4th Annual Late Medieval France and Burgundy Workshop (3 December 2016)

The 4th Annual Late Medieval France and Burgundy Workshop (3 December 2016) brings together scholars from different disciplines working on late medieval French and Burgundian culture and history.

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Registration (10.00-10.30am)

Session 1 (10.30-12.00pm)
Kristin Bourassa (University of Southern Denmark), ‘Pierre Salmon’s Dialogues and Political Literature in Late-Medieval France’
Craig Taylor (University of York) & Jane Taylor (University of Durham), ‘Le livre des fais du bon messire Jehan le Maingre, dit Bouciquaut
Rebecca Dixon (University of Liverpool), ‘The Sound of Silence: Visual Noise in Burgundian Manuscript Illustration’

Session 2 (1.30-3pm)
Katherine Wilson (University of Chester), ‘Inventories as urban and courtly ‘theatre’
Helen Swift (Oxford University), ‘Who am I when I am dead? Rethinking identity and narrative voice in late- medieval French literature’
Hannah Skoda (Oxford University), ‘Nostalgia in fourteenth-century France’

Session 3 (3.30-4.45pm)
Justine Firnhaber-Baker (University of St Andrews), ‘Telling Stories: Sources and Methods for Writing about Rebellion’
Godfried Croenen (University of Liverpool), ‘Narrativisation, entrelacement and the re-writing of Froissart’s Book I’

Roundtable (5.00-6.00pm)

Registration costs £15. For further information, please contact craig.taylor@york.ac.uk

Please download our workshop poster and programme of events


Art, Architecture and Archaeology in Late Medieval York (21-25 July 2017)



Art, Architecture and Archaeology in Late Medieval York (21-25 July 2017)

The 2017 British Archaeological Association Conference will take place in York, and will concentrate on the long late middle ages (circa 1150-1550). The conference will convene in the early afternoon of Friday, 21st July and run until lunchtime on Tuesday, 25th July. There will be visits and walking tours to several sites in York, including the Minster and some of the many medieval parish churches, guildhalls and other secular buildings.

Lectures will take place at the King’s Manor, Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EP.

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York Minster, Great East Window, panel 5g (detail). Photo: The York Glaziers Trust


A limited quantity of hotel and shared facility university accommodation will be available to book on a first come first served basis but delegates may wish to book their own accommodation elsewhere. A list of hotels and guest houses within easy reach of the King’s Manor will be provided. The conference welcomes professional and amateur enthusiasts equally, though it is only open to BAA members, so anyone wishing to attend who is not already a member will have to take out an annual subscription.

Call for papers
: If you would like to offer a paper (length up to 30 minutes) please send a proposal of no more than 300 words to baa-2017@york.ac.uk by 27th October 2016.

There will be small number of student scholarships available. Please apply by email to baa-2017@york.ac.uk by 14th April 2017, enclosing a short CV, reference and email address.

Booking forms will be posted to BAA members in February 2017. For all enquiries please contact the Hon. Conference Secretary at conference@thebaa.org.

Honorary Conference Convenors: Tim Ayers, Sarah Brown, Sarah Rees Jones and Philip Lankester.

Call for Papers: Powerful Emotions / Emotions & Power c. 400-1850 (28-30 June 2017)

The Centre for Medieval Studies, the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies have joined forces to establish a relationship with the Australian Research Council funded project on the History of Emotions (http://www.historyofemotions.org.au).
As part of this collaboration, the University of York and the Australian Research Council will be holding a joint conference on Powerful Emotions / Emotions & Power c. 400-1850 in York from 28-30 June 2017. The call for papers is now available at http://www.yorkemotion.com
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CMS Summer Party

On Monday 20 June 2016, we held our annual CMS Summer Party on the lawn at the King’s Manor. Blessed by a unprecedented splash of sunshine, we gathered for strawberries, prossecco and ice creams provided by Paul and his truck!




During the party, we were delighted to announce that Stephanie Montieth is this year’s winner of the £150 Garmonsway Prize for the best academic performance in the first half of the MA in Medieval Studies, as well as the Viking Poetry Essay prize.

We also had the sad task of saying goodbye to Andy and Dawson, two great friends of the CMS who are leaving as the university makes radical changes to the portering arrangements at the King’s Manor. We are very sorry to see them go.


And many thanks to Heidi Stoner for taking the photographs at the event!

A Visit to the Palace of Westminster

Jennifer Caddick is a student on the MA in Medieval Studies and is currently writing a dissertation on Sermons and the Painted Chamber during the Opening of English Parliaments, 1399-1484. At the end of April, she was shown round the Palace of Westminster by Martyn Atkins, Senior Clerk at the House of Commons. Here she reflects on that visit.

For the past couple of years, I’ve enjoyed studying a few different aspects of late-medieval English parliaments. Despite this interest, I’d only ever accessed them through the parliament rolls and had never managed to visit the Palace of Westminster as it stands today. Until the end of April, that is. Martyn Atkins was kind enough to take time out of his day to show me around, and I was able to see and learn a great deal about the history of the Palace of Westminster, and hear some interesting stories about parliamentary proceedings today! While I was able to see a large amount of the Palace of Westminster (including the Lords and Commons chambers, and the committee rooms), the visit was incredibly useful in providing me with a better perspective on the site for my MA dissertation on opening sermons and the Painted Chamber between 1399 and 1484.


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Westminster Hall has been central to (what is now) the parliamentary estate since the 11th century. In 1399 during the first parliament of Henry IV’s reign, members gathered for the opening of parliament in “the Great Hall of Westminster” (PROME online). With quite a nice sense of continuity, Westminster Hall is still used for political purposes, and the opening ceremonies for conferences of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and the North Atlantic Assembly have been held there.

From Westminster Hall, we next walked to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, which is beautiful and definitely worth checking out! Admittedly, it was restored in the second-half of the 19th century, when there were attempts to recreate its medieval decorations in a neo-gothic style. Adjacent to the Chapel as well is a broom cupboard with a plaque inside dedicated to the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who hid in there overnight during the 1911 census.

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While Westminster Hall provided a brilliant sense of the architecture of the medieval palace, St Stephen’s Hall was useful in terms of getting a better idea of the dimensions of the Painted Chamber. The current St Stephen’s Hall was built upon the foundations of St Stephen’s Chapel, which was lost in the 1834 fire, but which during the medieval period was parallel to the Painted Chamber. Seeing St Stephen’s Hall, however, has made more real for me a problem I was encountering when considering the audience of the opening sermons. The rolls of parliament seem to suggest that everyone involved in parliamentary proceedings would gather before the King. Yet this doesn’t seem to be entirely plausible when considering the dimensions of the building.

When the Painted Chamber panels were uncovered in the early 19th century, copies were made by Stothard and Crocker, whose works were then used by Tristram to reproduce the images. These reproductions were tucked away together away from what I believe is the normal visitors’ groups (we’d definitely gotten away from the school groups at that point at least), and I may not have had the chance to see them otherwise. Although they are reproductions, it was again rather wonderful to be able to see the scale on which these images may have been produced, and the details that may have been implemented.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures at that point, but I was able to snap another picture on the terrace.


And then, one final picture – Martyn and I with Westminster Hall in the background (it had just started raining…).


Thank you again to Martyn for his time and for the opportunity to visit the Palace of Westminster, and thanks also to Craig Taylor for contacting Martyn and making this visit possible.

The Fair Unknown Award winner 2016 – Dr Jenn Bartlett


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Usha Vishnuvajjala presented the 2015 Fair Unknown Award to Jennifer Bartlett on behalf of the selection committee. The citation read:

“Jennifer Bartlett’s 2015 Kalamazoo paper, titled Arthur’s Dinner: Or, Robert Thornton Goes Shopping, reads the Alliterative Morte Darthur‘s early feast scene for what it can tell us about the material world depicted in the text and the material world of the scribe Robert Thornton. Bartlett demonstrates that the seemingly exotic foodstuffs at Arthur’s feast would have been quite available to Thornton in fifteenth-century York, and that familiar, quotidian objects like herbs and spices were regularly imported from so-called “exotic” locations.

The resulting article, published in Arthuriana, 26.1, argues convincingly for rethinking Thornton’s view of the “Oryent.” Just as Arthur imports foreign foodstuffs and domesticates them. Bartlett argues, he must draw on resources from outside Britain to sustain his seeming peerless status in the Alliterative Morte. Not only does the article re-orient the Alliterative Morte‘s relationship to the east, it also gives us a fascinating look at the details of the really weird food served at Arthur’s feast.

Jennifer received her PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of York in 2015.

Congratulations, Jennifer!”

Viking Studies – The Archaeology of Coastal Sites in Viking-Age Continental Europe and Scandinavia

In May the Viking Studies Research Group, sponsored by the Department of Archaeology and the Centre for Medieval Studies, welcomed to York, two of Europe’s leading archaeologists in the study of early-medieval coastal sites, Prof Dries Tys (Free University, Brussels) and Dr Sven Kalmring (Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schloss-Gottorf). Here they discuss the archaeology of coastal sites in Viking-Age continental Europe and Scandinavia:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXNnSBrgVDc

The Development of Borough Customary Law in Medieval Britain, Esther Liberman Cuenca (Fordham University), Tuesday 31 May 2016

The Development of Borough Customary Law in Medieval Britain

Esther Liberman Cuenca (Fordham University)

Tuesday 31 May 2016, 5.30pm in KG/84

This lecture explores the development of borough customary law, or customary practices that took on the force of law within English towns and cities, as it began to appear in royal charters and custumals (or collections of customs) in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Compared to the abundant scholarship on medieval common law and canon law, both of which generated extensive treatises and commentaries by medieval contemporaries who were professionals formally trained in schools, publications on medieval English customary law have been few and far between. Law merchant and manorial customary law have received some attention, but fewer studies have focused on borough customary law, with the notable exception of Mary Bateson’s seminal Selden Society volumes, collectively entitled Borough Customs (1904-6), which focused mainly property rights and the jurisdiction of the borough courts. Building on Bateson’s work, this talk grapples with how borough officials began to develop their own set of customs as both prescriptive guidelines and as laws that helped them intervene in the pressing concerns of their communities. An examination of over fifty charters from the boroughs of Beverley, Bristol, Colchester, Dublin, and Southampton—as well as six stand-alone custumals from Exeter, Ipswich, Lincoln, Newcastle, Northampton, and Winchester— show that the majority dealt with the procedures and jurisdiction of the borough courts, bearing directly on the source of legal power for the urban elite, but that this focus shifts markedly over time to the requirements and particular challenges of holding political office.

This change in focus reveals three crucial features of the development of borough customary law in this early period. First, the appearance of independently produced custumals embodied a shift in the way borough customary came to be conceptualized. Borough customs were not only seigniorial privileges that granted rights, but also a set of laws that ensured officials could exercise these rights with sufficient responsibility, restraint, and consistency. Second, the increasing emphasis in later charters and custumals on the duties, character, and qualifications of holding political office exemplifies a broader trend in the development of customary law, one that signals the maturation and ever-growing influence of towns as loci of power and the power of men tasked with their governance. Lastly, the discourse of borough customary law combined two, inextricably linked conceptions of custom that depended on both seigniorial charters, with privileges handed down or renewed over time, and collections of practices and traditions that were rooted in local context and concerns.

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Bede, the recta fides, and the Lateran Council of 649 – Miranda Wilcox (Brigham Young University & CMS Visiting Professor)

Bede, the recta fides, and the Lateran Council of 649

Miranda Wilcox (Brigham Young University & CMS Visiting Professor)
Tuesday 10 May
5.30pm – King’s Manor KG/84

Fifty years after Archbishop Theodore convened a synod at Hatfield in 679 to demonstrate the orthodoxy of the English in anticipation of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, Bede memorialized the synod and its orthodoxy in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Given the contested nature of what constituted the true faith—the recta fides—it is surprising that Bede only quoted portions of the definition of faith made by the English bishops and recorded in a synodical letter to Rome. Bede’s selectiveness raises pressing questions: What did he leave out? Why did he leave it out?

While some have assumed that Bede was ignorant of the theological and historical contexts, particularly the Christological crises, of the seventh century, textual evidence reveals otherwise. Bede’s understanding of what constituted heretical and orthodox Christology, that is how the divine and human are related in the person of Jesus Christ, developed over his lifetime as he acquired sources. I propose a timeline of when Bede gained access to two key Roman sources: The Book of Pontiffs and the acts of the Lateran Council (649), and discuss how these sources changed the trajectory of Bede’s heresiology and Christology. Although Bede was relatively familiar with the competing Christologies which had divided the East and West by the time he completed the Ecclesiastical History in 731, I argue that he purposefully and wisely focused on Trinitarian doctrine in his account of the Hatfield synod, thus shaping the Anglo-Saxon perception of the recta fides for centuries.


Professor Miranda Wilcox is Associate Professor of English at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where she teaches medieval literature. Her research focuses on the intersections of religious and textual culture in early medieval Europe, especially in Anglo-Saxon England. She is working on a book project titled Confessing the Faith in Anglo-Saxon England. This winter she is working on a chapter about definitions of faith made by Anglo-Saxon church councils and continental definitions transmitted to Anglo-Saxon England. She received a master’s and doctorate in medieval studies from the University of Notre Dame.