Category Archives: Academic life

What did medieval people know about Hungary?

What do the Old Norse sagas, the chronicle narrative of Jean Froissart and the Old Serbian annals have in common? How about the Dominican collection of pious exempla by Jacobus de Cessolis, Liber de moribus? Well, to give you yet another clue, think of the late French Arthurian romance of Melyador and the anonymous fifteenth-century Middle English metrical romance Capystranus. Still no nearer to the answer? Hungary and the Hungarians! Surprising as it may sound, Hungary makes a frequent and variegated appearance in a variety of medieval narrative sources across Europe, from Iceland to Italy, not to mention Germany, France, England and such close neighbours as Poland and Serbia. Continue reading

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What is an Illuminated Charter?

What is a charter? What is an illuminated charter? Each national tradition of scholarship has their own approaches. Thus, one possibility may be to include everything produced in the chancery into the category of charters. Another approach would be to limit the scope of inquiry based on formal features: a document on one page, with signatures or other subscriptions, sealed or having place for a seal. Yet a third possibility is to make the analysis functional: as advised by a certain lawyer, a legal document would be any document that would result in certain action, the imposition of legal obligation, etc. In particular, indulgencies, though envisaging a contract of non-material kind, fit the functional definition well. Continue reading

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Illuminated Charters and Digital Humanities – A Conference Report

What is an illuminated charter? This is the question me and Edgar unfailingly heard from friends and relatives when we told them we are going to Vienna to a conference on Illuminated Charters. I must confess that I was puzzled and mystified when I first read the call for papers ‘Illuminated Charters: From the Margins of two Disciplines to the Core of Digital Humanities’. This may have been the reason I enlisted my co-author’s and husband’s help and sent a proposal to the conference organisers, on ‘The Functions of Illuminated Charters from Latvian and Lithuanian Archives in European Context’. Continue reading

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Quality of Transactions and Quality Controls from the Middle Ages to Modernity

The third and final day of the history of economics summer school was concerned with the quality of market exchange and the mechanisms of regulating and controlling quality. We debated the sales of sick slaves in the medieval Mediterranean and crafty entrepreneurs in eighteenth-century England, female labour in late medieval Amiens, the tasting of wine on the Parisian market under the Ancient Regime, the supply of cotton and wool during the First World War, and many other exciting and curious issues. Continue reading

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Quality of Work and Products on the Historical Market

We heard of medieval coins and eighteenth-century art manufacturers, of bribes to Vietnamese officials and corals given to Gambian cheiftains, of fourteenth-century destriers and eighteenth-century winetasters. Continue reading

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