6th International Symposium Abstracts

1) Fabian Alfie, University of Arizona: “The Merchants of My Florence”: A Socio-Political Complaint from 1457

The anonymous sonnet, “E mercatanti della mia Fiorenza” (“The merchants of my Florence”) is a rather traditional complaint against the bourgeois traders.  It accuses them of being cooks, peddlers, millers, bakers and cobblers.  That is to say, despite their wealth the merchants are lowborn and therefore totally unworthy to rule over a city.  It describes their venality, and closes by calling on God to strike them down with the plague.

The sonnet, which is currently unedited, appears in several fifteenth-century sources that are primarily dedicated to the poetry of the barber Burchiello (ca. 1400-1448) and that of his followers.  One of the manuscripts dates it to 1457 and claims that it was composed by a wool-carder.  The attribution of the sonnet accords with the self-presentations of Burchiello of his imitators.  He does not present himself as an aristocrat, but rather as the lowly Florentine he was.  This ascription is important because typically it was members of the nobility who wrote the slanders against the merchants, decrying the traders’ usurpation of their rights.  Instead, the manuscript scribes considered the author of the sonnet to be a laborer, complaining that the enriched traders were no different from her- or himself.  In my study I will analyze the intersection of class and Florentine politics in the sonnet.

2) Rosa Alvarez Perez, Barrington, RI, independent scholar: Next-Door Neighbors: Aspects of Judeo-Christian Cohabitation

The complex relations Jews and Christians developed in Northern France between the eleventh and the fourteenth centuries reveal the imposition of distinct boundaries mapping and demarcating the permissible zones of contact and interaction. Cohabitation not only was a source of friction, tensions, and violence, but also presented a possibility of more personal contacts between Jews and Christians. It is thus within this context that I examine French and Jewish sources to locate occurrences of interrelations more particularly between women of the two communities before the final edict of expulsion of 1394.

Violence was a common aspect of urban life at all levels of society, and within that frame, violence between Jews and Christians was not only triggered by religious resentments, but also through daily contacts between individuals of the two communities. Proximity and differences sharpened grievances and resulted in frequent squabbles, as French records attest. Although Christian’s perception of Jews was predominantly articulated along the lines of a hate discourse, restrictions nevertheless could not prevent individuals from the two divergent communities from crossing the real and virtual borders of social separation and creating time and again temporal ‘pockets’ of viable relationships. Living in close vicinity promoted certain complicity especially between women who shared similar concerns. They often turned to each other for help, assistance and exchange of services, relations that Judith Bennett labeled as “female sociability.” These exchanges affected local governance and local archives document in part the way in which female culture fitted into the collective existence, bringing to light how gender scripts informed social roles.

3) Klaus Amann and Max Siller, Universität Innsbruck: Theaterspielen in der Stadt: Das Beispiel Tirol

4) Carl Benson, University of Connecticut: The Dead and the Living: Medieval Guides to Rome and London.

Two capitals loomed large in the imaginations of medieval English writers: Rome, the ancient city of pagan ruins and Christian martyrs, and London, the more familiar and modern city. Although both Rome and London appear in English  writings of various genres from chronicles to romances to saints’ lives, this talk is restricted to what are generally referred to as guide books, a flexible form based on particular physical sites in each city.

Medieval guides to Rome were popular throughout Europe, including England, in two related forms. The first (often called Mirabilia Urbis Romae) describes pagan marvels: the ruins of classical monuments and the stories associated with them. An abbreviated version was added to the metrical version of Mandeville’s Travels. The second kind of guide (known in Middle English as the Stations of Rome) lists Christian churches and catalogues both their holy relics and the generous indulgences they offer. I shall focus on two English works: the idiosyncratic twelfth-century Latin Narracio by Master Gregorius (adapted in Higden’s influential Latin Polychronicon which was twice translated into English), which scorns pilgrim tales but is aesthetically attracted to classical art, especially an enticing statue of Venus, and the more comprehensive fifteenth-century Middle English Solace of Pilgrims by John Capgrave, which combines both kinds of guides with a wealth of information and stories. These guides show no interest in the life of contemporary Rome (not even the papacy) but instead concentrate on ancient marvels and early miracles. But underlying their exploration of Rome’s glorious past is a persistent sense of loss and belatedness: Rome is finally a city of the dead, of ruins and relics.

Medieval guidebooks to London are much less common than those to Rome and the two most significant are relatively early and very late. The first is a twelfth-century Latin preface to a life of Thomas Becket by William Fitzstephen. Fitzstephen has Rome in mind as a model for his work, although London possessed neither a genuinely classical past nor the remains of major saints. Instead Fitzstephen celebrates the bustling contemporary city with an emphasis on its communal life. His London is not a place of ruins and relics but contains vibrant locations where citizens work, play, and feast. The second guide to London is John Stow’s famous Survey, which was not written until the early seventeenth-century but constantly looks back to the late medieval period of the author’s youth and to even earlier times he has discovered in surviving records and inscriptions. The Survey includes an English translation of Fitzstephen and continues its emphasis on the pleasures and fellowship of bourgeois life, but Stow also introduces a nostalgia somewhat reminiscent of that in the Roman guides. Despite the prosperity of modern London, much of its sense of community, along with its buildings, spaces, and monuments, has been lost and is mourned in Stow’s description, and most of his civic heroes are now dead except to memory.

5) Gertrud Blaschitz, Krems, Austrian Academy of Sciences: Women’s Talk in the City: Gendered Communicative Strategies Within Late-Medieval Urban Settings From a Literary Perspective

In the patriarchal medieval and early modern culture female meeting points were limited. The most important public meeting points for women were churches, town halls, streets and marketplaces. Bathhouses, brothels, manufactories and some other working places are counting among female territories. The most important female work environment was inside, it was the domestic sphere, their place was at home to look after the children, to support their men, to keep the house.

Based on literary sources as Schwankbücher I try to give an interesting impression of women´s exchanges with their consexual (mit ihren Geschlechtsgenossinnen); the male-female context may not be disregarded.

6) Bonine, Michael, University of Arizona: Waqf and its Influence on the Built Environment of the Medina in the Middle East in the Early Modern Period

 This paper examines in the early modern period the role of waqf or Muslim religiously endowed property on the built environment of the traditional medina of the Islamic Middle Eastern city (called the shahristan in the Iranian world and Central Asia).  The focus is particularly on how this Muslim institution may have increased or promoted the increase in the density of the built environment of the medina – or, on the other hand, how waqf may have been a factor in slowing or inhibiting that process.  First, the institution of waqf is briefly examined, particularly the ways in which these endowments are established, and, then, the different ways in which such property is transformed into other uses and even into private property – and the implications of those changes and processes.  Case studies are used to illustrate these patterns, first using the Ottoman world, beginning in the fifteenth century –and specifically focusing on Istanbul and the Arab Ottoman provincial cities of Aleppo, Damascus, Cairo, and Jaffa.  The second set of case studies come from the early modern Persian realm, and include a focus on Safavid Isfahan, Afghanistan, Qajar Tabriz, and Yazd.  In conclusion an evaluation of these case studies will provide an opportunity to assess what the role of waqf has been on the city; specifically how this institution was instrumental in either promoting or decreasing the density of the city in the Middle East in the early modern period.  The complexity of the impact of endowed property and its many forms and transformations will be stressed, but also that there is not always a single clear, definitive answer to understanding the impact of waqf on the medina of the city in the Islamic Middle East.   

7) Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona: Hans Sachs and his Praise Songs on German Cities

Although the late-medieval and early-modern German mastersingers, mostly craftsmen poets, cannot be properly identified as Renaissance authors, Hans Sachs might, at times, be an interesting exception, particularly because they lived at a time of cultural-historical transition, adapting much traditional literary material from the Middle Ages, but so also from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian Renaissance poets. This paper will examine this question in light of Sachs’s impressively learned praise songs on Nuremberg and will offer comparisons with contemporary praise songs on other cities, characteristic of the Renaissance. Composing an encomium on Nuremberg, the leading city in the German Empire during that time, Sachs followed typically Renaissance concepts, such as those developed by Eneas Silvio Piccolomini, the later Pope Pius II, who already had described a city in a novel, comprehensive manner, comprehending the city more than just a conglomeration of narrowly-set buildings, a city square, and a city wall. Instead, the new approach took into account the larger context and perceived the city within its wider environment, grasping also its economic, political, and cultural function. To test how much early-modern writers such as Hans Sachs had gained significant inspiration from their Italian models, I will examine how Sachs discussed the image of a city in a plethora of city encomias, pertaining to Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Regensburg, Augsburg, and even northern German cities.

8) Nicole Clifton, Northern Illinois University: Alexander, Destroyer of Cities

 The historical Alexander of Macedonia founded various cities called Alexandria, which are included in the sources of the Middle English romance “Kyng Alisaunder.”   However, “Kyng Alisaunder” itself emphasizes Alexander’s role as destroyer of cities, rather than builder of an empire.  Although “Kyng Alisaunder” opens by evoking the complexity and sophistication of “Macedoyne,” describing Alexander’s home city through his mother’s experiences,  the romance quickly replaces this vision with Alexander’s destruction of Carthage, Mantona, Thebes, and an unnamed city in India, along with his subjection of any number of other cities.  The narrator expresses the grief of survivors for those who fall in battle, but seems not to grasp the social and economic effects that this urban destruction would have on the surrounding regions and on Alexander’s ability to rule effectively.  Just before Alexander’s death, we hear of the founding of Alexandria, apparently a nod to immortality; but the city becomes his final resting place, a tomb rather than a living monument to Alexander’s accomplishments.

Cities in “Kyng Alisaunder” appear as exotic places to be  conquered and plundered, if possible, rather than domesticated—even though the romance’s dialect places it in London, England’s largest city.  Medieval London might have provided the romancer with material for comparison with cities elsewhere.  That he does not so exploit it argues a fundamentally wary attitude toward cities, suggesting that already in the fourteenth century, the English were nostalgic for country and village life, preferring stories about isolated courts to stories set in cities, however beautiful or fabulous.  “Kyng Alisaunder” graphically illustrates this preference.

9) Allison P. Coudert, University of California at Davis: Sewers, Cesspoolss, and Privies: Waste as Reality and Metaphor in Early Modern Cities

On October 20, 1660 Samuel Pepys stepped into a “great heap of turds” that had escaped from his neighbor’s privy, landing in his cellar (Diary I, 269, 274). Pepys unpleasant experience was not unusual for urban dwellers in early modern Europe. Solid and liquid waste from houses, dyers, butchers, builders, tanners, tailors, soap-boilers, and tallow-chandlers mingled in noxious and toxic streams that ran freely down the gutters of city streets. But while the (mis)management of waste was a constant and real problem in urban areas, urban filth provided a rich source of metaphor in the “urban apocalypses” that stirred the anxious imaginations of many of Pepys’ contemporaries. The dirt and greed of the early modern city symbolized social mobility and the erosion of traditional boundaries in life as well as thought. The city was female, a delicate, proud, and splendid Lady, beautiful on the outside but disgusting within, a female whose whims and wiles undermined male valor and destroyed male integrity. This paper will discuss both the actual state of waste collection and disposal in early modern cities and the way sewers, cesspools, and privies were used as metaphors to express social and cultural anxieties in an age of transition from the pre-modern to the modern world.

10) Stephanie Fink De Backer, Arizona State University: The Mask of Enlightenment: Deception and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century Madrid

The early modern city was a realm of contrasts and seeming contradictions. In Spain, the raw underbelly of Madrid, teeming with gaming, tavern drinking, and lewd street performances stood toe to toe with the ideal Madrid of strict social propriety, groomed central streets, and carefully monitored theater. Social hierarchies depended upon definition and distinction, thus the period’s marriage laws, public decency statutes, bans against Carnival celebrations, and censorship efforts indicate that outward appearance had displaced interior morality as a driving mechanism of social order. At the same time, the roles played by city-dwellers on stage and in the street represented the period’s struggle with identity, pretension, and deception. In workers’ neighborhoods, shifts in identity constituted a form of resistance to definitions of ideal comportment, which became increasingly formally criminalized as threats to social order. For a society preoccupied with maintaining fixed identities as a marker of social stability, being “someone whom one was not” tested limits of ideal social place, particularly when deception was carried off the stage and instead, staged in the streets. In contrast to the carefully costumed and preened characters performing in official theaters under municipal patronage, the cheats and swindlers forging identities in the streets show the city itself to be the stage upon which social (dis)ordering would be played out.

This paper argues that in an effort to enact Enlightenment ideals in the urban space, programs of social reform strove simultaneously to relegate performance to the safe confines of the theater, while constraining the performance of identity in the streets by criminalizing behavior characterized as acts of dissimulation. However, the lives of Madrid’s denizens suggest that the mask of enlightened conformity could not conceal the multiple faces of the city.

11) Shennan Hutton, UC Davis: Women, Men, and Markets: The Gendering of Market Space in Late Medieval Ghent

Change in the use of space within the city often reveals evolving socio-political shifts and reconceptualized gender constructions.  Separation of work spaces and shops from living spaces in the early modern period, for example, accompanied the growing distinction between public and private space and the reconstruction of gender norms built on that distinction.  A more subtle shift in the gendering of market space in medieval Ghent is tangible evidence of the reconstruction of gender norms from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries in this city, a major center of wool cloth production and the second largest city north of the Alps.  Drawing on thousands of contracts and legal acts preserved in the registers of the Ghent aldermen, this paper will explore the gendered use of market space for economic, political, and cultural pursuits.  Market spaces were organized and regulated by distinct principles which reflected both the type of product(s) sold and the access women and men had to investment or employment in the guilds or crafts that used the market space.  Marketsellers of both sexes set up booths to sell a variety of inexpensive household goods on the Friday Marketsquare, and female shoppers frequented the booths and the shops that surrounded the open space.  However, this same square was often the location of mass meetings of guild militias and other political gatherings, which were exclusively male.  The city aldermen, guild and patrician factions, and Flemish counts or Burgundian dukes used Friday Marketsquare and the nearby Corn Marketsquare to display their power in the most public space of the city.  How did women and men experience access to this multi-purpose space?  The Corn Market, where grain from northern France was offloaded, bought, sold, and reshipped throughout Flanders, was exclusively a male space.  In the nearby Meat Hall, containing the marketstalls of the masters of one of the most powerful Ghent guilds, women could only be customers.  In the Cloth Hall, the center for international sales of wool and cloth, Ghent’s premier industry from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, women occupied the booths along the sides of the large interior spaces, while male brokers made deals in the open central space.  Statutes restricted the amount and type of wool and cloth that women could sell, and elite men made the largest and most profitable sales to foreign buyers, but women in the Cloth Hall occupied the crucial middle niche, redistributing the brokers’ huge purchases of wool and thread to the individual weavers and drapers who supervised the complex cloth-making process.  Gendering of market space in Ghent mirrored the gendered division of labor within the city.  As economic shifts in the late Middle Ages made grain suppliers and the provisioning guilds more powerful than the diminishing cloth guilds, women were increasingly confined to lower-paying and lower-status jobs.  Their exclusion from the space of the Corn Market and the Meat Hall, reinforced by numerous statutes from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, visually confirms their exclusion from the more profitable sectors of the Ghent economy.

12) Jean E. Jost Bradley University Peoria, Il: The Liminal Spaces in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale: Perilous or Protective?

The ever-metamorphasizing setting of Chaucer’s historical fiction, The Knight’s Tale, alternates between large city, small village, and uninhabited forest, and near environs of each. The tale begins as Duke Theseus journeys from the now conquered “reign of Femenye” of the Amazons to his native Athens, on the outskirts of which he is met by his initial provocation. “Whan he was come almoost unto the toun” (894), keening widows in black garb present his first problem. A repeated pattern of conflict emerges in which the most evocative and emotional events occur on the brink of, but not in the heart of a well-governed city. If one Chaucerian motif here is the value of a stable society run by a wise and astute ruler, his physical reign must exemplify that excellent governance soon to be prized in Renaissance “Rules for Princes” Handbooks. Such urban space must then eschew unstable brawling and out-of-control excess, relegating such abominations to other sub-urban regions.

Therefore, in a field removed from urban eyes, Palamon and Arcite engage in their physical contest, mired in ankle-deep blood. Isolated in the sacred forest of the deities, Emelye weepingly begs her patroness Diana exemption from unwanted marriage; Palamon entreats Venus for his true love; Arcite prays to Mars for victory On the outskirts of Thebes, Palamon hides in his exile, preserved from legal imprisonment, but confined to isolation, away from physical protection, and deprived of human interaction.

The function of this fringe area, the liminal space between the confinement posed by human habitation, and the freedom from interference, is both a perilous and protective one. In this domain, embodying the best-and-worst of both worlds, trespassers are accorded human intercourse and safety when sought in the nearby city; but ironically they also encounter their greatest danger, or experience their greatest turmoil without protection These complex, even ambivalent loci add human drama, a sense of narrative evolution, and emotional punctuation to one of the longest and drawn-out excursions into the romance of love and war.

13) Pınar Kayaalp-Aktan, Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey: The Role of Imperial Mosque Complexes (1543-1583) in the Urbanization of Üsküdar

Üsküdar, an inconsequential suburb of Istanbul until the mid-sixteenth century, underwent a dramatic transformation after the construction of three mosque complexes (külliyes) commissioned by the members of the Ottoman House. These were, in order of their completion, the Mihrümah (1543-44), the Şemsi Pasha (1580-81), and the Atik Valide (1583). I demonstrate in this paper that the court architect Sinan was commissioned to plan the physical layout and social services provided by these külliyes in such a way as to contribute to Üsküdar’s development into a choice district of Istanbul. Due to this deliberate agenda of imperial charity, the suburb indeed outgrew its minor role as a military and trading junction, transforming into a major urban center with distinct religious, social, military, and commercial overtones. By focusing on Üsküdar’s pious architecture as well as urban landscape, I aim to shed light on the issues of urban planning and resettlement that took place in Ottoman society as a result of the accelerated construction program of imperial mosque complexes in the sixteenth century.

14) Andreas Meyer, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany: Hereditary Laws and City Topography. On the Development of the Italian Notarial Archives in the Late Middle Ages

The rise of notarial registers during the 12th century had a revolutionary consequence for the contracting parties, since it enabled them to abstain from the execution of the proceedings on a parchment charter. In the 13th century, the percentage of notarial proceedings executed from the notarial register has probably not risen above 15 to 20 per cent. Accordingly, since the rise of the notarial register, 80 per cent of the proceedings recorded by a notary have never existed outside his register. And because the number of registers surviving from the 13th century is very small, those proceedings that have been executed on parchment represent a first selection of our source material. The keeping of a register also turned the notary into an archivist on behalf of his clients. Since every quarter of a town housed several notaries, they practically lived next door to their clients, and the archives were always within reach.
    Registers were the property of the notary. They represented a source of income to him and his heirs, since a parchment charter could also be executed a long time after the original entry of the proceedings into the register. The commission to execute a proceeding (commissio) could either be included into the notary’s last will, or else the competent judge of the commune gave the respective order.
    Notarial registers developed in three phases. Until the middle of the 13th century, notaries stored the registers privately. But the number of notaries simultaneously working in the same place was rapidly increasing since 1250, which in turn necessitated a higher degree of regulation. Owners of notarial registers were from then on obliged to create an index of volumes stored in their care which would be publicly accessible, a compromise that guaranteed the reservation of proprietary rights of notaries. From then on, hereditary laws and the city topography shaped the face of newly compiled private collections. It was only after 1450 that the obligation to deliver private registers into the care of an archive that was controlled by the commune or a notarial college finally prevailed.

15) Alan V. Murray, University of Leeds, UK: The Demographics of Urban Space in Crusade-Period Jerusalem, 1099-1187

The demographics of urban space in the city of Jerusalem have been an issue of political and religious contention for hundreds of years up to the present. This paper examines one of the most volatile periods of demographic change, which was framed by the crusader capture of Jerusalem in 1099 and its surrender to Saladin in 1187, which ended Christian domination of the Holy City apart from a brief interlude in 1229-1244.

The paper will start by considering the massacre of the city’s Muslim and Jewish population on 15-18 July 1099. It is argued that this act, which remains controversial to this day, was not done in the ardour of victory blood, but was a calculated measure carried out with the aim of shifting the demographic balance of the city in a way that would enable the Christian conquerors to hold it in the face of imminent attack. This act contrasts with the relatively orderly surrender negotiated in 1187 by the Muslim conqueror Saladin, who allowed the Western Christian population to depart, an act which largely restored the demographic balance of the city to the pre-1099 situation. Discussion will then move on to consider the period of almost 90 years between these two decisive events, showing how the Frankish conquerors not only embarked on a vast programme of construction and reconstruction intended to redefine Jerusalem as a Christian city, but also manipulated the composition of the city’s population by means of prohibitions and controlled immigration with the aim of increasing its security against Muslim attack.

16) Andreas Oennerfors, University of Sheffield, UK: From Stone Masons to Gentleman Masons: Changing Associational Patterns of Freemasonry in Early Modern Urban Space

Craftsmen guilds made out one of the most important forms of urban associational life during the Middle Ages. Their purpose was training into specific skills of the craft in question, prize and market control and quality assurance, but the guilds also covered a wide range of cultural, political and social functions in the mediaeval town. Public processions at the occasion of the commemoration of their respective Saint, funds for widows or elderly and poor members of the craft, representation in city councils or specific art work in churches such as altars or church benches stressed the importance of the guilds in public life, some of them even participating in the defence of the town, when needed.

 After reformation, the religious character of the guilds was toned down, the rise of modern science during the scientific revolution as well as new governmental attempts to undermine price control and monopoly of the guilds called for a modernisation process with the consequences of specialisation and professionalization. The guilds of Stone Masons were one of the most important throughout Europe, especially during the period of the erection of Cathedrals as architectural symbols of religiosity in the mediaeval towns. Due to the change described, their guilds however had to face a situation when they also opened up membership to ‘accepted’ non-operational members, gentlemen interested in the scientific sides of masonry, such as geometry and the theory of architecture. Symbolic references to hermetic traditions within the mythology and symbolism of Stone masonry was attractive to 17th century intellectuals, Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) being the most prominent. He entered the craft in 1648 and mentions his affiliation in autobiographical notes. This trend evolved during the decades to follow and culminated during early enlightenment. Four masonic lodges in London decided in 1717 to merge and to form a Grand Lodge of freemasons. A book of Constitutions and Charges was edited in 1723 (with several editions to follow). The Constitutions and Charges have clear references to the mythology and organisational structure of the original stone mason’s guilds. However, it was when amalgamated with the 18th century type of associations and clubs, modern freemasonry emerged. The number of operative masons was in constant decline and the number of associated non-operative masons rising. Freemasonry developed apart from its mediaeval roots into a distinct feature of Enlightened European Urban Sociability.

This paper seeks to describe the change of associational pattern of stone masons guilds from its mediaeval type to a typical voluntary association of Enlightenment fashion and their respective rolls and roots in European urban life.

17) Martha Peacock, Brigham Young University, Utah: The Female Sex in the City. The Imaging and Economics of Women Consumers and Merchants in the Netherlandish Marketplace

Most discussions of Netherlandish women and the urban environment would have us believe that these early modern women were restricted to the home and would not have dared venture forth into the “dangerous” streets of the city. Such arguments employ popular moralists of the day and their biblically-oriented admonitions directed at women to leave the streets to their husbands while they remain humbly situated at home. In support of this hypothesis, scholars refer to the numerous domestic scenes created during this era as evidence of the success of this type of moralizing propaganda. These arguments describe in cozy detail the cocoon-like nature of these painted domestic environments, and furthermore assert that if the woman is ever shown out-of-doors, she is still encased within an enclosed courtyard or a fenced terrace. Such arguments excuse away the numerous market scenes that include women buyers and sellers by asserting that women were allowed into these spaces because the market was merely viewed as an extension of the domestic realm.

The reality of women in the city, however, seems to contradict the moralizing advice of these types of strictures found in literature and images. Indeed, shocked travelers to the Netherlands speak often of how much women participated in the public, economic sphere. They record with either dismay or admiration their encounters with overbearing or intelligent female merchants. One even suggests that the women frequently took over the family businesses while leaving their husbands to drink at the tavern. Another remarks on how well-versed the women were in keeping accounts. Certainly the fact that many men were traveling in the merchant trade would have necessitated clever wives who could conduct business in the meantime.

Thus, a more careful examination of market scenes suggests that the numerous depictions of women buyers and sellers points to the reality of women in the streets and to their actual presence in the public sphere. These images signify the power of women within this culture, as they were important conduits for both the influencing and satisfying of market demands. In relation to this reality, several recent sociological studies have emphasized the potent role of women as consumers. Netherlandish cities such as Antwerp in the 16th century and Amsterdam in the 17th century truly witnessed a burgeoning of capitalist demand for everything from exotic fruits and flowers to oriental porcelains and rugs to decorate the home. Even contemporary moralists like Jacob Cats advocated that men should give all their earnings to their wives in order that they not waste their money but entrust it to the prudent consuming of the women. Interestingly, many images display women watching the buying practices of other women as a comment on how influential the desires of female consumers were on the merchant and import trade generally. Consequently, these images created an even greater demand for the objects, depicted with such exquisite detail, in the actual marketplace. Some women even had their portraits done as women of business both in the selling and buying of goods, thus emphasizing their significant roles as astute consumers or as skilled merchants. It is my assertion, therefore, that the women of this era were not the cloistered sex, as has been described. Instead, they played a significant role in influencing the economic developments of their own culture and also in shaping the modern urban market environment more generally.

18) Daniel Pigg, University of Tennessee at Martin: Imagining Urban Life and Its Discontents: Chaucer’s “Cook’s Tale” and Masculine Identity

Chaucer’s Cook’s Tale provides readers with one of the most direct depictions of contemporary, medieval London, a city growing as a mercantile center in the fourteenth century. From classical writings, the city was a traditional place of vice, and Chaucer’s vision follows that path. Certainly, Chaucer does set other tales in cities, sometimes remote, but this is the only one that directly confronts the economic fortunes of a city through an examination of the very fabric that created an urban identity—the trade guilds. The city was a place composed of men and a space that carefully regulated male behavior. The Cook’s Tale provides us with a window onto the construction of masculinity within the context of a mercantile economy by showing the boundaries of acceptable behavior.  Clearly the point that the Cook intends to show is that Perkyn Revelour, the foot-loose and fancy-free singer and dancer, disregards the systemic building of male character through a legal contract of service, integral to city life.

Although the tale is usually regarded as incomplete, its state is certainly sufficient to show how failure to follow the strictures of a mercantile-based masculinity leads to a path of dubious moral associations.  At the same time, however, this tale seems to lack the moral imperatives found in other tales of Fragment I, at least from a medieval Christian perspective.  Investigating Perkyn Revelour within the context of the mercantile-based vision of masculinity helps make better sense of a tale that once we see the course that Perkyn takes, there is little point in continuing a story where a vision of male behavior and responsibility has passed away.  In this sense, the Cook’s Tale is certainly complete–“there is no more to say” as E.G. Stanley once observed. The city renders its judgment through its power structure. For a poet of Chaucer’s disposition—himself close to middle class aspirations in a urban setting—Perkyn Revelour is more than a comic figure; he represents the dark underside of reality in the city.

19) Lia Ross, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque: Anger and the City: Who was in Charge of the Paris cabochien Revolt of 1413?

The so-called cabochien revolt (from the name of one of its leaders) is one of the most puzzling events in the tormented history of northern cities in the late Middle Ages. Coming in the wake of anti-government rumblings and of the shocking murder of the duke of Orléans by his rival John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy, it displays a dual nature, part spontaneous urban uprising, part princely coup, through the unlikely alliance between Duke John and the powerful Parisian butchers’ guild.
    The chronicler Monstrelet narrates its dramatic unfolding in horrified and unusually emotional terms that ominously anticipate accounts of a later revolution: the gathering of the crowd at the Bastille, the irruption on the royal palace, the self-righteous mob rule over the court’s daily life as barriers between public space and princely living quarters are broken. Yet we get a completely different picture from pro-Burgundian writers such as the anonymous Bourgeois of Paris and the authors of Le Pastoralet and Le Livre des trahisons. In all accounts, however, while the urban crowd exuberantly claims the role of guardian of tradition and protector of the monarchy, princely rivalries lurk in the background, as John exploits popular furor to effectuate a purge of his rivals at court. And as a corollary, no sooner does his support fail, that the revolt implodes.
    The equivocal nature of the brief insurrection, which has too often been dismissed by modern historians, raises intriguing questions about the self-image of Paris in this period. On the one hand the leaders of the revolutionary crowd, small local artisans and shopkeepers (the precursors of the sans-culottes studied by George Rudé), acted as equal to princes in looking after not only their urban rights but also the welfare of the entire nation. On the other hand, their de facto subordination to the private schemes of a prince renders them closer to Hobsbawm’s model of crowd in the pre-industrial metropolis, symbiotically tied to a court and looking upon its rulers as providers.

20) Britt Rothauser, University of Connecticut, Storrs: Urban Waters: the Use of Water in the Depiction of Medieval Celestial and Earthly Cities

It should surprise us very little that water is important in the foundation of cities: civilization cannot advance without a ready source of water to sustain its population. What is interesting, however, is the prominent consideration of water, as lakes, rivers, streams, wells, and fountains, in the literal and metaphorical descriptions of cities as diverse as London, New Troy, and New Jerusalem. The presence of rivers near cities and the use of water by citizens suggest three roles fulfilled by this liquid. It acts, both literally in descriptions of earthly cities, and spiritually, for the celestial city, as 1) a defining element,

2) a protective barrier, and 3) a cleansing agent. Each of these roles of water occurs individually (or at most dually) in depictions of the earthly cities, London and New Troy, suggesting an important topos for water, but not a formulaic use of it. When all of these roles exist absolutely in one description, we find the celestial city, for example in Pearl. It is the specific inverse of all of these roles that brings about the apocalyptic nightmare of John Gower’s Vox Clamantis.

21) Marilyn Sandidge, Westfield State College, MA: Urban Space as Social Consciousness in Isabella Whitney’s ‘Will and Testament.’

When in 1573 Isabella Whitney lists the many things in London that she will leave in her “Will and Testament,” we can see her views on the city, its wealth, its neighborhoods, and its social problems. As she shifts back and forth across the environs of the old city of London, we tour the city from the perspective of a woman writer in the late sixteenth century. Writing before the division of London into upper and lower class neighborhoods that takes place in the early seventeenth century, Whitney presents the city as a microcosm of English society where spatial proximity belies hierarchal distance. Buildings in particular become symbols of either wealth and plenty or of poverty and injustice. Although St. Paul’s is the first specific building she cites, calling it the foremost church in a city with an abundance of churches, she uses religious buildings as landmarks, never describing their spiritual or social works. Mocking the bequests made in wills to churches as ways to be remembered after death, Whitney states that she will leave bequests to the prisons so that the poor will remember her when she is gone. She forces us to consider the treatment of the insane as she says she cannot forget to leave something to Bedlam where she used to take walks and hear those who “out of tune do talk.” Ultimately we see an early modern woman who felt comfortable wandering through the various wards of her city making sharp social observations about activities outside of the home.

22) Connie Scarborough, University of Cincinnati: Urban Space in Celestina

José Antonio Maravall in his important study from 1964, El mundo social de “La Celestina”,[1] pointed out that Celestina reflects a new economic sensibility.  The fact that Spanish society was changing from a traditional, feudal one based on a stable class system to a pre-capitalist one based on monetary exchange is essential to understanding the actions of the characters in the work.  And the place where this emerging bourgeois mentality took hold and began to flourish was the city.  Maravall asserts that “Celestina es un típico inconfundible producto de la cultura ciudadana” (71).[2]  This fundamental study led to two types of investigations in Celestina studies.  The first, and in the end less profitable group of studies has attempted to determine the exact locale of the action (since Fernando de Rojas does not name the city where the action takes place) by combining internal references with the little we know about the life of Fernando de Rojas.  There is no critical consensus about his issue and it seems of small consequence to our enjoyment of the work.  A second, much more stimulating, group of studies spawned by Maravall´s study are those which analyze the use of urban space as an essential construct for appreciating the work´s design.  Patricia Botta made an important contribution to this second group of studies with her article, “Itinerarios urbanos en La Celestina de Fernando de Rojas” published in Celestinesca in 1994.[3]  Botta examines what she calls “the idea of the city” in the text as well as in the wood cuts which appear in many of the early editions of the work.  She contends that the urban, money-based environment in Celestina is essential to an understanding of such motifs as “el deseo de lucro, la búsqueda del placer y gasto superfluo, la ostentación de la casa y la constante preocupación por las apariencias” (113).   E. Michael Gerli takes this point one step further when he asserts that “descriptions of [urban] locations and settings are almost imperceptively embedded in the characters’ speeches and become integral parts of the narrative fabric of the work, complements of what the characters do, say and believe.”[4]  I would like to further develop this idea of urban spaces (dwellings, streets, gardens, markets, etc.) in Celestina not only as it informs the characters’ speech and actions but as emblematic of larger societal shifts in an imagined Spanish renaissance city.  These included a move away from the proximity of living spaces for upper and lower class inhabitants in the medieval city.  Residents of different social strata now began to reside in distinct areas, with marginalized groups often regulated to the outskirts.  This significant shift, together the with the establishment of legally sanctioned and restricted urban zones for prostitution, have a direct impact on the plot of Celestina, the relationships between the characters, and even the self-image each character carries of him/herself and his/her place in the urban environment.

[1] The first edition of this work was published by Gredos in Madrid in 1964.  All quotes from this work are form the third, revised edition, also published by Gredos, in 1972.

[2] Maravall further states that “En La Celestina, todos los personajes que intervienen en la acción son tipos urbanos.  Sus costumbres, sus relaciones, sus conversaciones, sus callejos, son propios de la vida de ciudad” (75).

[3] Vol. 18.2 (Otoño 1994), pp. 117-131.

[4] “Precints of Contention: Urban Places and the Ideology of Space in Celestina,” Celestinesca 21.1-2 (1997): 65-77; here p. 65.

23) Julia Shinnick, University of Louisville:Conflict and Resolution in the Temple: Two Original Sequences from Reims, c. 1230

Although energetic rebuilding campaigns had begun soon after a disastrous fire damaged the cathedral of Reims in 1210, the work slowed as it entered the more expensive stages of constructing the upper levels of the edifice.  The archbishop and the chapter of canons tried various strategies to raise funds for the enterprise, including, in 1213, a public ceremony involving the cranium of Saint Nicasius, a prized relic shown in an effort to prompt donations to the building effort.  Indulgences were offered as an incentive to contributors in 1221 and 1222, but rifts between the citizens of the town and the clerical authorities widened.  The situation reached a point of crisis in 1233, when the archbishop levied a tithe on the burghers of Reims, and in retaliation for their refusal to pay the tax, commanded the burghers to remain in their parishes.  The burghers rebelled, attacking the archbishop’s house and killing one of his officials, and harassing the canons as well.  The canons sought refuge outside the city; they were unable to return until 1236, after Louis IX stepped in to pacify the situation, levying fines and ordering the burghers to perform public penance for their sins.  

The manuscript Assisi 695, Biblioteca del Sacro Convento, ms. 695 (c. 1230) provides an indirect witness to these events and speaks to the conflicts between the Rémois and their clergy in two pieces original to the manuscript. The text of Stans a longe publicanus, a “Publican” sequence, refers to “the temple of Christ” and calls for the assembly to be “dedicated and humble” so that they may be justified as was the Publican.  The music of this setting, also original to the codex, draws briefly upon the Lauds antiphon found as far back as Hartker’s antiphoner.

O felices et beati, a mature, fully rhyming sequence, is rubricated for the feast of the Dedication and includes references to two biblical figures represented in statues completed c. 1230 for Notre-Dame-de-Reims.  The text urges the assembly to offer financial support to the cathedral and also encourages them to “abandon confusion” and “come to peace with Christ our leader.” I suggest that this exhortation testifies to some hope for reconciliation between the burghers and the clergy, a reconciliation eventually effected only in 1241 after much monetary and symbolic penance on the part of the Rémois.

24) Marika Snider, University of Utah: Women’s Space in Medieval Cairo

Much scholarship has been devoted to the city of Cairo since its founding, but as in other Middle Eastern cities, the lives of women remain shrouded in obscurity and stereotype. While women’s stories were rarely recorded directly, their lives are not invisible. Women left imprints on literature, history, architecture and urban planning. In a population as diverse as Cairo’s in the 10th through 14th centuries, the division of space by gender was neither unified nor static.

Thorough investigation of women’s history in the Middle East can easily be overlooked because Muslim women were considered part of private life, expected to remain out of public view and there were few direct records of their lives, but by reading the sources differently, one can find significant information about women in the middle ages in Cairo. For example, dowries provided detailed lists of interior furnishings which accompanied a women when she married; marriage contracts stipulated which spouse decided where the couple would live; contracts which divided a house for several families revealed the division of space; and legal documents describe disputes which involve women and women’s issues. There are also travelers and chroniclers from the 10th through 15th centuries who observed women in the city. Accounts which are critical of women’s behavior are particularly useful. Additionally, we can infer women’s presence in the city through architectural institutions such as women’s baths, women’s balconies in synagogues, and doors which were named “women’s doors.”

Women’s space was not simply one of seclusion. The vitality of urban life in medieval Cairo was rooted in the multiplicity of overlapping patterns of life. Gender as well as socio-economic status determined access to the city. Differences in socio-economic factors greatly influenced social practice in medieval Cairo. Religious identity dictated different gender roles. Islam, the dominant religion, prescribed an ideal of seclusion for women. At the time, there were significant indigenous Jewish and Christian minorities in Cairo. These women were provided much more freedom than similar Muslim women. The level of religious participation in all three religions also influenced the women’s access. Women who violated the community standards were considered bad Muslims, Christians or Jews but seem to have had greater access to the city. Widows could be seen in public without incurring the same shame as married or not-yet-married women; thus marital status played a role in urban access. Similarly, women beyond childbearing age and girls were permitted more public contact. This discussion of women’s space elucidates an understanding of daily life in pre-modern Cairo which other researchers have overlooked.

25) Kisha G. Tracy, University of Connecticut, Storrs: “Defining the Medieval City through Death”

Examinations of historical documents and literary texts reveal that images of the medieval city are frequently juxtaposed with images of death. Death is often necessary in defining the identity of the city, whether this definition includes emphasizing a city’s unique individuality or validating accounts of foundation or establishing a new, emerging urban character. Historical texts disclose examples of public performances in which death plays a prominent role – such as the Gesta Episcoporum Cameracensis, which relates the details of a ceremony in which deceased bishops and community members were physically interspersed with the living in order to confirm the political authority of Cambrai’s leaders – as well as the value of cemeteries as memorial devices in city settings. Simultaneously, literary texts from wide geographic, chronologic, and stylistic ranges – including such examples as the Old English poem The Ruin; the Middle English St. Erkenwald and Piers Plowman as well as the works of Hoccleve and Lydgate; the Old French Roman de Thèbes and the Roman d’Enéas; and the chronicles of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace, and Layamon – use the metaphor of death or depict images of death in conjunction with their particular needs regarding the narrative construction of their respective cities. Considered together, historical and literary analysis paints a vivid picture of how death, far from being a simply static idea, is indeed a dynamic part of medieval urban space, confirming – not denying – the vigorous energy and historical significance of the city.

26) Patricia Turning, Arizona State University: “Personal Conflict and Public Eruption: Violence, Urban Residents and Visitors in Fourteenth-Century Toulouse”

In the fourteenth century, the city of Toulouse stood as the administrative capital of Languedoc. Lawyers, judges, and notaries worked within the urban space and offered legal services to the Toulousains, and the inhabitants of the surrounding region. Many individuals and families traveled from the countryside to the city to file a complaint against a neighbor in the municipal court, or to seek a notary’s seal on a business transaction. In 1332, a man named Stephan Saletas, from the nearby town of Villemuro, felt as though one of these city lawyers had cheated him out of a considerable sum of money during their transaction. The two parties attempted to reach a compromise; they consulted professional negotiators and tried to come to an informal resolution. But still dissatisfied with the arrangements, Saletas decided to take matters into his own hands and hired several local thugs to stalk and attack the lawyer. Saletas promised the men that he would pay a large fee if they left the lawyer “forever disfigured in the face.” After weeks of planning and gathering illegal weapons, the assailants carried out the dramatic assault in one of the most populous and busy neighborhoods of the city, outside of the town hall, and they left the lawyer horribly mutilated and in mortal danger. The municipal administration of Toulouse immediately launched an extensive inquest into the matter that spanned several months, multiple jurisdictions, and involved over one hundred men and women who served as witnesses. The case of Stephan Saletas (and the many others that survive in the archives of Toulouse), provide remarkable insight to the tensions and conflicts that erupted between the city’s inhabitants and visitors that came into the urban environment. Most of the men and women who lived in Toulouse maintained particular standards of law and order that had been established over decades of dialogue with their local officials, through public protests and their involvement in the municipal court structure. Visitors and outsiders who came into the city, men like Stephan Saletas, had to discover their own ways to navigate, and sometimes undermine this existing social network in order to achieve their own personal and political agendas. My paper explores the public and often violent conflicts between local residents and “outsiders” that are found in the fourteenth-century criminal registers of Toulouse, in order to examine the negotiations of communal inclusion and exclusion that transpired in the medieval city.

27) Birgit Wiedl, St. Pölten, Austria: Jews and the City: Parameters of urban Jewish Life in late-Medieval Austria

On 19 June 1338, three members of the Viennese Jewry declared as representatives of the community that, as of that day, the Jews of Vienna would limit their taking of interest to a rate of three pennies per pound and week; this was, so they claimed, a token of gratitude for all the mercy the citizens of Vienna had shown them in a time of distress. At the same time, a wave of persecutions hit the smaller towns in the north and west of Vienna, the first in Austria that went far beyond the local scope. The Viennese Jewry survived unscathed, yet the city had made them feel the danger nevertheless, leaving them trapped in a triangle of rising urban demands, weakening ducal protection and the looming threat of persecution.

Although a medieval city was generally a – rather crammed – home to people with all kinds of social and regional backgrounds, with differing legal status and a variety of professions, Jews were still an outstanding group among them. Jewish existence in the cultural realm of Ashkenas, be it rural or urban, was defined by the status as a minority within the Christian majority society. However, city-dwelling Jews found themselves confronted with specific living conditions, often being caught between the rivalling interests of the city they lived in and the ruler whose treasure they technically belonged to.

Yet despite these unfavourable circumstances, Jewish urban life meant much more than just lending money and trying to evade, or at least survive, persecution. During the times of prosperity and peaceful co-existence, urban Jewry found their place(s) within the boundaries of the cities, balancing between preserving their cultural identity and the impact of day-to-day interaction with the surrounding Christian majority that led to considerable cultural transfer between both sides. Mutual influence can be recognised on many levels, from adapting the diplomatic formulae to taking a fancy to the same kind of literature, fashion, and furnishing, to name but a few examples. Jews in cities thus were, and should be considered, an essential part of not only the Jewish history in general, but also of the history of the respective city.

28) Jeanette Zissell, University of Connecticut: Universal Salvation in the Earthly City: The Significance of the Hazelnut in the Showings of Julian of Norwich

This paper explores the ways Julian of Norwich modifies and complicates the traditional reading of the relationship between the earthly and heavenly cities. The paper will contrast perhaps the most influential interpretation of the two cities, Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, with Julian’s reinterpretation of their spiritual significance. Augustine uses them to depict a conflict between the world and heaven. In contrast, Julian provides a meditation on their spiritual union.

To Augustine, the earthly city is very limited: it is temporary, flawed, and placed in opposition to the heavenly city. The end of time will lead to a final separation between the earthly city and an eternal, perfected heavenly home. The earthly city perishes, and heavenly city is reborn as the bride of Christ, as depicted in Revelation.

Where Augustine’s work focuses on history and society on a large scale, Julian uses the two cities to focus on the nature of the individual soul’s union with God. She has shrunk the scope of the discussion, and changed its purpose. Where Augustine employs the heavenly and earthly city to define the nature of society as a whole, Julian uses them to explore the spiritual condition of an individual believer.

Indeed, she employs imagery that shrinks the city of man to the size of a hazelnut. It sits in the palm of her hand, so small it is unable to maintain its own existence. Like Augustine, Julian argues that the city of man is limited, and unable to preserve itself. However, Julian is assured that God will forever preserve its “littleness” and never allow it to be destroyed. The image emphasizes the security of the world in its relationship with God. It is dependent, finite, and small, but God sustains it and will not abandon it. Her view of the world emphasizes God’s love for his creation. The paper will argue that this depiction of the earthly city is linked to her other meditations on the possibility of universal salvation.

Julian focuses on the spiritual life of an individual believer. Just as she holds the city of the world in her hand, she also receives a vision of the city of heaven, which she holds inside her heart. The earthly and heavenly cities are united in the believer, and both are described in terms that emphasize the same theme: the eternal, unfaltering nature of the love God.