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Lincoln Cathedral (image: wikimedia commons)

Lincoln Cathedral (image: wikimedia commons)

I’m really looking forward to June-July. Not only am I hitting the conference boards (and the legendary dance floor) at the Leeds IMC, but also spending several weeks in Lincoln as International Visiting Fellow in Medieval History. I’ll be taking the first steps in an exciting new research project while there, looking in the county archives and university and cathedral collections for examples of anonymity in different genres of text – more on that in another post. I’ll also be giving a talk on new work at the Religious Men in the Middle Ages conference, a joint event of Lincoln and Huddersfield Universities under the auspices of the Bishop’s Eye network. Importantly, and excitingly, I’ll also be running a workshop for local postgraduates in medieval history, examining some of the methodological insights into blending cultural and political history with diplomatic that I built up over my doctoral work. It’s going to be great fun!

I’ve never been to Lincoln before, so I am really looking forward to this visit from a tourist perspective too. I can’t wait to visit the amazing cathedral.

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The Call for Papers for Kings and Queens II sent me scurrying through my *large* database of potential letters for a neat little nugget I might be able to turn into a conference paper. As I have about 13,000 individual items from the SC 1 (Ancient Correspondence) series at TNA saved as photographs on my hard drive, I’m quite spoilt for choice! I’d initially considered the correspondence of Edward I with his first cousin-once removed, Philip IV of France, as a potential case study. This seemed like an appropriate and interesting proposal since their relationship started off rosily, but took a particularly nasty turn around 1294 when Philip decided to annexe Edward’s Gascon territory to the French crown, despite having given assurances in private diplomatic meetings that he wouldn’t.[1] Sadly (although perhaps, on reflection, not particularly surprisingly), none of the extant letters between the two monarchs date from this crucial period. They come from earlier (up to 1293) and later (from about 1303). There’s probably still much of interest to be had from them, but this set back put a damper on my initial idea.[2]

Kew, TNA, SC 1/13/28. Detail of a draft letter from Edward I to Marie of Brabant, dowager queen of France, 12 August 1295. Photo by Kathleen Neal.

What does survive from the crisis period, however, is a set of draft letters drawn up on a single day in the name of Edward I to no fewer than three queens of France: his aunt, Marguerite of Provence, widow of Louis IX; Marie of Brabant, widow of his cousin Philip III; and Jeanne of Navarre, queen consort of Philip IV. Interestingly, in the same breath, as it were, the king also wrote to his ally against Philip, Adolph of Nassau, the so-called King of the Romans, but this letter was the last to be drafted in the set: it’s fourth on the parchment sheet under Edward’s letters to the three queens. Is this perhaps an indicator of a hierarchy of significance in political communication in which the royal women of Edward’s network were more important to his diplomatic efforts? Possible, although perhaps not provable… Nevertheless, this tantalising find – or rather rediscovery, since I’ve passed my eyes across this letter before – has got me rather excited in the context of the conference theme. Read the rest of this entry »

Time seems to be getting away from me of late, so while I do have some pensive posts on simmer, they’re not quite ready for human consumption. In the mean time, I offer you this juicy morsel, which is the Call for Papers for Kings and Queens II, the second conference of the Royal Studies Network. The theme in 2013 is ‘Making Connections: Alliances, Networks, Correspondence and Comparisons’, and, as you may imagine, if I can’t come up with something to say about that I should probably hand in my credentials now and give history up as a bad job. The meeting will be held in Winchester in the week after Leeds 2013, so why not do both and gorge yourself on a feast of medieval wonderment?

Submissions for individual papers (250 word abstracts) or three paper panels (500 word abstracts) should be emailed to the organizers at monarchyconference@gmail.com by 31 December 2012.

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I teach and research at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in the School of Philosophical, Historial and International Studies, Monash University (Australia). Views expressed here are my own and not representative of the CMRS, SOPHIS or Monash.

You can also find my academic profile on Academia.edu

Twitter: @KB_Neal

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