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Other news: Issue 1, September 2008
New Ph.D. students
This fall three new Ph.D. students will start with their research projects on commemoration practices and the culture of remembrance. Charlotte Dikken will be working at Utrecht University (see below under Postdoc and Ph.D. researchers working on memoria). Bini Biemans will be working on her dissertation as an affiliated member of the Research institute of History and Culture at Utrecht University (see below). A few days ago we were informed that Viera Bonenkampová has been appointed at VU University. Her promotor will be Koen Goudriaan. More information about the new projects will be included in the next newsletter, which will appear in January 2009.
Website Memoria in Beeld - by Truus van Bueren
(Representations of medieval memoria: memorial paintings and sculptures from the (arch)bishopric of Utrecht)
The website Representations of medieval memoria (Memoria in beeld) is one of the results of the research project The function of art, ritual and text in medieval memoria. It contains a database with descriptions and photographs of the still extant (glass) paintings and sculptures (Memoriabilder) which have or may have functioned in the commemoration of the dead, in institutions in the medieval bishopric of Utrecht (from 1559 archbishopric of Utrecht). Memorial paintings and sculptures (Memorialbilder) show a religious image, with the portraits of the persons (either dead or still alive) to be commemorated, often with their patrons saints, and with accompanying epitaphs with the names and dates of death, and - where applicable - the coats of arms of the commemorated persons.
The website and database has been created for the benefit of scholarly research in the field of medieval memoria. It is especially intended to be used by historians, ecclesiastical historians, art historians, genealogists and family historians and heraldic experts.
The contents of the database has been offline for a few weeks, but it will be available again in the beginning of October. The various articles on the website can, however, be consulted.
For a geographical extension of Representations of Medieval Memoria, see below 'Grant awarded for two internet databases'.
Grant awarded for two internet databases - by Truus van Bueren
The research project The function of art, ritual and text in medieval memoria has recently received a grant for the sum of € 50.000 from three institutions, namely Stichting Professor Van Winter Fonds, DANS (KNAW) and the Research Institute of History and Culture (OGC; Utrecht University). This grant will make it possible to publish two websites on the internet:
1. The aforementioned database of Representations of medieval memoria (Memoria in beeld) will be supplemented and extended with data of paintings and sculptures with a commemorative function (Memorialbilder) for the region of the present-day Netherlands. Up until now the inventoried area comprised the (arch)bishopric of Utrecht, excluding roughly the Dutch provinces of Brabant and Limburg. These areas have now been inventoried and will be implemented in the database together with supplementary data of the Memorialbilder, from the (arch)bishopric of Utrecht. These activities will be performed between September 2008 and January 2009 by Fenna Visser M.A. The renewed database Representations of medieval memoria will be both in Dutch and in English. It will be presented at the aforementioned symposium Medieval Studies and IT. Case: memoria and commemoration practices in the Netherlands. It is the intention to eventually integrate the database Representations of medieval memoria into the MeMO application, which will be discussed below.
2. The structure for the database of memorial registers (titled De adminstratie van de memoria; Administration of Medieval Memoria) will be developed and assessed. The development of the database structure will be implemented according to the same principles as the Representation of medieval memoria database. The activities, which will start in February 2009 will be performed by Drs. Rolf de Weijert in association with DANS, which also developed the database application for Repesentations of medieval memoria. This database will cover the present-day Netherlands and will also eventually be integrated in the MeMO application.
Application for a grant for Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO)
At the beginning of this academic year a group of memoria-researchers applied for a grant from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO; investeringen Middelgroot), for a project called Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO). We hereby include a summary and an overview of the participating institutions.
Summary of the MeMO project - by Truus van Bueren and Rolf de Weijert
The Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO) project facilitates a new approach for researching the medieval culture of remembrance (memoria). It enables an interdisciplinary investigation in which case studies are combined with a comparative analysis of large amounts of source materials, including objects and texts. This objective is achieved by making available on the Internet an information system containing databases with inventories and descriptions of sources that are fundamental to the study of memoria. These sources are
- memorial registers
- narrative sources regarding memoria
- memorial paintings and sculptures (Memorialbilder), and
- sepulchral monuments and gravestones.
In addition to the four types of memoria sources, the MeMO research infrastructure will also provide
- basic information on the so-called miscellanies, manuscripts containing various (memorial) texts, and on the
- institutions from which the sources originate.
Photographs of the objects, full-text scans of published editions of the texts, links to related websites, and a website containing a newsletter and electronic forum will also be included. The data in the MeMO research infrastructure will cover the present-day Netherlands from the 12th through the late 16th century.
Research on the medieval culture of remembrance considers memoria a public affair, involving religious, social, historical and political aspects. It does not solely comprise the care for the souls of (deceased) persons, but also the commemoration of their actions, for instance founding religious institutions and obtaining and safeguarding rights, privileges and financial resources. Through the written word, rituals and objects memoria, therefore, played a key role in all social layers of medieval society. It was fundamental to the creation and expression of the identity of communities and individuals. Accordingly, this complex and dynamic phenomenon deserves, requires even, an interdisciplinary approach. To date, research on medieval memoria has dealt primarily with one of the aforementioned source types, largely focusing on case studies. This is due to the fact that presently researchers have no overview of the materials and research possibilities at hand. In many cases, research on the sources themselves will remain necessary. However, by providing a research tool with detailed information on these materials, MeMO meets the international scholars' need for interdisciplinary and broad comparative study of memoria related materials.
MeMO facilitates quantitative and comparative studies within a complex of closely related research questions. The overall question is twofold: first, in which ways was memoria an agent in both the creation and expression of identity in communities of the Middle Ages, such as religious orders, parishes, confraternities and families, and second, how did the creation and expression of memoria vary between these communities and over time? Although MeMO is being developed to make possible a new approach to memoria research, the materials presented can also be used by researchers outside the field of memoria, including the substantial group of researchers looking into genealogy, family history and heraldry.
The MeMO application will be user-friendly and platform-independent. Because the conditions are specified step by step, the users gain an overview of the materials relevant to their research. The sustainability of the research infrastructure is strengthened through the use of internationally accepted open standards for data exchange (in XML format), expressing semantics, incorporating already existing digital resources relevant for memoria research and the creation of open source software tools to enable the analysis of the memoria sources. To further enhance the exchangeability and interoperability of the research infrastructure, a platform-independent international description standard (MeMO DS) will be created and edited by a committee of internationally renowned scholars on the subject. The future re-use and extensibility of the data created during the MeMO project, as well as interoperability with related systems, are important features of the research infrastructure created by this project.
The MeMO project is an initiative of researchers from three universities: Utrecht University, University of Groningen and VU University, Amsterdam. In order to build the IT application, we plan to work together with Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS). Several institutions for cultural heritage also participate in the project: the National Service for Archaeology, Cultural Landscape and Built Heritage (RACM) in Amersfoort; the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) in The Hague; the Foundation for Ecclesiastical Art and Artefacts Netherlands (Stichting Kerkelijk Kunstbezit Nederland; SKKN) in Utrecht; and the Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG), The Hague.
The project leader and main applicant is Truus van Bueren.
Monasticon Trajectense - by Koen Goudriaan
Early this fall a few dozens of items will be added to the website Monasticon Trajectense. This website, which is hosted by the Faculty of Arts of VU University Amsterdam, contains extensive repertories on convents of a specific type in the medieval diocese of Utrecht, which - by the way - covered a large part of the present-day Netherlands. The convents in question applied the so-called Third Rule of Saint-Francis: their inhabitants were called tertiaries. Originally, this rule was meant for lay people living individually at home. But from 1399 onwards, a large number of women's congregations and a smaller number of male congregations, originating in the Devotio Moderna movement, adopted this rule to regulate their community life. It was of moderate severity. The local communities were united in the Chapter of Utrecht, which allowed its members to remain independent from the Friars Minor, with whom they had little affinity. The formula was very successful: eventually, over one hundred communities joined the movement.
From 1998 onwards, a research project on these tertiaries was executed at VU University. The Monasticon Trajectense is one of the results of the project. The first descriptions were published on this site three years ago. At this moment, the site contains items on 45 convents; another 20-odd will be added soon. The authors, so far, are dr. Antheun Janse, dr. Sabrina Corbellini and prof. dr. Koen Goudriaan.
The descriptions follow a fixed pattern of rubrics on historical, material and spiritual aspects of the convents' life. Under each rubric, it gives clues to the relevant primary and secondary sources.
Its relevance for research on memoria is resting on the fact that it contains a rubric on liturgical activities, in which data on altars, chantries, mass foundations, etcetera are listed. Another rubric lists the manuscripts which can be assigned to the particular monastery. If the convent has produced chronicles, these are mentioned too. There is also a rubric devoted to mobile inventory: If (data on) works of art have been handed down, they are signalled here. In the historical part, a separate rubric is dedicated to the convents' benefactors. Last but not least, the format contains a chapter on 'Prosopography', which lists the names of all matres, procuratrices, ordinary sisters (or brothers), rectors and lay functionaries which have been handed down. It is fair to warn that the available material is quite unevenly distributed across the several convents.
Convent list - by Koen Goudriaan
At the website of the Faculty of Arts of the VU University, this autumn a second repertory on medieval monastic life will be in the air: the Kloosterlijst. This Convent List is set up as a concise repertory of all 700 (actually, 702) medieval Dutch convents. Its main aim is to remedy the many identification problems which surround the history of medieval Dutch monasticism. The only repertory covering the field as a whole so far is Schoengen's Monasticon Batavum. Besides being nearly 70 years old (it dates from 1941/2), it contains a lot of errors. Moreover, it is very impractical in that it often devotes more than one lemma to the same monastery, if this undergoes changes of regime during the period of its existence. For specific categories, the Monasticon Batavum has been replaced since, by more recent monastica resting on more solid research. This is true, for instance, for the Windesheim canons and canonesses, which are covered by the Monasticon Windeshemense. But for the majority of the monasteries, no such update is available, and will not be available in the foreseeable future due to the amount of work which this would require.
In the meantime, this Convent List is offered as a temporary tool. It is not a monasticon, in that it would make accessible all aspects of a convent's life. Instead, it is kept concise, and its main function is to indicate a convent's existence. A few elementary data are added: beginning and end, category, alias names, availability of archival records (if any), and main literature. It is completed by two additional components: a concordance to the Monasticon Batavum and an elimination list. In this list, all monasteries are mentioned which never existed but which nevertheless circulate in historical literature, and the arguments why they have to be eliminated are given.
The first version of this Convent List will be a try-out, inviting the scholarly community to correct the remaining errors which this list, too, no doubt will contain.
Development of new software for the database Narrative Sources - by Jeroen Deploige
The database The Narrative Sources of the Medieval Low Countries is an online repertory of medieval narrative sources (www.narrative-sources.be). It was first published in 1996 and can be consulted free of charge. The database's contents, which will be regularly updated, resulted from the combined research of the Universities of Ghent, Louvain and Groningen, and was funded by the FWO and the NWO. However, the software of Narrative Sources urgently requires replacement. Using a grant, obtained from the Royal Historical Commission (KCG), we are currently working on the development of a new software system. While doing so, we are also exploring the possibilities of new applications, which will facilitate historical research based on Narrative Sources.
Narrative Sources is an important instrument for memoria-researchers. The website/database f.i. offers information on chronicles reporting on the founding of religious institutions, important gifts and memorial practices, and on biographical descriptions of deceased priests, conventuals and lay-persons, which were meant not only to commemorate these persons but also to have their lives serve as an example.
Prof Jeroen Deploige (University of Ghent - Department of Medieval History)
Prof Guy De Tré (University of Ghent - Department of Telecommunications and Information Processing)
Lic. Bert Callens (University of Ghent - Department of Telecommunications and Information Processing)
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This page was last updated on: October 7th, 2010
December 16th, 2016:
The seventeenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
March 11th, 2016:
The sixteenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
May 23rd, 2015:
The fifteenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
November 24th, 2014:
The fourteenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
March 25th, 2014:
The thirteenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
September 19th, 2013:
The twelfth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
January 14th, 2013:
The eleventh issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
September 12th, 2012:
The tenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available. This is a double issue so be sure to check out both Part One and Part Two.
March 6th, 2012:
The ninth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available! In this issue you will find many new book announcements and information on projects dedicated to digitising memorial registers.