Perception and Performance of Social Identity in the Nascent Urban Societies of the High Middle Ages

Perception and Performance of Social Identity in the Nascent Urban Societies of the High Middle Ages

Jeroen Deploige (Ghent University); Jeff Rider (Wesleyan University); Walter Simons (Dartmouth College)
Ghent, Het Pand (Oude Infirmerie, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent and Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (Stevin Zaal), Hertogsstraat 1, 1000 Brussel
Ghent / Brussels
Vom - Bis
22.05.2014 - 24.05.2014
Marjolein Stern

This conference brings together scholars from different research traditions. They will refine the theoretical framework and methodologies that address the dynamic of urbanization and social change of the High Middle Ages (1000-1250) across England, France north of the Loire, the Low Countries and Germany.

The perception and performance of social identity in urban societies between c. 1050 and 1250 in North-western Europe will be approached from a cultural historical perspective in its broadest possible sense.

Due to the relative paucity of written materials produced by urban groups themselves, we focus not only on how new groups emerged, but especially on how they became conscious of themselves and were recognised by others. What types of behaviour and cultural expressions described in our sources signalled their existence and how were they perceived in both daily situations and extraordinary conflicts?

These and other topics will be addressed in 6 sessions, on urban space, social bonding, social identities, conflict and custom, urban morality and urban piety.

The first two days of the conference, 22-23 May, take place in Ghent, Het Pand - Oude Infirmerie, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent. The last day, 24 May, takes place in the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts - Stevin Zaal in Brussels, Hertogsstraat 1, 1000 Brussel. A bus from Ghent to Brussels is arranged for participants, it will depart on 24 May at 8.15 AM from Hotel Ibis Opera.

Please register before 15 May 2014 by email:

The registration fee of 15 Euro per day includes lunch and is payable in cash at the registration.


Ghent, May 22

11.00-11.15: Registration and coffee
11.15-11.30: Welcome by Marc Boone, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Philosophy
11.30-11.45: Jeroen Deploige (Ghent University), Introduction

Session 1 – Moderator: Marc Boone (Ghent University)
11.45-12.45: Keith Lilley (Queen's University Belfast), On socio-spatial Othering in the English medieval city
12.45-13.30: Lunch
13.30-14.30: Hélène Noizet (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Spatialiser pour mieux régner : le roi, l'évêque et les Parisiens d'après la « forma pacis » (1222)
14.30-15.30: Anne Lester (Boulder University, CO), “Susceptio reliquarum” in the cities of North-western France: Sacred geography and civic identity in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, 1204-1240)
15.30-15.45: Coffee

Session 2 – Moderator: Frederik Buylaert (Free University of Brussels)
15.45-16.45: Jelle Koopmans (University of Amsterdam), Les jeunes – un critère problématique ou un groupe bien défini?
16.45-17.45: Sarah Rees Jones (University of York), Neighbourhoods, intentional communities and social welfare. The making of utopia in thirteenth-century English cities

Ghent, May 23

Session 3 – Moderator: Jelle Haemers (University of Leuven)
9.30-10.30: Daniel Gerrard (University of Oxford), “Imbued with the spirit of an antique nobility”: The dignity of the city in high medieval England
10.30-11.30: Paulo Charruadas (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Exploring nascent social identity: The Brussels aldermen, between behaviours, representations and perceptions (twelfth-thirteenth centuries)
11.30-11.45: Coffee
11.45-12.45: Ewoud Waerniers (Ghent University), Perception and performance of urban identity during the last decades of the commune in Cambrai (1182-1227)
12.45-13.30: Lunch

Session 4 – Moderator: Wim Blockmans (University of Leiden)
13.30-14.30: Jehangir Malegam (Duke University, NC), The aesthetics of belonging and alienation: Organization of hatred in Northern French communes
14.30-15.30: Jan Dumolyn & Jeroen Deploige (Ghent University), Vengeance as communal custom. The destruction of houses in the medieval Low Countries
15.30-15.45: Coffee
15.45-16.45: Jörg Wettlaufer (Academy of Science and Humanities, Göttingen), The emergence and social usage of shaming punishments in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Northwest European cities

17.00-18.45: Guided tour of medieval Ghent by Xavier Baecke, Ghent University

Brussels, May 24

8.15-9.30: Bus trip from Ghent (Hotel Ibis Opera) to Brussels (Academy)
9.30-9.45: Coffee

Session 5 – Moderator: Peter Stabel (University of Antwerp)
10.00-11.00: James Davis (Queen's University Belfast), Urban market regulation and commercial morality in Anglo-Norman England
11.00-12.00: Sethina Watson (University of York), Making polities: revenue and public welfare in English towns, 1170-1240

12.00-13.45: Lunch and guided tour of the subterranean remains of the medieval Coudenberg castle by Bram Vannieuwenhuyze, University of Leuven

Session 6 – Moderator: Rudi Künzel (University of Amsterdam)
13.45-14.45: Walter Simons (Dartmouth College, NH), “Brood omme God”: Religious vagrancy, begging, and labor, 1100-1350
14.45-15.45: Letha Boehringer (Universität zu Köln), Aspiring urban elites and new forms of lay piety – the beguines of Cologne c. 1220-1270
15.45-16.00: Coffee

16.00-16.30: Jeff Rider (Wesleyan University, CT), Conclusions
16.30-18.00: Reception


Marjolein Stern

Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 35, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
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