Leeds anyone? An invitation to session 112 at the International Medieval Congress 2013 (1-4 July 2013)
Session 112 “Medieval Letters and Letter-Collections (1000-1500): A Pleasurable Reading?!” of this year’s International Medieval Congress in Leeds is organised by the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. It is devoted to medieval epistolography and addresses the IMC’s special thematic strand “Pleasure” on two levels: Firstly, it considers the perspective of the modern historian, who simply takes pleasure in working with extraordinary and highly amusing sources. Secondly, it considers the perspective of the medieval contemporary, whose letters relate to various aspects of pleasures in lay and clerical spheres. We historians often find those letters enjoyable that were at the time of their writing not meant to amuse. So, our session analyses a variety of medieval letters and letter-collections from different historical contexts and textual traditions and discusses affairs that might please us readers today, yet touch on serious historical realities.
Letters in Frutolf’s Chronicle: Entertainment, Information, Authenticity
The first paper given by Christian Lohmer deals with the Benedictine monk Frutolf of Michelsberg (+ 1003), who is the author of one of the first world chronicles in medieval Central Europe. It investigates Frutolf’s intentions when inserting real or fictitious letters into his pile of historical observations.
Unpleasant Affairs That Please Us: Admonition and Rebuke in the Letter Collections of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 11th and 12th Centuries
Roland Zingg surveys in his paper complaints of improper clerical behaviour in archiepiscopal letter-collections. Many of these letters treat unheard-of incidents in monastic life such as compulsive gambling, excessive consumption of alcohol, unchaste moral conduct or disobedience. Compared to the elaborate but rather dull testimonies of friendship and joy over recent letter exchanges expressed by the correspondents, they are a lively read and shed some light on the strategies of communication and argumentation applied to handle these situations.
Beautiful Daughters and Rich Tournaments: Pleasures of the East in Correspondences between Ottoman Sultans and Christian Princes, 14th and 15th Centuries
My own paper focuses on the so-called “Sultansbriefe”. These letters pretended to have been written by an Egyptian or Ottoman sultan to a Christian ruler and were highly popular in the 14th to 16th century. They demonstrate oriental splendour and power but also breach issues of Eastern pleasures. Invitations to tournaments, marriage proposals for the sultan’s daughter or feudal threats circulated in Latin and in the vernacular, even some Christian (pseudo-)responses survive. They shall be reviewed in the light of anti-Turkish propaganda and literary entertainment.
Everyone interested is very welcome to our session! We look forward to a lively discussion!
“Medieval Letters and Letter-Collections (1000-1500): A Pleasurable Reading?!” (session 112)
Monday, 1 July, 11.15-12.45
Baines Wing, Room 1.14
For further information see https://www.leeds.ac.uk/ims/imc/