Conference 29 May 2014: Programme

Urban Ritual and Ceremony in Pre-Modern Europe, c.1300-c.1700


29 May 2014, Northumbria University, Lipman Building, Room 121

Free Entrance: Please register by May 16 at


Organiser: Neil Murphy, Northumbria University
Keynote paper: Christian Liddy, University of Durham

Recent years have witnessed a proliferation in the study of ritual and ceremony in pre-modern European towns. Once considered a topic of only marginal interest, the study of late medieval and early modern ritual and ceremonial practices now lies at the forefront of historical investigation; indeed, many of the most innovative works of recent years have focused on these themes. The purpose of this one-day conference is to draw together urban historians of later medieval and early modern Europe who are working on any aspect of ritual and ceremony.

The development of multiple ritual and ceremonial practices in pre-modern European towns reflected the corporate nature of urban society. Such events could be cohesive or divisive, fostering unity or creating dissension. Towns were also the principal location for the royal rituals, such as coronations or baptisms, which were performed on the urban stage. While often giving the impression of immutability, urban ceremonial forms were constantly changing in response to contemporary needs.

This conference will cross the traditional late medieval/early modern divide to consider aspects of change and continuity in ritual and ceremonial forms in any part of Europe. As well as examining the role of the participants in urban rituals, this conference also hopes to address the role of the spectators who watched the event, as all rituals and ceremonies required an audience.




9.15 – 10.30: Christian Liddy (University of Durham), ‘Rituals of punishment for illicit speech in late medieval English towns’.


10.30 – 10.45: Break.


10.45 – 12.15: Panel 1: Royal Entries in Later Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Neil Murphy (Northumbria University), ‘Royal Entries, Municipal Liberties and the Character of the French Monarchy: Louis XI at La Rochelle in 1472’.

Catarina Santana Simões (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), ‘Social distinction and symbolic representation: signs of power in Portuguese royal entries in the Renaissance’.

Giovanna Guidicini (University of Plymouth), ‘Urban space and public renegotiation of faith: St. Giles Kirk in Edinburgh as triumphal station during the Reformation’.

Chair: Victoria Anker (University of Edinburgh).


12.15 – 1.00: Lunch.


1.00 – 2.30: Panel 2: Royal and Civic Ritual in Pre-Modern France

Luc Racaut (University of Newcastle), ‘René Benoist and processions during the French Catholic League’.

Jolanta Kormornicka (University of Virginia), ‘“Arguing sovereignty: the ability of court ritual to reinterpret monarchy’.

Elisa Foster (Paris College of Art), ‘Ritual and memory: remembering the medieval urban spaces of Le Puy-en-Velay’.

Chair: Dustin Neighbors (University of York).


2.45 – 3.00: Break


3.00 – 4.30: Panel 3: Guild Ceremonies in Late Medieval and Early Modern England

John Lee (University of York), ‘Civic ceremonial in late medieval Cambridge’.

Sheila Sweetinburgh (University of Huddersfield), ‘Looking to the past: the St. Thomas pageant in early Tudor Canterbury’.

Jasmine Kilburn-Toppin (University of Cardiff/University of Kent), ‘Reforming rituals of the London craft guilds: material and spatial aspects of sixteenth-century rites’.

Chair: Amy Calladine (University of Nottingham).


4.30 – 4.40: Break


4.40 – 5.30: Panel 4: Guild Ceremonies in Flanders and the Holy Roman Empire

Jean-Dominique Delle Luche (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris), ‘Dressed oxen, flower wreaths and spanking: rituals of peace and sport in the shooting contests of the Holy Roman Empire (15th-16th centuries).

Laura Crombie (University of York), ‘Guild rituals and ideals of community in late medieval Ghent’.

Chair: Gordon McKelvie (University of Winchester).






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