Justine Firnhaber-Baker Reports on Mediaeval Revolts Conference

On 17 and 18 April, Justine Firnhaber-Baker held a conference entitled ‘The Age of Revolt: Comparative Perspectives’. Seventeen scholars from Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, Belgium, and the Netherlands came together in St Andrews to discuss revolts, rebellion, and resistance in medieval western Europe.

After an introduction by Justine Firnhaber-Baker, Chris Wickham (Oxford) gave a paper entitled ‘Looking Forward’ about peasant revolts from 600-1200, showing that in this early period rural revolts did occur, usually in protest to encroaching lordship. Two papers on revolt in the Low Countries followed: Jelle Haemers (Leuven) and Jan Dumolyn (Ghent) spoke about how revolts in this region got their names, and Dirk Schoenaers (St Andrews) compared the representation of revolts in the regional historiographies of the fifteenth century. The conference turned next to England with Christian Liddy (Durham) speaking on ordinary citizens’ involvement in politics and Eliza Hatrich (Oxford) arguing that many acts of resistance in English towns must be understood in a legal context as efforts to challenge urban jurisdiction. Rafael Oliva Herrer (Seville) ended the conference’s first day with a talk on the large-scale revolt in Castile against Emperor Charles V. The next morning Fabrizio Titone (Basque Country) outlined the practice of ‘disciplined dissent’ in Sicily at the turn of the fifteenth century, and Vincent Challet (Montpellier-III) discussed the employment and perception of violence in fourteenth-century French rebellions. Justine Firnhaber-Baker (St Andrews) and Andrew Prescott (Glasgow and the AHRC) both spoke about the multiplicity and variety of meanings attributable to revolt in the French Jacquerie and the 1381 English Rising, respectively. The conference closed with an hour of discussion (and a dinner at Maisha, pictured).

medieval revolts

This conference and a previous one, held in October 2014, were supported by an AHRC early career fellowship held by Justine Firnhaber-Baker. Dirk Schoenaers also works on the project as a post-doctoral fellow. Participants at the first conference, some of whom also attended the second one, included John Arnold (Birkbeck), Paul Freedman (Yale), Samuel Cohn (Glasgow), Myles Lavan (St Andrews), Justine Smithius (Leiden), Philip Haberken (Boston University), and Gianluca Raccagni (Edinburgh). A collection of essays from the conferences, edited by Justine and Dirk, entitled The Age of Revolt: Comparative Perspectives on Medieval Rebellion is expected to be published by Routledge in 2016. You can keep up-to-date on the project at its WordPress site.