Antony Bale, ‘Medieval Pilgrims’ Books: Some Evidence, and Problems of Evidence’ (Tuesday 31 October 2017)

It was a pleasure to return to the King’s Manor last month to give a visiting lecture on my current research. I spoke about what I’ve been doing as part of my Leverhulme-funded project Pilgrim Libraries: Books and Reading on the Medieval Routes to Rome and Jerusalem. My paper in York, entitled ‘Medieval Pilgrims’ Books: Some Evidence, and Problems of Evidence’, was very much about research in progress, and I emphasised research as a process – involving experimentation, chance, unpredictable results, and sources that challenge one’s disciplinary training and methodological assumptions.

I presented five case-studies from my research, in a kind of backwards anti-pilgrimage: I started in nineteenth-century Cambridge and worked backwards to eleventh-century crusader Tyre. The pilgrims’ books I presented belonged to

  • Norman Bennet (1867-1961): Jerusalem, c. 1889
  • Louis de Quincampoix (d. c. 1540): Eastern Meditteranean, ?Rhodes/Jerusalem, c. 1520
  • Robert Langton (1470-1524): Santiago, Rome, and Jerusalem, c. 1520
  • Margery Kempe (c. 1373-1439): Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago, Wilsnack, Aachen, and Canterbury, 1413-1430
  • Margaret of Beverley (d. 1215): Jerusalem, Santiago, Rome

All of these pilgrims and their reading are the subject of my ongoing research.

Norman Bennet’s 1880s pilgrimage started at Jaffa, and, as far as we know, followed a standard tour of sites mentioned in the bible. Like most English Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, Bennet’s journey was concerned with travel to a sacred past, not an itinerary to the interesting places of his present. From the port of Jaffa, Bennett went to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem he travelled east, into the Judean desert – we know that he visited the site of the Valley of Achor, mentioned in the Book of Joshua (Joshua vii.21-26); he visited Ein-Shemesh, the crusader-era monastery at Wadi Qelt, and the River Cherith (Carit), where the prophet Elijah was said to have been fed by ravens; the Spring of Elisha at Ain Sultan, where Elisha purified the spring with salt, as described in 2 Kings ii:19-22; he visited the Mount of Temptation and the Orthodox monastery at Quarantine, al-Quarantul, near Jericho; he visited Jericho itself; and he seems to have visited Ein Gedi on the Dead Sea.

Bennet’s pilgrimage is relevant to my research because we only know about it thanks to the guide book he took with him, which includes his annotations. This book, which is now held in the British Library in London, was Alexander Howard’s Guide to Jerusalem, a travel-guide for the English-speaking pilgrim, which was printed in London in 1888.

 

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Alexander Howard, Howard’s Guide to Jerusalem (London, 1888) London, British Library E. 102. 010077. Photo: Anthony Bale.

Bennet carried his copy of Howard’s Guide with him, and annotated it, slightly messily, in pencil. His annotations are really fascinating and help us reconstruct the experience of pilgrimage for a nineteenth-century Englishman in Ottoman Palestine.

Bennet commented on worldly concerns – a Pole with an ‘evil countenance’ in Jerusalem, pink lemonade, hot plum pudding that he ate in Jericho – but his jottings also show how the landscape moved him.

The glorious blue of the Dead Sea reflected in a blue mist on the mountains of Benjamin. The mountains of Moab rose solemn & grand with their deep blue sides towering to the white fleece clouds which floated above while to crown all the beautiful azure the sky formed what might be correctly called a background unparalleled in the silence of a heavenly beauty.

Bennet’s book thus has much in common with medieval pilgrims’ annotations in their books, revealing a somewhat personal and intimate script, albeit one that is still highly scripted and mediated, within the framework of pilgrimage.

Pilgrims’ books allow us to glimpse the individual pilgrim within the long history of pilgrimage. Bibliographic work on pilgrims’ reading and writing allows us to situate pilgrims in place and time; we can retrieve the traveller within the history of travel, put pilgrimage into its intellectual and cultural contexts, and also show the constant surprises and variety of pilgrim experiences.

The Lords of Misrule: The Wakefield Mystery Plays

From Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th November, the CMS Lords of Misrule acting troupe presented the Wakefield Mystery Plays. The production took place at Saint Mary Bishophill junior from 7:00-9:00pm and featured a selection of medieval carols and music by the Lords’ music group Cantio Conventus. Tickets were £6/£4 with concessions.

The play, directed by Emily Hansen, was performed by cast composed largely of this year’s MA cohort who presented scenes from the nativity and Shepherd’s Tale. The production and baking team were headed by Madeline Salzman while the musicians and singers were directed by Alana Bennett.

More details on our next performance scheduled for March 2018 will follow.

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The Lords of Misrule cast, musicians and production team Autumn 2017

If you want to know more about the Lords of Misrule, our future productions or are thinking of joining us then please contact us at: lordsofmisrule@gmail.com.

Visiting Professor (15-30 June) – Professor Sarah McNamer (Georgetown University)

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Dr Sarah McNamer is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies. Her primary interest is in the relation between literature and the history of emotion. Her book, Affective Meditation and the Invention of Medieval Compassion, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2010, received the “Book of the Year” award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature. Current projects include a book in progress, The Poetics of Emotion in Middle English Literature, and a critical edition and translation of the short Italian version of the pseudo-Bonaventuran Meditations on the Life of Christ from the unique manuscript likely to reflect the original version of this influential work. The latter will be published in the William and Katherine Devers Series on Dante and Medieval Italian Literature, University of Notre Dame Press, in the fall of 2017.

Dr. McNamer will be visiting the Centre for Medieval Studies from 15 to 30 June. The subject of her research during this time, “Did the Pearl-Poet Write at the Court of Edward III?,” is part of her current book project, Feeling by the Book: The Work of the Pearl-Poet in the History of Emotion. This book presents a new hypothesis for the place of the Pearl-Poet in history, locating him at the court of Edward III and building a case that he is likely to have served as chaplain and poet-mentor to royalty, specifically to Prince Lionel, Duke of Clarence. Within this provisional context, the book explores how each of the poet’s four works, Pearl, Patience, Cleanness, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, function as affective scripts, eliciting and shaping emotion in ways that served particular personal and political aims for the royal family in the late 1350s and early 1360s. This earlier dating for the poems, which builds on the work of Cooke, Fein, and Ingledew, raises broad questions about early English literary history. If the Pearl-Poet wrote ca. 1360, at the centre of the English court, how might this alter and enrich current understandings of the history of English literature?

Dr. McNamer looks forward to conversations about this subject at the Centre for Medieval Studies; she will be in residence from June 15-30. Graduate students and faculty should feel free to contact her at mcnamer@georgetown.edu.

She will also deliver a paper related to this project, “God’s Hot Haste: The Power of Divine Disgust in Cleanness,” at the “Powerful Emotions/Emotions and Power” conference co-sponsored by the University of York and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, 28-29 June.

 

Powerful Emotions/ Emotions and Power c.400-1850 (28-29 June 2017)

Powerful Emotions/ Emotions and Power c.400-1850

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Dates: 28‒29 June 2017
Venue: Humanities Research Centre, Berrick Saul Building, University of York

This interdisciplinary conference is jointly organised by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Centres for Medieval Studies, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York.

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Registration is now open.

CMS Annual Progression Workshop 2-4pm, Tuesday 23 May (K/111)

The CMS Annual Progression Workshop will take place on 23 May 2017 and will feature three first-year PhD students talking about their research projects:

  • Lauren Stokeld, “The Language of Built Structures in Medieval English from the Earliest Texts up to 1250”
  • Luke Giraudet, “An Anonymous 15th Century Parisian Journal: Civic Community and the Individual at the Time of French Civil War and English Occupation”
  • Tim Wingard, “Queering the Medieval Animal and Animalising the Medieval Queer: Animals and Transgressive Sexuality in Late Medieval England”

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All staff and MA and PhD students are warmly invited to come along and to support – there will be cake!

When: 23 May 2017, 2-4pm
Where: K/111

Researchers bring Old Norse language back to JORVIK Viking Centre

Old Norse has been brought back to life by researchers at the University of York through the voices of new animatronic Viking characters at the world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre.

 

 

The characters, which are voiced by Masters and PhD students at the University’s Centre for Medieval Studies and Department of English and Related Literature, form part of the revamped JORVIK Viking Centre, which opens its doors for the first time in 16 months following substantial damage to the attraction as a result of the 2015 floods.

The animatronic characters within JORVIK help tell the stories of what life was like in the year AD960 and are based on over 30 years of archaeological research by York Archaeological Trust, who discovered the remains of the Viking city during the Coppergate excavations of 1976-81.

Expert in the language, literature and history of the Viking Age, Dr Matthew Townend, translated the Jorvik script into Old Norse and Anglo Saxon, working alongside a team of students who were able to speak Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon for the voices of the animatronic characters.

Dr Townend said: “Old Norse is the ancestor of all the modern Scandinavian languages, and also exerted a profound influence on the English language, especially in the north of England.

“The University of York is one of a small number of institutions in the UK where Old Norse language and literature are studied intensively, and it’s been really exciting for the students and myself to be able to contribute our expertise to the re-fit of the world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre. We hope very much that our linguistic soundscape will help to take visitors back in time to a fascinating and important period.”

PhD student in the Department of English and Related Literature, Nik Gunn, provided language training for staff at the Centre, allowing them access to the basic principles of the Old Norse language to engage visitors with the way in which the Vikings communicated and the meaning of common phrases.

Rich heritage

Nik Gunn said: “Recreating material culture is something that archaeologists and heritage professionals have been doing well for decades, so bringing ‘everyday’ Old Norse, and Old English, back to life was a really interesting challenge.

“Linguistic diversity is such a crucial element of the story of Viking Age England, and hearing the languages that would have been spoken in 10th century York will help to raise awareness of this rich heritage.”

Sarah Maltby, Director of Attractions for JORVIK Viking Centre, said: “University research helps organisations, like York Archaeological Trust, to deliver engaging and authentic interpretations of history to the public.

“JORVIK is well known for its sights and smells, however with this new incarnation we are able to additionally expand on the soundscape and in particular the languages spoken.

“In AD960, Jorvik was an ethnically-diverse city with a population of 15,000; so as well as old Norse, visitors will hear animatronics speak Old English, Ancient Arabic, Old Irish and Middle Welsh.”

York Medieval Lecture: Literary Networks of the Vicars Choral and the Clerical Proletariat in Late Medieval York, Professor Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (7 March 2017)

York Medieval Lecture, Tuesday 7 March 2017

Professor Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (Notre Dame): ‘Literary Networks of the Vicars Choral and the Clerical Proletariat in Late Medieval York’

 

When Margery Kempe visited York Minster in 1417 she was befriended by two choral vicarii, John Kendale “and another preste whech song be the bischopys grave.” The grave was Richard Scrope’s, executed under Henry IV, and his semi-suppressed cult still no doubt a matter of some delicacy. Kendale and his unnamed fellow here were likely not only counseling Kempe, but telling her about the Minster’s history and saint’s cults – part of the job of cathedral vicarii. Kendale was also an owner of Piers Plowman, and if we link such information about the literary interests of the vicarii with some of the contemporary Latin writings produced at York Minster, we get a rare view of literary circles of the clerks lower down the ladder in the Minster’s local pride in its history (both legendary and more recent), its saints, and its zeal to protect its power and privileges. Other survivals relate directly to the Scrope execution, such as poems of traumatic mourning in heavily liturgical Latin (his death was personally witnessed by many of his cathedral familia in 1405, as its chronicles show), and fragmentary in-house chronicles – some of it even versified, as if for memorization. Despite the censorship efforts of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, a range of literature sprang up from within the the Minster, giving us a rare chance to look at the multilingual literary production within a normally invisible group. Comparisons will be made to surviving poetry from manuscripts connected to Norwich Cathedral Priory or London’s St. Paul’s, containing poems about the woes of chorister life or clerical isolation.

Professor Kerby-Fulton is the Notre Dame Professor of English. She works in Middle English literature and medieval Latin intellectual history, including religious and political censorship, apocalypticism, visionary writing and women’s mysticism. She has also worked on medieval manuscript studies in England and Anglo-Ireland, history of the book and medieval literary theory, especially in relation to marginalia, text-image relations, and reading practices before print.

To book tickets for this event, please use the University of York Eventbite website

 

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York Medieval Lecture: ‘Medieval Psalters as Witnesses to Liturgical Song: the Iberian Case’ – Dr Emma Hornby (25 April 2017)

York Medieval Lecture, 25 April 2017

Dr Emma Hornby (University of Bristol): ‘Medieval Psalters as Witnesses to Liturgical s
Song: the Iberian Case’

Christians in medieval Iberia had their own liturgical practices, independent of the Roman liturgy, until the late 11th century. Although about 40 surviving manuscripts and fragments bear witness to the Old Hispanic liturgy, it has remained a niche interest for scholars, in part because of its ‘peripheral’ status. A further, major, challenge is notational: thousands of Old Hispanic chants have been preserved, but in a notation that does not show pitch or intervals. We cannot transcribe or perform this material nowadays; it remains silent.

This lecture presents some of my recent research, in collaboration with Kati Ihnat (Nijmegen University), on this material. We have been exploring the use of psalmody in medieval Iberia. North of the Pyrenees, Benedictine monks sang the entire psalter every week; secular cathedral communities sang the psalter every three weeks. Scholars have argued fiercely about whether the Iberian evidence points towards a three week cycle, or even no psalm cycle at all. In attempting to understand and judge these arguments, we made a close analysis of two Iberian psalters, one from the 11th century and the other from the 12th. (BNE 10001, and LBL add. 30851; images of both manuscripts are now freely available online). As we delved into the contents more and more deeply, we found ourselves completely over-turning previous scholarly ideas about the shape and priorities of the liturgical day on the Iberian peninsula in the early middle ages. We have also been able to interrogate the unpitched neumes in which the psalm antiphons are preserved, resulting in the first attempted understanding since medieval times of the musical logic of the repertoire. Here, I introduce these beautiful and striking manuscripts, their cultural context, and their significance for medievalists, for musicologists, and for those who enjoy a good detective story.

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Breaking with Byzantium: Franciscan Artistic Patronage and Piety in Central Italy at the dawn of the Trecento (Monday 27 February 2017)

Breaking with Byzantium: Franciscan Artistic Patronage and Piety in Central Italy at the dawn of the Trecento

Speaker: Dr Donal Cooper (Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge)

Monday 27 February 2017, 4.30pm, Berrick Saul Building, Bowland Auditorium (BS/005)

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The Franciscan Order can be seen as the primary patronage framework within which different concepts of religious imagery played out in Italy in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. As Hans Belting and more recently Anne Derbes and Amy Neff have shown, the story is complex with the Order’s sensitivity to Byzantine art interacting with its innovative and increasingly empathetic devotional practices, developments most closely associated with the Meditations on the Life of Christ. As Emile Mâle famously commented: “few books have had a greater influence on art…” At the same time the ample historiography on Franciscan art is littered with unsuccessful attempts to relate the paintings and buildings commissioned by the friars with the bitter conflicts over the observation of poverty that gripped the Order in the years to either side of 1300 – when groups of idealistic Franciscans known today as the ‘Spirituals’ resisted the Order’s increasing institutionalization and its patronage of art and architecture. Recent discoveries by manuscript scholars and new finds in the archives – presented here for the first time – on the date and authorship of the Meditations on the Life of Christ invite a reassessment of this core devotional text, its relationship to internal debate within the Order, and its impact on Franciscan artistic patronage. Reviewed in this light, the fresco cycles painted by Giotto and Pietro Lorenzetti at Assisi can be understood as complex responses to the Order’s troubles, which absorbed the same devotional culture that underpinned the Meditations at the same time as they asserted an approved image of Franciscan poverty.

Donal Cooper is Senior Lecturer in Italian Art at the University of Cambridge and has published widely on the art and architecture of late medieval and Renaissance Italy, particularly the artistic patronage of the Franciscan Order. Publications include his co-authored monograph with Dr Janet Robson on the Upper Church of the Basilica of San Francesco at Assisi, The Making of Assisi (Yale University Press, 2013) which won the Art Book Prize in 2014.

This event is organized in association with the Medieval Art and Medievalisms Research School and the Project Exploring Fourteenth-Century Art Across the Eastern and Western Christian World.

Everyone is welcome.