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In theory, ‘ecclesiastical history’ is just a polysyllabic synonym for ‘church history’. In practice, however, it connotes something more precise: the history of the church institutional. Like other forms of institutional history, it has become something of a historiographical backwater – very respectable and much loved backwater, I hasten to note – in the last generation or so.
As a late medievalist who has recently moved to Scotland, I was disappointed to learn that the Burrell Collection in Glasgow – home to the many medieval treasures once owned by the shipping magnate and prolific collector, William Burrell – is closed over the next two years.
Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury (1120–70) is one of the iconic figures in British history – a man who most people have not only heard of, but also have an opinion on. Yet, despite the brutality of his murder, such opinions are not always positive. In fact, this medieval archbishop is an unusually divisive figure, and always has been.
The British Library’s new exhibition ‘Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War’ is a celebration of Anglo-Saxon culture and learning, mainly represented though the texts produced during that period.
‘In me,’ wrote Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in the early 11th century:
A word still a little unfamiliar to some historians (although not to those with a social science background) and not yet to be found in every dictionary, prosopography has made its influence felt through the work of a number of historians, notably Andrew Ayton, the recipient of this collection of essays, whose contribution to the development of the possibilities offered by the method’s techniqu
Christian Liddy argues that the notion of a ‘citizen’ was not the preserve of abstract medieval thinking, based on classical modes, but a living concept that had pervaded urban life since the 13th century. It was evident in residents’ writings, speech, and actions. This also meant that citizenship was mutable and contestable in its ideas and practices.
Brian Fitzgerald begins this timely, useful and extremely interesting book by stating what should be pretty obvious to scholars of medieval prophetic texts; that prophecy in the Middle Ages took a wide variety of forms, right across Europe and beyond.
Both in the number and quality of his writings, William of Malmesbury (c.1090-1142) has been widely recognised as one of the foremost contributors to the pronounced historiographical turn seen throughout the Anglo-Norman realm from the first decades of the 12th century onwards.
The exhibition honouring the legacy of Richard the Lionheart (d. 1199) - king of England, knight and crusading leader - at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer, Germany, offers a royal tribute to the legacy of this famous medieval ruler. Pageantry, stateliness and effective design create a compelling narrative, supported by displays of the most important treasures of Richard’s reign.