Tag Archives: Kalamazoo

CFP: Animals in Arthuriana, Kalamazoo Medieval Congress 2014

My Rochester colleagues Kristi Castleberry and Kara L. McShane are looking for another paper or two to fill out what promises to be a really great session on Arthurian animals. Here’s the description:

From dragon-laced dreams to lion companions to warhorses, animals play a vital role in a wide range of Arthurian materials. Kara and I invite proposals engaging with the varying roles of animals within the realms of Arthurian literature, art, film, etc. Topics of interest may include, but are not limited to, the relationships between humans and animals in Arthuriana (for example, a knight and his horse), the historical place of animals in the tradition, the distinction (or lack thereof) between humans and animals, figures who can not be easily categorized as human or animal, animals symbolism and heraldry, prophetic animals, the adaptation of animals for contemporary Arthurian media, and more.
Please send 250-300 word abstracts to kristi.castleberry@gmail.com by September 15th.
For a great image of the Questing Beast, see the original post at Kristi’s and my former colleague Kate’s blog, http://inromaunce.blogspot.com/2013/09/cfp-animals-in-arthuriana-kalamazoo.html

A Last Round of Kalamazoo 2013 CFPs

Well, it’s been a long time.  There are decent, if not good, explanations for this, which I’ll get into later. Right now, it’s important to get back to blogging, and to get out a bunch of Kalamazoo calls for papers before the September 15 deadline. So, please read away–lots of good stuff below.


The Medieval Romance Society is still soliciting submissions for all three of its sponsored sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan this May 9-12, 2013. Titles and descriptions of the three sessions are listed below. For full information on the Congress and to fill out the Congress’s Participant Information Form, which must accompany all abstract submissions, please visit the Congress website at http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html. Submissions are due September 15th.

The MRS encourages broad interpretations of its calls for papers, and especially invites interdisciplinary work. It is also a graduate student-friendly organization, and generally attempts to include a graduate student in each of its sessions. Submissions may be made electronically to me at this email address (rawilcox122@yahoo.com) and to Lucy Allen at lma505@york.ac.ukPlease let me know if you have any questions.


Subject: Reminder: CFP International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 2013
Call for Papers: Mighty Protectors for the Merchant Class: Saints as Intercessors between the Wealthy and the Divine. International Congress on Medieval Studies, 9-12 May 2013

By the late medieval period, merchants formed an integral part of urban society; among their activities, they facilitated trade between city centers, participated in the governing of cities, and were patrons of churches and monasteries.  At the same time, the wealth that they amassed and their sometimes morally dubious activities, such as money lending, often left merchants fearful of what the afterlife would bring, causing them to appeal directly to specific saints for intercession.  This session seeks to explore the religious lives of these elite members of urban society, specifically considering the individual saints to whom merchants appealed for their earthly protection and heavenly salvation as well as the manner in which they made these appeals.
Continue reading A Last Round of Kalamazoo 2013 CFPs

Kalamazoo 2013 Calls for Papers

I have been getting a lot of CFPs from Kalamazoo sessions recently, so here they are below. Good luck in preparing for another year of medieval fun and scholarship!


“In a Word, Philology: Etymology, Lexicography, Semantics, and More in

ICMS 2013, Kalamazoo

Now in its fourth year, this session will continue to draw on the full
spectrum of Germanic philological and linguistic studies, including
but not limited to Old and Middle High German, Old and Middle English,
Old Saxon, Middle Dutch, Old Frisian, Old Norse-Icelandic, Gothic,
Runic, comparative studies, Proto-Germanic, and Germanic within
Indo-European. Literary studies with a strong focus on language,
Editionswissenschaft, and/or linguistics will also be considered.
Continue reading Kalamazoo 2013 Calls for Papers

My Kalamazoo, coming this May

I suppose most folks are by now aware that the program to this year’s International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo, Michigan, is now available from the Congress web page.  This will be my last ‘Zoo as a grad student, and I hope to make the most of it. At the rate I’m going now, I’ll be in that stage where I’m between turning in the diss and defending it, so I’ll literally have “nothing to do” (yeah right, reality check…).   With that in mind, here’s a run down of what caught my eye in this year’s schedule, and a fair blue print of sessions to which I’ll be going (the ones in italics being my main priority).  Can’t wait for May…As Chaucer and Malory can tell you, May is when all the fun starts.


Thursday at 10:00

Session 32 (mine).  Yup, I’m among those lucky ones ‘opening’ the conference.  Yipee.  My paper is “Crusade and Imperium in Staufer Germany, 1170-1200.”  Thanks, David, for letting me participate!

Continue reading My Kalamazoo, coming this May

More Kalamazoo 2012 CFPs…

Ok, I think there’s enough in the inbox to warrant another post…The deadline to submit proposals  for Kalamazoo, May 10-13, 2012, is September 15, so you still have a few weeks!


“Diet, Dining, and Everyday Life: The Uses of Ceramics in the Third- to
Ninth-Century World”

Potsherds are the most ubiquitous archaeological evidence present from
the Late Antique and early medieval periods.  From the complete amphora,
preserved intact through the passing centuries, to the smallest
fragments of a cooking pot’s rim, nearly unidentifiable to all but the
trained eye, pottery has provided generations of historians and
archaeologists with information about the date of a site, the trade
networks on which it relied, and the general economic status of its
Continue reading More Kalamazoo 2012 CFPs…

Kalamazoo 2011 Round Up: The Year of Manzikurt, Madden, and Mandeville, Part 2

Ok, so it’s been a couple weeks too long since I began my report from the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress…and it’s now about 2:30 on Thursday, and I’m waiting for the Society for Military History’s annual conference to start, in Lisle, Illinois. In other words, a PERFECT time to finish a lot of outstanding business, including a book review, some applications, an over-due conference paper, and, oh yeah, the dissertation.  That kind of trip. Add to that that I somehow have to keep training despite my back once again deciding that this is the perfect time to seize up, as I have testing next week. Sigh…Don’t give me any sympathy, I give myself plenty as it is.

Anyway, Kalamazoo…I left off on Thursday night, as I recall, feeling very miserable by the end of the day. That being the case, I still went to the gym that morning, as I didn’t yet feel at the point of collapse.  Then clean up, breakfast, alone—it must have been my timing, but this ‘Zoo I never really saw anyone I knew at breakfast, except folks I didn’t know well enough to just walk up and sit down.  “Hi, how ya doo’in, mind if I join you, oh wait, I already have…”   The first order of business was the 10 a.m. White Hart session, “Politics, Culture, and the Arts in Late Medieval England.”  Truly excellent session, one of my favorites I think. First was Christopher Berard, from the University of Toronto, giving a paper on “Edward III’s Abandoned Order of the Round Table.” Chris’ premise is deceptively simple: in 1344, Edward had tried to form a chivalric order based on Arthurian themes. A few years later, he founded the Order of the Garter, which quite noticeably had no Arthurian connections. What happened?  His answer was interesting, pointing to the gradual change in army composition, which moved Edward away from the sort of Arthurian display still beloved by the French military. Thought-provoking, I have to say. There are many nuances, of course, regarding the social composition of the English army—the superior ratio of 3:1, archers:men at arms, doesn’t become a standard fixture till later in the century; Edward III’s armies tended to be 1.5:1 or often 1:1. But the changes of emphasis, and the established trends in military composition, seem to ground the discussion well, and I think Chris is raising an interesting challenge to our normal conception of Edwardian chivalry. Not a challenge that is easily answered, either. I’m looking forward to hearing and reading more of his work in the next few years.    The next paper, by Kristin Pinyan, was entitled “Affinity, Nationalism, and Religious Devotion: Sir William Porter’s Book of Hours, c. 1420-25.” Also very interesting, in that, if memory serves, she analyzed the saints included in Sir William’s devotional, and traced them back to various personal and Lancastrian connections [for some reason, I don’t have any notes connected to this talk, why I’m not sure—it was certainly an interesting one. One of several anomalies in my ‘Zoo records this time around]

The final paper was by the inimitable Craig Taylor, on “Henry V and Chivalry.” Craig shares a Rochester connection with me and other Kaeuper students, having been one a good while back. His speaking style is mesmerizing, and he’s always interesting to hear. The thrust of his paper was a list of books recommended to Henry V as essential reading on war and chivalry. And this is a very problematic list of books, if you think about it—there’s no crusade (though I have my own opinion on why that is, and it’s not a popular one), and the books disagree with each other on the essence of martial culture. Vegetius and the Prose Lancelot make strange bedfellows (I wish Bernard Bachrach had been present to hear that…would have been interesting). From here, Craig went on to elaborate on the misconceptions which beset chivalry, and how we need to ditch those in order to understand how a list such as this would have made sense to a medieval warrior. He argued in particular that we need to get away from using and studying “chivalry” as such, and focus more on “honor” and “masculinity,” which inform the medieval warrior’s outlook. In many ways I think the field is already moving in that direction, without taking up Dr. Bolton’s vigorous comment that we should ban the word  “chivalry” altogether. I for one won’t do that—I agree with Kaeuper that it’s not only useful, but also how medieval knights described and classified themselves. It’s a term that must be dealt with…Kind of like “feudalism,” which I still use as well, because, well, what the heck. We haven’t found a better term. And no, “feudo-vassalic relations” is NOT a better term. But I digress.

Another anomaly in my notes: nothing for the 1:30 session…Ah, right, I was finishing prepping my paper, which had grown much more complicated because I noticed in the 10 a.m. session that the room didn’t seem prepared for A/V equipment, even though I was quite sure I’d requested some.  It was one of those Valley rooms—those who know the layout of WMU for this conference know that what you see is what you get in that case. So, any additional time I may have had to slip into the back of the 1:30 sessions  went into making and assembling a make-shift handout—not a bad thing, on the whole, but I didn’t have time to staple them, which was awkward. As it was, I missed another White Hart session on “crown and country” which included doubtless excellent papers by John Leland, Peter Fleming (who I’d met the night before. Great chap), Joel T. Rosenthal, and Adrian Jobson. If anyone has notes from that session that they’d like to share, I’d appreciate it!! Other notable sessions I missed included a round table on “Approaching Six Hundred Years of Joan of Arc,” and the Oakshott Institute’s session on scholarship and swordsmanship in the Lichtenauer martial arts.  Ditto my request for notes…I was really disappointed to wind up missing ALL the sword sessions.

So, I walked into my session with about 5 minutes to spare, in a white shirt and waistcoat, with pocket watch, just dripping with sweat as the heat and humidity were reaching their climax, and feeling like I was going to cough my lungs out anyway—stupid tickle in the back of the throat, you know how that is.  The session, from what I heard, went really well. I certainly enjoyed the other papers—by Jonathan Goode on propaganda during the English occupation of Northern France, and by David Green on “Legislation throughout the Later Plantagenet Dominions.”  Jonathan considered the competing propaganda messages of Bedford’s administration and the dauphin’s government at Bourges, and concluded that the English lost the propaganda battle badly in occupied France—they relied on pictorial means, rather than on broad sheets or written polemic, they couldn’t squelch the rival coronation, and Henry VI’s coronation as king of France was a PR flop.  David led off with a question asking what were the late English government’s priorities?  His answer to that was that, as legislation shapes and is shaped by attitudes toward government, the top priority of late Plantagenet legislation lay in ‘establishing, defining, and regulating allegiance.’ This allows us to look at the broad sweep of crown legislation, as well as the relationship of the various crown dependencies to the central government (in some ways, David’s approach seemed to complement well Ormrod’s article in the James Campbell festschrift from about 10 years ago…). When we take this approach, we can see a steady increase in laws aimed at regulating, defining allegiance, excluding based on outward markers of allegiance (or lack of them), etc.  Good papers.

The rest of the day was bit confused, as I got the time slots of the White Hart business meeting and annual lecture mixed up, and wound up missing both anyway. Right after my session I went off with David and Doug Biggs, who chaired the session, and Peter and Sandra from Medievalists.net, to do a video recap of our conference experiences so far. That was fun—Peter and Sandra have posted that, as well as recaps with Kelly DeVries, Dana Cushing, and others on Youtube. Look for the “Medievalverse Roundtable” videos. After that, things got very confusing, as I got an email from one of my St. Louis friends, asking if I wanted to go to the Crusades Society dinner, as there were a few empty seats courtesy of people who couldn’t make it.  That was a fun time, though again by the end of the evening I was really dragging. Got to spend the whole evening with Dana, Kelly, and John France, and it was both educational and entertaining. Among other things, we got the back story to just how exactly Kelly wound up doing that Castillo Loarre documentary for Kingdom of Heaven. The rest of the evening was spent at the receptions, but by the time I got there they were basically out of drinks—first time THAT’S ever happened to me. Got to talk to more folks, run some ideas past people, etc.  Aaaaaand there was waaaaaay too much drinking going on in some quarters. My crew were fine, as always, but there’s always a few folks who get utterly sloshed, and I found myself backing away from several…I guess “conversations” is the right word…I’m totally with Jeffrey J. Cohen (on a post-Zoo Twitter dialog) that we shouldn’t get too uptight, and what happens at the dance doesn’t seem to have hurt anyone’s career over the years, but all the same I think there are limits. At some level it’s still a professional setting.

Saturday began around 4:00 a.m., with a group outside my window giving their all in a lively rendition of the Eagles’ “Take It Easy.”  And it got better from there. Oh, that’s right. I DID make it to Bartlett’s plenary talk about Gerald of Wales; very entertaining, and I liked his “comparative ethnographies” approach.  After that, Meg wasn’t feeling well,  and the day got a bit unraveled.  We went to our friend Kristi’s session on teaching and performance in medieval literature, and I think I picked up a lot of interesting tips and techniques. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to use some of them in the not-too-distant future.  The main session of the day for me was the 1:30 De Re Militari Session, with Nicholas Agrait, Steve Muhlberger, Lars Wolke, and my friend Ilana Krug all giving great papers.  Agrait gave an interesting assessment of intelligence and espionage operations along the Castilian-Granada border in the later Middle Ages.  Steve gave another great paper on Charny’s Demandes,  and certainly one that keeps getting under the skin of those who tend to view concepts such as “honor” and “prowess” as cultural abstractions.  Steve certainly doesn’t, and sees Charny’s concerns as very practical in nature. That’s always been the problem with the Demandes, of course, since if you don’t regard them as an academic exercise (which neither I nor Steve do), then what practical function did they serve? Steve’s assessment is that these questions regarding what, in a given situation, is more honorable, are meant to serve as a guide to what gentlemen should expect, and how they should be expected to act, when they join the king’s host. If you belong to the club of worthy men at arms, then you are expected to behave in the ways he establishes in the situational questions. The consequences of this for battlefield performance could be significant; say there are two groups of scouts who meet the enemy. One group stays and fights, the other keeps to the mission, withdraws, and makes its report. Which one deserves more honor? Yet curiously, Steve seemed to shy away from saying that Charny was seeking to instill some kind of cultural military “doctrine” in the king’s army, which is where I thought this was going. I look forward to hearing more of his work.  Lars Wolke was discussing military change in Denmark and Sweden in the later Middle Ages, with a lot insights into their place in broad military developments of the late Middle Ages. Ilana gave a really interesting paper on the use of honey in military provisioning (a technical talk right up my alley, as she and I have spent a lot of time looking at the same records!). She notes that it’s always part of castle garrison provision accounts, but it’s not clear at all just how it was used—as a sweetener, doubtless, and as mead eventually, but the quantities used and supplied don’t add up to large-scale use in those ways. There might be a different explanation, however, and that might be medicinal use, as we know that honey has great medicinal properties. She’s still looking for any relevant manuscripts or treatises, though, that explicitly talk about using honey for wound treatment (aside from the famous account of Henry V’s wound…I think honey was used there, I might be misremembering).

I went to Meg’s session at 3:30, as I was still kind of worried that she might still be under the weather, and it’s always a good thing to support one’s significant other. As it happened, she was fine, and gave a great presentation (as always). But I did wind up missing the De Re session with Dana’s paper on the crusades as an aspect of maritime strategy, and Peter’s paper on the Mongols and Edward I, and I still feel bad about that. But, sometimes there’s nothing to be done, and I’d gotten an advanced copy from Dana as it was. It would have been nice to see the full presentation, though, since she always does a wonderful job integrating the slides with the paper, greatly enhancing the argument. But I heard it went well, no surprise there.  The rest of the evening was a blur, kind of literally. By evening, I was really down for the count, but was still determined to go to the dance and the SLU reception. And I learned something in those next twelve hours: if you drink a lot of red wine  (preferably Cab or Merlot), and then engage in a dance marathon, you will wake up next morning feeling about 200% better.  No kidding. Of course, I did wind up missing most of the 8 a.m. session, in which was Tom Madden’s paper on “competing narratives” of the Fourth Crusade. As I said, I missed most of it, and heard just enough to wish I’d managed to hear the whole thing, but c’est la vie. The thrust of it seemed to be that medieval folk didn’t have our more holistic view of the crusade, because we are able to pick up a book that has many different accounts, whereas most people at the time had just one account, I think he said Villehardouin’s.  I finished up the conference by attending the Mandeville session at 10:30, and it was actually quite good (it’s not technically my area, hence the qualifier). The various papers looked at the Mandeville author’s exploration of gender, the Muslim “Other,” and “Eastern Religions” in general…And they were all well done, made eminent sense (the presenters were Nathan Ristuccia, Andrew Klein, and Chelsea Alexander. I was particularly impressed with Klein’s talk, “Romancing Islam in the Middle English Mandeville’s Travels.”). It’s always refreshing for me to hear a literary “take” on such texts outside of my own institution, since there are many different ways to approach the topic, and one develops “blinkers” after a while.

I only got about eight books this time, but they were worth it—I even found the rarest of books, Juliet Vale’s Edward III and Chivalry, which is virtually unobtainable. Bless The Compleat Scholar; and I did break down and purchase Loud’s translation of sources for Barbarossa’s crusade.  And got a lot of good TEAMS books.  And a couple of other titles, including a newer edited volume on the early Staufen.

And that was it. We packed up and loosely caravanned back to Rochester, in some of the worst driving weather I’ve seen in a LONG time. Awful. But, we all made it back safely, and then it was on to the next project.  All in all, a great ‘Zoo, memorable for all the right reasons. I just wish I hadn’t felt like death warmed over until Sunday morning!!   My SLU friend Dan Webb and I are doing a session on medieval Germany and the crusades, which thanks to Dan’s connections is supposed to be one of the Crusades Studies Forum’s batch. If that does go through, and if you have a paper you’d like to give on some aspect of that topic, let me know.

Pax vobiscum till next year.

Kalamazoo 2011 Round-up: The Year of Manzikurt, Madden, and Mandeville, Part 1.

The title kind of sums up my somewhat vague impressions of the ‘Zoo this year: John Haldon’s De Re Militari address on the logistics of Manzikurt, 1071, the SSCLE dinner hosted by Tom Madden on Friday, and three very interesting papers on Mandeville on Sunday morning.   Now, some of you might think that this vagueness was induced by the over-consumption of the beverages available at Kalamazoo, but you would be very wrong.  In fact, I was ill nearly the whole time.

What a bummer.  I thought it was allergies, starting the day before Megan and I left, and it turned into a relentless, debilitating…something, I don’t really know what it was, through which I still managed two morning workouts, as well as sessions, dinners, my own presentation, and numerous conversations of which I remember quite a bit.  And the dance–actually, the dance was fun, and my cure.  Note: next time you’re under the weather, drink a lot of red wine for the tannins, and then do a dance marathon.

Speaking of weather, can’t medievalists get just a BIT of love, for crying out loud???  Two days of sweltering heat and humidity, followed by a roller-coaster drop in temperatures, near-freezing rain, and high winds.  The drive to and from was one of the worst in my five years of going there…Not to mention all that wonderful construction in Ohio.

As for the conference itself.  Meg and I arrived around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, met up with our brave fellow-travelers Chris, Peter, Sam, Seb, and Seb’s friend Courtney, and had the obligatory dinner at Bilbo’s.  Good grub, and not too pricey. Met up with our friend Ryan, whom we hadn’t seen for some time; saw Bernard Bachrach arrive as we were leaving. Considering the topic of his paper the next day, it’s…reassuring…to think of Dr. Bachrach going to a place called “Bilbo’s” for a bite to eat. You’ll understand in the next paragraph or two.  Afterward, I stayed up for a while working on my paper. Yes, yes, it wasn’t done yet. So sue me.  I wasn’t alone, I assure you!!!

Thursday: I started off hearing my friend PeterSposato‘s talk entitled “Debating Knightly Courage: Martial Bravery and Prudence (Mesure) in the Depictions of Mercenaries during the Florentine-Visconti War (1390–1392)”–yeah, that’s a mouthful. I’ve razzed him about that in the past. Apparently it went over very well, as he got a lot of interested questions afterward–I left after his paper, as I was trying to make it over to Bernhard 208 to catch Bernard Bachrach’s paper “Was the Song of Roland a Military Satire?”  I’ve always been interested in Italian chivalry and historiography, as it shows up as nearly-empty spot in my bibliographic surveys of chivalry. The reason for that is largely due to a long-standing and interlocking series of scholarly attitudes on the non-importance of “chivalry” per se in Italy, and is a trend that Peter is devoting a lot of energy combating. Thus the thrust of his paper–that the chivalric discussions we see elsewhere in Europe were happening in Italy as well.  Excellent as always.

As for the De Re Militari session, well, that got moved around a bit, as one person couldn’t make it at all, and David Bachrach was lost in a plane somewhere between Cincinnatti, Detroit, and one other city. So I missed Bernard Bachrach’s paper, since he wound up going first, and had to gather the gist of it from the Q&A session, and from the summary posted by Peter and Sandra on Medievalists.net. In many points, I think Dr. Bachrach is right–knights at the time would have recognized all the mistakes Roland was making; but that’s what Oliver is for, after all. The interesting point, I would think, is that they love Roland anyway–he’s still the hero. That says something about knightly mentality. Now, his other idea, that the Anglo-Norman version was written as a mocking response to the French adulation of their hero, is interesting, but I’m not sure how the different manuscript versions portray Roland.  John France voiced the opinion, and I almost-quote, “Romance and Chanson de geste bears as much relation to warfare as CSI does to police work.” I guess there’s an element of truth in that, though it’s been shown that Willehalm, for example, is pretty savvy  in it’s portrayal of battlefield tactics. BUT, anyway, it was interesting, as it returns to that vexed question, ‘how would these chaps have interpreted chivalric literature?’

A couple other great papers as well–Rob Howell gave another fascinating paper on 1oth-century Shropshire and the defense issues facing Aethelflaed and Aethelred in Mercia. He’s a really bright chap, and is managing to challenge  a lot of earlier assumptions about strategy, mobilization, manpower, and general policy by carefully comparing the size of forts with the patterns of devastation and analysis of what exactly the Mercian rulers were protecting. His conclusion in this case is that, if you look carefully, you can see that Aethelflaed had decided to sacrifice western Shropshire, which was to exposed to be defended from Welsh raids, and concentrate instead on protecting the communications routes to Cheshire and the economic heartland of Shropshire.   And, lastly, Kelly DeVries gave his paper in this session, and discussed a rare sarcophagus he’d come across in Istanbul. It was a husband-wife sarcophagus, and on the side it depicted the wife’s household items, and the husband’s arms and armor–something very rare in the Late Antique period, which is when Kelly thinks this probably was made, i.e., not Byzantine, as the museum notice said. But more information on the depiction, the inscription, and the implications of the type of armor and weapons portrayed, remain elusive.

For the 1:30 session, I attended #88, the next De Re panel, which consisted in a series of interesting presentations by Steve Walton, Valerie Eads, Benjamin Michaudel, and Mark Geldof.

  • Steve was discussing a series of iconographic displays of armor in a series of Spanish churches and monasteries, the central feature of which seems to have been some kind of mail covering across the face–whether an aventail, or some kind of balaclava. But there were numerous other features as well, and while one could trace the development and complexity of armor over time–which seems to be the case–the real question is, how does it arrive at these sites iconographically?  Steve’s assessment was that these depictions seem to move across the military border, from west to east if I’m remembering correctly, culminating most spectacularly at the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos.
  • Valerie Eads’ paper dealt with the old chestnut of whether or not there was a systematic “Appenine Defense System” among Matilda’s castles in Tuscany, and the interesting thing she discovered was that most of these castles do not communicate through line of sight. That’s rather unusual, one would think, but some castles can’t see each other, and others that can see each other are frequently blinded by thick fog. This would explain some of the details of Henry IV’s route to Canossa, as he was able to slip past patrols and circumvent castle garrisons with comparative ease. But, there’s a lot more technical work to be done.
  • Benjamin Michaudel’s paper compared Ayyubid and Mamluk siege techniques, with one case from 1188 and the other from…1289, I think. Saladin wound up taking Burzagh Castle through a diversion, which allowed a small party to scale the opposite wall unseen; the bombardment apparently wasn’t effective. The Mamluk assault on the Hospitallers’ headquarters at Marqab, on the other hand, saw an extensive artillery duel, with trebuchets on both sides engaging with each other, until the Hospitallers’ machines were destroyed. BUT, that wasn’t the point–the mines were the real attack, and that’s what brought the wall down. Not exactly what we tend to focus on in crusader-era siege warfare…
  • Lastly, Mark Geldof gave a fascinating paper on a Middle English fight text, BL Additional 39564. Unlike the German and Italian treatises, surviving English fight texts often don’t involve an opponent–they list a series of cuts and strikes, and only occasionally delve into situational tactics. This manuscript uses “parataxical” structure, in that one move follows the next move without a break, and I remember a paper from last year which suggested that we have a window here into how one would actually practice these martial arts when alone–something akin to kata, in essence. Mark pointed to similarities between the forms used here and contemporary dance instruction forms, and the potential these parallel texts have for helping us unlock terms which, taken by themselves in the fight texts, would remain obscure.

The afternoon concluded with the De Re Militari Annual Lecture, delivered by the revered John Haldon, titled “Medieval Logistics and Byzantium: The Case of Manzikurt (1071).”  I hadn’t realized that he was dealing with the digital Manizkurt logistics project cosponsored by Princeton and the University of Birmingham, which I’d known about but had lost track of over the years–though his edited volume on medieval logistics has taken up more-or-less permanent residence on my shelf. Anyway, it was a fascinating talk, centered around the simple question, “How did medieval folks plan and organize logistics?”  The Manizkurt campaign makes for a great research opportunity because we generally know the route, and we know various other circumstances, such as that troops were ordered to gather two months of supplies at Eizurum (I can’t quite read my own writing for the Greek name), and that the Byzantine army was increasingly relying on pack animals, especially in terrain where trails tended to be stepped, not level. The computer model, then, has take a huge number of calculations into account, beginning with the feed requirements for one mule, and one soldier, and expanding from there essentially–so that a force of 1000 cavalry would require about 2250 mules to campaign for 24 days.  Ultimately, a 60,000-man army, which is the top end of what the emperor might have had with him, would require at least 25,000 mules. This would quite literally empty out the entire region of transport animals, and raises further questions of method and execution.  The illustration of the computational formulas was rather mind-blowing and somewhat overwhelming, and the computer power necessary to handle these formulas is one reason that Princeton University is involved.  Essentially, you have to run test after test, adjusting the parameters of the model to discover different outcomes–and when you get an outcome that matches what we know happened, note that down carefully. Intense…

So, there it is for Thursday…I attended the White Hart Society round table for the Yale Biographies of Edward II and Edward III, which was excellent as I recall, but at that point I was starting to feel really lousy, and not looking forward to another three days of conference. Since Mark Ormrod’s Edward III bio isn’t out yet, the session wound up focusing on Seymour Phillips’ Edward II, which was fascinating fascinating. The discussion centered on how Dr. Phillips handled the pitfalls and stereotypes that Edward II entails, whether it be Mortimer, Isabella, Gaveston, Edward’s supposed survival after the poker incident, etc. Phillips himself devoted a considerable amount of space at the session to exploding various theories of Edward II’s supposed survival as a wandering monk, and who the various pretenders actually were–especially the chap apprehended in Germany in…1338, I think?   Anyway, interesting panel.

Ok, that’s it for now.  I’ll deal with the rest of the conference in another post, but I have to get to other things today, such as dissertation, conference planning, and my July seminar paper.  Later!