Canterbury in Domesday Book: A lecture in memory of Professor Alf Smyth

On Friday 27 October 2017 friends and colleagues from the School of History, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, and Canterbury Christ Church University gathered together in Grimond Lecture Theatre 1 on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus to celebrate the life of Professor Alf Smyth.

Professor Smyth, who passed away in October 2016, was an Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, specialising in the British Isles. His publications included Scandinavian Kings in the British IslesWarlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. and a highly influential study of King Alfred the Great.

His distinguished career also saw him take on the roles of Warden of St. George’s House, Windsor Castle; Director of Research; and Dean of Arts & Humanities (both Canterbury Christ Church University). He was also an early supporter of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

Tim Tatton-Brown, former Director of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, treated the packed theatre to a lively lecture on the features and landmarks of Canterbury and the surrounding area as mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Tim, along with Richard Eales and Professor Paul Bennett, also shared anecdotes about Professor Smyth in what was a fitting tribute to a much respected and missed figure.

Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality

On Tuesday 6 June, both the School of History and Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) of the University of Kent are delighted to welcome Professor Paul Binski (Cambridge) for a free public lecture in the Clagett Auditorium of the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge from 6.30–7.30PM.

The title of his paper is Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality

This lecture will examine the art provoked by the drama of Thomas Becket’s Life, Death and Sanctity. It will look at Becket’s place amongst the other saints of England and Europe, and particularly at the idea of personality cult and charisma. How did such things impact on the way saints were represented in the Gothic age and what difference did Becket make?

Please visit the lecture event page for more details.

Student trip to Rome

In early April 2017, Dr Emily Guerry took fourteen of her third-year students from her special subject module, ‘Saints, Relics, and Churches in Medieval Europe’ (HI 6058), on a four-day fieldtrip to explore the material culture of medieval Rome. The School of History generously subsidized the cost of travel and accommodation.

Testimonials

“When we arrived in the early evening, the students checked into their hostel near Termini and we all headed straight to the Forum to get a sense of the city of Rome– that still-smoking hearth of culture. Our itinerary was designed to proceed both chronologically and geographically through the development of the Christian capital so our first morning was packed with time spent in the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Museo, followed by an afternoon in the Pantheon (which was converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the sixth century). Next, we examined the first major Rome house-church female cults located Santa Pudenziana, Santa Prassede, and ended our day with a special private tour of the loggia (with captivating city views) atop Santa Maria Maggiore on the Esquiline. On our second morning, we began by spending two hours inside the stunning church of San Clemente and descended into its many layers of archeological history. Then we ventured to the Lateran for private visit of SS Quattro Coronati thanks to the Augustinian nuns (and performed our very own re-staging of the Donation of Constantine), followed by a pilgrimage to the Sancta Sanctorum, wherein four enterprising students actually acquired an indulgence! We spent that in Trastevere to make a private visit– with generous thanks to the Clarissa nuns– to Pietro Cavallini’s monumental Last Judgment fresco in Santa Cecilia, which is said to embody the ‘turning point’ between the transformation of Gothic painting into the ‘Renaissance.’ We ended this special day by looking at the amazing spolia in Santa Maria in Trastevere– purportedly the earliest location for the Roman cult of the Virgin– and marveling at its resplendent medieval mosaics. We spent out last day wandering through the Vatican museums, where we came face to face with dozens of sacred and sublime objects from our course, including early Christian sarcophagi, cult statues, and even Michelangelo’s wall paintings in the Sistine Chapel. In the end, our trip was an awe-inspiring intellectual adventure. The students encountered and examined some of the most transformative examples of church architecture, painting, and sculpture in the history of art and architecture in Rome. We are all so grateful to the School of History, especially Jenny Humphrey, for providing us with this once in a lifetime opportunity.Grazie mille!

Students at the Foro Romano

Students examine Cavallini`s fresco

Students in the nave of Santa Pudenziana discuss the apse mosaic

Students reenact the ‘Donation of Constantine’ in SS Quattro Coronati