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 http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/1096902795-studio-6/216411010100331/obsah/461935-dejiny-zidovskeho-odivani