LCMRS Historians Conduct Workshop in Shanghai

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Marios Shanghai
Dr Marios Costambeys and Dr Martin Heale at Shanghai Normal University.

Two LCMRS historians were the keynote speakers at the 6th Annual Workshop on Medieval Studies at the Shanghai Normal University.

At the kind invitation of Professors Xu Shanwei and Li Teng (the former a distinguished Visiting Scholar at Liverpool in 2015, the latter a Liverpool PhD), Dr Marios Costambeys and Dr Martin Heale shared their research on ‘The Mediterranean World in the Middle Ages’ with an attentive audience of faculty and postgraduates.

Dr Costambeys presented a paper on ‘Religious Change in Europe and the Mediterranean World between the End of Antiquity and the First Crusade: New Perspectives’.  Drawing on new archaeological discoveries, and reassessments of the role of the bishop in the central medieval centuries, he pointed to the contrasts that recent research has revealed between northern and southern Europe in the Carolingian and post-Carolingian periods (the 8th to 11th centuries).

An informed audience prompted discussion around a wide range of topics, including the economic roles of ecclesiastical institutions, the relationship between the power of bishops and the Peace of God movement, Christian views of Islam, the influence of Byzantine affairs on the First Crusade and the role of Ireland in early medieval western Christendom.

Dr Heale’s talk, ‘Monasticism in the Mediterranean World, 1100-1500’,  offered a wide-ranging survey of the historiography of monasticism in the later middle ages, exploring new work that has exposed the distinctiveness of Mediterranean monasticism in the period: while southern Europe gave birth to new orders such as the friars, in a context in which it also saw the emergence of heretical groups, it also encouraged the expansion of traditional monasticism, with scores of new (male and female) houses being established in the period, especially in towns and cities.

Questions addressed the recruitment and social status of nuns, the importance of fraternities, the slightly anomalous position of the canons regular, and the contrasts in the scope of proselytization between the Christian and Muslim worlds.

A stimulating day’s discussion concluded with some words of appreciation by Professor Xu, discussions are now under way to build on the success of the visit in future years with exchanges of staff and postgraduate students, as well as the sharing of comparative research on medieval society, east and west.