Monthly Archives: May 2016

Questions of Space Festival

On the 20 and 21 June 2016 Canterbury Cathedral hosts a series of public talks, walks, sights and sounds. The Festival of Ideas emerged from the partnership between the University of Kent and the Cathedral. The festival aims to engage new audiences with heritage as part of the Cathedral’s developing Canterbury Journey project.

There are several pre-modern material projects taking place as part of this event, including the following:

Off with their Heads!

As condemned prisoners began their route through Canterbury to execution at Oaten Hill in Renaissance times, the procession around them was full of song. This event recreates their journey to death, inviting you to hear and sing ballads of execution along the way.

Una McIlvenna (English)

Unlocking Canterbury

Many stories about Tudor and Stuart Canterbury can be unlocked from the Cathedral Archives. You can journey on our enormous floor map of historic Canterbury, hearing tales of ordinary people in their own words – from poor immigrants and single mothers to Cathedral officials and local governors.

Catherine Richardson, Avril Leach, Zoe Hudson and Danielle van den Heuvel (Medieval and Early Modern Studies)

Illuminating the Past

In a breath-taking display, this is a light projection onto the Cathedral exterior at night. The talk and spectacular illuminations will reveal how Britain’s first Gothic building was once adorned in splendid colours, and bring the past magically to life.

Emily Guerry (History)

Garden Paradise

What does a garden mean to you? An ancient map of the Cathedral grounds will help us to explore. Look at how through time gardens have been sacred places, romantic retreats, and places to think about how we connect with the environment.

Karen Jones, Barbara Bombi and Emily Guerry (History)

Bird’s Eye View

We will be delving into the archives to discover Christopher Packe, who in the 1700s climbed Bell Harry Tower to get a “bird’s eye view” of East Kent and, with the help of his theodolite (an instrument for taking precise measurements) created a new kind of map.

Gordana Fontana-Giusti (Architecture)

Secret Saints

Follow a winding trail to discover the stories and symbols behind the hidden and unexpected saints of Canterbury Cathedral. A family torn apart by pirates; children carried off by wild animals; a virgin martyr, tortured when her teeth are pulled out; the man who pinched the Devil’s nose; the woman who helped bring Christianity to England… all this and more will be revealed by looking at tombs, inscriptions and stained glass.

Anne Alwis (Classics)

For a full programme, along with details of how to book tickets, please see the Questions of Space Festival event website.

New Perspectives on the Auld Alliance Conference (21-22 June)

The University of Kent will host a two-day conference between 21-22 June 2016, entitled: ‘New Perspectives on the Auld Alliance: Scotland, France and their neighbours in the Early Modern

The ‘auld alliance’ between France and Scotland was one of the key diplomatic and cultural connections between the British Isles and Europe. Speakers from seven countries will explore the cultural, diplomatic and military facets of that crucial relationship, as well as showcasing new scholarship exploring alternatives to the ‘auld alliance’ and challenging assumptions that the ‘auld alliance’ fractured with Scotland’s conversion to Protestantism in 1560.

Please see below for a provisional programme for the conference. Full registration fees are £55 per person (with an optional conference dinner to be booked separately).

Online registration is now open – for any queries relating to the conference, please email:

New Perspectives on the Auld Alliance: Scotland, France and their neighbours in the Early Modern Period

21-22 June 2016, The University of Kent, Canterbury

Provisional conference programme:

9-9.30: registration

9.30-11: Panel 1: 1: Translation and Identity
Bryony Coombs, University of Edinburgh: ‘Creating Identities: Scots Patronage of the Visual Arts in France 1490-1530’.
Jamie Reid-Baxter, University of Glasgow: ‘King David, Charles IX and James VI as tyrants: Beza, Belleau, Melville and the Miserere’.
Astrid Stilma, Canterbury Christ Church University, ‘Confessions and Meditations: Translating Scottish Protestant Politics in the Low Countries and France’

11.-11.30: Coffee

11.30-1: Panel 2: War and Identity
Graeme Millen, University of St Andrews: ‘Fighting an ‘Auld Ally’: The Scots-Dutch Brigade during the Franco-Dutch War, 1672-1678’
Luca Fois, Università Bocconi, Milano: ‘Strangers in a Strange Land: Scottish troops and community in Milian during the Italian Wars’
Eric Durot, Université de la Sorbonne: ‘The Auld Alliance and the Franco-Scottish Wars of Religion’

1-2: Lunch

2-3.30: Panel 3: 1560 and Beyond
Siobhan Talbott, Keele University: ‘Surviving the ‘chill blast of Protestantism’: The Franco-Scottish Auld Alliance, 1560-1713’
David Potter, Emeritus, University of Kent: ‘The splendours and miseries of a French ambassador: Paul de Foix and the British Isles, 1562-66’
Violetta Trofimova, Independent scholar, St. Petersburg, Russia: ‘Three generations of Haddington family and France’

3.30-4: Coffee

4-5.30: Panel 4: Alternatives to France
Simon Egan, University College Cork: ‘Scotland’s second ‘auld’ alliance? The O’Donnells of Tyrconnell and the Stewart monarchy, c.1450-1541’
Laura Crombie, University of York: ‘Lions United? Diplomatic relations between Scotland and the Burgundian Low Countries, c.1384-1500’
Silke Muylaert, University of Kent: ‘A Protestant intermediary between Scotland and the Continent: The Stranger Churches in England’

5.45-6.45: Keynote lecture, Professor Steve Murdoch, University of St Andrews: ‘The Auld Alliance and the French intervention in the Thirty Years’ War, 1630-1648’

6.45-7.15: Wine reception, sponsored by the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies

7.15: Taxis to central Canterbury; 7.30pm: Dinner
Day 2; 22 June

8.45-9.15 am: Coffee

9.15-10.45: Panel  5: The Rough Wooings and their aftermath: the apotheosis of the ‘auld alliance’?
Aysha Pollnitz, Grinnell College: ‘Learning on the job?‎ Mary, Queen of Scots in France and Scotland’
Annette Bachstaadt, Université de Rheims: ‘Marie of Guise-Lorraine and the end of the auld alliance’
Amy Blakeway, University of Kent: ‘Believing the auld enemy? French understandings of the history of the British Isles’

10.45-11.15: Coffee

11.15-12: Roundtable Discussion: where next for studies of the auld alliance, and concluding remarks

12: Conference concludes.

This conference is generously funded by the University of Kent’s Humanities Faculty Research Fund and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.



Registration open for the MEMS Summer Festival!

The MEMS Summer Festival is back and this year’s celebration will be an even bigger event, taking place over two days: Friday 17th and Saturday 18th June 2016. Registration is now open until the 3rd June – the event is free and open to all. Some travel bursaries are available for postgraduates and ECRs – please visit the event website for further details or email the organisers.

The Medieval and Early Modern Studies Summer Festival is a two-day celebration of all research in the Medieval and Early Modern periods, including the study of religion, politics, history, art, drama, literature, and everyday culture of different nations.

The festival is designed to bring together scholars from a range of disciplines, academic schools and institutions in order to foster conversations, build a greater sense of community, and develop a research network for all masters and PhD postgraduate students and academic staff within the South-East of England.

As a discipline, medieval and early modern studies is inherently interdisciplinary. It encompasses such a length of time and breadth of subjects that scholars and students often find themselves dispersed, situated in different departments and lacking a cohesive identity or space in which to interact. The festival therefore allows many students and staff that may never otherwise encounter one another to share their research and ideas. This event is essential to the building of a strong and supportive postgraduate environment for current and prospective students across the universities.

We hope to see you there!