Something a little different on the blog this week, a little more personal. I have been known to get a little personal here on occasion, and so arguably this is just following in an established tradition, but there’s not going to be any juicy post-Carolingian content this week. Normal blog service will be resumed on the 30th, when we go back to Louis V’s Aquitaine, and then we’re kicking the New Year off with a bang. You can expect dog-headed men, non-existent counts of Boulogne, possibly migratory queens, and a whole load of suspicious brothers.
Today, however, is about news. The first, and most important, piece of news is that I got married last Thursday. It was a small civil ceremony, and because ours is an interfaith and international marriage, it’s ceremony number one of three spread out over more than a year; but it was the one which, legally, counts. (And yes, I did briefly get in trouble for blogging on the wedding day until I clarified that both the posts and the tweets are posted and scheduled well in advance…) Thankfully, the plan was always to keep it small and with the rise of Omicron* that turned out to have been good foresight. With restricted numbers, we all had a lovely time. Me and my wife and our dogs are very happy together…
…or, at least, we will be for the next month. You may remember that since last Spring I have been not-quite-unemployed grace of a Visiting Fellowship at Leeds and database work for the Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles. Whilst the latter has been quite interesting – by this point I certainly have a much better idea of the coinage of King Cnut – it wasn’t, and wasn’t intended to be, a long-term thing. So the good news is that I have a new job! From February 2022 until the end of that year, I will be a fellow at Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen, working in their Center for Advanced Studies’ project ‘Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages’. This has the delightful result of reuniting me with my old mentor from my Humboldt fellowship, Steffen Patzold, as well as all my other friends from Tübingen. This is genuinely wonderful, as my six months at Tübingen back in 2017/18 were some of the happiest and most productive of my life. I will also get a chance to expand my scope, because I’m moving on from tenth-century France. The title of my project is ‘Constructing Legitimacy amongst Mobile Elites in Northman-Ruled Polities in the Long Ninth Century’, and I’ll be looking at political cultures in Viking realms from Ireland to Russia. This doesn’t mean that this blog will stop looking at the tenth century. However, it is my sketchpad, and so what that means is that you can also expect even more rambling about Vikings as I try and get thoughts in order.
I’m also not going to be the only one of your faithful bloggers out there. Recently, I had the chance to catch up in person with the other half of the Historians’ Sketchpad team for the first time in about two years. Besides taking the dogs to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where we talked about Hugh the Great’s lions and bumped around potential translated text projects, we could congratulate each other about the new jobs, because Sam is also going to Tübingen next year! His project will be called ‘Mobility and the Making of Carolingian Diplomacy’.
Obviously, all this assumes an awful lot about how things develop with Omicron over the next several weeks. As I write this, people from the UK are not currently allowed into Germany without a ‘compelling reason’, which does not include business travel; and there is also a work-from-home order in place. I am keeping in touch with the German side as things evolve; and thankfully, I have got enough resources to hand to be able to start the research here when the time comes if that proves necessary. We’ll see – whilst I am very grateful to be employed, and the move is temporary in any case, I’m less happy about having to move away from my wife. For a whole bunch of reasons, the structural precarity of early career academia is muted for me compared to most of my colleagues, but it’s still not fun or pleasant. Appropriately enough to bring this full circle, one of the University and College Union’s current representatives for casually employed workers is Ben Pope, one of the friends I made at Tübingen (only three-and-a-half years ago, but three jobs ago for both of us). This is probably preaching to the choir for anyone reading this blog, but UCU is fighting against precarity as part of its current strike action, and it deserves your wholehearted support.
Anyway, it’s the Christmas season, so let’s not leave it on that depressing note. It’s been over two years since I last updated this blog with news of my work’s fortunes in print. Why don’t I put the newest stuff here so you can access all the late- and post-Carolingian history that this post didn’t contain? I won’t do the full breakdown the way I did in the past, so here are the four articles of mine which have come out since September 2019:
‘“Nullus alicui clerico episcopatum conferre debeat nisi rex”: Royal authority and disputed episcopal elections during the late Carolingian period’, The Medieval Low Countries 6, pp. 55-73.
‘Political culture and ducal authority in Aquitaine, c. 900-1040’, The History Compass 18, pp. 1-10. (which is open access, so you can read it right now by clicking the link!)
‘”A girly man like you can’t rule us real men any longer“: Sex, violence and masculinity in Dudo of Saint-Quentin’s Historia Normannorum’, Anglo-Norman Studies 42, pp. 101-117.
‘Governance, locality and legal culture: The advocates of Saint-Martin of Tours’, Early Medieval Europe 29, pp. 201-224. (also open access!)
Some of these you might be familiar with, if you’re a long-term reader. Sexuality in Dudo of Saint-Quentin, for example, is a topic we’ve broached a few times on this blog (and one which, naturally, gets me no few clicks to this day from search topics like ‘Norse sex’). However, it’s a really neat little bit of close reading which also links up with wider issues of the Scandinavian influences on Normandy. If you’d like to read it, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Something much easier to access is my work on advocates at Saint-Martin, which I am particularly proud of for a few reasons. The first is that it’s the first article I’ve ever published which began life entirely on this here blog, which by itself validates it as a research tool. The second is that it encompasses much more than what the title might suggest. I have the bad habit of drafting articles which amount to a case study in search of an argument, and this one almost fell into that pit; but in fact it came round to saying something quite important. The third is that thanks to Charter A Week, you can actually read my translations of some of the charters I discuss in the article right here. It’s a cross-media branding exercise, entirely by accident! (The same, for what it’s worth, is true of the letter of Charles the Simple which my Medieval Low Countries article discusses.)
And with that, I’ll leave you be. Whatever may or may not happen this Christmas, whether we can see family and/or friends or not, I hope you all manage to find some happiness over the holiday season. Merry Christmas to one and all!
*which sounds like the next Avengers movie, doesn’t it?