Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research news and events roundup 2018-19

14 May 2019

A roundup of 2018-19 news and events in the University of Winchester's Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research


2019 News

May 2019

New medieval archaeological research project launched

Funded by the London Society of Antiquaries and led by Reader in Medieval Archaeology Dr Simon Roffey (photo), The Archaeology of Medieval Hermitages Project will provide the first ever archaeology of medieval hermitages and anchorite cells across Britain and Ireland. Find out more.

April 2019

Notre-Dame has burnt - but not burnt down

This month the world watched in shock as the iconic medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris was rapidly engulfed in flames. In a heartfelt blog, medieval buildings expert Dr Katherine Weikert shares her thoughts and emotions. Read on.

Notre Dame ablaze (image AP, Michel Euler)

Notre-Dame ablaze - image AP/Michel Euler

February 2019

Spotlight on foremost bishop of medieval Winchester in CMRR annual public lecture

On 20 February, the CMRR hosted its annual public lecture. This year it was presented by Prof. Chris Given-Wilson, one of the leading scholars of late medieval England and the author of many influential books. In his lecture, titled William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester 1367 – 1404, he discussed one of the foremost bishops of Winchester in the late Middle Ages. Also Chancellor of England, he was deeply involved in politics during the turbulent period of the reigns of Edward III and Richard II.

2018 News

October 2018

Winchester Early Medieval Power and Faith Symposium

Centre members Dr Ryan Lavelle, Dr Eric Lacey and Dr Katherine Weikert were among the speakers at the high-profile Winchester Early Medieval Power and Faith Symposium, a one-day event on 20 Oct. dedicated to exploring the great churches of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Winchester. The symposium, organised by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, was chaired by Dr Ryan Lavelle; the speakers' panel also included Professor Barbara Yorke, Professor Emeritus of Early Medieval History.

The event built on last year's conference 'Winchester, a Royal City', to which conference organiser Dr Ryan Lavelle welcomed Martyn John, production designer for the hit TV series The Last Kingdom. Dr Lavelle, author of the award-winning Alfred's Wars, has been acting as historical consultant for the series, which is based on Bernard Cornwell's books about Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, who made Winchester his capital.

BBC History Weekend 2018

BBC History Weekend returned to Winchester for its third year on 5-7 October. Four of our medieval historians presented talks alongside celebrity historians like Michael Wood and Lucy Worsley. There was also a History Fringe, where our research students and academics packed new ideas into 15-minute talks at the ‘fringe’ of the festival.

Dr Ellie Woodacre, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History, discussed the challenges that women faced as rulers in the male-dominated political landscape of the Middle Ages. Looking at strong queens and failed female claimants, she revealed how women came to the throne and what prevented their access to power. Read an interview with Dr Woodacre (on www.historyextra.com/winchester-history-weekend).

Dr Ryan Lavelle, Reader in Early Medieval History, highlighted the impact of the death of king Cnut in 1035 at a time of crisis. Ryan, whose latest book is titled Cnut, the North Sea King, shows what the crisis tells us about the English kingdom at the end of the Viking Age by examining the reactions of his children, his two wives and other royal claimants.

Ryan and Ellie also revealed the Anglo-Saxon and royal history of Winchester respectively in two walking tours.

The bold aspirations and forward-thinking strategies of Richard III were explored by Professor Emeritus Michael Hicks, a renowned expert on Richard III. Winchester PhD student and historical novelist Nicola Tallis discussed the life of Lettice Knollys, a rival of Elizabeth I. Lettice began the queen’s reign in her favour. However, in 1578 she made a fateful decision and was forced to live with the consequences of this for the rest of her life.

“It was wonderful being able to talk to such an engaging and enthusiastic crowd about a subject about which I'm passionate”, said Nicola. “I always enjoy being a part of the History Festival - it's such a brilliant platform and you're surrounded by people with similar interests. I had a fabulous time!”

Dr Ellie Woodacre said: “We were delighted to be back at the BBC History Weekend this year and to be presenting the History Fringe Festival. Our fantastic selection of talks really highlighted the breadth and diversity of history research at Winchester. The Fringe Festival is also a great way for our PhD students and early-career researchers to get their research ‘out there’ to history enthusiasts.”

September 2018

13-16 Sept. 2018: Winchester Heritage Open Days

A cornucopia of free talks, guided walks, tours and more, featuring many of our academics and PhD students. From a walking tour through the lens of the Battle of Winchester with Dr Katherine Weikert to a medieval queens workshop for children with Dr Ellie Woodacre and a talk on a forgotten queen by PhD student Gabby Storey, there was something for everyone. Find out more.

The Legacy of Alfred - The Anglo-Saxons and the Birth of England

On 12 Sept., Centre members Dr Katherine Weikert, Professor Emerita Barbara Yorke and Dr Ryan Lavelle joined forces with historian and broadcaster Michael Wood at the Winchester Discovery Centre for The Legacy of Alfred - The Anglo-Saxons and the Birth of England. The event, which focussed on the important role played by Anglo-Saxon women, was a fundraising event for the Winchester Heritage Open Days. 

University of Winchester research and public engagement: our medieval historians in conversation with Michael Wood during Winchester Heritage Open Days 2018

Left to right: Dr Katherine Weikert, Dr Ryan Lavelle, Em. Prof. Barbara Yorke and Prof. Michael Wood. Photo: Mike Hall.

Linking with the Heritage Open Days’ theme of ‘Extraordinary Women’, the group also nominated some favourites: Barbara suggested Æthelflæd, daughter of King Alfred and ruler of the midland kingdom of the Mercians until her death 1100 years ago in 918; Ryan ran through the twists and turns of the life of Emma of Normandy, who was married first to Æthelred ‘the Unready’ and later to Cnut ‘the Great’ (subject of Ryan's latest book), and who was the mother of two English kings in the 11th century; Katherine nominated one of the most important women of the 12th century, the ‘Empress’ Matilda, who drew on her links to the Anglo-Saxon royal family to emphasise her right to rule the English kingdom in a bloody civil war.

Dr Lavelle looks back on the evening:

"Michael Wood opened proceedings with his thoughts on the long legacy of the Anglo-Saxon world, its cultural richness and its diversity. Since his BBC series In Search of the Dark Ages hit TV screens in the late 1970s and 1980s, Michael has held a reputation for making the deep past come alive to an audience, and this was certainly apparent in the discussion. 

Michael asked us about what makes us passionate about this period, drawing down to how this links to our research specialisms—for me this is the way the landscape beneath of feet links to a dramatic historical record; for Katherine it is the way the stories of the period are told and retold, helping form the identities of generations during the medieval period across what is sometimes wrongly seen as a ‘dividing moment’ in 1066.

Though we had been more than a little nervous about the prospect of ‘chatting’ in front of a packed house with such a learned and well-respected host and in the company of the wonderful Barbara Yorke, the evening proved to be relaxed and enjoyable. We received great feedback from the audience who had been entertained but who had, we are told, also learned much about an early medieval period of English history. We learned much too, both about ways of thinking about history itself, and about the ways in which an expert such as Michael can make even obscure details accessible and enjoyable beyond the academy."

August 2018

Early Tudor Court Culture Conference

A conference on 29/30 Aug. to celebrate the launch of the digital edition of the Chamber Books of Henry VII and Henry VIII (1485 - 1521).

July 2018

On 12 July 2018, best-selling historical novelist and History PhD student Nicola Tallis joined Dr Ellie Woodacre and other academics for 'Royal lovers and rivals in Renaissance England and France', an evening of engaging discussion about the intense rivalry in love and politics in the Renaissance courts of England and France. This talk formed part of this Year's Kings and Queens conference, titled Ruling Sexualities; find out more.

May 2018

Centre launch

The Centre launch on 10 May 2018 featured Keynotes by two eminent Winchester historians: Emerita Professor Barbara Yorke and Emeritus Professor Michael Hicks. Prof. Yorke spoke about Early Anglo-Saxon kingship from recent archaeological discoveries, including the famous Staffordshire Hoard, while Prof. Hicks, an expert on Richard III, delved into the politics of late medieval England. Find out more about the launch of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research.

Also, in May, Dr James Ross, Reader in Late Medieval English History, appeared on In Our Time, in an episode about Margaret of Anjou, a powerful 15th-century queen and one of the key figures in the Wars of the Roses. Catch up on the programme.

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