Career (and Other) News III and Name in Print VII-X

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’.

The team together at Kirkstall Abbey. I had genuinely forgotten how tall Sam is; when he walked in the door I asked him where his dream-catching trumpet was…

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.

And finally:

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?

Welcome Back

Hello everyone. <wipes down a surface> Dusty in here, isn’t it? Well, I suppose I haven’t been here for a few years. 2019, 2020 and now 2021 have all been professionally challenging and writing two blog posts a week on top of everything else burned me out – so I stopped. This has had its ups and downs. I’ve certainly managed to press on with research and – above all – with writing in the way I’ve needed to; but there was a reason I liked blogging as a research tool, and without the impetus to get new material on the blog on at least a semi-regular level things haven’t felt as fresh as they used to back when I used to update every week. Given the circumstances, it seems like a good time to start up again.

So what’s been happening with me? Well, most importantly, as of May 2021, my research fellowship came to an end. I’m not, quite, unemployed – I still have a visiting research fellowship at Leeds and I’m doing some work for the Sylloge of Coinage of the British Isles, which is keeping the money coming in – but being without a position is exactly as fun as any junior scholar will tell you, and I’m currently applying for jobs both within and without the university sector. What this means is that restarting the blog, to ensure I don’t lose touch with thinking about the tenth century even if I’m doing something else, started to look ever more appealing.

There’ll be Vikings, and kings, and charters, oh my! (source)

Given that the last time I tried to do that it lasted for all of two posts, it’s worth reassuring you, the audience, that lessons have been learned. This short post is just to announce the blog’s relaunch: after that we have two months of regular content written and scheduled already. Roughly speaking – this will be subject to a little bit of flux – we’ll be running research-based content every Thursday at 12:30 UTC, and translation-based content (the now misnamed but nonetheless continuing Charter A Week, mostly) every other Tuesday at the same time.

Part of the reason I’ve been able to put this together is something you might have found out already if you’ve been keeping an eye on our ‘About’ page; and indeed our new ‘Meet The Team’ page: this blog is no longer a one-man show! I’m very pleased to announce that my friend and colleague Sam Ottewill-Soulsby will be joining us as a staff writer, and you can expect posts from him every other week. As site editor, I’ve gotten to read these posts in advance, and let me tell you all, you’re in for a treat. As far as the immediate schedule goes, our first regular post will be on Thursday, talking about the earliest Norman court and whether we know anything about it. Then, next week, it’ll be Charter A Week on Tuesday, looking at a fascinating document from Provence where a bishop describes his own enthronement; and then on Thursday, it’ll be Sam’s first post on the ever-popular topic of Charlemagne’s elephant. After that, regular service will resume – hopefully we will see you there!

I Aten’t Dead

Hey all. I know, I know, it’s been a while. I have to be honest, it’s likely to be a little longer until normal service is resumed, although normal service will be resumed at some point. Still, I thought I should explain to you where I’ve been and what’s coming up on the agenda.

As a peek behind the scenes, I write these blog posts on one big word document, which is something like 200,000 words long at this point. The last words I wrote on it, however, were back in May, when I was sitting in Dublin airport waiting to go to the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress. In the past, a few people have expressed surprise at the blog’s rate of posting; what it turns out is that when things start ramping up, this is the first and easiest thing to cut. So what ramped up? A few things. It’s been an unpleasant year personally, in ways which aren’t blog-appropriate – I’m fine, thank you, but it did slow me down somewhat. More concretely, I got given a bit more teaching than I was expecting, and preparation and delivery for that took up a lot of time. Next year I’m teaching the same course again, so hopefully having all the groundwork prepared will save a lot of time… Then, I ended up presenting at a lot of conferences thanks partly to invitations and partly because doing that helped me write my thesis so I also hoped it would help me write my book. Spoilers, that didn’t happen, but several of them were useful, as you might tell from the below. Most excitingly for you, however, I’ve been doing a lot of writing, and I’d like to spend the rest of this post telling you about it. This has some similarities to the post I did when I came back to the UK from Germany (and never has that decision seemed less prescient than recently), and uses some similar categories, so let’s get started with:

Released and forthcoming

Lots of activity here. Since I wrote that old post, both ‘Flemish Succession’ and ‘Voice of Dissent’ came about, both of which I duly mentioned to you. I have also now seen proof versions for ‘Kingship and Consent’ in The Mediaeval Journal, as well as Nisi Rex in The Medieval Low Countries, so hopefully both will be on their way to you shortly. I have also, quite recently, sent off corrections to ‘Lehnwesen’, and the editors tell me they hope to have the volume out by the end of the year – it’ll be in German, and the translation is quite distressing, insofar as it’s a visible improvement over my English prose… Ah well, the road to getting better stretches ever onwards. Otherwise, there should be a couple of book reviews coming out soon as well.

In Progress

Again, plenty of activity – as mentioned above, my docket has been very full. First, articles, in rough order of completeness. A fully-written up version of my work on advocates got submitted to Early Medieval Europe in January, and initial reviews were basically positive but wanted some structural changes. Here, I hope to have these finished by week’s end, and I’ll keep you posted what happens next. Then, more excitingly, the now-legendary Norman sex paper was given at the Battle Conference this very year, and needs to be submitted to Anglo-Norman Studies by the end of September. Because this was originally a competition entry, though, the text currently exists in complete form – reading it out loud multiple times means that there are some bits of polishing I want to do, but this is a couple of hours’ work away from being done-done.

Then, there are no fewer than five articles in the process of being written. First, ‘Flemish Reform’: having presented at the Ecclesiastical History Society conference for several years, I decided this would be the year I’d try and get into Studies in Church History. This one is actually pretty much done bar some footnotes, and is with beta readers as I type. Second, a conference I went to in Luxembourg yeeeears ago got in touch recently to say that they were preparing the proceedings and could we please send texts by end of September. It’s a prestigious conference and a prestigious serious, so I’m thrilled to be involved with it; but unfortunately when I was invited I wasn’t sure that I would still be employed by the time it ran, and so the paper I delivered was a chapter of my thesis – and, naturally, it’s the chapter than has been made most obsolete by my subsequent research… Still, there’s a point in there, and I’ve been meaning to write about the Neustrian succession for a while, so I am in the midst of retrofitting it into something useful. Third, a worked-up version of my post about the Kriegsfahne of Queen Gerberga is mostly-done – because it doesn’t have a deadline, finishing the draft has got pushed further back, but it’s not very long so once the deadlines are dispatched it’ll be done directly. I’d like to submit it to an art history journal, but don’t know which one – suggestions in the comments!

Then there are two more a little further back on the road. ‘Church of Sens’ just needs a week or two of dedicated effort, because it’s so nearly done, but that’s been the case since last winter. ‘Earliest Cluny’ is even closer. The problem with that is that for the longest time it was, honestly, a case study in search of a point; but I gave a paper at the M6 Symposium in Liverpool which was sufficiently short that it could only be point. That was really useful, and all I need to do now is edit the top-and-tail to bring out the argument more, and then it’ll be ready for beta-reading.


This section has got a lot smaller since the version of this post I wrote back in May. The only entry here is ‘Social and Political Selection’, about which everything I know comes from offhand mentions on the Power Of The Bishop conference Twitter feed – that one’ll be done when it’s done. We haven’t got the peer review back yet, and given that a friend of mine was waiting four or five years for the last volume, I’m not expecting anything soon.


Of the papers I was talking about last year, ‘Archchancellors’, ‘Princely Churches’, ‘Moot Point’, and ‘Dudo’s Time’ are waiting for me to have the time and energy to deal with them. Frankly, they’ll probably not get done until the book is. Also, ‘Princely Churches’ at least is probably dead (or it’ll end up even bigger, which means it’ll end up probably as one of those little Palgrave-Pivot type volumes). Finally, and sadly, ‘Provençal Pact’ is off the docket for the moment – I presented a version of it at the IMC this year as part of the Louis The Blind Fun-Time Variety Hour, and as I wrote it up I realised that the answer I now had to the antiquarian question I initially asked was raising all kinds of much harder and more conceptual questions to which I had no good answer…

On the docket

What’s further ahead? Another four things, two with deadlines attached. I’ve been approached to write some undergrad-friendly pieces, one on the origins of Aquitaine for The History Compass and one on regionalism and late-Carolingian rule for a Routledge Companion to French history. Both of these have April deadlines but hopefully I can get ‘em done around the New Year. I got asked about Aquitaine at Kalamazoo this year, after giving ‘Stephen of Clermont’ as a paper. Given that ol’ Steve is actually on my probation list, he definitely needs writing up, and again that needs to be done before next spring. Finally, I was invited to talk at a really good conference in Poitiers back in June and gave a paper on ‘Failed Counts’ – the response was sufficiently good (and the argument sufficiently solid) that I’ve put it in to be written up. It needs a few more presentations, and a bit of East Frankish stuff would come in handy, so it won’t be done for a while, but it is on the list.

Those of you with eagle eyes will have noted one thing I haven’t talked about yet, and that is the book. Well, it got hit hard by the piling-on of stuff in Spring – I was supposed to have sample chapters to the press by the end of May, and that definitely didn’t happen. Thankfully, I was able to speak to my contact at the press in person at Kalamazoo, and they were very understanding. So, what’s happening is this: all the chapters they want currently exist in draft form. (One of the reasons I’ve been getting on with other articles is in fact because they’re all in the beta-reading stage and I can’t do much until they get back to me.) I’ve set myself a hard deadline of end of August for submission, which is just time enough to give them a bit of a polish. Otherwise, the proposed title is Kingdom and Principality in Tenth-Century France; and I’m very pleased with most of what I’ve written so far. As usual, I’ll keep you posted…

work from home
Meanwhile, I will get back to beavering away!

So what does this mean for the blog? Short version, I’ll get back to it when my deadlines have passed. I’d like to build up a bit of a backlog before I start releasing posts into the wild again, so that’ll add a couple of weeks to the ETA, but basically we’re talking, say, late October. So I will see you all then, enjoy your summers, and don’t forget to submit your papers to the strand on Non-Royal Rulership I’m putting together for IMC 2020!

The Bishop of Laon is Minted, and Career News II

Some good career news came down the pipeline last week: I have been elected to be an Associate Committee Member of the SCBI/MEC projects! What this means in practice is loads of coins – the M[edieval] E[uropean] C[oinage] project has been well underway for a while, and further volumes are in preparation as we speak. Further news on the projects’ activities as and when it’s ready to print; but from my point of view what’s exciting is being able to talk about some of my previously-mentioned difficulties in understanding tenth-century coinage with some of the best numismatic minds in the country…

Meanwhile, to celebrate, a post on some coins which I think I do have a handle on. As it happens I have written about these elsewhere, but not here, and not really with the textual links in play. So, let’s talk about Adalbero of Laon. Famous as ‘the old traitor’ because of his betrayal of the last Carolingian candidate for the West Frankish crown into the hands of Hugh Capet, he left behind a relatively extensive corpus of work, including a poem excoriating Count Landric of Nevers as an ambitious and scheming womanizer, and another work addressed to King Robert the Pious complaining about how kids these days weren’t doing things properly. There’s lots in this poem, the Carmen ad Rotbertum Regem, but one clear thing is that Adalbero is worried about the blurring of social roles. He particularly takes to task Abbot Odilo of Cluny for leading a monastic ‘army’ which, as monks aren’t supposed to fight, is useless as well as wrong. What does he propose instead? Well, in the words he gives to the king,

Let [Saint] Basil and [Saint] Benedict[, two of the founding fathers of monasticism,] possess their realms,

Let their realms observe and hold all of their commands.

Let bishops never throng fields hereafter,

If they would keep their rights; if not, let them tend crops!

Let Our order [of warriors] never dare to give up the rule of justice;

Rather, let it apply itself thereto with the greatest effort.

What Adalbero wants is for all the different bits of society to do what they’re supposed to and stop doing otherwise: monks should observe the monastic Rule, bishops shouldn’t be messing around in the fields like peasants, and warriors should protect clerics and labourers justly.

Whatever one might think of Adalbero as politician or as social philosopher, there’s no doubt that he was committed to this point of view, and this does come through in the coins of Laon around the year 1000. During the reign of Louis V (986-987), the mint at Laon began to mint a very unusual double portrait issue. As you can see, the figure on the right is supposed to be a king. I’m not sure the figure on the left is supposed to represent anything – the coin is too worn to tell any iconography, and the inscription around that side is just the word for ‘Minted at Laon’.

obole louis v
Gallica says it’s an obol of Louis IV for some reason, but the numismatical consensus is Louis V (source)

By the 1000s, however, Adalbero had taken this design and changed it slightly towards his ideological views of society. Have a look at this:

That’s more like it! (source)

As you can see, Adalbero had evidently found a slightly more technically-skilled mint master since 987. The design of the coin has also been updated, too. The portrait of the king is not simply a king, it’s a reasonable facsimile of Robert the Pious’ seal.

A picture-heavy post, today (source)

The other portrait is now not just any old male figure, it’s specifically Bishop Adalbero himself. Partly you can tell this from the stonking great cross on his head, and partly from the fact that the coin has the name ‘Adalbero’ engraved around the outside. What we have here, then, is coinage as medium for the political message outlined in the Carmen: the king doing his job, the bishop doing his job, each distinct, both together the two authorities ruling Christian society – in a quite literal sense, two sides of the same coin.

On Coming Back to England – Twenty Months in Review

Hey guys. Sorry it’s a bit austere in here – I leave Tübingen tomorrow, and I had to send all my stuff back the UK yesterday, so there’s not much other than me and the laptop left. (And actually once I’ve posted this I need to send my router back to my Internet provider so the laptop won’t be terribly useful at that point…)

Is it fair to say I don’t really want to leave? I guess so. Living here has a few downsides, like the fact that I don’t really have hobbies anymore – I’ve been meaning to learn to dance for a couple of years, but there aren’t any English-language classes I can find and based on the last time I tried, I need as few handicaps as possible to even fail successfully. On the other hand, I like the town, I like the work, my colleagues are great, and after a relatively lonely year in Brussels I have something of a social life. Plus, of course, there’s never been a better time not to be working in UK academia…

Still, despite the air of melancholy, you can’t say the last two years haven’t been good ones, career-wise. When I was awarded a Fondation Wiener-Anspach fellowship two years ago almost precisely, I was about three months away from finishing my thesis, earning a bit of side money through freelance invigilating, and generally being at a bit of a loose end. Since then, I’ve had two jobs, won a prize and got the proxime for two others, got another two articles in print, and am about to start on a three-year contract which should hopefully be a little more stable. So that’s very pleasing, and I’m a lot happier about the short-term future than I was two years ago, or even at the start of 2017.

More importantly, here in Tübingen I think that I made a enough progress on my research to be able to start hacking away at the thickets standing between me and the book after I arrive in Leeds. More on that over the course of the years to come, but it does mean that I should probably clear the decks with my other publications. Which brings us to the actual point of the post: what’s coming, what needs work, and what’s sitting around in my ‘drafts’ folder waiting for something to happen with it?

Coming soon

OK, these are the ones where the revisions are all done, I’ve seen the proofs, and (albeit painfully slowly in one case) all that’s left to do is wait. There are two of these. The first is my ‘Flemish Succession Crisis’ article, where I finally try and resolve the Arnulf problem once and for all (and also shed some incidental light on royal power in the 960s in the process) – I got an e-mail from the editors yesterday asking for my postal address for the offprints, so hopefully I’ll be able to put up a Name In Print III fairly soon. The second is ‘Voice of Dissent’, on the Historia Francorum Senonensis, which is both a really, really close read and comes with an English translation of the text, so keep an eye out for that if early eleventh-century historiography is your jam.

Probably Coming Soon

Whilst these ones have been submitted and I’ve heard positive things back from their respective editors, they don’t yet have a date attached to them, and may require one or more rounds of revisions. Still, based on what I’ve seen thus far, those revisions shouldn’t be “re-write the whole thing” level… Another two in this category, ‘Kingship and Consent’, what I (sort-of) won that prize for; and ‘Nixi rex’, a written-up version of the paper I gave at that conference in Ghent I started blogging about and then stopped a couple of years or so ago. This one is about the regalian trend in talking about disputed episcopal elections c. 900 – what it is and what it means.

In Progress

This is the lowest level I still put on my CV – it means they’ve been submitted somewhere, but I don’t know how much work is left to do with them. Another two here – ‘Social and Political Selection’, about a disputed episcopal election in the 1010s and my attempt to analyse why the loser lost; and ‘Girly Man’, about which you have heard plenty. Nothing to do here but wait.

In Beta

These three are completely written, but they haven’t really been trialled yet. Before I submit them to a journal, I want to run them by people on the conference circuit. The first, ‘Martinian Advocacy’, in addition to being the first actual article I’ve written which began life as a blog post, is probably the closest to being submitted. I’m presenting it at the Ecclesiastical History Society, and then it needs a bit more historiographical grounding – there’s a point about Carolingian reform which it could speak to more loudly than it does. Then it’ll need test-running again, but I reckon if I keep a weather eye out for speaking opportunities it could be submitted somewhere by year-end 2018… The second, ‘Lehnwesen’, is part of someone else’s bigger project and I don’t know how much I can say about it so I’ll leave it there. At minimum, though, I need to read a couple of extra bibliography items and do another draft. The third and last, ‘Archchancellors’, is about an odd aspect of royal diplomas under Louis IV, to wit that he goes through archchancellors like Trump goes through press secretaries. This was sent in as a competition entry (where it received some of the most incompetent feedback I’ve ever had, all the more noticeable because Reader 1 was really helpful – and when I say incompetent, I mean “Reader 2 could not manage coherent paragraph organisation”) and one of the points was that I was avoiding the debate about the Carolingian chancery too hard. That was largely deliberate; but it does mean I need to run a version of it past real diplomatists at some point, and therefore this one’ll take a while longer.

Hanging Around

Seven in this category, these being the ones that I found when I went to look through my ‘Drafts’ folder. One of these, ‘Earliest Cluny’, actually will graduate higher fairly shortly – it’s a nice little case study of how noble power in the regions actually worked, and all it needs is a bit of polishing and some expanded analysis. Equally, ‘Princely Churches’, which has also appeared here in the past, was actually submitted to a journal, which rejected it (on fairly spurious grounds – most journals, those reports would have been ‘revise and resubmit’). Problem is, it has now turned into a co-authored piece and both me and my co-author are now busy enough and doing-other-things enough that it’s slid well down our respective to-do lists. Basically: should do something here, probably won’t any time soon. The third in this more promising category is ‘Moot Point’, on Neustrian assemblies. I really want to do something with this – it’s the kind of study I was complaining recently we just don’t have – but I spent years worrying over methodological difficulties and now I’m satisfied that there’s a real response to those, I can’t remember the evidence and when I went to look it up it looked shakier than I remembered. Presumably that’ll go away if I really submerge myself in these charters again, but that’ll take a while.

The next two, ‘Dudo’s Time’ and ‘Provençal Pact’, just need time, the former more than the latter. The first started as a simple enough observation – broadly, the Historia Normannorum’s plot (one thing after another) is overruled by its metaplot (in heavenly time, everything has always already happened). It’s another close-reading paper, and that’s done; the problem is that a) finding the English vocabulary to talk about fiddling around with time is hard; and b) trying to find literature on it led me into literary criticism and thence to Lacan, which is enough to demoralise anyone. Again, it’s so far down the priority list it’ll take a while. More likely is the Provence paper. Once I finally decided that Liutprand of Cremona had no idea about Hugh of Arles’ relations with Transjurane Burgundy, and was stuck on a delayed train, I started sketching out an overview of Provençal politics after the death of Louis the Blind. This could go fairly quickly into the ‘In Beta’ category if I give it a week, but finding a week for something this out of the wheelhouse is tricky.

Finally, two articles, ‘Soteriological Superiority’ and ‘West Frankish Reichskirche’, which have shown up on here before, but which I will not do anything with. The former will end up in the book; the latter is just too skinny to do anything much with at all.

Need Writing

In addition to all this, there are a few things which I want to write at some point and need to get on with. The first, ‘Stephen of Clermont’, is going to be based on the many, many posts about him on this here blog – I promised my funding body a ‘flagship’ article and he’s going to be it. There’s also ‘Church of Sens’ – the Historia Francorum article mentioned above began as one gigantic piece including lots and lots of historical and political context about the archbishops of Sens, and it was a bit of a Siamese twin. The reviewers recommended ditching it from the ‘Voice of Dissent’ bit, so now I think it should be an article on its own, but it does need redoing with coins and perhaps manuscripts.

Finally, there are two other books which I’d like to do something with. One is a Translated Source Volume, which at this point may be Adhemar of Chabannes. I did start dealing with Folcuin of Lobbes, but then discovered that, commentary-wise, I had nothing much to say about him, so Adhemar might be a juicier proposition, as well as a useful one.

The other is The Last Carolingians, a narrative history of the West Frankish kingdom c. 875-1030. This one presents me with a problem – it’s an exciting story, and I’d like to do it with a commercial publisher for a non-specialist audience. However, my views on the narrative itself are sufficiently new, and in some cases controversial, that the book would also need to actually argue for my reconstruction rather than just recount the consensus view. I test-wrote a chapter on the succession of Louis IV, though, and doing it that way makes it very technical. Thus, although it’s a bit B.S.-Bachrach-ish to just cite yourself over and over again, I might postpone this and shunt the argumentation into a series of articles – in which case, ‘Burgundian Succession 936’ needs to go on the to-do list to begin with…

Cripes, that’s twenty things. Admittedly of those a little less than half are basically done, in one stage or another, and another two are explicitly never going to be dealt with; but I have just set myself a good five or six things to get into print in the next year or so. I arrive in Leeds on the 1st May – sounds like I’d better prepare myself to get on with it…

I R Winner (Sort Of) 2

Y’know, if I’d known this was going to happen more than once I’d have chosen a less dated reference…

Anyway, there won’t be another blog post until at least the weekend – I do have one half-written, but I’ve spent the entire day chasing medieval sites around northern Hesse, and I’m exhausted. But! That means that I can announce some good news!

A couple of times on this blog, I’ve mentioned my work about viking sex. Well, as it happened, I wrote that up, submitted it to Anglo-Norman Studies’ Chibnall Prize, and this year it won the proxime! I am told it was a close decision, which is certainly better than I expected when I included the bit from Hrotswitha of Gandersheim about the dude fucking the pots and pans; but as I’ve been entering for the last six years, it’s nice to have won something, even if just runner up!

Also, apparently the response to the paper was so good that they’ve asked me, and I’ve accepted, to present it at the 2019 Battle Conference. What this means is those of you who want to hear about William Longsword’s mighty weapon somewhere it can be cited, you should be able to expect it in around 2020…

I R Winner (Sort Of)

Although at the moment I am currently up to my elbows in packing, a bit of good news has come through the pipeline. I recently found out that my essay, ‘Kingship and Consent in the Reign of Charles the Simple: The Case of Sint-Servaas (919)’ was declared proxime accessit (i.e. runner-up) in the TMJ essay competition.


I was dead chuffed, not least because it’s nice to see that my well-known love for Charles the Simple is able to win over others with its evangelical zeal. In this case, about how the long-standing idea of Charles as a wannabe-autocrat is wrong, using an oddity in a pair of charters he issued for the Maastricht abbey of Sint-Servaas. So thanks to the journal, congratulations to the winner, and I’ll keep you all posted as to what happens about getting it into print!

Thanks to Belgian rail’s discounted rates to border towns, I even got to see Sint-Servaas itself this year, albeit on a day which was rather too hot to be wearing a leather jacket…

Career News

As it says on the ‘About’ page of this blog, I am currently a Fondation Wiener-Anspach postdoctoral fellow at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (please ignore the unfortunate hair). This is a fine place to be, but in just over two months, I will in fact cease to be here. Happily, I do now have other places to be, and this post is to communicate the news that I have a new job! Two, in fact, sequentially.

               From the end of August (after two months in Schwäbisch Hall to get my German up to scratch, or try to, anyway), I will be taking up a six-month Alexander von Humboldt Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tübingen, to work with Steffen Patzold. I have been here once before, and of course Steffen knows a thing or two about Carolingian bishops, so I’m really looking forward to it on those grounds. I’m also looking forward to it because it will involve living in a town with a river going through it once more, but that’s a slightly lesser reason.

               After that, from May 2018, I will be, thanks to the Leverhulme Trust, moving to Leeds, where I’ll be an Early Career Fellow for the next three years, working with Jonathan Jarrett, he of late Carolingian kingship and charters and bishops fame (as well as being, in his spare time,  author of my single favourite blog post about tenth-century episcopal charters). The university has an entire annex in the library basement devoted to charter collections, so if this blog suddenly stops updating for a few weeks next summer, that’s where to send the rescue party.

               In both Leeds and Tübingen, I’ll be working on a project which is an extension and development of what I’m doing in Brussels: that is, tracing the evolution of the interrelationship between royal and episcopal authority in the late and post-Carolingian periods. Getting to keep doing my own research right through into the next decade is a tremendous privilege, and that I’m at this point is the result of the work of an awful lot of people who’ve given up their time and energy to write references, go over forms, and endure draft after draft of my research proposal. Some of them read this blog, so to you (and the rest) I say a very heartfelt thanks.

               Next week, there will be actual, real, yarr!content on the blog, I promise; but if in the meantime you want to read more of what I’ve written, I’ve set up in the sidebar a link to my publications, most of which are open-access, which I will keep updated as and when new things come out. Otherwise, I’ve actually had my first request for a blog post – which I will fulfil at some point, although I need to do a bit of reading around the subject first – so if there’s anything you want me to write about, please let me know!