MECERN at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds

MECERN at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, UK

(July 3-6, 2017)

Report by Nada Zečević


At this year’s International Medieval Congress in Leeds, MECERN presented its activities and network in session 1316 (July 5) entitled The Many Different Others of Medieval Central Europe. Moderated by Prof. Cosmin Popa-Gorjanu of the University 1. December 1918 in Alba Iulia, the session yielded a broad and lively discussion of the aspects and categories of “otherness” seen between the medieval Baltic and Adriatic. Cored in the Kingdoms of Hungary, Poland and Bohemia, medieval Central Europe, with its varying geographic forms, patterns of political organization and socio-economic structures, also reflected wider religious divergences and multiple cultural connections. These left a particular mark in the region’s dynamic exchange with the surrounding areas, some of which were seen even as marginal structures and more distant parts of the continent.

The three papers presented in this session showed several micro-examples of an exchange that contributed to the region’s socio-cultural diversification and implied, each in its own way, various relationships of otherness that connected the center and periphery. The first paper, Latin Christendom’s Others: 13th-Century Papal Legates in Poland, Hungary and England presented by Agata Zielinska, a post-graduate student of the University College in London, showed three examples of how the Papacy treated its “eastern periphery,” namely Poland and Hungary. Comparing these cases to a well-known area such as England, Zielinska showed that the Papacy tailored its missions according to the local needs, still allowing the papal agents to extend the arm of papal authority long into distant areas. The second paper presented by Nada Zečević of MECERN-CEU/Marie S. Curie Actions Research Fellow at Royal Holloway University of London, The Changing Other: Emigre Communities from the Balkan Peninsula in Late Medieval Hungary, pointed out to a variety and changing dynamics of „otherness” observed by the local sources of the time in relation to the first waves of the Balkan migrations from the Ottomans to the Kingdom of Hungary. The third presenter, Wojtek Jezierski of the Goeteborg University, debated upon Feelings in the siege: Fear Trust and Emotional Bonding in the Missionary and Crusader Baltic Realm, 12th and 13th centuries, showing how emotional experiences of the siege and conflict could prompt the feeling of otherness among the Crusaders in the Baltic.


MECERN at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo (Michigan): report

MECERN and its members at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo (Michigan), May 11th-14th 2017

Report by Suzana Miljan, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

At the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo (MI), that brought together more than 3000 medievalists from all over the world, MECERN participated with a session on Central European Medieval Networks. The first paper in this session, presented by Christian Raffensperger of the Wittenberg University (Springfield, Ohio), dealt with “Comparative Political Development in the Arc of Medieval Europe.” The second presenter, Katalin Szende of Central European University (Budapest, Hungary), focused on “Urban Networks in Medieval East Central Europe,” giving an analysis of diversified networking processes and complex structures of networks created through urban colonization between the Baltic and the Adriatic (including legal systems, connections between political elites, intellectual and cultural relations, ecclesiastical structures and business and trade networking). The third paper by Damir Karbić and Suzana Miljan of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Zagreb, Croatia) entitled “Complex networks of legal traditions and social structures. A case of Croatia-Dalmatia and Slavonia-Hungary” reflected upon the parallel existence of two contrasted legal cultures: the one, predominantly based on the written pragmatic legal literacy and the tradition of the academic Roman law of Croatia’s southern parts, and the other, that largely grafted upon oral legal traditions of northern Croatia. Apart from lively scholarly debate and exchange, the panel, presided by Prof. Gerhard Jaritz of the Central European University’s Medieval Studies Department, was also an opportunity to alert the US and international collegium about the recent acts of oppression of the Hungarian government towards the Central European University and it values that promote freedom of academic work and open society.

Apart from the MECERN session, the network’s members took part in several other sessions and Congress activities. Prof. Gerhard Jaritz organized a panel sponsored by CEU’s Department of Medieval Studies on “Creating and Transforming the Image of Saints,” in which one of the Department’s doctoral students, Stephen Pow, presented an innovative view on the connection between cults of saints and chivalry literature, while Prof. Gabor Klaniczay spoke about the stigmata of Blessed Helen of Hungary.

A particular interest of the MECERN scholars was expressed in a number of panels on “Archeology of Medieval Europe,” organized by Prof. Florin Curta of the University of Florida. There, one of the speakers was Mario Novak of the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb (Croatia), whose presentation dealt with health, diet and lifestyles of early medieval populations in the East Adriatic area. In the panel on “Rulership in Medieval Central Europe (Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland): Ideal and practice,” Prof. Paul Knoll of the University of Southern California reflected upon various aspects of rulership by comparing three individual cases of Louis the Great of Hungary, Casimir the Great of Poland, and Charles IV of Bohemia. The great interest of MECERN members was also seen in the panel “Beguines and the Transformations of Urban Piety on the Eastern Periphery of Late Medieval Christendom” organized by Michael Van Dusen of the McGill University, where new questions were put to examine the inquisitorial procedures against heretics in Poland and Bohemia by the papers of Tomasz Gałuszka and Pavel Kras.The call for papers for the 53

The call for papers for the 53rd Congress open until June, yet the interested candidates can apply with individual papers until the coming Fall by writing directly to panel organizers. More on the procedures of the application can be seen here.


MECERN Memeber appointed the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions’ Research Fellow at the Royal Holloway University of London

Starting from July 1, Nada Zecevic, the MECERN’s Research Companion to Medieval Central Europe Managing Editor and Associate Professor in Medieval History at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of East Sarajevo, has been appointed the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions’ Research Fellow at the History Department of the Royal Holloway University of London. There, she will conduct her research on A Comparative Diachronic Analysis of Post-Byzantine Networks in the Early-modern Europe (15th-18th c.) (MSCA IF-EF-ST no. 747857, acronym MIGWEB), in collaboration with Prof. Jonathan Harris.

The project focuses on the emigration from the Balkans and Greece to western Europe since the fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453 to the mid-eighteenth century, when the Balkan region was dominated by the Ottoman Empire. It will examine how the émigrés connected with each other to build efficient networks that kept and protected their interests, but also how various émigré groups interacted with their host societies amidst changing historical conditions. In order to discern some common „patterns” of exchange and interaction that channeled the émigrés’ integration into the wider context of the early-modern Europe, the project will use an interdisciplinary approach that integrates historical, anthropological and demographic analysis, thus also reflecting upon the wider significance which the movement of people from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine East had in building the common European heritage.



New publications of sources on the medieval Italian South

A new volume of the Corpus Membranarum Capuanarum: Collana di Studi Samaritana e Capuana – Fonti e studi, entitled Le Pergamene Aragonesi della mater ecclesia Capuana (1439-1442) (Aragon Parchments of the Mother Church of Capua, 1439-1442)edited by Giancarlo Bova, has been recently released by the Palladio Editrice of Salerno, Italy. This comprehensive critical edition of documentary sources related to medieval Capua furnishes students and scholars of medieval history with most valuable, so far unpublished archival evidence about the urban identity of this town, supplementing the series with a variety of new paleographic, diplomatic, archival and historical details related to the early Aragon rule in Capua, Naples and the Italian South.

For further details on the edition and other publications of this series, as well as other publications of its editor, see the attachments.

Pergamene (Catalogo (6)

Capua ai tempi di Alfonso I di Aragona (2)

CEU Condemns Passage of Amendments to Hungary’s Higher Education Law

CEU Condemns Passage of Amendments to Hungary’s Higher Education Law Restricting Academic Freedom, Plans Legal Action

April 4, 2017

Budapest, April 4, 2017 – Central European University (CEU) condemns the Hungarian Parliament’s passage of amendments to the Hungarian national law on higher education today. The new law puts at risk the academic freedom not only of CEU but of other Hungarian research and academic institutions.

The deadlines imposed in the final form of the legislation are even more punitive than earlier versions and the requirement that foreign institutions like CEU receive authorization from US federal authorities appears not to understand the US Constitution. US law clearly gives authority for higher education to the states. We have operated since 2004 on just such an agreement between the Governor of the State of New York and the then Prime Minister of Hungary.
CEU also regards the new legislation as a violation of the clear constitutional provisions in Hungary’s basic law that protect the freedom of scientific research. “We will contest the constitutionality of this legislation,” said CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff. “In the meantime, we call on the government to enter into dialogue to see whether an agreement can be reached to resolve the issue. Such an international binding agreement must allow CEU to continue its operations in Budapest and safeguard its academic freedom.”

In reacting to the new law, Rector Ignatieff said, “This legislation has been rammed through Parliament in a single week following a tide of defamatory attacks on the university and its degrees. These attacks have not succeeded. We are deeply grateful for the support we have received from Hungarian faculty, students and institutions of learning. ”

CEU also calls the government’s attention to the wave of support for CEU and for academic freedom received from noted academics in Hungary, Nobel laureates, university presidents, the U.S. Department of State, academic organizations, student groups, and ordinary citizens in Hungary and around the world.
CEU will continue to maintain the integrity and continuity of its academic programs throughout this period and assures all current and prospective students that CEU will remain in continuous operation whatever the circumstances.

Expressions of support for CEU and condemnation of the legislation include:

• 17 Nobel Prize winners and more than 500 European and American academics
• Over 1,000 cognitive scientists including 2 Nobel Laureates
• Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber
• The United States Department of State
• Laszlo Lovasz, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
• Hungarian National Conference of Student Unions
• Eötvös Loránd University
• University of Szeged
• University of Pecs, Faculty of Business and Economics
• Andrássy University Budapest
• Academia Europaea
• 18 Hungarian Colleges of Excellence
• The British Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities
• The Regius Professors of Oxford and Cambridge Universities
• Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, recently elected to CEU’s Board of Trustees
• The European Society of Cambridge University
• The Canadian University Teachers Association
• European University Association
• Indian Academy of Sciences
• Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
• Others to be found on (as news stories) and here (listing)

Colleen Sharkey | International Media Relations Manager
Phone: +36 1 327-3000 x 2321
Mobile: +36 30 916 2273






The Hungarian government has proposed amendments to the National Higher Education Law that would make it impossible for Central European University – and possibly other international institutions – to continue operations within the country.

These changes would endanger the academic freedom vital for CEU’s continued operation in Budapest and would strike a blow against the academic freedom that enables all universities to flourish.

It is time for friends, supporters, and educational and academic communities to defend our institution and the independence of higher education institutions around the globe.

How to help

Below are a list of tools that you can use to help show your support and solidarity with CEU.

We encourage you to:

Additionally, below is a list of documents about the proposed legislation and CEU’s response:



On repeated occasions, Lino Barañao, Minister of Science of Argentina, questioned the pertinence of human and social sciences.

On February 25th, he gave a supplementary step in statements published by Noticias, a magazine in Buenos Aires.

The Minister proposes to eliminate the funding provided by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Conicet) to medieval studies.

He argues that they do not respond to the needs of the country: the Middle Ages would be oblivious to Argentina’s history and, therefore, it would be a superfluous activity.

In doing so, he attacks the school of Argentinian medievalists in which figures such as Claudio Sánchez Albornoz and José Luis Romero have shone, school which continues today producing research on history, literature and philosophy published by journals and academic publishers in the country and abroad.

Barañao is calling to ignore ten centuries of history promoting the provincialization and the impoverishment of intellectual life in our country.

It seems that the goal is to prevent us to know the genesis of our own history and those legacies without which history is not understood, as if we should play at a scientific level the economic, social, and political worldwide division between those who know and are able, and those who must not know or be empowered.

Let’s add that if this initiative were fulfilled many colleagues would be out of work for the mere reason that universities would not be able to home them. Disappointment would lead to desertification of chairs and of teams dedicated to Ancient or Medieval history and –possibly– to Modern and Contemporary history, were they not related to Argentinean history.

It will so produce a hardly repairable damage in the culture of our country.

We ask therefore for the support of the Argentinean and international scientific community, of historians and in particular of medievalists around the world to stop the offensive against the human and social sciences in general and against medieval studies in Argentina in particular.
To join the petition, please click at:

Proyectan eliminar los estudios medievales/ Intended elimination of medieval studies/Projet d’élimination des études médiévales


For the reaction of Argentinian scholars, please see the article (in Spanish) written by Prof. Dr. Astarita, head of Medieval History at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universidad Nacional de la Plata, and a researcher at CONICET at:



Dear MECERN members and friends,

The first issue of our quarterly Newsletter has been just released and you can download it from the attachment below. If you have any material with which you would like to contribute to the upcoming issues, please send it by e-mail to

Also, we would like to inform you that our MECERN Face Book page has been redesigned and active again. We are looking forward to meeting you there!



CEU Medieval Radio Podcast: Past Perfect! with Prof. János M. Bak

CEU Medieval Radio Podcast: Past Perfect! with Prof. János M. Bak

Duration: 56:27 m

CEU Medieval Radio proudly presents our next show on Past Perfect!, featuring Prof. János M. Bak, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Medieval Studies at CEU, Budapest as well as at the University of British Columbia. He will discuss kingship, coronation ritual, and laws in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary.

Past Perfect! with Prof. János M. Bak

To hear the interview from the CEU Medieval Radio Page, please click here.

CEU Medieval Podcast is a collection of past episodes of the radio’s weekly talk show ‘Past Perfect!’ and recorded public lectures presented at Central European University’s Medieval Studies Department.