Spotlight on Professor Richard Kaeuper, 2014-2015 Bullough Fellow

Professor Richard Kaeuper is our 2014-2015 Donald Bullough Fellow from the University of Rochester. Those who hold this fellowship become part of the academic community of St Andrews, participating in various SAIMS activities, whilst working on their research projects. Richard has kindly shared some of the experiences he has had with both staff and students during his time with us in St Andrews:

kaeuper photo

I am glad to have opportunity to comment on various possibilities opened by the Bullough Fellowship in Spring Term, 2015. The scholarly project I brought with me to St Andrews, in the first place, could be advanced here. This study takes as its focus the Burgundian lord Louis de la Tremoille who was shot dead on the battlefield of Pavia, 1525 and shortly thereafter memorialized in a Panegyrique commissioned to be written by the early humanist Jean Bouchet. I want to use this text to cross the crucial gap between Louis and the famous Geoffroi de Charny, who was killed at Poitiers in 1356 (and who was the subject of a study I did with Elspeth Kennedy). Victoria Turner of the University of St Andrews plans to write an English translation of this text; I will write an historical analysis of this knight in the autumn of chivalry.

Much of the term was necessarily devoted to seeing Medieval Chivalry through Cambridge University Press, which commissioned it, and Kings, Knights and Bankers (my collected essays) through Brill. Another continuing project involves serving as Medieval European editor for a multi-volume World History of Violence in process for Cambridge. Justine Firnhaber-Baker of the University of St Andrews is writing one chapter for this work.

One activity I anticipated in coming to St Andrews was engaging with postgraduate students here. A means for doing so quickly emerged in the Medieval Reading Group which took a key text each week, guided by a volunteer leader. I enjoyed all these lively sessions and, with encouragement, led the final discussion, based on the “Gest of Robyn Hood.” All these sessions were fruitful, informal and — like all good conversations — roamed freely, regularly crossing the necessarily porous frontier between history and literature.

Undergraduate students I met by teaching master classes on topics from courses by Rory Cox and Katie Stevenson. I also joined these students in a field trip to Stirling Castle and Bannockburn. Atop the great height of Stirling we were nearly blown away by horizontal, freezing rain, but heroically persisted in the pursuit of knowledge.

Professor Kaeuper teaches and researches on Western European history from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. His earliest publications focused on England but his interests have broadened over time as he has written more about the intersections of law, justice and religion in medieval society. He has written extensively about chivalry in particular, in Holy Warriors (2009) and the prize-winning Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe (1999). He also collaborated with Elspeth Kennedy to make a fourteenth-century guide to chivalry available to a modern audience in A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry (2005). His forthcoming works include: Medieval Chivalry (Cambridge), Kings, Knights and Bankers (Brill), and he is also the Medieval European editor of the forthcoming World History of Violence (Cambridge). Throughout his work he has used literary sources alongside more traditional ones to great effect, as he has sought to understand medieval ‘mentalities’.