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20 October 2012: Medieval Diplomatics Workshop

2 October 2012

Medieval Diplomatics black book 1

Medieval Diplomatics, the scholarly examination and use of documents from the Middle Ages, is an indispensable component in the study of medieval history. Diplomatics covers a broad range of documents (e.g. royal charters, papal bulls, diplomas, legal writs, contracts, judicial records, treaties etc.) and requires several technical skills.

But Medieval Diplomatics is more than an antiquarian pastime. From donation charters in the study of monasteries to exchequer rolls in the history of fiscal governance, the careful use of documentary sources is essential in the political, institutional, religious, social, economic and intellectual history of the Middle Ages.

In spite of its importance, however, provision for introducing students to the study of Medieval Diplomatics remains limited. This one-day workshop hosted by UCL’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies aims to fill that gap.

The workshop will provide an introduction to some of the necessary technical skills in studying different types of both British and continental medieval documents. Equally importantly, it will demonstrate how historians can use these documents ‘in action’ to address a range of questions. What can we learn about the rule of law from inquisitorial records – and how do we read between their lines? What do donation charters reveal about the exercise of power by both the aristocracy and religious institutions? What were the purposes of arengae, the often elaborate and formulaic introductions to official documents? And just how rational was the papal bureaucracy?

The workshop will be led by three of UCL’s medieval historians, Professor David d’Avray, Dr Antonio Sennis and Dr John Sabapathy, who will address subjects including English governance; the papacy; medieval rationality; monasteries and social power; inquisitorial procedures.

The workshop is open to undergraduates, postgraduates and any other interested parties. It will be of especial interest and benefit to those interested in pursuing further study in medieval history at MA or PhD level.

Attendance is free and no knowledge of Latin is required. Materials will be provided.

To register for the workshop or to find out more information, please contact the workshop organiser, Dr Zubin Mistry (

Medieval Diplomatics black book 4

Page last modified on 30 apr 12 13:47 by Emma J Patten