King’s Manor Apricot Jam

Those are four words I never thought I’d see together, but it’s true! The King’s Manor has a resident apricot tree that fruits every few years or so, and this year we got lucky enough to have a bumper crop!

Apricot Jam

And when life gives you apricots… well, make apricot jam.

This fabulous specimen was made by one of our* PhD students, Catherine-Rose Hailstone.


*Actually a History PhD student, but Catherine, like many of the medieval single-discipline PhD students, works in our PhD workroom at King’s Manor and is a vital member of the King’s Manor CMS community.

Congratulations Gary!

The Centre would like to congratulate Gary Brannan on his recent promotion to Keeper of Archives and Special Collections at the Borthwick Institute for Archives here at the University.

Our students primarily encounter Gary as one of our tutors in Palaeography (which we hope he still has time to be!), but his primary role (since 2014) has been as the Access Archivist at the Borthwick. Just recently, Gary had been acting Keeper of the Archives before the official appointment this month.

And if you needed more proof that York is a dangerously difficult city to get away from for medievalists, Gary also completed his undergraduate degree in History here at York before heading for his career in Archives!

Gary’s new responsibilities will include leadership of the Borthwick Institute, the Rare Books Collection, University Art Collection, and the York Minster library service based at the Old Palace (behind the Minster).

If you would like to know more about Gary’s work, or the Borthwick Institute itself, you can view his staff profile and the Institute’s homepage. You can also find Gary on Twitter @gbrannanarchive.


CMS-sponsored sessions at Kalamazoo 2020

Two PhD students based at the Centre, Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow (CMS) and Kirstin Barnard (History), have come together to organise two sessions at ICMS Kalamazoo 2020.


To see the submission guidelines, please visit the official Call for Papers page on the Western Michigan University website.

Date:  7th–10th May 2020.

Organiser: Prof. Sarah Rees Jones

Chairs: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow & Kirstin Barnard

Title: Constructing Communities Through Story-Telling I & II

Work has been done on the creation of community identity through history writing in the Middle Ages, but other kinds of texts that tell stories – including exemplary or didactic tales, miracle stories, and court depositions – have rarely been examined for what they can tell us about the construction and shaping of communities. They are often seen as narratives about existing communities, whilst their instrumentality in creating groups, both formal and informal, has rarely been explored.

Use of the term ‘community’ itself within medieval scholarship and beyond has proliferated since the end of the twentieth century and yet the term has often been used ambiguously and uncritically. Previously connected to debates over whether medieval notions of individualism and self-consciousness existed, community is not, then, without controversy. One way to address issues of ambiguity in this topic is to consider how different communities were conceived of, and constructed by, contemporaries though the use of stories. The exploration of community creation is a developing area of study within medieval scholarship, but one by no means exhausted.

We would welcome proposals for papers on any part of the medieval world and from any discipline, so long as they explore how medieval communities or groups were, or could be, constructed through stories.

Congratulations graduates!

The Centre would like to congratulate Dr Zara Burford and Dr Eric Wolever for receiving their PhD in Medieval Studies certificates on Saturday 20 July, alongside MA in Medieval Studies graduates Laura Houghton and Alice Yevko.

The ceremony also saw the graduation of medieval PhD candidates Dr Timothy Rowbotham and Dr Katherine Rich from the Department of English.

Congratulations all!

You can watch the graduation ceremony here, with Medieval Studies around 1:50.


Dr Lydia Zeldenrust Awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

The Centre would like to congratulate Dr Lydia Zeldenrust, Associate Lecturer at the Department of English and Related Literature, University of York, and key member of the CMS, who has been awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship this summer, for the project ‘Continental Connections: European Bestselling Romances in England (c. 1400-1600).’

Having been awarded such a Fellowship is a significant achievement given the fiercely competitive nature of the application process, and it is a testament to Dr Zeldenrust’s proven record of research that she has been awarded this opportunity to develop her career and research. The project will run from October 2019-October 2022, during which Lydia will remain at the Department of English and Related Literature and the Centre for Medieval Studies.

The Leverhulme Trust aims to fund outstanding scholarship and is particularly encouraging of research that is original and enables a refreshing departure from established patterns, so it is unsurprising that Lydia’s multilingual, transcultural approach to medieval romance has been recognised as a fitting project for this Fellowship.

You can find out more about Lydia’s work and research on her University of York profile.

HRC Doctoral Fellowships

The HRC held its annual Doctoral Fellowships competition today, with CMS PhD Luke Giraudet being awarded third place.

Each year the HRC offers a number of Doctoral Fellowships to arts and humanities PhD students currently in their third full-time year of study (or equivalent part-time) at the University of York.

Each arts and humanities department (including the Departments of Archaeology, English and Related Literature, History, History of Art, Philosophy, Language and Linguistic Science, Music, Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media, and the Centre for Medieval Studies) may nominate one candidate from their third-year PhDs to compete in the Doctoral Fellowship Finals: a series of short presentations in which the presenters are judged on their capacity to communicate high-quality research clearly and engagingly to a non-specialist audience. While all nine finalists receive a Doctoral Fellowship, the judging panel can award a variety of prizes at an awards ceremony at the end of the Finals.


Luke Giraudet, CMS PhD, at King’s Manor

It was at this awards ceremony that Luke Giraudet was awarded third place from the 2019 Finalists, for his presentation on Political Communication and Public Opinion in the ‘Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, 1405-1449’.

The criteria for being nominated for a Doctoral Fellowship are intellectual achievement and potential, and the Centre would like to congratulate Luke for not only receiving the Fellowship, but for also designing an accessible and engaging presentation on the day.

You can read more about the HRC Doctoral Fellowships on the HRC website, and see the full details of the 2019 HRC Doctoral Fellows and their research in the programme from the day.

New Book from York Medieval Press

York Medieval Press’s latest publication is close to our hearts here at the Centre for Medieval Studies: Craig Taylor’s A Virtuous Knight: Defending Marshal Boucicaut (Jean II Le Meingre, 1366-1421).

Craig was our Director here from 2010-2011 and from 2014-2017, and is currently a Reader in Medieval History at the University – still very much an active member of our CMS community.

A radical re-interpretation of the chivalric biography of Boucicaut, A Virtuous Knight argues that the biography is a much more complex and interesting text than previously suggested, fusing traditional notions of chivalry with the most fashionable new ideas in circulation at the French court at the start of the fifteenth century.

You can read more about the book on Boydell & Brewer’s website.

Summer of Research

We’ve had a fabulous few weeks here at the Centre, celebrating the varied research and research interests of our community.

Annual Riddy Lecture: In the next leyf: the edge of the material text

This term kicked off with the Annual Riddy Lecture, delivered by Professor Daniel Wakelin (Oxford) who spoke to members of the Centre and the general public about York’s role in the history of studying manuscripts, and the limits of studying the ‘material text. Dan argued that we shouldn’t always focus on the material confines of the page, but rather consider other ways of reading the text. Indeed, medieval readers seem to have been alarmed by the prospect of the page break disrupting the reading of a text, with sometimes the words “verte folium” (turn the page) inserted in the margin at suspenseful moments.

BodL-Bodley100-f73r CROPPED

On 3 May we welcomed Dr Volker Hilberg (Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen) to talk to the Viking Studies Research Group about Hedeby and its relations with the Danelaw in the late 9th and 10th centuries. This meeting, which was generously sponsored by the Humanities Research Centre at the University of York, gave students and staff a chance to hear some of the cutting edge research coming out of Hedeby from the master of the medieval collections at the Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen himself.

Less than a week later, we had something different again, as on 7 May Professor Frans van Liere (Calvin College, visiting professor at St Johns, York) delivered a seminar on Approaches to the Medieval Bible, and on 21 May we had Professor Laura Ashe come from Oxford to consider Which came first: the romance or the ballad? in a York Medieval Lecture about The Squire of Low Degree.

Photo 20-09-2017, 12 36 26 (2)

Prof. Laura Ashe

23 and 24 May saw once again two drastically different research events unfold (demonstrating the rich and varied range of disciplinary experiences open to our students), as we held our celebrations of Professor Linne Mooney’s career, before having Dr Unn Pedersen (Oslo) give a Viking Students Research Group talk on: Viking Age Vestfold: Urban Vikings and Rural Fashionistas.

The Viking Town 2016

Unn has also written books for children related to her research.

The celebration of Linne’s career deserves a blog post of its own (forthcoming); so it just remains to be said that Unn’s talk was well-received by an audience made of up MA and PhD students and staff from all disciplines across the Centre’s parent departments, and was fabulously followed by the annual Norse in the North conference on Saturday 25 May: a consistent celebration of Norse-related research and researchers in York and across Europe.

Norse in the North

For more details about upcoming events at the Centre, please visit our Events pages.

Unsound History of the Sound of Space

The Renaissance Mathematicus

Those readers, who have been around for a number of years, will know that from time to time the Renaissance Mathematicus has hosted guest posts. One thing that we are very proud of is the very high standard of the authors, who have delivered up, at our invitation, those literary #histSTM highpoints. We only host the best! Todays guest post continues this tradition with a real star of the world of science, science writing and #histSTM, Tom McLeish FRS. Tom was Professor of Physics at Durham University, where he was one of the initiators and chief investigators of the on going Ordered Universe international research project: InterdisciplinaryReadings of Medieval Science: Robert Grosseteste (c.1170–1253).

800px-Grosseteste_bishop !4th Century portrait of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tom is now Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics at the University of York (I think he’s doing a slow…

View original post 1,264 more words

CMS Field Trip: 18/04/19

On Thursday 18 April, a large proportion of the CMS MA cohort, along with some Medieval Literature and Language and Medieval History MAs, and one PhD student, headed out into the Yorkshire countryside to enjoy a day of medieval architecture, brilliant sunshine, and glorious wall paintings.


We started the day at Rievaulx Abbey, accompanied by Professor Christopher Norton and Dr Stuart Harrison. Turns out, getting there for opening was a great idea, as the site soon got busy with walkers and families enjoying the good weather (and the Easter Holiday). Stuart and Christopher took us around the main church building of the Abbey, paying particular attention to the structure of the building.


This was a great opportunity to discuss recent events at Notre Dame de Paris, and we heard all about the importance of stone vaults, and the effect of fires on ecclesiastical buildings around the world (not least York Minster).


After our mini-lecture, the students explored the site for themselves, marveling especially at the grand Refectory.


Our second stop of the day was at Helmsley Castle, where we heard about the different phases of the site.


The later medieval range was specifically highlighted by Christopher and Stuart as having structural and interior similarities to our own Huntingdon Room at the King’s Manor.


The keep of the castle would have had a distinct D-shape – sadly the curved wall has since been destroyed.

We spent some time in Helmsley to satisfy any hunger cravings, as it was by now most definitely lunch time. The weather continued to oblige, and it felt like summer being able to sit outside to eat.

After lunch we headed to Pickering, and met Dr Kate Giles at the church of Sts Peter and Paul. Those who hadn’t visited the church before gasped in awe on entering the church – and even when you have visited before, the wall paintings are enough to leave you humbled once again.

Kate treated us to a talk on the history of the paintings, their various coverings and restoration attempts over the centuries, and really brought the church alive for us.


The final stop of the day was Stonegrave Minster, village church of Robert Thornton, a fifteenth-century lay scribe responsible for the production of two anthology manuscripts (Lincoln, Cathedral Library MS 91 and British Library MS Additional 31042). Robert’s parents have a memorial monument at Stonegrave Minster, and the Thornton residence at East Newton Hall lies fairly close by the church.

At Stonegrave we had the benefit of hearing from Drs Nicola McDonald and Dav Smith. Nicola is currently researching the life and works of Robert Thornton, while Dav wrote part of his PhD thesis on the church itself.

The students, and us here in the office, had a fabulous day, and would like to extend our thanks to Christopher, Stuart, Kate, Nicola, and Dav for coming along and imparting their expertise on a new generation of medieval scholars!