Aliens, Foreigners and Strangers in Medieval England, c. AD 500-1500 (26-27 March)

Aliens, Foreigners and Strangers in Medieval England, c. AD 500-1500

Thursday 26 & Friday 27 March 2015, 9.30am – 5.00pm
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Convenors: Professor Mark Ormrod, University of York; Professor Joanna Story, University of Leicester; Professor Elizabeth Tyler, University of York

Immigration, its causes and its consequences, is a contentious topic with profound political, social, economic and cultural effects both for individual migrants and for the host and donor communities. It is not a new phenomenon. This conference will take a multidisciplinary approach to the presence and treatment of foreigners in England across the medieval millennium. It will provide deep historical and cultural context to discussions among policy-makers and the general public about ethnicity, multiculturalism and the evolution of national identity in modern Britain.

Speakers include:

Dr John Baker, University of Nottingham
Professor Michael Bennett, University of Tasmania (respondent)
Dr Jayne Carroll, University of Nottingham
Professor Julia Crick, King’s College London
Professor Matthew Davies, University of London
Professor Christopher Dyer FBA, University of Leicester (respondent)
Dr Martin Findell, University of Leicester
Professor Dawn Hadley, University of Sheffield
Professor Mark Jobling, University of Leicester
Professor Maryanne Kowaleski, Fordham University
Dr Bart Lambert, Durham University
Dr Andrew Millard, Durham University
Dr Simon Myers, University of Oxford
Professor Mark Ormrod, University of York
Professor Walter Prevenier, Ghent University
Dr Philip Shaw, University of Leicester
Professor Joanna Story, University of Leicester
Professor Elizabeth Tyler, University of York
Professor Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Fordham University

For more information and to register, please see the website of the British Academy

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The Lords of Misrule – Drunks and Dragons (5-7 March)

From The Lords of Misrule come four tales in one evening, straight from the
mouths of the greatest story-tellers of them all—bored blokes in a pub!
Discover the great red and white dragons which tormented the Anglo-Saxon
settlement of England; the devil-dragon whose wiles sought to undo the
strong-willed St Margaret; the cursed princess of Northumbria, trapped in
the body of a villainous wyrm; and the great tormenter of innocents, which
met its match in St George.

This original production, written by PhD candidates working at the
University of York, retells, in funny and fast-paced drama, four of the best
stories about dragons from the Middle Ages. Take a pew as you watch the
brash Maulheld & his long-suffering drinking partner Simpel argue out who
has the best dragon story in the pub.

Thursday March 5, Friday March 6 and Saturday March 7 at Holy Trinity,
Micklegate, 7pm.

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Viking Age Yorkshire – Dr Matt Townend

Matthew Townend, Viking Age Yorkshire (Blackthorn Press, 2014), ISBN978-1906259396

In 866, the city of York was captured by a ‘Great Army’ of Viking warriors. Ten years later, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Viking army made the transition from warfare to settlement, as their leader ‘shared out the land of the Northumbrians, and they proceeded to plough and to support themselves’. This conquest and settlement marked the beginning of two centuries of Scandinavian dominance in Yorkshire, a defining period in the county’s history. Viking kings reigned in York until 954, when the last Scandinavian ruler, Eric Bloodaxe, was driven out and killed. But even after Yorkshire had come under the rule of the southern kings of England, Scandinavian culture remained extremely strong, and imparted a distinctive and enduring character to the region.

This book offers the first full-length study of Yorkshire’s Viking centuries, from the fall of York to the Norman Conquest. It gives sustained attention not only to the written sources for the period, but also to the evidence of names, language, art, and archaeology, and it integrates these various sources to present a detailed reconstruction of life and politics in Viking Age Yorkshire, in both the city of York and the surrounding countryside – from the major upheavals of conquest and conversion to the complex issues of identity and assimilation.

Matthew Townend is Reader in the Department of English and Related Literature, and Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York. His previous books include Language and History in Viking Age England (2002) and The Vikings and Victorian Lakeland: the Norse medievalism of W.G. Collingwood and his contemporaries (2009).

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The Vikings in York

The Viking Festival returns to York from 14 to 21 February, with public events all around the city. Some highlights include:

  • Viking Yorkshire with Matthew Townend (Tuesday 17 Feb @ 2pm)
  • the return to York of Søren SindbækDiscovering Borgring: A Viking Fortress Reveals its Secrets with Søren Sindbæk and Nanna Holm (Thursday 19 Feb @ 18:30pm)

See the online programme for full details and to book.


In addition, the History Channel has commissioned a series of ‘webisodes’ that cover the history, literature, and archaeology behind the popular television drama series ‘Vikings’. University of York staff and alumni feature heavily, with appearances from Steve Ashby (York), Soren Sindbaek (now Aarhus), and Neil Price (now Uppsala). Steve’s episode, on Ribe and the start of the Viking Age, is available on-line, and you can access all the other videos from the same location.

A new collection of essays on Viking and medieval craftspeople

Steve Ashby is the co-editor of a new collection of essays on Viking and medieval craftspeople

Gitte Hansen, Steve Ashby, and Irene Baug (Eds), 2015. Everyday Products in the Middle Ages: Crafts, Consumption and the individual in Northern Europe c. AD 800-1600. Oxford: Oxbow.

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The medieval marketplace is a familiar setting in popular and academic accounts of the Middle Ages, but we actually know very little about the people involved in the transactions that took place there, how their lives were influenced by those transactions, or about the complex networks of individuals whose actions allowed raw materials to be extracted, hewn into objects, stored and ultimately shipped for market. Twenty diverse case studies combine leading edge techniques and novel theoretical approaches to illuminate the identities and lives of these much overlooked ordinary people, painting of a number of detailed portraits to explore the worlds of actors involved in the lives of everyday products – objects of bone, leather, stone, ceramics, and base metal – and their production and use in medieval northern Europe. In so doing, this book seeks to draw attention away from the emergent trend to return to systems and global models, and restore to centre stage what should be the archaeologist’s most important concern: the people of the past.

The book can be purchased from Oxbow Books.

England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 – launch of the database

A major new research database revealing extraordinary data on immigration in England in the late medieval period is now available, thanks to the University of York, in partnership with the Humanities Research Institute (University of Sheffield) and The National Archives.

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The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded the three-year project directed by Professor Mark Ormrod, of the University’s Centre for Medieval Studies, who headed a team of researchers based in York and London.

It reveals evidence about the names, origins, occupations and households of a significant number of foreigners who chose to live and work in England in the era of the Hundred Years War, the Black Death and the Wars of the Roses. The project contributes to debates about the longer-term history of immigration to Britain, helping to provide a deep historical and cultural context to contemporary debates over ethnicity, multiculturalism and national identity.

The database contains the names of a total of 65,000 immigrants resident in England between 1330 and 1550. In one year, 1440, the names of 14,500 individuals were recorded – this at a time when the population of England was approximately 2 million. Taking into account gaps in the records, the researchers estimated that one person in every hundred was a foreigner. They were found in all counties, from Cornwall to Northumberland, in hamlets as well as in major ports. Their nationalities ranged from people from other parts of the British Isles, including Scots, Irish and Channel Islanders, to mainland Europeans from Portugal to Sweden, from Greece to Iceland. In many cases the occupation of the individual is known, from highly skilled craftsmen such as goldsmiths, to weavers – many of whom were Flemish – to agricultural labourers. Three Flemish weavers from Diest in Belgium lived and worked in St Ives, Huntingdonshire, in the 1330s; and John Lammyns, a goldsmith from Antwerp, lived in Bristol in the 1430s and 1440s. The research reveals that aristocratic households brought back foreign servants from English-occupied France at the end of the Hundred Years War: Sir John Montgomery of Faulkbourne, Essex, had five foreigners working in his household in the 1440s. Many ordinary families of traders, artisans and workers chose to migrate to England. Walter, a minstrel from Germany, settled in London in the late fifteenth century with his entire family, including his mother, wife, three sons and three daughters.

One of the surprises revealed by the research is the number of resident immigrants who lived and worked in rural areas, rather than in towns and cities. The research reveals how such people integrated – and sometimes clashed – with English people, suggesting much about how our ancestors used language, dress and behaviour as symbols of national identity.

Professor Ormrod says: “The England’s Immigrants project transforms our understanding of the way that English people and foreigners, of all levels of society, lived and worked together in the era of the Plantagenets and early Tudors. The research provides a deep historical context for modern debates about the movement of peoples and the state’s responsibilities to regulate immigration.”

The database is accessible to all at and is a fully searchable and interactive resource, from which data can be downloaded. The website also supports the researcher with guides to the various counties and documents, and provides case studies of interesting individuals demonstrating just how much we can learn from our immigrant ancestors.

And as an added extra, here is Professor Mark Ormrod’s interview on BBC Radio Devon (16 February 2015), explaining the database

and here is a BBC website new story.

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The Politics of Visual Translations of Jerusalem (20-21 March 2015)


The Politics of Visual Translations of Jerusalem (20-21 March 2015)

University of York, Berrick Saul Building

This conference will consider the political dimensions in the creation and use of architectural copies, visual representations and physical relics of the holy places of Jerusalem in Europe and beyond. Ranging from the medieval period to the present day, papers will cover topics including the importance of Jerusalem for the image of rulers, the role of Jerusalem in public rituals and punishment, the appropriation of Jerusalem sites as war memorials and the role of Jerusalem translations in current political debates.

The conference is convened by Laura Slater and Hanna Vorholt, and hosted by the Department of History of Art at the University of York in association with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the context of the major ERC-funded-research project ‘SPECTRUM – Visual Translations of Jerusalem’

Speakers include Kristin B. Aavitsland, Kobi Ben-Meir, Carla Benzan, Jane Chick, Antony Eastmond (keynote lecture), Cathleen A. Fleck, Catherine E. Hundley, Bob Jobbins, Bianca Kühnel, Betsy Bennett Purvis, Marianne Ritsema van Eck, Elisabeth Ruchaud, Shimrit Shriki, Laura Slater, Nancy Thebaut and Achim Timmermann (keynote lecture).

The keynote lectures are free to the public.

To register for the conference please see our conference website which also includes the full conference programme and abstracts.

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Friday 20th March

13:30-15:00 Session 1: Envisaging Jerusalem
Jane Chick (University of East Anglia), ‘Presenting Jerusalem: Monza and
Bobbio Reconsidered’
Cathleen A. Fleck (Saint Louis University), ‘Symbols of Hegemony: Jerusalem on
a Crusader Pilaster’
Elisabeth Ruchaud (Institut Catholique de Paris), ‘Envisioning the Anastasis:
mnemonic and political reconstruction of the holy sites’

15:30-17:00 Session 2: Crusading Identities
Catherine E. Hundley (University of Virginia/Warburg Institute), ‘Bringing the
Anastasis Home: The Architecture and Politics of the Resurrection in TwelfthCentury
Kristin B. Aavitsland (MF Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo), ‘The Fight for
Jerusalem in Scandinavian Village Churches (12th-13th Centuries)’
Nancy Thebaut (University of Chicago), ‘Architectures of Absence: Holy
Sepulchre Copies during the First through Third Crusades’

18:00-19:00 First Keynote Address
Achim Timmermann (University of Michigan), ‘Jerusalem, the Stations of the Cross and Rituals of Capital Punishment, c.1400-1600’

Saturday 21st March

09:30-10:00 Session 3: Jerusalem in the locality: absence and presence
Betsy Bennett Purvis (University of Toronto), ‘Lamenting the Sepulchre: The
Place of the Holy Sepulchre in Visual Rhetoric of the Renaissance Crusades’
Carla Benzan (University College London), ‘Stabilising the Image of Jerusalem:
the politics of the local and global in Varallo’s Scala Sancta’
Marianne Ritsema van Eck (University of Amsterdam), ‘Visualising St Francis’
possession of Jerusalem and the Holy Land during the 17th century: the
instances in books by Quaresmio, Calahorra, Surius and Gonsales’

11:30-12.30 Session 4: Conflict and Reconciliation
Bob Jobbins (University of Essex), ‘Entry into Jerusalem: Symbol of Triumph,Source of Conflict’
Shimrit Shriki (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), ‘The Appropriation of Jerusalem Sites as Places of War Commemoration’

13:30-14:30 Session 5: Conflict and Reconciliation 2
Laura Slater (University of York), ‘Jerusalem in British War Memorials’
Sophia Brown (University of Kent), ‘Jerusalem Duplicated- The Radical
Reconfiguration of Palestinian Space in Larissa Sansour’s Nation Estate’

15:00-16:00 Second Keynote Address
Antony Eastmond (Courtauld Institute of Art), ‘Contesting Images of Jerusalem’

16:00-16:30 Concluding Remarks
Bianca Kühnel (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)