Category Archives: News

Suzanna Ivanic publishes new book on Catholic visual identity

Dr Suzanna Ivanic, Lecturer in the School of History, has recently published Catholica: The Visual Culture of Catholicism with Thames and Hudson. Featuring over 400 colour images, the sumptuous volume investigates the influence of Catholic iconography and ritual items, equipping the reader with a detailed knowledge and method for interpreting Catholic art – and the art it has influenced in turn.

Dr Ivanic’s approach to understanding the material culture of religion is heavily informed by anthropology, placing great emphasis on how religious meaning is created by the religion’s icons, objects and artefacts. “Religion can no longer be thought of in that very nineteenth-century Protestant sense: as being just about internal beliefs, words and texts,” explains Dr Ivanic, reflecting on her approach to analysing religious artefacts. “It is equally about the visual and material context and the things people do with objects in rituals and devotion.”

Though readers may be familiar with Catholic art’s most famous images and icons – such as The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel – Dr Ivanic shows that Catholicism’s visual culture includes objects we might not initially expect. She explains: “It was great to be able to work across all types of visual and material culture with this book, from ‘material texts’ like the lavish Lindisfarne Gospels to bizarre modern-day Catholic trinkets.” One such trinket is a plastic Holy Water bottle in the shape of the Virgin Mary – souvenirs which will be familiar to anybody who has visited the Vatican City in recent decades. “And there are weirder ones that weren’t included,” she adds.

As the reader builds up their knowledge of recurring themes, motifs and practices on the Catholic visual code, it becomes clear that the influence of this culture extends into areas outside of religious art. “We see the enduring impact of Catholic visual culture in many unexpected places today, but perhaps most obviously it pervades fashion,” she explains. “The Met Gala in 2018 featured Katy Perry with gigantic angel wings, Rihanna wearing a heavily embroidered Papal mitre (hat) and Blake Lively in a Versace gown that reflected the exquisite liturgical vestments worn by priests as well as various halos and bejewelled crosses.” She also points out that this influence is even felt in our everyday language and emojis: 👼.

From the first page, Catholica is visually striking, and shows how the findings and subtleties of rigorous academic research can be expressed and presented to wider audiences. “I really wanted to integrate the images and text and make sure that they spoke to each other throughout the book, so there was a lot of back and forth as we fitted the layouts together, took out five words here and added a sentence there!”, says Dr Ivanic, reflecting on the process.

Catholica: The Visual Culture of Catholicism is available now, published by Thames and Hudson.  On Thursday 26 May, Dr Ivanic will be hosting a special book launch with the publishers, and will focus on the process of producing the book and publishing research for wider audiences.

Exciting new doctoral funding available: Western Medieval manuscript fragments in the Bodleian Library

The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies is delighted to share the following details of this exciting AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership training grant for a collaborative project between the University of Kent and the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. The grant covers four years of funding for home fees and stipend. For full project, scholarship and funding details, please see below.

We particularly welcome the applications of those from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds, and we will guarantee interviews for applicants from UK-resident Black, African, Caribbean or Black British, Asian and Asian British, mixed or multiple and other non-White ethnic groups who meet the minimum essential criteria in this subject area.

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership training grant: Centring the marginal: Western Medieval manuscript fragments in the Bodleian Library 

Start date: 1 October 2022 

Application Deadline: 26 May 2022, 5pm BST 

It is anticipated that Interviews will take place online on 13 June 2022 

Applications are invited for a fully-funded four-year (full-time) / up to eight years (part-time) doctoral grant under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme. 

The project is a collaboration between the University of Kent and the Bodleian Libraries and will enable a student to champion the broadening of Western manuscript studies through research on overlooked fragments. The successful applicant will have autonomy to shape the project based on their interests and will divide their time between the two institutions, receiving advanced research training and benefiting from experience in a special collections library.  

The University of Kent and its Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies are committed to fostering a welcoming climate for as diverse a community of scholars as possible. In particular, we are very aware of the need to improve the representation, progression and success of students whose ethnic backgrounds have traditionally been under-represented in higher education. We are also aware that the issue becomes more acute at graduate level where, in the words of a recent report, the funding process acts as a ‘broken pipeline’, creating barriers to access. This has wider effects: recent research by AHRC has shown that fewer than 5% of the UK’s museum and heritage curators are of Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (‘BAME’ – a widely-used umbrella term but one which has multiple inherent problems and is under review). Therefore, we would especially encourage UK-resident applicants from under-represented backgrounds to apply for this studentship. In addition, we will guarantee an interview to all applicants from UK-resident ‘BAME’ communities who meet the essential eligibility criteria. 

 AHRC report: ahrc.ukri.org/documents/project-reports-and-reviews/ahrc-funded-collaborative-studentships-report  

Leading Routes ‘Broken Pipeline’ Report: https://leadingroutes.org/mdocs-posts/the-broken-pipeline-barriers-to-black-students-accessing-research-council-funding 

University of Kent: https://www.kent.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusivity 

For informal enquiries about the studentship, please get in touch with the supervisor at Kent of this studentship, Dr David Rundle (D.G.Rundle@kent.ac.uk). David is very willing to communicate with prospective applicants by email, telephone, or Skype/Zoom. 

The studentship 

Project details and aims 

Traditionally, manuscript studies have concentrated on complete codices, but these constitute a small proportion of what once existed. Most medieval manuscripts no longer exist, but we can sense something of what we have lost by looking at partial survivals, mostly fragments in later bindings. Each surviving fragment is a precious witness of medieval manuscript culture, and the number of manuscripts they represent probably exceeds the number of surviving codices. The surviving intact codices are a partial selection of medieval textual culture reflecting the interests and prejudices of successive librarians, booksellers, scholars and collectors. Full attention to the fragments discarded by these groups can create a more diverse history, one which challenges established canons and assumptions.  

How can the evidence of this large body of fragments transform our understanding of medieval manuscript culture? Despite important advances that question remains to be answered in detail. For a long time fragments were largely ignored, studied only if they were vernacular or of very early date. Important advances were made by Neil Ker in the mid-20th century but it is only recently that the full potential of fragments has been understood and the emerging discipline of ‘fragmentology’ begun to develop. Technological advances have made it easier to describe fragments accurately (especially in identifying texts) and platforms have begun to allow the evidence of fragments to be explored at scale, and to enable the digital unification of related fragments. Methodological advances have been made by a number of individual case-studies, and by important work in parallel manuscript traditions, notably on Hebrew fragments (exemplified by the Books within Books project). The time is ripe for research that will build on the growing body of scholarship and comparative material to go beyond isolated case studies and address broader research questions.   

The Bodleian Libraries are an obvious place for this research to take place. The extent and range of its medieval collections, the second largest in the UK, are exceptional. Moreover, in a foundational work of 1954 Neil Ker provided short descriptions of several thousand fragments in 16th-century bindings mostly in Oxford libraries. Ker’s work, together with descriptions in the Bodleian’s catalogues, is only a starting point, but the resources for exploring fragments at the Bodleian, and at the Oxford colleges, provide a very solid foundation on which to build. The combination of Oxford’s resources and the expertise of Dr David Rundle at the University of Kent provides an exceptional opportunity for a student to develop their advanced skills as a manuscript scholar in this developing field.   

Research questions which might be explored include: 

  • how can the study of western fragments refine or challenge current orthodoxies about the production, circulation, popularity, and obsolescence of particular texts and manuscripts, both in the medieval period and in the sixteenth century?  
  • what has western manuscript studies to learn from scholars studying non-western fragments, in particular from the study of Hebrew fragments? 
  • how can the study of fragments contribute to our understanding of the life of medieval books in the early modern period, and to our understanding of the transmission and survival of medieval manuscripts?    
  • what defines ‘fragmentology’ as a discipline? What approaches exist to the cataloguing and curation of fragments, and what should be regarded as good or best practice?    
  • how can fragments, as distinct from whole codices, be used to develop public engagement with medieval manuscripts at a variety of levels?     

Supervision and training  

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr David Rundle, University of Kent, and Dr Matthew Holford, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. The student will be based in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) at the University of Kent while also spending time at the Bodleian Libraries, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK and being eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development events. The student will receive advanced research training, participate in the vibrant academic culture of both Kent and Oxford, and benefit from a range of experience in a special collections library.  

Award details 

Studentships funded under the third Collaborative Doctoral Partnership call (CDP3) will receive four years of funding. The four-year duration is to enable students to undertake development activities as part of their doctoral study. Three years and six to nine months is for the doctoral research (42-45 months); three to six months is for professional development opportunities (‘Student Development Activity’). 

The studentship will cover home fees and stipend at UKRI rates for a maximum of four years full-time, or eight years part-time study, subject to institutional regulations. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2022/23 is £16,062, plus a CDP Maintenance payment of £550/year. The studentship holder will be eligible to receive an additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, worth up to £2,000 per year for up to four years. 

All UKRI studentships are open to international students and all funded students will receive a full stipend for living expenses and fees paid at the ‘Home’ (UK-resident) level (£4,596 for 2022/23). However, international fee-paying students will be required to contribute the difference between the Home and International fees (which are set at £17,400 for 2022/23).  

Criteria and eligibility 

The studentship is subject to UKRI eligibility criteria. Further details can be found on the UKRI website: https://www.ukri.org/skills/funding-for-research-training 

We encourage applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, particularly welcoming applications from candidates from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds. We will guarantee interviews for applicants from UK-resident Black, African, Caribbean or Black British, Asian and Asian British, mixed or multiple and other non-White ethnic groups who meet the minimum essential criteria in this subject area. 

We are keen to hear from applicants who either have (or expect to receive) a relevant Masters-level qualification (e.g. English, History, Art History, Medieval Studies), with a focus on manuscript studies, or are able to demonstrate equivalent relevant experience. Ideally, candidates will have a broad familiarity with the history of the book in medieval and early modern England, a grounding in Latin, palaeography and codicology, and an active interest in fragment studies. If, however, you are interested in this role but do not meet all these criteria, you are welcome to make an informal enquiry as outlined below. 

How to apply 

Candidates wishing to be considered for this award must apply for a PhD place at the University of Kent by 26 May 2022, 17.00 BST. 

For more information and how to apply see https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/152/medieval-and-early-modern-studies  

You must indicate your interest in this award when writing your personal statement by explaining how you might approach the project and how your academic background and experience fits the criteria. Please include the contact details of a referee who can be contacted in the case of your being invited to interview. 

You can append to your personal statement a Widening Participation Statement; this can be of any length and is available to provide any contextual explanation of factors that have impacted your progress in higher education. If you wish to be considered for the guaranteed interview scheme for ‘BAME’ candidates (UK applicants only), please indicate here your ethnic background, using the following categories: 

  1. Asian or Asian British 
  2. Black, African, Caribbean or Black British 
  3. Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups 
  4. Other non-White ethnic group 

Worried that doctoral research is not for you? We can put you in contact with a diverse range of students and staff at Kent to help you to come to the decision of whether to apply. The successful candidate will be put in contact with role models that reflect the institution’s diversity and who can share similar experiences with them. 

In preparing your application and proposal, you are encouraged to contact the supervisor at Kent, Dr David Rundle (D.G.Rundle@kent.ac.uk), who would be very glad to communicate with prospective applicants by email, telephone, or Skype/Zoom.  

Questions relating to the CDP programme within Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums can be sent to harriet.warburton@glam.ox.ac.uk 

Statement on the use of Positive Action  

Positive action describes special measures aimed at alleviating disadvantage or under- representation experienced by those with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Sections 158-159 of the Act allow the use of positive action in certain circumstances: To lessen disadvantage for those sharing a protected characteristic, meet particular needs and reduce under-representation in particular activities. Any such measures are to be a proportionate way of achieving a relevant aim.  

The forms of positive action allowed under the Equality Act (2010):  

  • General positive action, for example, reserving places for a protected group on training courses or providing mentoring to increase representation at senior levels  
  • Positive action specifically relating to recruitment and promotion, also known as the ‘tie-break provision’  
  • The availability of scholarships and bursaries to students sharing a protected characteristic  
  • in relation to disabled people  

Therefore, where Kent reasonably thinks those sharing a protected characteristic experience a disadvantage connected to that characteristic; and may have needs that are different from the needs of persons who do not share it; or participation in an activity is disproportionately low the use of positive action initiatives is considered. Kent will ensure appropriate procedures to allow continuous review for the impact of and need for its actions, to ensure these actions continue to fall within the scope of positive action.  

MEMS Fesitval 2022: Call for papers

Join us in Canterbury and online for the eigth annual MEMS Festival at the University of Kent.

We invite abstracts of up to 250 words for individual research papers of 20 minutes in length on any subject relating to the medieval and early modern periods. The research can be in its earliest or latest stages of development.

We also encourage 700 word abstracts for proposing a three-person panel, presenting on a cohesive subject or theme in medieval or early modern studies.

If you have any queties, please contact us at memsfestival@gmail.com.

MEMS students take part in special St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre walking tour

By Jessica Falkner, MA student, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies

In the early hours of 24 August 1572, the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre began. It was a week-long massacre of Huguenots by Parisian Catholics believed to be instigated by Queen Catherine de Medici, mother to King Charles IX. This massacre led to similar massacres in cities throughout France. The total death toll is disputed among historians, with estimates varying between 2,000 – 10,000 in Paris alone. Our walking tour, led by Dr Rory Loughnane (Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies) and Prof. Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Sorbonne III) gave a sense of the chaos of the massacre within Paris. It is not too hard to imagine that during the time of the massacre, Paris streets were crowded with buildings, with even the bridges containing numerous structures. On our tour on February 10th 2022, MEMS students were joined by students from Sorbonne III who were also learning about the history of Paris.

Our tour began outside the Panthéon which was not constructed yet at the time of the massacre. This area of the modern 5th arrondissement was the outer limits of Paris in 1572. It is situated near the Collège de France where Petrus Ramus was a leading professor of philosophy and a convert to Protestantism. As a result of his role at the Collège, Catholics feared that he, and others at the Collège, would lead a movement to convert others to Protestantism and therefore became a target during the massacre.

We walked from the Panthéon to Rue St. Jacques, where Ramus hid in a bookstore for three days before returning to his lodgings on 26 August. We followed Ramus to Collège de Presles, a secularized chapel at 14 Rue des Carmes, where Ramus was fatally stabbed. As we learned, it is possible that his fame across Europe increased because of his untimely death.

Leaving unfortunate Ramus, we went to Cathédrale Notre-Dame where the wedding ceremony of Henri Navarre, future King Henri IV of France, and Margaret of Valois was performed. The wedding was arranged as a method of peacekeeping between the Catholics and the Huguenots. However, Pope Gregory XIII would not grant a dispensation for the interfaith marriage so Henry and the other leading Huguenots who were there to celebrate the wedding were forced to remain on the square outside the cathedral while a proxy stood in for Henry. This, understandably, irritated the Huguenots.

Professor Rory Loughnane introduces students to Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

Professor Rory Loughnane introduces students to Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

Our next stop was Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, which was known as Place de Grève until early in the seventeenth century. It is in this inviting, lively square that we were reminded of the ever-changing nature of public spaces. Despite its pleasant appearance now, the square was the site of many particularly gruesome executions, including that of François Ravaillac. Ravaillac, a Catholic, assassinated King Henri IV by stabbing and was drawn and quartered in the square.

We moved on to the Hôtel de Guise, home of the Duke of Guise. The Duke of Guise was a leading Catholic and it was here that the plot to massacre the Huguenots was conceptualized. Because of the wedding of Henri and Margaret, many leading Huguenots were in Paris and Guise and others decided to take advantage of the chance to kill them. The first attempt was had when Gaspard II de Coligny, Admiral of France, a leading Huguenot, the day after the wedding, was shot. However, Coligny was only injured. In an attempt to smooth over the heightened tensions the shooting caused, Charles IX sent his doctor to treat Coligny. Unfortunately, Coligny’s shooting just caused the Catholics to fear retributions from the Huguenots.

A stone memorial for Gapard de Coligny

Memorial of Gaspard de Coligny

On our way to the church where the plot came to a head, we passed a couple noteworthy places. First, we passed the spot where King Henri IV was assassinated by Ravaillac, now a busy street with nothing more than a simple sign to mark the important event. We also traveled down Rue de Rivoli, formerly known as Rue de Béthisy, to the spot where Coligny was brought for treatment after he was shot. Unfortunately, once the massacre started, Coligny was stabbed and thrown out a window.

We arrived at the Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois. It was at this church, located across from the Louvre Palace, that the signal was given for the beginning of the massacre, when its bell was rung in the early morning hours. It was from here that Catholics traveled to the Tuileries Palace, where many of the leading Huguenots were staying, to begin the massacre.

We ended the tour at the Église Réformée de France, the largest Protestant church in France, across the opposite street from the Louvre Palace than the Saint Germain. Here, there was a large statute of Coligny. While it was originally a royal chapel, it was given to the Protestants by Napoleon.

Overall, the walking tour was a great way to envision the history of Paris while also bringing new perspectives about how history has shaped modern spaces.

Dr Robert Gallagher reveals new evidence that doubles the corpus of surviving texts of Asser

Dr Robert Gallagher, Lecturer in Early Medieval History, has published an article in the prestigious journal English Historical Review revealing new evidence that doubles the corpus of surviving texts composed by the famous early medieval Welsh author Asser.

Asser is famed for his Latin biography of King Alfred the Great, which is one of the most important sources for the history of Britain in the ninth century. Until now, it was thought that Asser only wrote one text that has survived to the present day.

However, through the analysis of vocabulary and phrasing, Dr Gallagher has demonstrated that Asser is highly likely to be the author of a second surviving text, namely a charter issued by the West Saxon king Edward the Elder in 904 that records a royal donation to the bishop of Winchester.

This discovery not only transforms our understanding of one of the most important authors from early medieval Britain, but it is clear evidence for the involvement of international figures in the production of royal charters for English kings in the early medieval period.

The full article, Asser and the Writing of West Saxon Charters, is available to read online.

PhD student Charlotte Cornell launches fundraising campaign for ‘A is for Aphra’

Medieval and Early Modern Studies PhD student, Charlotte Cornell, is the Chair of ‘A is for Aphra‘, a charity fundraising for a statue of poet, novelist, playwright and spy, Aphra Behn in Canterbury.

Prior to undertaking her PhD research at the University of Kent, Charlotte studied BA English Literature at Durham University, and went onto King’s College London / Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to study an MA in Text and Performance, and holds a MSt in Creative Writing from Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.

We caught up with Charlotte to find out more about the legendary Aphra Behn and the charity’s fundraising campaign.

Could you please tell us a bit about ‘A is for Aphra’?

We have just launched our fundraising campaign to get Aphra Behn a statue in her home city of Canterbury. We are looking to raise £80k to get a full-life bronze of this amazing glass-ceiling-smashing, feminist / LGBTQ+ icon and serious literary talent in our amazing city – we should be celebrating her incredible life and achievements.

Aphra Behn was the first professional woman writer. She was born just outside of Canterbury in 1640 but her family soon moved to the city and she grew up here. She became a spy for Charles II before becoming the most produced playwright between 1670 and her death in 1689. Her novel ‘Oronooko’ is also claimed by some to be the world’s first novel and it certainly was a key text used by the abolitionist movement, as it exposed the horrors of slavery to a white, London public in a way that art and literature had not done before. In short, she was incredible and the project is a step in honouring and cementing her legacy.

What are the aims of the fundraising mission?

Well, we need to raise a lot of money for a statue but we are starting by asking the public for any donation, however small, to begin us on that path. Please see www.aisforaphra.org to donate.

We have also issued four free lesson plans on Behn’s life and work that can be downloaded and used by any school in the world. We want to educate the public about Aphra Behn, so that she sits firmly in the public consciousness as one of the ‘Grandmothers of English Literature’ and will be running events, fundraisers and issuing more materials that will spread the word about the amazing Aphra Behn.

Could you please tell us a bit about your PhD research?

I’m doing a PhD on the first 20 years of Aphra Behn’s life. Most biographers skim over Behn’s life before her first confirmed spying mission (on the Dutch – at the same time as the Great Plague of 1665/1666). Hopefully my research will correct the early record a little bit.

You can follow A is for Aphra on Twitter @AphraStatue and also keep up with the latest on Charlotte’s work @charlocornell.

Dr David Rundle to deliver the University of London’s annual Coffin Palaeography Lecture

Dr David Rundle will be delivering the University of London’s annual Coffin Palaeography Lecture on 15 June at 6pm (via Zoom) on ‘The Long Reach of Paleography.’

Palaeography, simply defined, is the study of old handwriting but that definition tends to hide rather than to announce the discipline’s significance. ‘To study’ is not merely ‘to read’ and the evidentiary power of the skills palaeography teaches us are foundational in so many ways: they allow us to take a manuscript and to read out from it to the human connexions which created it and the cultures it has inhabited. This lecture will address two other fundamental issues with that definition: when does ‘old’ end? And: how does writing relate to other forms of lettering? Answering these questions can take us beyond that male-dominated minority for whom, up to the nineteenth century in much of Europe, full literacy was their preserve. The materials susceptible to palaeographical analysis are not confined to medieval codices held in special collections; palaeography is everywhere.

Dr David Rundle is Lecturer in Latin and Manuscript Studies in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent. His research examines the role of books in late medieval and early modern culture in western Europe. He is the author of The Renaissance Reform of the Book and Britain: The English Quattrocento (Cambridge, 2019).

The lecture takes place on the 15th June at 6pm via Zoom.

For more information and registration, please visit the event webpage.

MA student Kate McCaffrey shares the story behind her historical discovery in Anne Boleyn’s prayer book

By Kate McCaffrey
MA Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Last January, I was lucky enough to be able to closely study two of Anne Boleyn’s Books of Hours, both held in the private collection at Anne’s childhood home, Hever Castle in Kent. Thanks to a note of recommendation from my wonderful supervisor, Dr David Rundle, as well as my own personal connection with the castle, having worked there on and off for six years, I was able to arrange a visit. I initially thought this privileged experience might result in an interesting essay for my palaeography module. I never expected that it would result in the uncovering of new, exciting evidence that formed the subject of my MA thesis.

Arguably the most famous of the two Hours held at Hever is the beautifully illuminated manuscript, made in Bruges around the year 1450 for an unknown English owner. It contains Anne’s recognisable inscription, le temps viendra (the time will come) as well as various other inscriptions signed by members of prominent families from the Henrician court. Surprisingly, it was not this book but the smaller, printed, less obviously magnificent of the two Hours that particularly caught my attention.

Prior to my research, all that was known about this printed Hours was that it was produced by the prolific French printer, Germain Hardouin, and contained another signed inscription written by Anne, this time reading, ‘Remember me when you do pray that hope doth led from day to day’. Bound in simple brown leather and bearing signs of woodworm damage, it has largely been overlooked in scholarship, perhaps because of its humble appearance. Certainly, there has even been confusion over some of its most basic elements. The date of its production has been doubted, but it was most likely printed in 1527, due to the inclusion at the start of the book of a calendar for the year 1528. This book is (or was!) even affectionately known at Hever as the ‘boring one’ in their collection.

It should not, however, be dismissed as a cheap printing. There are several indicators that serious care has gone into the production of this volume, which was clearly made with a well-heeled English market in mind. The parchment has been polished, the colourful decoration customised, and the woodcuts hand-painted in a workshop overseen by Hardouin himself. Significantly, the production of content for an English audience is strikingly rare in Hardouin’s output. If this was not enough evidence to prove that Hever’s printed book was made for a wealthy audience, then I present another facet to my research: Anne Boleyn was not the only leading, sixteenth-century female to own a copy of this very same printing.

In fact, the other famous name associated with this book is none other than Anne’s greatest rival in love and power, and Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Currently held in the Morgan Library, New York, is a copy of the very same 1527 Hardouin printing that was once owned by Catherine. At such a pivotal moment in the changing structure of the Henrician court, this newly uncovered connection between these two leading women raises hugely intriguing issues about their relationship with one another, and with their books. At the very least, Anne’s ownership of the same volume as Catherine suggests emulation, and imitation, of a royal status she would achieve herself in only seven years’ time.

The later sixteenth-century provenance of Hever’s Hours after Anne’s ownership has, up until this point, been completely unknown. It is, therefore, a particular delight to be able to share this part of my research. In the process of closely studying the book, I came across what appeared to be the remnants of four further inscriptions that had later been erased. Thanks to an ultraviolet light, photo editing software and many months of stretching my palaeography knowledge to its limit, I recovered partial transcriptions of each note. While full transcriptions remain, for the present, frustratingly elusive due to the vigour of the erasures, I was able to uncover the names of the authors of each inscription. This in turn has allowed me to reconstruct the path that this book took, and the hands through which it passed, after Anne’s ownership.

Emerging from the highly interconnected network of names is a story of gendered community, solidarity and bravery. A covert circle of predominately female owners worked together to protect Anne’s signed note within the book and thus cherish her memory, despite the widespread attempts to dishonour her in the wake of her downfall. The family names of those who wrote in the book after Anne, and so remembered her as her inscription demanded, are: Gage, Shirley and West. These names are all linked through the extended family tree of a fourth name: the Guildfords from Cranbrook in Kent.

A particularly poignant connection from within this group of trusted family members links Anne Boleyn’s printed Hours to her daughter, Elizabeth I. This connection will be explained in greater detail in forthcoming posts, as will each aspect of my research, but a brief summary is this: Mary Hill, the granddaughter of Elizabeth Shirley (an author of a newly uncovered inscription in Anne’s book), married John Cheke (the childhood tutor of Elizabeth I) and became and remained a close friend of Elizabeth’s until the queen’s death in 1603. It is an attractive, if unprovable, possibility that more than twenty years after Anne’s execution and during the reign of her daughter Elizabeth, Mary Hill was able to share Hever’s Hours with the Queen and Elizabeth could view her mother’s signed inscription. A connection to Anne that once would have encouraged the book’s destruction, later ensured its survival.

You can follow Kate’s research journey over on her blog and on Twitter @kateemccaffrey.

Photo by Hever Castle & Gardens.

MA Medieval and Early Modern Studies student awarded Pasold MA Dissertation Grant

Cecilia White originally graduated from Kent in 2012 with her undergraduate degree in Politics and Philosophy and is now a student on the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. We caught up with Cecilia to find out more about more about her dissertation.

Why did you decide to come back to Kent to do your masters?

During my final year of my undergraduate degree, I joined a re-enactment group which covers England, in and around the late C10th to the C13th, give or take. This kindled quite a strong interest in the medieval period more generally, and when I started looking at postgraduate courses again about 18 months ago, the Kent MA course caught my interest a lot.

Could you please tell us a bit about your MA dissertation?

My MA dissertation is linked to re-enactment, although moves out of my core period of interest. Due to being disabled, amongst other issues, I’ve always focussed on the civilian/living history side of re-enactment rather than battle re-enactment and become reasonably accomplished at many of the skills a woman of the middle and upper classes (a status level chosen for a mix of better clothing and I’m fairly physically limited) of my core period would have, so I can display them at shows, but probably my best skills are cooking and dress-making.

It is the latter skill I am using for my dissertation, which intends to research and then as accurately as possible recreate a cotte from circa 1380 Kent. A cotte is the core dress that most women of the period wore, with or without further layers. It is one which wealthy women would often stick extra layers over such as Houplandes (the big bell sleeved robes worn by both women and men in the late/high medieval periods), or surcotte (the sideless apron/dress like garment which you often see as the stereotype of medieval women’s fashion).

There is very little known about how such garments were made or tailored during the period and one of the difficulties will be creating the garment to achieve the period ‘fashionable shape’, so making the garment should provide me a window of insight into the experience of the women who created the clothing. I also want to gather information on things like how long things took, how difficult they were, etc. to gather as much detail as possible about the work. An additional detail I will want to examine at the end of the project is to assess, considering this is a fairly new style of study, how much information is gathered and learnt and how much it adds to the study considering the material cost is quite high.

Why did you choose the cotte?

I chose 1380 as a dateline as its a major turning point in terms of historic fashion – it’s the first time you really see tailored dresses (and thus is linked to a major jump in textiles skillsets), an unusually short-lived fashion for the period, and closely linked to a lot of wider changes in society, particularly regarding the view to women.

Congratulations on the grant you have been awarded for your dissertation research! Could you tell us a little bit more about this?

I have been awarded the Pasold MA Dissertation Grant and its purpose is to help fund specifically textiles related studies. What it mostly enables me to do is afford the materials needed to recreate the dress, as I intend to try and get as accurate fabric/materials as possible which is not cheep at all especially if I can get authentically plant dyed and handwoven wool as I hope to do. It will also fund any research trips I have to take while I’m at it.

What are your plans for after your MA?

I’m not entirely sure as of yet. If there is one thing this MA has done for me, is boost my self esteem and belief in my own capabilities after a BA and intervening years which have knocked me down quite a lot. Even if I’m not entirely certain of what next, I’m certainly a lot more confident and hopeful that I will be doing something I enjoy after graduation.

Conference to commemorate Thomas Becket’s life, death and legacy (28-30 April)

A three-day virtual conference organised by the University (28-30 April) will explore the life and times of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, just over 850 years after his murder in Canterbury Cathedral. The conference is open to all.

Each day of the conference will focus on one of three areas of scholarly and popular interest: Becket’s life story and true character; his murder and its lasting international repercussions; and the breadth of his legacy, beginning with his becoming a martyr idol, through the attempted eradication of his name from history, and ending with his saintly rebirth in the 19th Century and onward.

Organised by Dr Emily Guerry, Senior Lecturer in Medieval European History at Kent’s School of History, the conference will feature contributions from over 40 leading Becket experts from 11 countries. Keynote papers will be presented by: Rachel Koopmans, Associate Professor, York University (Canada); Paul Webster, Teaching Associate, Cardiff University; and Alec Ryrie, Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University.

The conference’s partners are Canterbury Cathedral and Canterbury Christ Church University, with support from the British Academy and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Delegates will also be given virtual tours of Canterbury Cathedral, each with focus on a unique theme including; mosaics, architecture, stained glass, relics, and medieval graffiti. The tours will reveal the extent to which Thomas Becket is embedded in English history and in the Cathedral, including relics both attacked and preserved in the wake of Henry VIII’s reformation, including the identifiable knife marks in manuscripts from which Becket’s name was ripped.

The British Museum is holding an exhibition in parallel with the conference: ‘Thomas Becket – murder and the making of a saint’.

Dr Guerry said: ‘This conference is the greatest collaboration of the world’s leading experts on Thomas Becket to date and is a tremendous opportunity for sharing insights, research and resources on a subject that is of vital importance to history. Speakers will demonstrate that the life, death and legacy of Becket are crucial in appreciating the evolution of English literature, humour, religion, politics and its position in Europe and the world.’

Conference tickets, with a student reduction, can be purchased here.