IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 401: Annual Early Medieval Europe Lecture: The Pleasures of the Past: History and Identity in the Early Middle Ages

Monday 1 July 2013, 19.30-20.30

Sponsor:Early Medieval Europe
Introduction:Ian N. Wood, School of History, University of Leeds
Speaker:Rosamond McKitterick, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge

Speaker: Rosamond McKitterick, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge
Introduction: Ian N. Wood, School of History, University of Leeds
This year’s IMC’s focus, ‘pleasure’, celebrates concepts and perceptions of pleasure in the past, and our intellectual enjoyment of studying it. That those we study also engaged with the past at many levels, including for the sheer pleasure of it, is demonstrable from several sources. Not the least of these is the perception and celebration of the Roman past, and how it might have been transformed by late antique and early medieval historians to accommodate the dramatic changes of the 4th and 5th century. This lecture considers the degree to which changes in the understanding of the Roman past might have influenced the identity of those in Rome responsible for writing history. It discusses the active role of the city of Rome in the narrative of the Liber pontificalis, and the way in which the Liber pontificalis articulated or shaped perceptions of a specifically Roman and Christian identity. The historiographical context of the Liber pontificalis is explored in relation to a crucial and hugely influential late antique text with a distinctive elaboration of Roman history, namely, the Chronicle of Eusebius-Jerome. Both the Chronicon in Jerome’s translation and the Liber pontificalis transform Rome’s past, but in its conclusion the lecture seeks to demonstrate that neither is passively received in the early Middle Ages. Active engagement with these texts wrought further transformations of the Roman past, and the way in which Rome and Roman identity might be perceived and incorporated into a wider sense of the Christian past and Christian identity in the early Middle Ages.

The journal Early Medieval Europe (published by Wiley) is very pleased to sponsor what is intended to become the Annual Early Medieval Europe Lecture at the International Medieval Congress. By contributing a major scholarly lecture to the Congress programme the journal aims to highlight the importance of the Congress to scholars working in the field of early medieval European history and to support further research in this field. Early Medieval Europe is an interdisciplinary journal encouraging the discussion of archaeology, numismatics, palaeography, diplomatic, literature, onomastics, art history, linguistics and epigraphy, as well as more traditional historical approaches. It covers Europe in its entirety, including material on Iceland, Ireland, the British Isles, Scandinavia and Continental Europe (both west and east). Further information about the journal and details on how to submit material to it are available at (the full url is All those attending are warmly invited to join members of the editorial board after the lecture for a glass of wine.