Colloque – Noblesse oblige?: Barons and the Public Good in the Middle Ages

Date: April 3, 2019 to April 4, 2019
Location: Julian Study Centre, UEA, Norwich – United Kingdom
Subject Fields: Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies, European History / Studies, Political History / Studies

The traditional—and still popular—image of the ‘feudal’ political order of the Middle Ages is one of anarchic knights and overmighty barons pursuing selfish ends to the detriment of peace and justice. Our teleological narrative thus explains the emergence of the modern state by the rise of centralised monarchies which abolished private conflict and introduced ‘commonweal’. The medieval aristocracy, in this telling, is a negative force, a symptom of the collapse of the Roman imperium and an impediment to human flourishing.

However, recent work has questioned this characterisation of the baron’s role in government and the conception of public good, as well as the benevolence of centralised governments themselves. Is the vilification of medieval lords not another case of history written by the victors? With papers by emerging and established scholars in the field, ’Noblesse oblige?’ will host a discussion and reevaluation of baronial government and aristocratic commitment to the common good in the Middle Ages.

The two-day conference, generously sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust, Society for the Study of French History, and the Royal Historical Society, will be held on the University of East Anglia campus in Norwich on the 3rd and 4th of April 2019, and will begin with a keynote address by Prof. Martin Aurell, director of the Centre d’Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale, Université de Poitiers, and author of many books on aristocratic culture. A full schedule may be viewed below.

In order to register for the conference, please go to:….

Accommodation at the UEA campus is available through Broadview Lodge, although availability is limited. To book tel. 01603 591918 and quote the reference ‘Kx60106 – Noblesse Oblige Group’.

We very much look forward to seeing you there!


Programme :

Wednesday, 3 April

08h30: Registration
09h00: Welcome Address (Dr Gregory Lippiatt, University of East Anglia)

09h15: Keynote (Prof. Martin Aurell, Centre d’Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale, Université de Poitiers)
10h45: Coffee Break

11h15: Religious Patronage, Family Identity, and the Common Good in France, 1100-1300

‘Aristocratic Women and the Creation of Religious Identity: An Act of Public Good?’ (Dr Charlotte Pickard, Cardiff University)
‘A Hundred Years of the de Port Family, 1075-1175’ (Dr Kathleen Thompson, University of Sheffield)
‘Carrying the Bishop (or Not): The Comital Family of Nevers and the Obligations of Lordship in Thirteenth-Century Burgundy’ (Ms Charlotte Crouch, Universities of Reading and Exeter)
12h45: Lunch

14h00: Conflict and Co-operation in Late Medieval Italy, 1280-1549

‘Rapacious Wolves or Peacemakers?: The Magnates of Late Thirteenth-Century Bologna and the bonum et pacificum statum civitatis’ (Mr Lorenzo Caravaggi, Balliol College, University of Oxford
‘Lupi rapaces et agni mansueti: The Representation of Nobles in Thirteenth-Century Italy’ (Mr Francesco Barbarulo, Università degli Studi di Trieste e di Udine)
‘Change and Continuity among the Barons of the Papal States, 1417-1549’ (Mr Loek Luiten, New College, University of Oxford)
15h30: Tea Break

16h00: Mediterranean Magnates and Society in the Twelfth Century

‘The “Public” Boundaries of the Italo-Norman Comital Authority: The Case of the Counts of Avellino’ (Dr Hervin Fernández y Aceves, Lancaster University)
‘The Theory and Practice of How the “Feudalisation” of the Twelfth-Century Economy Benefitted Both Aristocracy and People in Byzantium’ (Dr Maximilian Lau, Hitotsubashi University)
19h00: Supper

Thursday, 4 April

09h00: Reform in the British Isles, 1207-1272

‘Exporting Order: King and Aristocracy on the Irish Frontier’ (Dr Colin Veach, University of Hull)
‘Altruism or Self-Interest?: The Baronial Reformers during the Period of Reform and Revolution in England, 1258-1267’ (Dr Adrian Jobson, Canterbury Christ Church University)
‘For the Common Good?: The Barons in the County of Chester, 1254-72’ (Dr Rod Billaud, Independent Scholar)
10h30: Coffee Break

11h00: Protectors and Legislators in Late Medieval England, 1330-1437

‘The Earls of Edward III and the Defence of the Realm in the Mid-Fourteenth Century’ (Dr Matt Raven, Independent Scholar)
‘Guardians of the Realm?: Noble Reputation and the Public Good in Late Medieval England’ (Ms Rhiannon Snaith, University of Durham)
‘“Because our said sovereign lord [is] busy”: The Language of the Common Good in the Parliaments of Absent Kings, 1413-1437’ (Ms Jen Caddick, University of Nottingham)
12h30: Lunch

13h30: Morality and Authority in Thirteenth-Century France

‘A Regime of Virtue: The Baronial Government of the Lusignans in Western France in the Thirteenth Century’ (Dr Clément de Vasselot de Regne, Independent Scholar)
‘Louis IX and his Barons’ (Prof. Lindy Grant, University of Reading)
14h30: Conclusion (Dr Gregory Lippiatt, University of East Anglia)

15h15: Excursion to Norwich Castle Keep

16h00: Informal visit to Norwich Cathedral

Source : University of East Anglia

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