More than 1700 medievalists, including jousting knights, storytellers and harpists, will descend on Leeds next week for the 18th International Medieval Congress.
The Congress, organised by the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds, is the biggest academic event of its kind in the UK and the largest medieval-themed academic conference in Europe. It runs from 9 – 12 July.
This year, scholars will look at the rules of medieval society and how they were made, bent, stretched and broken. Among a huge array of topics, experts will discuss:
- How women subverted rules about public carousing by holding ‘medieval drinking parties’ in latrines: the modern day equivalent of gossiping in a nightclub toilet
- Regicide – or the practice of murdering the king – was a normal phenomenon in early medieval Europe, but who wrote the rules that saw its decline in the later Middle Ages?
- Monks were strictly prohibited from bathing in the company of women – suggesting that in actual fact, this happened rather often.
Axel Muller, Director of the International Medieval Congress, said: “Rules are an integral part of everyday life. Today we are grappling with the consequences of rule-breaking on a massive scale, as seen in the current banking crisis.
“But we also embrace the rules of the forthcoming Olympics and its principles of fair play. It is often assumed that the medieval period was an seriously unruly time, but rules played an important part in daily life then too. This Congress aims to put rules back on the medieval map.”
The two keynote lectures to open the congress are ‘Changing the Rules of the Game: When Did Regicide Go out of Fashion and Why?’, by Sverre Bagge of the University of Bergen, and ‘Just Follow Christ and the Gospels?: Debates and Confrontations about Rules in the 13th Century’, by Nicole Bériou from Université Lumière Lyon II.
Several special events will also be taking place during the congress, including a medieval craft fair, a medieval harp workshop, and excursions to nearby historical sites.