climate crisis during this time.
As possible explanations for this contradictory evidence Huhtamaa presented two different possibilities: Either the society had been less resilient in this time and therefore sensitive for relatively small climatic deviations and subsequent crop failures, or the nickname is only owed to a agenda of Christopher’s successors to remember him as a bad king. Either way, she reminded us that while tree-rings are a good proxy for crop failure, they aren’t capable of showing famine, as that is a societal phenomenon. And similarly, written records of famine cannot be directly interpreted as years of cold climate and crop failure.
The second paper of Feyza Doğruyol left the field of natural disasters and dealed with The Memory of Social Disaster in the works of the 12th Century Badî Scholar Abu Yaqub Yusuf B. Ibrahim Al-Warjalanî. The protagonist lived from 1106-1175, belonged to the Ibadiyyah sect and worked in a great variety of different scientific branches as a scholar. In his hometown, Warjalan, the social situation was very complex, due to different races and classes, the invasion of tribes and several social uprisings. Therefore, he investigated the reasons for social disasters, which, in his opinion, generally occurred due to a failure to obey God’s rules and generally had more severe consequences than natural ones. (AE)
Games and Visual Culture I (session 705)
Speaker: Madeline Walsh, Annemarieke Willemsen, Julie Mell
The two sessions (see also session 805) dedicated to medieval gaming culture discussed the connection between play at large its visual and material aspects. They are part of a larger sessions‘ series started in Kalamazoo 2017. In the first talk, Madeline Walsh’s paper entitled Cultural Transmissions: Gaming Pieces in Action focussed on artisans, workshops and the itinerancy of gaming pieces and styles all through the world and Europe. Games are an evidence of the cultural transmission, they allow to study leisure and are repositories of social interactions. Gaming pieces are also symbolic artefacts, tokens of escapism and an evidence of the everyday representation of the social and political roles. The speaker showed maps she created based on archaeological evidence (and probably displayed on academia soon), highlighting the variations in material (amber, bone, ivory, crystal) used for playthings. Unfortunately, some material remained in an anaerobic environment received severe damage after excavation. The speaker then presented her hypotheses on the forms, i.e. that abstract figures were more easy to reproduce and transfer. She highlighted how the trade routes were relevant for teh circulation these playthings. The question on whether the artist’s agency, displayed on the examples of Trondheim excavations and the Lewis chess pieces, was rather based on creativity or on the control of a “proto guild” style commission must remain open, making it hard to locate the production site and the production context.
In her talk Children’s toys in Medieval Italy, speaker Annemarieke Willemsen presented her corpus of visual evidence and objects explicitly made and meant as toys for children from 1350 to around 1550, a corpus collected over twenty years of research. Among those toys, balls, whirling hoops, hobby horses and dolls can be found on mural paintings, manuscripts, ceramics etc. Some paintings refer to the artistic trope of the “age of man”, where “infancia” is represented by a male child with a toy (i.e. the floor of the Duomo of Siena, ca 1450). Sometimes, the seven “ages of man” are associated with the seven planets, and the seven liberal arts; the child can be depicted riding a hobby horse or spinning bob; boys are generally depicted with a hobby horse while the girls hold a doll or pull a doll card. Urban excavations also show toy’s evidence. A very rich source are birth trays depicting a (always male) child. These trays were kept as a souvenir, their commemorative aspects gets enhanced by the association of the family’s coat of arms, highlighting the connection of the family and child and their common future. On these majolica, the boy often holds a wind mill, and gradually turns into a Cupid figure with wings. These cupids and the windmill can also be found on manuscript margins or in sixteenth century in monumental art. In her last part, the speaker analysed the painting Sala dei gioci that depict a lot of different children’s toys, highlighting the vulnerability of children and their high mortality in the contemporary society in a plague context. It also shows the rise of specialised objects dedicated to children and the preoccupation on the health of male children as guarantee for the family’s future.
In the next talk, speaker Julie Mell took the audience to the Orkney Islands with Graffiti as Gaming: Viking Play in Ancient Spaces. Generally speaking, graffiti are considered as means of expression even if we mostly lack the textual meaning. But the cultural meanings are multiple, as an act of writing, of marking space, of performative act close to “speech acts” defined by Austin, and here considered as “text as act” in the act of gaming. She analyses this with the example of Maeshowe in Orkney from the Neolithic era 1200 BC. Runes outside on the cairn are not preserved. The “passage grave” was opened in 1861 but bears traces of earlier intrusions. The speaker presented the typology of graffiti extant in the chambered cairn: dragons, four names, around ten graffitis with crosses, and several with short texts responding to each other (i.e. about the placement of a treasure), and thus become objects of their own bridging the interior space in a sort of secret code read here as a performative element. Some runes write the wrong way around, some run vertically up the wall, some include pseudo runes and engage with the space. For the speaker, making these graffiti in Maeshowe was like gaming: they are a signs of entertainment, but also bear a competitive element, a test of bravery, skill, and competence just as defined by Huizinga’s Homo ludens. Graffiti as cultural practice can be found all over Scandinavia, where entering a mount and carving is considered taking up the challenge as a sort of multi player game played over twelve centuries.
The Q&A discussed questions about the cultural comparison of the showcased examples on gendered approaches to toys. For the report Games and Visual II (session 805) see below. (vk)
Memories of Nation, Medieval and Modern, III: 19th-Century Nationalism and the Middle Ages (Session 727)
Speakers: Laura K. Morreale, Vanessa Iacocca, Daniel Wollenberg
This session was the third part of a panel that intended to discuss how people collectively remember their past and how this created or reshaped the political realities of theier present times. The period under discussion in these sessions was the 19th century during which “the nation and its origins” were an intensely discussed subject. This aim of this particular session within the panel was to discuss the ways in which 19th-century scholars and politicians engaged with medieval sources to produce and bolster national identity, remaking medieval realities to suit present needs.
The first example of such a 19th-century construction of a national identity was given by Laura K. Morreale in her talk with the title: “Creating a Golden Age for Italy: Medieval Histories and Historians in the Age of Nationalism“. Although the political condition of Italy during the Middle Ages has to be described as fractured there were (and are) attempts to find connective elements in order to be able to write an “Italian history of the Middle Ages”. Particularly influential in this respect was the historiographer Pasquale Villari (1827-1917) who used the concept of the “ancient originality of the Italian mind” for this purpose. In addition, the political constitution of the medieval Italian communes was generally considered by him as the ideal form of ruling. With these two constructions Villari attempted to “excuse” the late introduction of a “national” kingdom in Italy compared to France or England.
The second talk by Vanessa Iacocca, “From the Golden Horns to Gunnar Hámundarson: Medievalism in the Danish and Icelandic Nationalist Movements”, focused on the intertwined developments in Denmark and Iceland which both relied heavily on the construction of a “Golden Age” during the Viking and Early Medieval period particularly drawing on the Old Norse Sagas. The “discovery” of a distinct Icelandic Volksgeist – though related to that of Denmark – even led to the gradual granting of independence of Iceland from Denmark which found its completion in the complete political independence of Iceland in 1944.
The concluding talk of the session was held by Daniel Wollenberg and had the title “Anti-Enlightenment, Nationalism, and Medieval Studies”. Starting with the philosophical basis of National Romanticism as provided by Johann Gottfried Herder Wollenberg reviewed the points of contact between (mainly anglophone) medieval studies and nationalism during the 19th and 20th centuries. He ended his talk with the question, how much nationalism is still prevailing within medieval studies, prompting every medievalist to ask him-/herself how much she/he still views history through the lens of nationalistic concepts. This altogether negative identification of nationalism as “evil” aroused some opposition during the discussion. There, it was pointed out that many colonial liberation movements had been driven by national(istic) ideas and concepts and it was further questioned if the political stance of an historian should be treated with an ethical impetus or if this should rather be left aside when discussing history on an academic level. (CO)
Remembering the Past after the Carolingian Empire, III: Memories of Rule, Acts of Authority (Session 739)
Speakers: Edoardo Manarini, Stuart Airlie, Alice Hicklin
739-a: A Memory in Between: Using or Not Using the Carolingian Past in the 9th- and early 10th-Century Nonantola’s Abbey
Edoardo Manarini asked if and how the reminiscence of Carolingian rulers mattered to the Abbey of Nonantula in Northern Italy, a powerhouse in Carolingian times which had to face a loss of importance from the mid of the 9th century. He looked at charters where the monks explicitly referred to all of the Carolingian rulers which had granted them privileges in order to maintain their position. This is also important with regard to the symbolic-performative character of the charters. Interestingly, in the times of Berengar I at the end of the 9th century, the reference is only to the Lombard and Frankish kings in general, without giving their names. In sum, Manarini argued for a dynamic relationship between the abbey and kings, as the charters could also be used by the kings in order to stress their legitimacy by referring back to the Caroligian rulers.
739-b: ‘Zum Raum wird hier die Zeit’: Place, Memory, and Text in the Annals of Quedlinburg
Stuart Airlie looked at the annals of Quedlinburg, which he thinks of as a chronicle as well as a post-Carolingian text. The latter means that the author, probably a canoness of Quedlinburg, did not put the Carolingians in the centre of her narrative. Airlie demonstrated that by the example of dynasties: Neither the crisis of 888 nor the end of the Carolingian family in 911 (for the East-Frankish kingdom) and 987 (for Western Francia), respectively, is mentioned as a dynastic change in the text, as opposed to the end of the Merovingians. The term ‘Carolingian‘ (Carolingi) ist not used in a dynastic sence at all, but rather with the meaning of ‘West-Frankish’ (in accordance with other texts of the time). Finally, Airlie argued that the Quedlinburg annals are a ‘Palace text’, since the palaces figure prominently, even if they are not always labeled palatium. It seems, then, that the author wanted to stress the significance of Quedlinburg, partly in competition with the new institution at Bamberg.
739-c: What’s in a Name?: The Use, Deletion and Alteration of Royal Appellations in Diplomata from Henry I to Conrad II
Turning back to charters, Alice Hicklin analysed an impressive range of royal diplomas, looking at the naming of the kings’ predecessors. She could show that the Merovingians were more and more left out, whereas prominent kings like Charlemagne gained more credit. Additionally, references to the immediate predecessor get more frequent, and in the diplomas of Henry II and Conrad II, the three Ottos appear often collectively (and Otto II nearly disappears). Hicklin then presented some preliminary reflections upon the circumstances and the meaning of these findings. She took the charters for Halberstadt and Lorsch as examples and finally presented one instance where a omission for ‘political’ reasons can be seen. In charter for Brescia issued by Otto I, both Berengar II and Adalbert were not mentioned, although the text is based on a charter by Berengar and Adalbert and lists all previous kings. Hicklin argued that the selection of rulers’ names in the charters probably was a process where both the king (and the chancery) as well as the recipients were involved. (DW)
Games and Visual Culture II (session 805)
Speaker: Anna Schubert, Lisa Mahoney, Michael A. Conrad
This session is the follow up on the previous Game and Visual Culture I session (session 705, reported above), focusing on games through an art historical approach. The first speaker, Anna Schubert, analysed in her talk on Liturgical Book, Reliquary, or Memorial?: Chess as the Central Motif of the Book Cover of Duke Otto the Mild of Braunschweig the entanglements of object, donation, and its visual and symbolic value of chess. Surprisingly, chess is a central motif on the book cover of a plenary (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Inv. Nr. W 32), made as a reliquary for the fragments of the True Cross in 1339, and donated by Duke Otto the Mild of Braunschweig and his wife Agnes. This donation was emphasizing the courtly sphere and the royal symbolism of it, referring to the donors as a ruling couple. On this book cover, the outer circle consists of 30 squares resembling a chess board. The outer scenes display fight scenes and the Queen, mirroring the idealized gendered feudal society and the moral interpretation of chess in vigour since Cessolis. In the inner circle, six squares refer to the knightly sphere, as well as the evangelists. Playing with chess and with the social roles is very obvious here: knight, bishop, and evangelists carry a sacred meaning, and work together on the reliquary just as in chess and in their supposed feudal role. While the bishop is an advisor to the King and as such as important as the knight, the King is surprisingly absent from the game. The speaker suggests that the cross, at the centre of the reliquary, represents the sacred king. Over all, this iconic assemblage shows a very conscious choice of the alliance of the clergy and the court in an idealized society; through the relic cult, the donor couple memorized also their own role.
In her talk “The lot is cast in the lap, but its every decision is by the Lord”: Gaming’s role in Representations of the Passion, speaker Lisa Mahoney analyses the prominent display of the casting of lots in the representation of the crucifixion in the mid twelfth century chapel of St. Mary and St. Clemens in Schwarzrheindorf (close to Bonn, Germany). Dices are a very multi layered object of study that can be analysed for its materiality (ivory…), for their moral value (rejection by the church), and in a metaphorical meaning in art history. In the latter, the representation of the three soldiers casting lots for Jesus’s seamless tunic is a very popular motive attached to the passion. In the visual programme of the Schwarzrheindorf paintings, the lots are not represented, the scene is nevertheless iconic and identifiable. It is astonishing that the visual programme that depicts only three scenes of Jesus‘ life includes this particular scene of the casting of lots. For this, the speaker turns to the rest of the iconographical programme shown in the Schwarzrheindorf chapel: the revelation of John and Ezekiel. The visual programme bears close inspirations from the contemporary theological writings of Rupert from Deutz. This cycle in the upper vault can be seen from the lower chapel, as a sort of revelation of the divine, filling the “seeing” with all its literal, allegorical, liturgical, and spiritual senses. It mirrors the divine appearance in the life of Jesus. In the play together with the upper and lower level of the chapel, the moral condemnation of the players as pagan, playing the condemnable game of chance, with their looks down on material concern hinders them to look up and see the revelation. So the players act as anti-scene, displaying the refusal of revelation and the absence of God, idolatry, unable to recognize God.
And the last talk of the session’s cycle by Michael A. Conrad entitled Playing Memory: Thomas Murner’s Didactical Games as Material-Discursive Practices analysed card games as memory and concentration games, also known in other civilisation, like Japan. Thomas Murner, a fifteenth century franciscan professor of logic developed his Ludus studentum friburgensium and the Logica Memorativa as a training method to improve his students‘ mnemotic capacities by playing cards. This practice is not entirely new: chess was used for learning the syllabus; or the cases of Latin were prepared on a round board. Taking examples from the Logica memorativa, the speaker explains the mnemotic motives and their symbolic meanings, the subtle game of covering and uncovering the cards as well as knowledge. Assembling a visually confusing image with unfitting objects helped to memorize and applied the the loci-method, consisting in connecting visual and spacial methods to recollect memories in an imaginary treasure. No rules are extant for Murner’s game, but it is probable that a method for randomizing the cards was used. In conclusion, card games were used in higher education, just like i.e. the Rhythomachia known since the eleventh century. Despite a religious condemnation of card games, they were an ideal carrier of cultural knowledge and were used as an appropriate way for memorization and functioned as visual islands, stage-like spaces in memory. The grotesque and absurd motives were important to facilitate the memorization.
The Q&A discussed mostly the timeline of events in the use of card games, already present earlier than Murner’s games; details of visual representation on the casting of lots and the seamless tunic, as well as the uniqueness of the chess motive on a book cover. (vk)
Remembering the Past after the Carolingian Empire, IV: Myths and Memories (Session 839)
Speakers: Benjamin Savill, Fraser McNair, Megan Welton
839-a: Beyond the Cadaver Synod: Myths of Pope Formosus and the Late Anglo-Saxon Church’s Sense of Its Past
Other than in Rome, where Pope Formosus is erased from official ecclesiastical memory, he is present in some sources from late tenth century England. Here, Formosus is connected with the reform movement, and there is even a short ‘Formosus Narrative’ which was still transmitted in the 12th century (by William of Malmesbury, for example). In his paper, Benjamin Savill asked what this memory of Formosus means for the Anglo-Saxon church. His first answer to that question is: ignorance. Maybe the authors had not enough knowledge about the popes in general and Formosus in particular. (In the discussion, Francesca Tinti pointed out that from the 920s onwards the archbishops of Canterbury regularly went to Rome in order to fetch their pallium. Thus, direct contact did indeed happen.) The second inference made by Savill is that the self-perception of the Benedictine reform movement at the end of the 10th century might not have been as uniform as it seems at first sight. The reference to Formosus could hint to the reform not only perceived as monastic in origin or driven solely by monk-bishops.
839-b: ‘Last in the order of kings’: Prior Kings and Ideas about Kingship in the West Frankish kingdom, c. 1000
Fraser McNair looked at the depiction of the West-Frankish kings in different sources. He began by stating that the ideal of a king was relatively stable in Carolingian times. Abbo of Fleury was the last author directly referring to the decrees of Paris in 829 as a model, attaching specific examples that he drew mostly from classical authors. Charters also referred to the Carolingian kings, and in the charters for Saint-Denis Charlemagne, Louis the Pious and Charles the Bald are depicted as good kings, followed by the bad kings, the first of which was Charles the Fat. This could hint to a loss of importance of Saint-Denis. Dudo of St-Quentin, on the other hand, used the late Carolingian kings as examples for rulers acting badly. McNair made clear that Dudo’s work is on dukes, not kings, and that the depiction might also be motivated by dissociating the Norman dukes from the kings and describing their rule as independent. In his conclusion, McNair took these disparate examples together by characterising them as a sign for ideological fragmentation. The ideal of the Carolingian king – or parts of it – where used, but there is no overarching picture, which might result from the lack of synods and consequently the lack of a forum for collective discussions.
839-c: ‘Vestre pietatis memoria’: Queens, Memorialization, and the Hope for a Better Future in the Ottonian Empire
Megan Welton analysed how the memory of queens was used in the tenth century. She looked both at texts written by nuns and stated that the memory of the queens (and abbesses which where from the royal family) was used to assert the identity of their own communion, but also to shape their future. She then looked at the royal diplomas where the memory of queens and emperesses where included into the memoria of the kings and emperors. This, she argued, was an assurance of future safety as well as of the stability of the realm. (DW)
The Castellanies of Medieval Savoy and Their Rolls of Accounts (Session 1031)
Speakers: Ionuţ Epurescu-Pascovici, Aude Wirth-Jaillard, Roberto Biolzi
1031-a: The Savoyard Castellany Accounts as Dialogical Texts
Ionuţ Epurescu-Pascovici (Univ. of Bucharest / Univ. Silesia) started off with a brief description of the project in which this session takes place. The three presented papers are first results of an on-going ERC starting-grant (2015-2020, Univ. of Bucharest) entitled “Record-keeping, fiscal reform, and the rise of institutional accountability in late-medieval Savoy: a source-oriented approach”, which aims to analyse the development of the accounting administration of the Savoyard states by the study of the numerous (and neglected) accounts rolls produced between the middle of the XIIIth century and the end of the XVth century.
His paper focused on the rhetoric of the accounts in the XIVth century and underlined the crucial fact that the rolls were more than simple accounting documents. They had also a clear government function, for the auditors of the central administration used the accounts to control the local elites and to prevent corruption. The repetition in the rolls of key sentences and of instructions to the castellans make the dialogue between the central administration and the local agents obvious by the mean of this documentation, so the “dialogical” dimension of his investigation.
1031-b: Justice and Its Administration in the Savoyard Computi
Aude Wirth-Jaillard (Univ. Bucharest) then presented her research about the judicial system depicted in the accounts, through the case study of the banna (fines) incomes of the castellany of Pont-de-Vaux (Bresse) between 1265 and 1375. She summarized briefly the typology of cases treated by the seigniorial justice. Her research aims to connect the information on persons contained in the banna incomes with those of the laudes et venditiones (entry fines) or other type of incomes in order to reconstruct the daily-life in the castellany. She underlined at the end that the judicial system aimed not only to regulate the local community but also to reaffirm the control of the central administration on the local scale.
1031-c: War and Its Financing in Late Medieval Savoy
Finally, Roberto Biolzi (Univ. Bucharest / Univ. Lausanne) presented a paper focused on the economic and financial analysis of warfare in Savoy. He demonstrated how the state of Savoy had to face the increasing expenses generated by military activities from the beginning of the XIVth to the end of the XVth century, distinguishing three periods. Between 1270 and 1340, the relatively small dimension of military operations made it still possible to finance warfare at the local scale within the network of the castellanies. The period 1345-1391 is characterized by the rise of the Savoy state and by the internationalisation of the military activities, and in parallel by an improvement of the taxation system. A third period, lasting from 1400 to 1450, corresponds in the same time to the peak and to the fall of the state of Savoy, soon elevated to duchy. The economic crisis disturbed money supply and thus the financing of firearms or investments in new technics. (TL)
Inventing Heroes, Reversing Legends, Constructing Facts: The Dynamics of Identity Shaping, I – Medieval Aspects (Session 1033)
Speakers: Klara Hübner, Lukáš Führer, Ludmila Luňáková, Libor Zajíc
This session was the first of two within a small panel organized by David Kalhous and Klara Hübner, which intended to shed some light on the connections between memory and identity shaping. Klara Hübner opened the presentations with her paper “The making of historical milestones. Remarks on functions and manifestations of medieval national narratives” which was supposed to provide a conceptual framework for the following contributions. Drawing on the well-known concept of Jan and Aleida Assmann she first claimed that collective memory is a necessary pre-condition for the formation of an identity. Another important connection between memory and identity shaping is, according to her, that argumentative schemes of the latter are often used again and again, sometimes during several centuries.
The first case study was presented by Lukáš Führer and had the title “Canon Law as lieu de mémoire? Identity-Building in 13th-Century Bohemia”. He discussed the conflict between the Cistercian monastery of Waldsassen and the Knights of the Red Cross about the right to the patronage of a parish church in northern Bohemia during the late 13th century pointing out that during the 1290s there was the paradox situation that both parties had royal privileges confirming their claims. Yet, in 1311 the Cistercians gave up on their claim and the Knights of the Red Cross were able to continually present the priests of the church in question. The discussion centered around the question how it could be possible that charters by the same issuer, issued at the same day could contain a differing content.
The second paper by Ludmila Luňáková, “Creating the Identity of the gens Boemorum through the Holy Days of Czech Patrons in the Narrative Sources of Early Přemyslid Bohemia, until 1198” focused on the national saints of Bohemia, St Wenzeslaus, St Vitus, and St Adalbert and their role in shaping a Bohemian identity during the Middle Ages. The speaker presented her findings in a number of historiographical sources, which all point into the direction that there used to be a clear hierarchy among those saints: Most public festivities (e.g. consecration of churches, inauguration of bishops) were – if possible – organized on the feast day of St Wenceslaus. There are also a number of mentions of St Adalbert, but St Vitus is nearly omitted. The latter is particularly startling considering the historiographers living at the cathedral chapter of St Vitus in Prague (Cosmas, his continuators, and Vincentius).
The last paper of the section, “The Forgotten Patrons – The Cult of St Five Brothers in the Czech Lands from Middle Ages until Present”, was presented by Libor Zajíc. He first introduced those saints to the audience stating that they were supposed to be five missionaries who had accompanied St Adalbert during his missionary journeys. However, they had already been robbed and killed before they had started preaching. Nevertheless reaching the status of martyrs. Their relics were first buried in St Vitus’ church together with those of the other Bohemian national saints but were then transferred to Stára Boleslav and Olomouc. In the latter town a considerable cult around one of the five martyrs (Cristin) started to develop. Yet, neither his cult nor that of the five martyrs reached the level of the cults of the other important Bohemian saints (St Wenceslaus, St Adalbert, St Vitus) and even declined from the Hussite wars onwards. It was further marginalized during the Early Modern period when new native saints, (e.g. St Nepomuk) started to become popular. (CO)
Inventing Heroes, Reversing Legends, Constructing Facts: The Dynamics of Identity Shaping, II – The Mirror of Historiography (Session 1133)
Speakers: Ondřej Schmidt, Christian Oertel, Heinrich Speich
In continuation of session 1033 (see above) this session intended to show how identity shaping was mirrored but also enabled through historiographical writings of medieval and modern origin. In the first paper “’Neronior Nerone?’ Patriarch John of Moravia (1387-1394) between damnatio memoriae and fama sanctitatis” Ondřej Schmidt used the example of late 14th-century Northern Italy to show some ways of communal identity shaping as well as the influence politics could have on the way in which the memory of medieval people comes down to us. He did so using the case of John of Moravia, who, as patriarch of Aquileia, installed a new city government in the city of Udine executing some of the earlier leaders in the course of events. This entailed an uproar and John finally fell victim to a complot carried out by members of the families who were in power before John’s intervention into city politics. Accordingly, in Udine he was (and is) memorized as a debauch tyrant. He was consecrated secretly and without Christian ceremony and the memory of his patriarchate was erased. However, in the neighbouring city of Cividale, the centre of his rulership, a competing positive narrative on his person and reign was brought into existence. There, John was remembered in “sancta et reverente memoria” which went beyond the usual good memory of a ruler and it seems that even a (short-lived) cult centering around his person was founded.
In the second paper, “The Medieval Heroes of Swedish National Romanticism” Christian Oertel first gave a short overview over 19th-century nationalism in Sweden and its protagonists in the world of academia. He used the late medieval/early modern Swedish king Gustav Vasa to show a ‘typical’ example of a medieval hero of Swedish nationalism. This king was glorified in national historiography for having brought Sweden out of the Kalmar Union, having introduced the Lutheran Reformation in the kingdom and for having established a new royal dynasty, which was to rule Sweden for the next two and a half centuries and under which the kingdom experienced its ‘Golden Age’, the so-called stormaktstid (1611-1718). During this period of time the country was one of the great players in European politics. As a second, less obvious example Oertel chose the memory of the Swedish royal saint St Erik. He was – in contrast to Gustav Vasa – very shortly dealt with in historiographical texts, but he seemed nevertheless have been held in great esteem. As a (tentative) proof of this esteem Oertel presented the furious reaction of the Swedish scholarly community when St Erik’s position within the contemporary concept of Swedish medieval history was challenged by a source-critical study. The impression of this high esteem in which St Erik still stood was further deepened by the presentation of his role in the concept of two building erected or restored respectively during the time in question, the stadshus of Stockholm and the cathedral church of Uppsala.
The third paper, “The Big History of Small Noblemen. Swiss Rural Elites Struggling for a Noble Ancestry” was given by Heinrich Speich. He presented the history of urban and rural Swiss elites who granted titles of nobility to themselves during the Late Medieval and Early Modern period and whose historiographers constructed a unified nation of “Eidgenossen” neglecting (or omitting) the differences between Catholic and Protestant as well as between urban and rural elites. This narrative was deepened by 19th-century historiography and cemented by a 30-volume source edition, which included (only) the sources necessary for this concept of Swiss history. Thus, Heinrich Speich concluded with prompting historians to question this still prevailing narrative and to go beyond the edited sources and use archival ones in order to obtain a more inclusive picture of Late Medieval and Early Modern Swiss history. (CO)
Mining the Mother Lode: Making New Use of Regests and Registers (Session 1153)
Organizer: Gerhard Lubich
Speaker: Gerhard Lubich, Andreas Kuczera, Lisa Klocke, Matthias Weber
In the first part of the session, named New Tools for Old Fools?: History and Digital Humanities – the State of Their Union, Gerhard Lubich gave an introduction into the complex and often problematic relationship between these two disciplines and described the struggle of many historians to integrate themselves successfully into the new digital processes. Thereby as a main problem he identified the fact, that far too often solutions are invented by the digital humanities for problems which we as historians actually never had.
As digital components have become crucial for funding and as these technologies hold the chance not only to speed up but also to facilitate and improve our core work, he admonished that it his high time for us as historians to become active and get involved in the process of inventing new digital tools which are actually helpful for our work. Therefore, we have, according to Lubich, to take the following steps: 1. Assess what it needs to successfully combine digitality and humanities: as software engineers otherwise can’t work with our content, we have to convert it into data. 2. Define our expectations when it comes to new digital solutions: effective tools to facilitate our everyday work are needed, whereby the outcome should consist of suggestions instead of solutions so that the interpretation is still left to us as historians. And 3. Assess what we, in turn, have to offer: data derived from textual corpora. As a starting point he proposes to use indices of regesta, as these are highly used by historians and, at the same time, very suitable for digital solutions.
To prepare a common ground for the following deliberations, in the first part of the second paper Regests and Registers – A How-To-Guide, Matthias Weber explained the character and different components of regesta, which consist, on the one hand, of a summary of the essential content and, on the other hand, of the commentary, which offers information on tradition and state of research.
Afterwards Lisa Klocke gave an insight into the work on the regesta’s indices, which she and her colleagues are currently trying to improve in order to make it easier for historians to find the entries which are relevant for their individual research questions. In opposition to the older, simple indices, the new, detailed lists are highly enriched with a number of details, links and differentiations. Therefore, people and places, which previously where to be found in a combined list, are now separated, whereby the printed version contains links between the two different datasets. Furthermore, places are further subdivided and the functions and offices of the persons are categorized so that one can now specifically look for regesta mentioning, for example, a certain monastery or an individual, acting specifically in one of his different functions.
How digital solutions may further facilitate our work with this ameliorated indices, Andreas Kuczera showed in the third paper with the title Transforming Registers into Entangled Entities: Why and How to Use Graphs in History. For this purpose, parts of the Regesta Imperii are transferred into a graph database in which several different search requests can be posed. The response is then provided in a graphical form, especially suitable for the identification of relations and networks. For example, all regesta mentioning two specific persons together may be displayed, or one can ask for common acquaintances – persons, with which both of the individuals are mentioned together in one regest. Furthermore, the program can be used for statistics as it may show, for example, the mostly used lemma, describing the actions of a person – such as giving, deciding, visiting etc. These can further be combined with the date or place of issue (the program is also connected to a GIS) and so on.
As a conclusion of the session, Gehard Lubich stressed the fact that the presented approach isn’t limited to regesta but may also be used for the work with indices for other kinds of works such as letters and the like.
To obtain further information about the possibilities of this technology, please visit the homepage graphentechnologien.de, where a digital studybook about the use of graphic databases for digital humanities is to be found. (AE)
Teaching the European Middle Ages Outside the Global West – a Round Table Discussion (session 1154)
Paulo Henrique de Carvalho Pachá, teaching at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, gives an introduction to the Brazilian educational system and the place of medieval history. A reform in 2015 excluded ancient an medieval history from basic history level to which teachers and researchers protested. In the ensuing discussion, one argument was that the history with Middle Ages was too much associated with a eurocentric focus, while the new reform centred on national history. In the educational system, the French historiography weights on the curriculum, esp. in the form of heritage of the Portuguese colonial past, so most medieval history is presented as a form of eurocentrism and history of the “Western Europe”, thus not “Brazilian”. The speaker described how medievalists in the classroom can answer to that: 1) Teach a Global Middle Ages, connecting Brazil to Western history. 2) Put race and gender on the forefront, teach a diverse Middle Ages as a link between present and past. These methods have brought up interesting results in the classroom and engaged with students.
The second panelist, and ex-Leeds graduate, René Hernández Vera from the Universidad Santo Tomás, Bogotà, points out that all Columbian medieval scholars have been trained in Europe, since there is no program for the Middle Ages in the country. The Middle Ages are not considered as part of the national history, but in the fields of history, philosophy and literature it is considered relevant or teaching and included in the university curriculum. The challenge is to bring in interdisciplinary approaches, to make the Middle Ages relevant to students, and especially to fight medievalism and conservative appropriations of the medieval times (i.e. crusades with the alt-right) in political thoughts. The speaker gives some examples how he uses Thomas Aquinas’s peace texts and the history of women as brokers of culture in his teaching in a catholic university to make the Middle Ages relevant to the classroom and the society at large. This also happens outside of academic spaces in order to connect to the whole society and bring scholarship out of the ivory tower.
Sjoerd Levelt has been teaching the Middle Ages for three years at Bilkent University in Ankara. He gave the audience some examples of his classroom experience, mostly reactions he didn’t expect, like teaching some classical texts, I.e. when the teaching of the Voyage of Brendan interacted with secularism debates in Turkey. The Canterbury Tales are an example for teaching a canon to an audience that doesn’t have the common knowledge of the canon (as it might have been in Europe), making the speaker think about how to teach without context. Due to the political situation in Turkey, some text are not possible to be taught without danger: over the past years, 6.000 academics have been dismissed, academics and students face jail charges, and even among students in his classroom the political divide is so great that he himself as a teacher censors himself to keep the classroom safe. Other constrains the speaker faces in research and teaching are i.e. that wikipedia is blocked, and that for a time archive.org was not available in Turkey.
The next speaker, Kathryn Maude, teaches gender studies and English literature of the Middle Ages at the American University in Beirut, having arrived there only recently. In her talk, she spoke about the institutional context and how it impacts her teaching and differs from her former teaching in the UK. For example, the open faith institution founded in 1866 had clearly a protestant and colonial mission impetus. At the same time, because Lebanon was under French colonial rule, it became a sort of resistance place, open during civil wars, showing how multi-layered the situation and history is. Then the speaker spoke about her teaching experience: 1) There is no shared history, but English is the lingua franca. Because the Beirut classroom is truly multi-lingual (among other Arabic, French, Armenian, Turkish, Portuguese…), some topics like court culture in conquest periods, i.e. under Emma and Cnut, appeal and resonate well in the present with the students that are more easily familiar with a multi-lingual past. 2) For research and classroom impact, the speaker opened the perspective on where and how to publish research and how to bring it into resonance with the background in the Near East.The audience in Beirut is so different from the European audience, but the latter is always in the minds of researchers and publishers in publishing houses. 3) The speaker made a plea to create collaborations in teaching on topics like crusades between Near East and West in order to allow a wider reflection on language and topics.
Idette Noomé shared her experiences from the University of Pretoria in South Africa where English is only the third language behind Zulu and Africaans in a country with 11 official languages. 35 years before, Dutch and Middle English texts were part of the medieval language canon, and expected to be known. Today, if Chaucer is still compulsory, the literature canon has dramatically shrunk, and modern translations are allowed to access the text, while Dutch and French texts are not even taught anymore. The speaker offers an overview of the limited timeslots of medieval literature in other university’s curricula, where the focus lies less on medieval literature and more on medievalism. Other current challenges to promote teaching the Middle Ages are the geographical remoteness from Europe, or the limitation of qualified staff. Even if digitalized text are now available, the expertise to do scholarships on them is not there anymore, shrinking due of retirement, and decolonization pressures reducing fundings for eurocentric topics. Another challenge is that many students come to the Middle Ages class through fantasy/fiction and are there confronted with “another” Middle Ages that the one they expected, and the teachers have to face this clash, for the best (motivating students) or the worse (students reject).
The Q&A period was very rich, so that the reporter made some choices. The panelists raised the importance of medievalism and the “canon” students bring into the classroom (I.e. Turkey: Harry Potter, but not so much Tolkien; Brazil: TV series popular in USA are popular in Brazil; Columbia: computer games, Harry Potter but not as much Game of Thrones as one might expected; Beirut: Game of Thrones is very popular, but there is also a very own medievalism not influenced by Western idea; South Africa: Tolkien, Game of Thrones, Pratchett, but the list is depending on cultural background of students). The discussion was brought upon the political relevance of the Middle Ages made by students themselves, or when some texts hit actuality, like in Turkey. In Beirut, students bring multi-layered political contexts into the classroom, linking their experience of colonialism to the texts, in situations sometimes unexpected to the teacher. On the contrary, in South Africa, medieval texts function as escapism, and comparison to actual situation is rejected, students preferring to “re-romanticise” the Middle Ages. In Brazil, teaching race (with Helen Young) appeals immediately to students, and after a surprise moment they engage with the pre-colonialism image of the Middle Ages that they link to their situation.
To the question on whether the panelists also teach a Global Medieval Ages and include texts from outside of the Western world, some speakers state that they are requested in their position to follow a curriculum teaching European / English literature as if the students were in a Western institution. This is even more important since for example the medieval Arabic history or local literature / history is taught in another curriculum by specialists in the same institutions, or, like in South America, for example by anthropologists or specialists of indigenous cultures. In the end, moderator Dorothy Kim made some conclusive remarks on the importance of making the teaching of the Middle Ages relevant again, and not letting the field to medievalism or alt-right mouvements. (vk)
History and Visual Memory in the Library of King Charles V of France (Session 1401, Annual Medieval Academy Lecture)
Speaker: Anne D. Hedeman
Medieval books and libraries preserved memory, knowledge and shaped identity. This talk will analyse how illustrations participate in the process of visual memorial culture by taking the example of the Louvre library and the Grandes Chroniques de France (Paris, BnF ms. fr. 2813). Made and remade, this manuscript used the set of visual memories contained in the library. It first drew on the text from the Grandes Chroniques form Philipp III and then over a time of ten year was expanded and major interventions in the texts were made by an editorial team. These additions were mostly made in response to the political situation by using the repository of illumination in the library, the edits thus shaping the future recollection in the service of a distinctive royal memory. To discuss this, the speaker makes three points:
1) Franco Roman Past, 1370-75: Here comes into play the program of translations by Charles V, and more specifically the History of Rome by Livy, translated by Pierre Bersuire and re-edited twice in the early reign. The text gives an example of a good rule and a good life, and places a special emphasis on the status of the translatio imperii and translatio studii from Greece via Rome to Paris. The artistic connections to the Grandes Chroniques de France are obvious in the shared compositions, i.e. similar images intervowen between Livy and Grandes Chroniques de France, blurring the specificities between the two textual realms. In order to show that this was not just an artistic choice, but that the medieval reader receives this, the talk moves on to 2) The second example is the Coronation Ordo commissioned between 1375 and 1377. Most representations of a coronation show a stereotypical image in the Grandes Chroniques de France. This the model used refers back to the tradition but also to the symbolism in the Traité du sacre, a symbolical explication of the liturgy: the symbolism of the coronation was introduced in the French translation only, among it the sacred character of the King that gets build into the Coronation Ordo (London, BL Cotton Tiberius B VIII). Details in the Grandes Chroniques de France both for the Kings as well as the Queen are integrated like the regalia, and identifiable peers. These illuminations offer a curated image of the past, a visual memory of contemporary events. In the Grandes Chroniques de France, people in the illustrations shift or change not with the aim to make the image more accurate, but to fit with the political context in the time it was done around1375/77. For example, the task of the education of the heir, the fixation of the majority of the dauphin and the arrangements made for a smooth dynastic continuity after Charles V’s death were very prominent. The council around the queen was depicted in order to enhance the importance of education and to address the present and the future. This happens via 3) Emphasizing sanctity and the family connections of the Queen via Louis IX. The very popular motive of Louis IX of sailing back to France with his troops from the crusade shows his sanctity as a hagiographic motive. The motive itself draws back on the Vie et miracles de saint Louis by Guillaume de Saint Pathus (BnF ms. fr. 5716). This link to the sanctity of Louis, and the connection to the Capetians worked via the queen and is also visible in the prayer book of Jeanne d’Evreux (New York, Cloisters, 54.2.2.) kept in the Vincennes castle with jewels. It served as visual model for the Grandes Chroniques de France. Not only artistic reasons because of the illuminations by Jean Pucelle served as inspiration, but visual choices were made on purpose, especially puting Louis‘ sanctity into the foreground. This was enhancing the link from the Capetian to the Valois, an important feature for Charles V against his concurrents, Charles II of Navarra and Eduard III. Also the prominence of the Queen Blanche in the images showed in the task of birthing, educating, and raising of the future Saint Louis highlighted the belonging to the family. Blanche’s role in the supervision is crucial for turning Louis into what he would eventually became a just and saint King, and so is the parallelism of the birth images of Louis / Charles VI as conscious connection. The affirmation of Queen’s role in the transmission of the Capetian dynasty and the function of the Queen providing royal education was the core of the revised Coronation scene in the Grandes Chroniques de France, showcasing the group of people responsible for supervising the education of the future Charles VI.
In conclusion, the speaker underlined that illuminations work not only as illustrations for the text, but contain a set of visual memory. This shared visual memory was drawing from the library, curate and marshalled to promote themes like the “most Christian King” as well as the dynastic continuity. In this specific case study, the flexibility of this visual culture and the “team” behind it is known, but the speaker suggests that the same mechanisms of visual memory was probably also at work in other, anonymous books, opening up the scope to the larger manuscript corpus in general. (vk)
The After-Lives of Medieval Manuscripts: New Digital Approaches (1506)
Speakers: Toby Burrows, Lynn Ransom, Hanno Wijsman
The first paper (1506-a: Mapping the Migrations of Medieval Manuscripts) of this very informative and rewarding session was given by Toby Burrows, who also acted as session chair. He started off with a brief introduction to the Mapping Manuscript Migrations (MMM) project, a two-year collaboration between the Oxford e-Research Centre, the Bodleian Libraries, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (Paris), and the Semantic Computing Group at Aalto University, Helsinki, which is part of the Digging into Data Challenge. It is based upon data provided by Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania, the Medieval Manuscripts Catalogue at the University of Oxford, and the Bibale and Medium databases from the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes. The project‘s objectives are to collect and transform heterogeneous data to a unified data model (RDF based on CIDOC CRM), to provide an interface for browsing and searching the combined data, but also to focus on specific research questions relating to the history and provenance of manuscripts, e.g. to trace the history and movement of a single manuscript across time and space, or to do so for a specific type of manuscripts, and thus also to find connections between actors (i.e. collectors, institutions etc.). Burrows pointed out some of the very practical problems related to unifying data from different sources and how they approach(ed) these issues.
Lynn Ransom from Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts (SDBM) followed up on Toby Burrows talk and focused on the role of the SMDB within the collaboration (1506-b: Manuscript Histories and Provenance: New Digital Environments). The SMDB aims at tracing all changes of ownership during a manuscript’s life. Within one manuscript record, all entries on a certain manuscript are unified. Ransom also elaborated on the data provided from SDBM for the collaborative MMM project, and on problems of mapping the multiple datasets, but also emphasized the numerous possibilities of evaluation and visualization of the merged data. Palladio is used for providing visualizations of the Schoenberg data, and since only a few days, a SPARQL endpoint allows to query the data. Finally, Ransom stressed the importance of the necessity not just to provide and aggregate data, but also to be able to interpret data and visualizations.
Hanno Wijsmann from the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes contributed the perspective of a third partner of MMM. In his talk (1506-c: Historic Collections, Provenance and medieval text transmission) he presented Bibale, a project with a focus on the history of the transmission of manuscripts and the texts they contain through the study of ancient and modern collections, and that of their owners. Bibale has only recently been updated to a new version. The database includes manuscripts presently still in existence, but also those that are only known through their recordings (inventories, catalogues, accounts, chronicles, correspondence, etc.), and thus has a focus on modern as well as medieval libraries. In the context of Bibale and also the Medium project – the latter one being a portal towards manuscripts worldwide and those for which IRHT has microfilms or digital reproductions – a lot of experience was gathered regarding data integration and mapping, which now can be of benefit to the MMM project. (DS)
„Creating and Shaping Identities in the Medieval Baltic“ (Session 1611)
Wojtek Jezierski (Livonian Hospitality. The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle and the Formation of Identities on the 13th Century Baltic Frontier) focused on two chronicles from the 13th century: The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle (1220s) and the Chronica Livoniae (1290s). Both texts offers different views of hospitality. Hospitality is a process of social and political recognition and relies heavily on the identities of the hosts and guests. Sometimes, it can be like a play of power where hosts and guests fight over the dominance when they meet and so hospitality can easily turn into hostility. Both texts can also contribute to a new understanding of the Baltic crusade history: in the older Rhymed-chronicle the Teutonic knights feeled much at home, only 70 years later in the Chronica Livoniae they were seen as uninvited guests.
Teemu Korpijärvi („Thus does Riga always water the nation“: The use of past to justify the future in Livonian conversion) also worked with the Chronica Livoniae and the Livonian Rhymed-Chronicle and the expection of future described in these works, how time is organised and memory preserved. After a introduction into the medieval conception of history, he turned to the temporal narrative of both chronicles. By using mainly biblical quotes many events in the future in the texts were explained. There were recognizable arguments for cases concerning territorial claims in the future (mainly Danish and German efforts), not only against the subjected population or the Rus, but also against fellow Latin christians. He also mentioned further research possibilitie concerning the history of reception in these texts in the light of the historical narrative and the expexted future presented in them.
Vladimir Kananovich (The Haunting Memories of Forgotten Kings: Recollection of the Past and Oblivion in the Late Medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania) spoke about the representation of King Daniel of Galicia and King Mindaugas of Lithuania in the Galician-Volynian Chronicle (late 13th century9. Although both were great political actors, they were soon forgotten after their deaths and their kingdoms began to decline. Kananovich moved on to the image of King Mindaugas in Late Medieval historiography. The historiography of the late 14th century never mentions him and by the beginning of the 15th century he was nearly forgotten. In the 16th century his name was restored as the Lithuanians,political elites, especially the discovered their own identity and used Mindaugas for their nationalism. (AB)
Shaping the Past after the Carolingian Empire, III: Material Culture and Rulership (Session 1717)
Speakers: Rory Naismith, Sarah Greer, Simon MacLean
This was the seventh and last session organised by the wonderful After Empire team, and the room was full with people (but lacking oxygen).
1717-a: The Transformation of the European Monetary Economy in the 10th and 11th Centuries
Rory Naismith presented a broad range of evidence for the increasing use of coins across Europe from the 950s onwards, based on databases of coin finds from England and Wales, Denmark, Southern Sweden, the Netherlands and Northrhine-Westphalia, and added some observations on single finds at Rome and Western Francia which affirmed the overall picture. Naismith then asked how this increase in the use of coins can be explained. A common proposition that had been made earlier is that the silver mines in the Harz mountains may be the cause for a rise in coin production, but Naismith saw the mining of silver as a reaction to the increased demand for coins, not a cause, since the existence of silver was known before, but it was not mined. Naismith then showed that the number of mints that were active from the 8th to the 12th centuries increased as well. This is most clearly the case for Germany, with a boom of new mints from the 11th century, whereas in Italy the mints sprang up not before the twelfth century. In Western Francia, on the other hand, some mints were used rather infrequently, and Naismith interpreted this evidence as a sign for a regional demand for coins, whereas in Germany it might have been led by the kings. Finally, Naismith looked into the impact of this change in coin use on society, and also into the impact of society to this change. He emphasised that money can carry many meanings, and hence its use is not only interpreted economically, but also with regard to social bonds and power relations. In the discussion he pointed out that minting privileges could also be a status marker, regardless whether coins were indeed minted or not. In sum, then, Naismith advocated research in coins and coinage not only in economical, but equally in cultural and social respects.
1717-b: Embodying the Past: Remembering the Merovingians at their Burial Sites in the 10th and 11th Centuries
Sarah Greer presented a case study which still is work in progress, looking at a manuscript including an origin story of the monastery of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif in Sens as well as a history of the same monastery almost to the time when the manuscript was compiled in 1045. Both texts were written by Odorannus, and the manuscript seems to be his autograph. According to Odorannus, the monastery was founded by Theudechild, the daughter of Clovis and Clotild (which is probably not correct). There is also a charter concering the foundation of the monastery confirming Odorannus’ report, but it has been shown to be a forgery of the 960s or 970s. In his history of the monastery, Odorannus makes a clear connection with the rise and fall of the Carolingian dynasty as well as with the rise of the Capetians, depicting the transition to have happened smoothly. Two thirds of this text relate to the times of Robert the Pious, who is depicted as the perfect benefactor, and it breaks off in 1032, a year after Robert’s death. Robert was not only a benefactor of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif, but also of Odorannus himself. The author, who states that he writes for the monks of his abbey, wanted to make sure that his benefactor was remembered in the right way. Greer then turned to another source, an epitaph claiming that Louis, the son of Charles of Lower Lotharingia, was buried at Saint-Pierre-le-Vif. This might hint to discussions between the monks regarding their allegiance, since the transition from the Carolingians to the Capetians had not been as smoothly as Odorannus put it. However, the Louis mentioned is not necessarily Charles’s son, the last Carolingian. But even if the Louis in the epitaph was a different person, the monks at Saint-Pierre-le-Vif in 1045 certainly must have connected him with a member of the Carolingian dynasty. Thus, the way in which the Merovingians and Carolingians were remembered in the monastery and in Odorannus’ text highly depends on the current situation and ongoing discussions in the monastery at the time of writing.
1717-c: Pasts and Presents in the Lothar Crystal
In his paper, Simon MacLean argued that the famous Lothar Crystal, an engraved gem showing scenes of the biblical story of Susanna (see picture), was not produced in the ninth century for Lothar II, but rather in the tenth century for Lothar of Western Francia (954–986). He first presented reasons why the story depicted on the Lothar Crystal does not fit well with the famous divorce case of Lothar II and Theutberga: Theutberga never was accused of adultery, as is the case on the Crystal; the bishops of Gunthar of Cologne and Theutgaud of Trier (said to be represented by the elders on the Crystal) were not Theutberga’s accusers, but rather her judges; and Lothar was never styled ‘king of the Franks’ as is the case on the Crystal. MacLean then introduced reasons for connecting the Lothar Crystal with Lothar of Western Francia. First, this Lothar is always styled rex Francorum in his own documents. Emma, Lothar’s wife, was accused of adultery. According to the Historiae of Richer of Reims Emma is accused of having committed adultery with the archbishop of Laon, and some letters of Gerbert of Aurillac make clear that it was Charles of Lotharingia who put forward the accusation. MacLean finally argued that the production of the Lothar Crystal has to be seen against the background of the succession crises in Eastern Francia, where the 3-year-old king, Otto III, faced opposition by Henry of Bavaria. In this situation, some of the Lotharingian bishops held to Theophanu, Otto’s mother, some supported Henry, and some even considered to turn to Lothar and connect themselves to the kingdom in the West. Bishop Theoderic of Metz had held to Theophanu in this crisis, and the Lothar Crystal might be his bid to Lothar for reconciliation, since the art historical context hints to a production in Metz. Summing up, there are many indications that the Lothar Crystal was produced in the tenth rather than the ninth century. (DW)
Partnerships of Power in the High Middle Ages (session 1735)
Speaker: Danielle Park, Johannes Waldschütz, Marie D’Aguanno Ito
Respondent: Anne Foerster
In her talk on Fulk and Melisandre: Co-Rulers of the Latin West, speaker Danielle Park referred to traditional scholarship that concentrates either of King or Queen, while she wants to analyse and take into account a common partnership, expressed notably in charters. Melisandre, King Baldwin’s oldest daughter was often stylized as “heiress” to the throne of Jerusalem, though after her marriage to Fulk, her role declined from “heiress” to “only” wife of Fulk, despite the crown passing through her for the rule. Both Melisandre and Fulk were crowned together, but in the charters Fulk reduces his wife’s role. In the light of two rebellions by the local nobility who considered Fulk as an “outsider” of their circle, Melisandre returned as a sort of guarantee for legitimation and authority, now being named side by side with her husband as “Queen”. From 1136 on, things change: she is included in all charters for common concessions, approval, and on seals in the charters although there was no model for this. She seemed to be placed more prominently in the political activities, just like her mother Morphia had been, even if she had had only few agency in the charters. But her active role in politics might have been a model for the partnership between Fulk and Melisandre. The speaker enhances that less than a gendered job sharing, even the project of promoting the convent of Bethany is rather a common project, and not just Melisandre’s. It shows that the couple works alongside together, and not in a sort of division of labour (as suggested by chronicle of William of Tyre) but rather an active cooperation and partnerships as seen in the chancery practice. The Queen is not only responsible for “patronage”, but had political agency.
The talk How Wives and Sisters Further Allegiances and Relationships: The Case of Donations to High Medieval Monasteries in South-West Germany by Johannes Waldschütz engaged with charters, chronicles and sprivileges in cloisters like Petershausen. The Swabian nobility suppored the papacy and promoted reform monasteries that were granted freedom or privileges not under a special order but affiliated with Hirsau and Sankt Blasien, the local popular reform centre. But only 11 % of these donations were made by women, 5% by couples; in comparison in France, the amount of female donations is around 25% up to 50 %. The speaker tried to identify why in this regions, the variations was so high: 1) Usually, le male name came first and wives were mentioned only in second place; 2) grammatical forms promote male as principal donator, even if women or children appear; 3) many donors are widows or donating through advocates. But it is difficult to identify a general trend because it can also be the other way around, suggesting that maybe every individual case was negotiated. A case study concerned Zwiefalten, a double monastery, that attracted many women who wished to enter the convent or support it. Here, some charters simply forgot to mention the female donor, a donation that can be reconstructed from other sources where they and their donations are mentioned, i.e. in the necrolog. For example in St. Peter in the Black Forest, women in charter’s text seem obscured, emphasizing the male donation. Sometimes, it is possible to find some examples where a woman acts on her own and with her own dowry. This indicates a tightening of the links and the enhancing of female family’s branch, where women as daughters and sisters keep alive and even bring the old ties into the new family. The relationships with the monastery were fostered from her own dowry. The networking between the old family and the local monastery can be illustrated with the example of Zwiefalten and the three sisters, daughters of count Heinrich von Berg, and all three married into the faraway nobility: Richenza, duchess of Bohemia; Sophie, duchess of Moravia; Salome, duchess of Poland, appear as prodigious donators and supporters of Zwiefalten despite the geographical distance. In conclusion, the study of donation allows some insights in the role of social status and the agency of women. Women in the south west were less likely to give, but it was possible, and maybe their active role was obscured.
In replacing a talk on a royal couple in Spain, Marie D’Aguanno Ito closed the session with a talk on the spacial and functional cooperation on A Secular and Sacred Partnership of Power: The Shared Space and ‚Unshared‘ Time of the Grain Market and Confraternity of Orsanmichele. In thirteenth and fourteenth century Florence, Orsanmichele hosted a major grain market, and a lively confraternity. The economic and religious groups interacted and formed a partnership that are a hallmarks of guild driven markets. In the vital centre of Florence, the market held trade agreements for import and export. The confraternity as lay organisation was not affiliated to a special order, though close to the Mendicants. The confraternity’s income, also due to the miraculous Madonna (burned around 1400) was enormous, they even acted as landowner in the region. Together, food and miracle, became a political force for the commune, since price control with few variations was important for keeping political stability. The speaker describes the wheats and grains sold, the organisation of funding and surveillance of the market. The confraternity follows the rhythm of the market for their activities, the status mentions the market’s bell (similar to nowadays stock markets) closing all mercantile activities at 4pm, to allow for cleaning up, accounting, and preparations for following day. The market was also closed on holy days when the confraternity met, since the gatherings like open air preaching, penance activity, processions etc. happened mainly before the Madonna on the piazza. The confraternity also served as arm of the community in donating money to those in need. It is striking that no simultaneous activity of market and confraternity occurred, but only subsequently: both market and confraternity use the same space and premises; a partnership of a sacred and a secular time that lasted until the 1340s.
In her response to the papers, Anne Foerster discussed some general approaches in recent historiography on power and authority. While it concentrates mainly on men as kings and emperors, the counterpart of empresses were seen as exceptional powerful women. By referring to the work of Hertha Nagl-Docekal, she identified several steps in scholarship: 1) history of great man was mirrored by the history of great women; 2) making women visible in all layers of society; 3) focussing on gender, both considering male and female work as complementary. Nowadays, this last approach is used to enhance the importance of a combined approach of partnership, highlighting the complimentary and cooperative endeavour ruling represented. This has not to be analysed in terms of “recession” or “growth” of female power, but rather it is important to what action is necessary to maintain the royal power over all. (vk)