Monthly Archives: April 2017

Publication! Ottonian Queenship by Simon MacLean

Simon MacLean’s new publication Ottonian Queenship has just been released by Oxford University Press. From the website:

This is the first major study in English of the queens of the Ottonian dynasty (919-1024). The Ottonians were a family from Saxony who are often regarded as the founders of the medieval German kingdom. They were the most successful of all the dynasties to emerge from the wreckage of the pan-European Carolingian Empire after it disintegrated in 888, ruling as kings and emperors in Germany and Italy and exerting indirect hegemony in France and in Eastern Europe. It has long been noted by historians that Ottonian queens were peculiarly powerful – indeed, among the most powerful of the entire Middle Ages. Their reputations, particularly those of the empresses Theophanu (d.991) and Adelheid (d.999) have been commemorated for a thousand years in art, literature, and opera. But while the exceptional status of the Ottonian queens is well appreciated, it has not been fully explained. Ottonian Queenship offers an original interpretation of Ottonian queenship through a study of the sources for the dynasty’s six queens, and seeks to explain it as a phenomenon with a beginning, middle, and end. The argument is that Ottonian queenship has to be understood as a feature in a broader historical landscape, and that its history is intimately connected with the unfolding story of the royal dynasty as a whole. Simon MacLean therefore interprets the spectacular status of Ottonian royal women not as a matter of extraordinary individual personalities, but as a distinctive product of the post-Carolingian era in which the certainties of the ninth century were breaking down amidst overlapping struggles for elite family power, royal legitimacy, and territory. Queenship provides a thread which takes us through the complicated story of a crucial century in Europe’s creation, and helps explain how new ideas of order were constructed from the debris of the past.

Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana 25th meeting – Friday 21 April 2017

Friday 21 April 2017, Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews

Dancing theologians; Franciscans and Dominicans; the wisdom of Solomon; a celestial light show; the heavens of the Sun and Mars: Paradiso cantos 11-14.

The twenty-fifth meeting of the LDA continues the series with a day of lectures on the next three cantos of Dante’sParadiso, again bringing leading Dante Scholars to St Andrews.

Dante’s journey continues through the heavens of the Sun and Mars, where he is told about the founders of the Franciscan and Dominican orders, and the decline of their followers in his time and Solomon’s wisdom as a ruler, which prefaces a warning against hasty judgements. The whirling circles of light in formed by the souls in the Heaven of the Sun are followed those of warriors in the heaven of Mars, formed in the shape of the cross.

Dr Paola Nasti (University of Reading), Dr Robert Wilson (University of St Andrews), Professor Eugenio Refini (Johns Hopkins University) and Professor Erminia Ardissino (Università degli studi di Torino) will read and comment on Cantos 11 to 14 of Paradiso.

As always, the Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana is open to all and entry is free.

Those unable to attend for the full day are very welcome to attend whichever lectures they can and the programme is organized to accommodate that.

The full programme and times are on the website.

For further information and the full programme visit

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Chris Given-Wilson Shortlisted for Wolfston History Prize

Professor Emeritus Chris Given-Wilson’s Henry IV has been shortlisted for the prestigious Wolfson History Prize.

Established in 1972, the Wolfson History Prize aims to recognise and reward the best historical writing produced in the UK. The annual prize of £40,000 is awarded to the author whose book is judged to best combine readability and excellence in research.

It is the first time that the Prize has issued a shortlist in its 45 year history. Each shortlisted author will receive £4,000. The overall winner will be revealed at a reception at Claridge’s on Monday 15 May 2017 and will receive a total prize of £40,000.

For a list of all shortlisted works and for more information, visit:

Event 19th April: MUSA’s Glamourous Shiny Stuff

Bedazzled: MUSA’s Glamourous Shiny Stuff (19th April, 5.30-6.15pm)

Tales from medieval times often revolve around treasures, relics and the Holy Grail. Discover how and why shiny objects like the medieval maces held such power and charisma on this informal tour of MUSA. Presented by Bettina Bildhauer, Director of the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies, in conversation with Alison Hadfield, Learning and Access Curator. Free, but booking required.  To book events call 01334 46 1660 or email

Jiazhu Hu Gives Paper at ICLS Conference

On 10 April 2017 Jiazhu Hu gave a paper entitled ‘Messengers in Late Middle English Literature’ at the ‘At the Margins of the Court’ conference (the 2017 meeting of the British Branch of the International Courtly Literature Society). Jiazhu’s paper, ‘Messengers in late Middle English Literature’, drew on research into the role of the messenger in late medieval England undertaken for her MPhil thesis.

Bettina Bildhauer Awarded Leverhulme Research Fellowship

Professor Bettina Bildhauer has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in the amount of approximately £49,000 for 11 months. This Fellowship is for the academic year 2017-18 for her project The Untold Stories of Medieval Things. This project aims to analyse some of the medieval conceptions of materiality and thing-ness as transmitted in literary narratives in German, set in their global context.