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Current Projects

Staff members of the Centre for Medieval Studies are engaged in a wide range of research projects, singly or in collaboration with scholars from other institutions. Listed below are our major funded projects currently in progress.

This network, established by Dr. Gregory Lippiatt, explores the political role of ‘barons’ over a broad chronological and geographical span through five key research questions:

  1. How did non-royal élites across Afro-Eurasia conceive and implement responsible government, whether on behalf of themselves or others, from c. 900 to c. 1350? 
  2. What points of comparison can be found between aristocratic approaches to government in Latin Christendom, the eastern Roman empire, the Abbasid caliphate, and Middle Imperial China between the transnational experiences of imperial collapses of the ninth century and destabilising plague of the fourteenth? 
  3. How did élites coming from a minority background, for example a separate cultural or religious community to the wider population, interact with their own communities, élites from the dominant group, and the governed majority? 
  4. To what extent has our understanding of medieval aristocracy been formed by teleological narratives of modern state formation? How has the exclusion of non-royal élites from such narratives shaped our present perceptions of European and non-European polities? 
  5. Is it necessary to revise our understanding of the rise of the modern state with reference to the role played by aristocracies across Afro-Eurasia?

For more information about the project, please visit its dedicated website.

In the mid-thirteenth century, an Essex knight named Walter de Bibbesworth composed a remarkable French vocabulary in rhyming couplets, known to scholars as the 'Tretiz'. In this work he set out the vocabulary for a variety of topics, including childbirth and infancy, the names of various flora and fauna (which features an entertaining section on animal noises), or occupations such as cart-making and beer-brewing.

The central aim of this project, led by Dr. Thomas Hinton, is to edit all sixteen manuscripts of the text and make these available to scholars and general users in the form of a website. This digital edition will allow users to engage with the material, by comparing readings from individual manuscripts, isolating the English and French from each other, and searching the textual record by date, place or theme. Editing and studying the complete textual record will make it possible to assemble a detailed picture of the evolving status and role of French in Britain, with each manuscript opening a door onto individual users, whose occupation, social standing or personal interests, for diverging reasons, required mastery of French. Alongside this online edition, additional outputs will offer a definitive account of the 'Tretiz' from start to finish: how it was created, how it was read, and how it influenced later works on the French language. The cumulative result of this research activity will be to place the 'Tretiz' at the heart of debate about the position of French in medieval Britain, a topic of great current interest to scholars.