Appel à contribution – Castles as European Phenomena: Towards a Comprehensive Approach to Castles in Europe

Ort : Kiel
Veranstaltungsort : Kiel University, Leibnizstr. 1, 24118 Kiel
Veranstalter : Daniel Kossack M.A. / Stefan Magnussen M.A., Graduate School « Human Development in Landscapes », Kiel University
Datum : 11.02.2016 – 12.02.2016
Bewerbungsschluss : 30.10.2015

Kontakt :
Stefan Magnussen
Graduate School « Human Development in Landscapes »
Leibnizstr. 3, 24118 Kiel

Research on castles has witnessed a significant revival during recent years, mainly accompanied by new theoretical and methodological approaches that brought new findings and paved the way for new interpretations. Castles are no longer simply depicted as refuges for the lord and the adjacent residents, but rather as a complex institution with a variety of dimensions. The castle itself can unify different functions like administration, economy and dwelling, but the impact on the surrounding communities is of equal significance. Its embedding in the landscape and the connection to settlements, infrastructure and other castles is of huge importance for a comprehensive understanding.

The workshop aims at bringing together young scholars (PhD, Postdocs) from different regions and disciplines (History, Medieval Archaeology etc.) to discuss and further these recent developments, in order to benefit from a comprehensive integrated and interdisciplinary research debate about castles and medieval landscapes in general. By doing this, the workshop especially addresses the issue of coexistence of various regional and national approaches. The organisers especially encourage applications from scholars working on regions and in research areas that have only hardly been considered by the international research debate, but provide valuable insights that help to broaden the perspective on castles in Europe. However, applications from more traditional regions or areas of research are as well encouraged. In both cases, participants are asked to talk about either regional specifics, adaption of theories or prospects of new methods or approaches. In addition, the workshop will be accompanied by experienced scholars from both history and medieval archaeology to further the debates.

Topics to be covered may, among others, include:

  • Castle research historically not only put much emphasis on core regions, but also tends to differentiate between various cleavages, like e.g. centre or periphery or settled and contested environments. How do examples from different areas in Europe affect this perception? Should a more comprehensive study of European castles sustain these distinctions?
  • In which way do modern typologies reflect the administrative and political reality of the Middle Ages? What role did e.g. the farmstead moats/fortified farmsteads play and how do they have to be put into the context of castles in Europe? How do they affect the classic militaristic perception of castles? Is the downgrading of military aspects valid for all areas of Europe and all times, or is it necessary to apply a diachronic conception of functional transformation?
  • How did the castles affect the economy of their surrounding? Is it possible to identify different patterns of provision and dependence? Does the environment predetermine the location of the castle, or is the castle concentrating the landscape towards itself?
  • Groups like the landed and service gentry, merchants or even the peasants themselves have only since lately been understood as agents with their own scopes of action. For them, castles were also major tools for establishing and strengthening their position within a hierarchical system, often by adapting known patterns from the overlords. In which way does the implementation of these agents influence castle research?

We kindly ask you to hand in abstracts for a 25 minute presentation in English. Please submit an abstract of no more than 600 words, along with a short CV, as a pdf to both Stefan Magnussen ( and Daniel Kossack ( Applications are due by October 30th, 2015, acceptances will be out by the middle of November 2015. Accommodation expenses will be covered by the hosts, and for every participant a travel subsidy is available. The publication of an edited volume based on the contributions is planned.

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