Other news: Issue 3, September 2009

MeMO progress report

In May 2009 the MeMO project started. The project group consists of Truus van Bueren and Rolf de Weijert, the general project leader and assistant project leader, Koen Goudriaan and Renťe Nip, who will supervise and coordinate the proceedings for several databases, and Rutger Kramer who coordinates and supervises the work for the application by DANS. Also several young scholars were hired:

  • Charlotte Dikken, PR manager for the MeMO project.
  • Fenna Visser, project leader for the database Memoria in Beeld / Representations of Memoria. Fenna will also work on the thesaurus which will be included in the MeMO application.

Two advanced students will do an internship in the project:

  • Kim Ragetli will be working on the memoria bibliography with Viera BonenkampovŠ (see elsewhere in this newsletter) and she will make the database Jeruzalemvaarders in Beeld / Representations of Pilgrims to Jerusalem. Her main task will however be the preparation - both contents and practical organization - of two symposia.
  • Trudi Brink will work on the preparations for the database Gravestones and Sepulchral Monuments.

Rolf de Weijert is currently preparing MeMO DS. MeMO DS is a description standard for describing memoria related source material, such as the four source types that are central in the MeMO Project (narrative sources, memorial registers, sepulchral monuments and gravestones and memorial paintings and sculptures). The aim is to make an internationally approved standard that can be used by scholars in different countries. In December 2009 and January 2010 several expert meetings will be organized to discuss different aspects of MeMO DS. In April 2010 the Editorial Board, consisting of internationally acclaimed scholars of memoria research, will meet to discuss MeMO DS. The standard will be presented at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in 2010.

In 2009 and 2010 two symposia will be organized. The first symposium, on Memoria and interdisciplinarity, will take place at the end of November or the beginning of December. The second event will be combined with the meeting of the Editorial Board (see MeMO DS) in April 2010. At this symposium we hope to have in-depth discussions about problems and possibilities of memoria research. The organizers - Kim Ragetli and Truus van Bueren - aim for small groups of participants to accommodate extensive debate. More information will be available on the MeMO website in October.

See also in this Newsletter
  • A New Website: Medieval Memoria Online.
  • Memoria in beeld/Representations of memoria.
  • Commemoration in the convent of MariŽnpoel: prayer and politics. A Rich Internet Application.
  • Jeruzalemvaarders in beeld / Representations of pilgrims to Jerusalem. A new database.
  • A request for your aid in the development of a bibliography on medieval memoria.

Address MeMO project

Janskerkhof 13
3512 BL Utrecht
Room 1.10
Tel. (0031) (0)30 2536164

Please note that this will be the last progress report in MMR. Progress reports will from now on be published on the new MeMO website.

A New Website: Medieval Memoria Online - by Charlotte Dikken, PR manager MeMO project

While MMR offers information on memoria research in general for the Netherlands and Belgium, the new website Medieval Memoria Online will present specific information on the MeMO project. It will be launched on the internet in October and it will be updated at irregular intervals.

Contents of the website:
  • The article on the MeMO project which appeared in the special issue of MMR (May 2009): Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO): New research possibilities.
  • An agenda.
  • Links to websites related to the MeMO project.
  • A bibliography with publications of Dutch and Belgian researchers on memoria, commemorations practices, death and burial, etc. This bibliography will be updated regularly.

Scholars on the mailing list of MMR will be kept posted on the updates of the website.

Memoria in beeld / Representations of memoria
- by Fenna Visser, Project leader Memoria in Beeld / Representations of Memoria

In August and September Memoria in Beeld / Representations of Memoria is being thoroughly updated. The renewed website will contain:
  • An improved browser with more systematic search options.
  • Better scans for a large part of the works of art.
  • Extended introductory texts.
  • Links to websites useful for research of memorials.

To enable non-Dutch scholars to use the website the introductory texts are also in English. Besides a glossary will be included.

Commemoration in the convent of MariŽnpoel: prayer and politics. A Rich Internet Application

- by Truus van Bueren and Leen Breure

On September 25 the first version of the Rich Internet Application (RIA) Commemoration in the convent of MariŽnpoel: prayer and politics will be launched on the internet. This interactive application enables students to be introduced to the subject by exploring the subject and discovering the many aspects of medieval memoria. Possibly it will also stimulate scholars to take a step further from the research material they are usually working with, and open up to other sources that might help them explore their research subjects more extensively. The convent of MariŽnpoel was chosen because from this convent several memoria related sources have survived, such as memorial registers (registers of gifts and a necrology), a chronicle and paintings, among which a memorial painting of Boudewijn van Zwieten, the founder of the convent, and his family.

Apart from textual information the RIA contains quality scans of documents and works of art which will enable the user to have a closer look at the presented research material. At a later stage spoken texts and music will be included, because the responsory Libera me, domine which the nuns sang at funeral masses has been preserved. The RIA will be a scholarly publication and will therefore be annotated and contain a bibliography.

The authors, Leen Breure and Truus van Bueren, have asked a number of scholars to take part in a usability test, after which the RIA will be finalized. Of course your comments and suggestions are very welcome too.

The application can currently be viewed here.

Jeruzalemvaarders in Beeld / Representations of pilgrims to Jerusalem. A new database

Several years ago historian Louise van Tongerloo and art historians Maartje van Dijk and Truus van Bueren made an inventory of portraits and memorial paintings with pilgrims to Jerusalem. The tradition of portraying pilgrims to the Holy Land, seems to have been a common phenomenon for the Northern part of the Low Countries. Apart from these 'Dutch' works of art only a few works have been discovered for the Southern Low Countries and the German regions. We are pleased to have an opportunity to make the material available to a wider public of scholars. In the fall and winter of 2009/2020 Kim Ragetli will prepare a database that will be searchable on the internet. As it is closely related to Memoria in Beeld / Representations of Memoria the two databases will be linked.

Reminder: A request for your aid in the development of a bibliography on medieval memoria

- by Viera BonenkampovŠ and Kim Ragetli

Since the early 1990s the study of commemoration has become an important field of research in the Netherlands. With increasing regularity articles and books, dealing with the concept of medieval commemoration are published, exhibitions are staged, conferences and symposia in the Netherlands and abroad are organized, and lectures are published. As a result the number of publications on medieval memoria has become so voluminous, that a specialized bibliography is needed. The organizers of the Dutch-German symposium, which is organized twice a year in Germany and the Netherlands by memoria researches from the University of Duisburg-Essen and Utrecht University, decided to draw up a bibliography on medieval memoria and related subjects. This bibliography is to contain publications by the members of these Dutch-German symposia. The bibliography will be published in the newsletter Medieval Memoria Research in the Low Countries (MMR), and will be updated regularly. Because the group of Dutch and Belgian participants and the number of their publications is not that large, we wish to also include publications by non-participants in this bibliography.

It would be a great help if you could send a list of your publications and, if possible, also any other all relevant titles of publications on medieval memoria and related subjects, to Viera BonenkampovŠ and Kim Ragetli (contact info on page 21 of this month's issue of MMR).

The first issue of the bibliography will be published on the MeMO website (see MeMO progress report).

The Church Monuments Essay Prize

In 2006 the Church Monuments Society (CMS) launched the biennial Church Monuments Essay Prize of £250 with a certificate for the best essay submitted in the relevant year, which was awarded for the first time in 2008. The prize-winning essay on a fifteenth-century epitaph at Saint-Omer Cathedral appeared in vol. 23 of the annual peer-reviewed journal Church Monuments, while another entry on two heraldic tombs in Llandaff Cathedral (Wales) is due to be published in vol. 24.

The purpose of the CMS Essay Prize is to encourage esp. students and young scholars to research and publish church monuments of all periods both in Britain and elsewhere. The length (including endnotes) shall not exceed 10,000 words and a maximum of 10 illustrations. Essays may be historical, art historical, genealogical but also literary in their approach (e.g. epitaphs), and international contributions are especially welcome. The contents of earlier volumes of the journal (with abstracts of articles) may be viewed on the CMS website.

The competition is only open to those who have not previously published in the journal Church Monuments. The next deadline for entries to the next round of the CMS Essay Prize competition is 1 January 2010. More information about the journal, the Prize, rules and guidelines can also be found on the CMS website or by contacting the Journal Editors Dr Kerry Bristol or Dr Sophie Oosterwijk (contact info on page 22 of this month's issue of MMR).

Commemoration and Community in City Churches - Christian Steer

(announcing a session of the 10th International Conference on Urban History in Ghent, 1st - 4th September 2010)

Medieval European cities, despite their myriad differences, all possessed a multitude of churches - ranging from the individual parish churches, through those of the mendicant orders, to the great cathedral churches - all of which were accessible to their populace and visitors alike. Increasingly, study of these urban churches is departing from the traditional viewpoint of institutional histories, considering each in isolation, to instead recognize their role in the lives of individuals, and indeed in the lives of their communities. Amongst these uses of urban churches was a feature common to all human societies, the commemoration of the dead.

Commemoration, while always acknowledged in historical work - most visibly through the existence of tombs - has only recently been seen as community history, most famously in the work of Oexle, who places it at the heart of the creation of Tonnies' gemeinschaft. This can take many forms, which can be summarised as 'commemoration of the spirit, and of the stone.'

Research on all of these aspects of commemorative activity in medieval churches is ongoing throughout Europe, including in the work of the Monumental Brass Society, Church Monument Society in Britain and the Medieval Monument Research project in the Netherlands. Yet comparison and collation of insights between them has seldom been achieved. This session invites scholars to bring together current research into the "spiritual" function of commemoration, such as papers on fraternities, bede rolls and anniversary/obit services, and also the "stone" and in particular the physical marker of the funerary tomb, inscription and chantry chapel. It is intended that this session will bring together scholars from across Europe to share differing forms of medieval commemoration throughout the continent, and to highlight the valuable shared experiences with the aim of stimulating further research drawing upon this wider context.

Session info:
Organisers: Christian Steer (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Justin Colson (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Session ID: S32


Work in progress: watersheds in Dutch memorial culture - by Kees Kuiken

To me as a historian and a sinologist, the apparent universality of memorial culture in East and West has been of particular interest. My doctoral dissertation 'The Other Neng' (Groningen 2002) is about the topographical and hagiographical contexts of the veneration of an early Medieval 'ancestor' of the zen (or chan) lineage of Chinese Buddhism. Ancestral metaphors have indeed been an important topos in the legitimization of spiritual authority among Chinese Buddhists (and also among Taoists). For some time in the early Middle Ages, a network of Buddhist and Taoist monasteries played a pivotal role in the memorial culture of the Imperial House - not unlike the Reichsabteie in Early Medieval Latin Europe. A detailed comparative study of these political-spiritual traditions would require funding on a scale that appears unavailable at this time.

For practical reasons, my research is now focusing on western memorial culture. I have published case studies on the memorial and funeral cultures of two medieval elite networks in the Low Countries: the network around St. Liudger (d. 815) and the sponsoring network of the earliest Norbertine foundations in the Netherlands. In terms of material culture, the use of monolithic sarcophagi in the latter has my special attention. How was the distribution of these mostly anonymous objects related to the memorial culture of the Ottonian-Salian era? Were they an expression of the renovatio imperii-ideology of the Ottonians and Salians? And why did the use of sarcophagi become obsolete shortly after the Salians died out? I intend to write an article, or a monograph, on the political, ideological and economic correlates of this 'Salian sarcophagi culture'.

The formulation of my third question suggests that the end of Salian rule may indeed have been one of a series of revolutions, or, to use a rather local metaphor: watersheds, in the memorial culture of Dutch elites. The iconoclastic fury of 1566, followed by the secularization of monasteries and most memorial foundations in the Northern Netherlands between 1580 and 1600, is the best known among these watersheds. Yet the French-inspired 'Batavian Revolution' of 1795 also profoundly changed perceptions and practices of elite funeral and memorial cultures. As I have noticed in a recent essay on the funeral culture of nineteenth- and twentieth-century elites in Friesland, the nineteenth century inspired a national funeral culture, while the twentieth century, especially in that province, produced regional variants of elite burial and memorial practices.

Among my current projects is a diachronic study of the memorial culture in one particular Dutch area: Het Bildt in Friesland. Since its reclamation in 1505 by a network of investors from the western Netherlands, this polder has been a linguistic enclave in the predominantly Frisian-speaking countryside. A local elite network can be identified from the 1550s on. Until 1600, they were still largely oriented on the western provinces ('Holland' proper). Protestantism and 'Batavian' Patriotism, the driving forces behind the revolutions of 1566 and 1795 respectively, both had early and substantial followings among these local 'gents'. The several transformations of their memorial culture, and their collective memory in general, have been the subject of a series of essays in historical and genealogical publications under the title: Van Steven tot Rembrandt: beelden en zelfbeelden van Het Bildt 1505-2006 (a Steven has been labeled the 'common ancestor' of the early western immigrants).

Memorial culture is obviously a manifestation of collective memory and hence closely related to what historical anthropologists have studied as 'mentalities' and/or 'social identities'. The clan-like self-perception of the nineteenth-century elite in Het Bildt is a good point in case. Yet in our research of Medieval memorial cultures, social identities can only be (re)construed to the degree in which their bearers can be identified. It follows that genealogy, or rather: prosopography, and also heraldry are useful adjuvants to students of these memorial cultures. Although my recent research on heraldic culture has focused somewhat on eighteenth-century elites, I am rather more interested in what I would call the Corpus Buchelii: the data on the material culture of Medieval memoriae in the western Netherlands collected by Arnoldus Buchelius around 1600. My training as a herald and my genealogical and prosopographical experience will hopefully contribute to its systematic study.

For a list of Kees Kuiken's publications see: www.prosopo.nl.

Pilgrims insignia, a new Website

Recently a new website, www.kunera.nl, was launched which may be very useful for memoria research, especially for the research of memorials (Memorialbilder) and for grave stones and sepulchral monuments. The website contains an extensive database with pilgrims insignia. The website is a project of Jos Koldeweij (University of Nijmegen) and his collaborators, who have been successfully working on pilgrims insignia over the past decades. A link will be included in the website Memoria in Beeld / Representations of Memoria.

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This page was last updated on: October 7th, 2010

MMR Updates

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.

Older updates

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