A Needle in a Haystack: The Trouble with Researching Medieval Diplomacy

(In a second instalment, third-year undergraduate student, Charlotte Willis, writes about her experience of creating Wikipedia articles on medieval diplomacy and treaties. A frustrating experience, apparently!)  An illustration of the Virgin Mary hitting the Devil in the face. From the De Brailes Hours' (1240). During my summer placement, supervised by Dr Jenny Benham, I knew …

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

Why Students Should Edit Wikipedia (My third-year undergraduate student, Charlotte Willis, writes about her placement investigating how to embed Wikipedia editing and knowledge creation as part of the history curriculum)  Wanted poster. Copyright: Charlotte Willis In the summer of 2022, I was given a mission (AKA, a summer placement). This was to embed Wikipedia into …

Three Counts, the Great Occitan War and the Proposed Destruction of Marseille

Many medieval treaties have survived into the modern world with little or no contextual information as to how, when and why they had been concluded. Here, I present one such treaty with a draft translation into English. The treaty provides a snapshot of the so-called Great Occitan War in the mid-1180s, although the exact date …

New Approaches to Medieval Diplomacy, 450-1350? A Call for Contributions

The study of the history of medieval diplomacy has been dominated by the figure of the envoy. The absence of permanent resident ambassadors led some scholars to deny the existence of diplomacy in the Middle Ages, a position that few would take today. The work of the New Diplomatic History has done much to expand …

It’s just business. Debt Recovery and Alliance-building in Twelfth-century Sardinia

One of the most frequent questions I am asked relates to compliance to medieval treaties or the extent to which rulers and their agents were able to enforce the clauses in the treaties concluded. The medieval period is generally seen as one in which international law was ineffective because of the lack of a ‘state’ …

Expulsion, Mercenaries, and Medieval Polities in Treaty of Toul (1171)

The Treaty of Toul concluded between the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and Louis VII of France in 1171 is usually discussed by scholars in a context of the Peace and Truce of God movements. These efforts by churchmen, and some lay lords, to limit violence in local areas are an interesting part of the history of …

Henry the Lion, the Gotlanders and the Treaty of Artlenburg, 1161

The Treaty of Artlenburg and its significance has been hotly debated among scholars interested in the beginning of the Hanseatic League. Concluded in 1161 between Duke Henry the Lion of Saxony and the merchants and inhabitants of Gotland, an island in the Baltic, the treaty gives privileged access to frictionless commerce and redress for injury …

Venice and its relations with the mainlanders in the ninth century

There is one early medieval treaty, which seems to be of significant interest to many scholars and is one, moreover, which I am frequently asked about: namely, the Treaty of Pavia. It was concluded in 840 under the supervision of the Emperor Lothar I, and hence often known as the ‘Pactum Lotharii’. Despite the involvement …