Beyond National Narratives: Culture, States, and Reframing ‘Gregorian’ Reform
Although some exciting new models for understanding reform in the 11th and 12th centuries have emerged recently, a new overarching narrative is badly needed. The interpretations of this critical period of renewal proffered in university-level textbooks across European linguistic communities still tend to access the significance of reform in the context of national narratives. While this is understandable in pedagogical environments that value history mostly for its utility in producing good citizens, continuing to accept this framing neither serves our students – who realistically perceive themselves as global, as much as national, citizens – nor innovative scholarship. What might constitute an assessment of the significance of the so-called ‘Gregorian’ reform beyond the context of nations?
Drawing upon research in the textual and material sources of the secular clergy, this lecture sketches two possibilities. It argues that the significance of the intense reform efforts of the late 11th and early 12th centuries lies chiefly in the creation of a European-wide clerical culture and of new forms of territorially complex states.
Spaces of Reform?: Urban Renewal and the Shaping of Cities in Medieval Europe
The lecture explores ‘reform’ by thinking through its spatial dimensions and its manifestation in the material renewal of urban fabric in medieval cities across Europe. The aim is to use ‘reform’ broadly as a way of conceptualising processes of urban renewal, looking especially at how the shaping of cities in medieval Europe reflected a desire to improve, to in effect modernise, them through efforts to design and plan new urban landscapes. Such reform in urban fabric often went hand in hand with other expressions of local urban ‘reform’, in political, cultural, and economic aspects of urban life in the Middle Ages. To examine this, the lecture draws from examples of urban renewal from across Europe, spanning the period 1100-1400, and adopts a cross-disciplinary approach, combining ideas and techniques from a range of subjects, including geography, archaeology, and history. While looking at ‘spaces of reform’ opens up new ways of thinking about the medieval city, specifically, it also offers scope to reflect more broadly on the nature of cultural change in Europe during the Middle Ages, and the process of reform itself.
Please note that admission to this event will be on a first-come, first-served basis as there will be no tickets for the event. Please ensure that you arrive as early as possible to avoid disappointment. The room will open 15 minutes before the beginning of the lectures.