Religion and Conflict in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

Religion and Conflict in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods ran between the 11th and 13th of July 2017 at Nottingham Trent University. Martin Roberts, PhD student at the University of Nottingham, offers his thoughts here.


With conference season in full swing it seemed a very short time between my presenting to the Leeds International Medieval Congress and this three-day conference at Nottingham Trent University organised by the Centre for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Newly-established, the Centre aims to increase understanding of the origins, ideology, implementation, impact and historiography of religion and conflict in the medieval and early modern periods. If the quality of their inaugural event is anything to go by, it looks to have a very health future.

Examining the programme I was struck immediately, not only by the wide-ranging papers, but also that speakers had travelled from Barcelona and Mainz, even Sydney, to attend. Held, for the most part, in NTU’s Newton Building, the prevailing atmosphere was certainly friendly and the conference, both overall and throughout the individual sessions, extremely well-organised and thoroughly stimulating.

Due to commitments elsewhere I was unable to attend Day One, but Day Two began with a fascinating Keynote by Professor Liz Tingle (De Montfort) on ‘Sacred Travel: Long Distance Pilgrimage and the (Re)building of Catholic Identity in an Era of Religious War’ and continued into five separate sessions each split thematically. Session One (Conflict in the Parish) contained three excellent papers by Alfred Johnson (Sydney), Dr Dave Postles (Hertfordshire) and Dr Fiona McCall (Portsmouth). In the afternoon, I was fortunate enough to attend the session on ‘Conflict in Church and State’ with papers from Toby Bromidge (Royal Holloway) on ‘The Armenian disintegration of secular and ecclesiastical leadership in the late eleventh century’, Samuel Lane (Oxford) on the conflicts between church and city in late medieval Salisbury, and Ping Liao (also Oxford) on religious persecution and the use of the army Restoration England and Scotland, 1660-1688. In the afternoon, in the session on Marital Conflict, it was my turn. Presenting my paper ‘Consent, Clandestinity and Conflict: Old Stories, New Understanding – Matrimonial litigation in the early sixteenth-century diocese of Lincoln’, I was “on the same bill” as the highly-engaging Dr Jonathan Healey (Oxford), who entertained and enthused everyone with his ‘Curious Case of the Cross-Dressing Catholic: Religion, Revelry and Resistance in Jacobean Lancashire’ and the equally fascinating paper given by Carolin Katzer (Mainz) on Mixed Marriages in Early Modern Worms. I hope I contributed at least something to the session’s success! During the final part of the afternoon Delfi Nieto (Barcelona) and Dr Claire Taylor (Nottingham) both gave excellent papers on heretical themes. Day Two concluded at the Malt Cross (and later at 4550 Miles from Delhi) permitting everyone who attended further opportunity to socialise and continue earlier debates and, I understand, to enjoy an exceptional conference dinner.

Day Three was also filled from beginning to end. A particular early highlight was Dr Katherine Lewis’ keynote lecture, ‘“You will realise you are fighting with men”: Crusaders, Turks and Masculinity in the Late Middle Ages’, but there were also enthralling sessions too on ‘Gender and Conflict’, ‘Text, Representation and Identity’ and ‘Holy War’. There is, sadly, too little space to comment on them all.

In conclusion, a very welcome addition to the conference calendar and one I hope to attend in future.


2014.09.02 MOR ID PICMartin Roberts is a PhD Student at the University of Nottingham. His thesis is entitled, ‘Ecclesiastical Justice at the Cusp of the Reformation: The Study and Interpretation of its written legacy with particular reference to some records of the Audience Court of John Longland, bishop of Lincoln’.

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