Medieval Europe and Beyond

Conveners: Marian Coman (University of Bucharest, marian.coman(at); Ionuț Epurescu-Pascovici (University of Bucharest, ionut.epurescu-pascovici(at)

This research working group is intended as a venue for historians, social scientists, and philosophers interested in discussing recent developments in the study of medieval Europe. Comparisons between Latin Europe, Byzantium, and Islam, and between late antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early modern period are encouraged. The research group is not limited to medievalists but open to colleagues in other fields.

Monthly meetings include roundtable discussions of recent scholarship, readings of primary sources, methodological seminars, and presentations of work in progress. Working languages are Romanian and English.

Each academic year is dedicated to a general theme. The theme for 2017/2018 is Understanding Medieval Violence.

I am gonna get medieval on you! These words, spoken by one of the characters of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, blatantly illustrate the widespread idea that violence was deeply embedded within medieval societies. Historical fiction and, more recently, fantasy fiction, made gory violence a trademark of the Middle Ages, an unmistakable sign of civilizational backwardness. But just as the pop culture reading of medieval violence grew more simplistic, the scholarly understanding of it became more nuanced. Violence has been interpreted as instrumental, communicative, symbolic, practical, emotional, strategic, socially constructed, discursive, performative, and the list could go on. A vast array of social and humanistic disciplines were brought into play to shed light on the practices of violence. This year’s theme, Understanding Medieval Violenceaims to explore the ways medieval people, victims, perpetrators and spectators, understood and conceptualized violence.

Understanding Medieval Violence

The seminar meets every month during the academic year at ICUB, 1 Dimitrie Brândză St., in the Seminar Room.

Second semester (March – June 2018)

Wed., 21 March, 17.00 – Bathing in blood: the Jerusalem temple massacre (1099), Roundtable discussion of primary sources

Wed., 18 April, 17.00 – Violence in Heroic CulturesCătălin Țăranu (University of Bucharest)

Wed., 23 May, 17.00, Quantifying violence: Counting the dead in Vlad the Impaler’s Danubian campaign (1462) – Marian Coman (University of Bucharest)

Wed., 13 June, 17.00 – Youth gangs and violence in Byzantium – Oana Cojocaru (University of Bucharest)


First semester (Oct. – Dec. 2017)

Roundtable discussion, Th., 26 October, 18.15
Medieval violence: a socio-historical approach

  • Brown, ‘Violence and the medieval historian’;
  • Skoda, ‘Grammars of violence’, in Medieval Violence, p. 18-50;
  • Hyams, ‘Was there really such a thing as feud in the High Middle Ages?’, in Vengeance in the Middle Ages, 151-75.

Warfare and violence in late-medieval Savoy, Th., 23 November, 17.30
Roberto Biolzi (Université de Lausanne)

Roundtable discussion, Tu., 5 December, 17.00
From justified to sacred violence

Past events