MECERN at IMC 2016 in Leeds: report

This year’s International Medieval Congress in Leeds took place July 4-7. Its main theme, ‘Food, Feast & Famine’ was chosen for the crucial importance of these phenomena in social and intellectual discourse, both medieval and modern, as well as their impact on many aspects of the human experience.

 Areas of discussion included:

  • Agricultural systems
  • Almsgiving – food as charity
  • Changing tastes
  • Cookbooks and cooking practice
  • Dearth and famine
  • Drink – wine, ale, and water
  • Environmental contexts
  • Feasting
  • Food and social class
  • Food in monastic and other religious communities
  • Food production
  • Food supply and population
  • Food supply and transport
  • Fresh and saltwater fish
  • Hunting
  • Medical ideas of food, digestion, and humoral pathology
  • Medieval haute cuisine
  • Religious and spiritual feasting and fasting
  • Spices and other edible luxury trade items
  • Standards of living
  • Symbolic/Figurative food
  • Trading food

A round table discussion Migration, Borders, and Refugees in Medieval Central Europe: A Round Table Discussion was organized by MECERN on July 5. Participants included Felicitas Schmieder (FernUniversität Hagen), Emilia Jamroziak (Technische Universität Dresden / University of Leeds), Dorottya Uhrin (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), Balazs Nagy (Central European University, Budapest) Emir Filipović (University of Sarajevo), and Nada Zečević (University of Eastern Sarajevo/Central European University, Budapest)

Among the important issues brought up during the discussion, the highlights were on the borders of our modern uses and interpretations of the medieval migrations, various perceptions of migratory movements and socio-cultural phenomena they entailed in medieval Central Europe, and the need to compare our knowledge of the migrations recorded in medieval Central Europe to the similar movements recorded in other parts of Europe.

More on this year’s IMC program and activities around the central theme can be found at

For the media coverage, see here.


MECERN long term project: The Research Companion to Medieval Central Europe

The Research Companion to Medieval Central Europe is the network’s long-term project. It is intended as a research handbook that will serve as the starting point for new in-depth studies of medieval Central Europe.

It will contain a comprehensive and critical review of regional resources and results of up-to-date modern research centered on the Kingdoms of Hungary, Poland and Bohemia as well as their surrounding areas (“from the Baltic to the Adriatic”) with which these kingdoms had lively interactions.

Edited by Daniel Ziemann (Editor-in-chief), the volume will include twenty thematic chapters written as studies situated within recent cutting-edge scholarship and contributions on various aspects of regional medievalia, spanning disparate subjects and ranging from spatial organization through elites, religious practices, economic cooperation and everyday life, intellectual and artistic expressions. The volume is expected to be launched by 2018.


NEW TITLE: Medieval East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective

medEdited by Gerhard Jaritz and Katalin Szende, Medieval East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective draws together the new perspectives concerning the relevance of East Central Europe for current historiography by placing the region in various comparative contexts. The chapters compare conditions within East Central Europe, as well as between East Central Europe, the rest of the continent, and beyond.

Including 15 original chapters from an interdisciplinary team of contributors, this collection begins by posing the question: “What is East Central Europe?” with three specialists offering different interpretations and presenting new conclusions. The book is then grouped into five parts which examine political practice, religion, urban experience, and art and literature. The contributors question and explain the reasons for similarities and differences in governance and strategies for handling allies, enemies or subjects in particular ways. They point out themes and structures from town planning to religious orders that did not function according to political boundaries, and for which the inclusion of East Central European territories was systemic.

The volume offers a new interpretation of medieval East Central Europe, beyond its traditional limits in space and time and beyond the established conceptual schemes. It will be essential reading for students and scholars of medieval East Central Europe.

See more on the publication details and the order form here. To order the book under a discounted rate of 20 % until the end of 2016, please find a discount code in  the attachment below

Medieval East Central Flyer 2 (1)


MECERN Second Conference in Olomouc (March 31-April 2, 2016): REPORT

Between March 31 and April 2, the Art Centre of the Palacký University (a former Jesuit College) in Olomouc (Czech Republic) hosted the Second MECERN Conference. Organized in cooperation with the Department of History of the Palacký University of Olomouc and the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ostrava, this MECERN gathering hosted 70 participants who discussed on the unity and diversity of medieval Central Europe, its social order as well as cohesive and disruptive forces.

The conference opened with a welcome speech by Dr. Jaroslav Miller, Rector of Palacký University, while the Opening plenary lecture by János M. Bak reflected upon the Comparative History of Medieval Central Europe: Past and Future.

The conference then continued its work in 16 sessions, focusing on the following issues:

  • Urban communities
  • Medieval mentality
  • Literature as a reflection of dynamic social structure
  • Space and its interpretation
  • Dynasties and family policies
  • Borders of Christianity in East and Central Europe
  • Church and religion
  • The Baltic Sea Basin
  • Christianization and transformation
  • Elites and Society
  • Kingship and royal power
  • Manuscripts and images as bearers of meaning
  • Cities and minorities
  • Visual art and society

The participants represented universities and research centers from all around Central Europe, as well as international institutions that focus on this region. There were a large number of postgraduate students and early stage researchers, whose contributions, apart from conventional presentations, also included poster presentations on late medieval/early-modern chivalry, social structure and aristocratic representation in fifteenth-century Hungary, capital punishment in late medieval Gradec, political and territorial organization of the episcopate in the Zagreb Diocese, and reintroduction of double monasteries for mendicant nuns.

A special form of comparative dialogue on the region and among scholars from various disciplines and at different stages in their careers was established through Conference’s two roundtable sessions organized by János M. Bak (CEU, Budapest) and Martyn Rady (University of London) under the titles What Decisions were made by Late Medieval Noble Assemblies – and how?and Coherence and Disruption in Legal Practice in Medieval South-Eastern Europe.

Miri Rubin (Queen Mary University, London) closed the conference with her plenary lecture entitled The End of Solidarity? Medieval Cities in the Fifteenth Century.

During the conference MECERN also organized a number of business meetings dedicated to the coordination of the network and its running projects. The winners of the Textbooks’ project were announced and The Research Companion team work discussed by its authors.

A special part of the conference was dedicated to visiting the cultural heritage of Olomouc. Antonin Kalous of Palacký University introduced the participants to the town’s main square, the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary with its famous Gothic fresco painting (1468) of the Siege of Belgrade in 1456 and the town’s exceptional baroque architecture.

MECERN members would like to express their deep gratitude to the local coordinators of the conference, Antonin Kalous and Michaela Malaníková of the Department of History of Palacký University of Olomouc and Dr. Robert Antonin of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ostrava for their kind support and guidance throughout the conference and its inspiring spaces.

The next MECERN Conference will take place at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb University in spring of 2018.

For a link to the TV follow up of the Conference see







More conference pictures can be see at  and