Spotlight on Professor Frances Andrews

Professor Frances Andrews (centre left) with fellow members of the Faculty.

Professor Frances Andrews (centre left) at the launch of The Medieval Journal.

Professor Frances Andrews arrived in St Andrews in 1995 and, despite occasional sabbatical years spent researching in Berlin, Rome and Florence, has grown deep roots here. She very much appreciates being in a place with so many colleagues working in cognate areas and the wonderful students that this attracts. Her research combines investigation of the history of mediaeval Italy with work on the mediaeval Church and the boundaries of the religious life. Alongside projects encompassing the whole of Latin Europe and beyond – as reflected in The Other Friars (2006), or Ritual and Space (2010) – she has therefore been investigating the history of Italian religious movements (The Early Humiliati, 1999) and of the Italian City-States as places where the encounter between religious identity and secular utility was both creative and revealing of broader social and political change (Churchmen and Urban Government in Late Medieval Italy, 2013). Her enthusiasm for the history of the Italian peninsula has also led to a collaboration with colleagues in the USA on a volume of sources intended for use by undergraduates (Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation).

Frances frequently finds herself working on those at the periphery of the medieval world: the first Humiliati were condemned as heretics; a study of observant reform among the Dominican friars led her to investigate the legal advice given to a house that sought to avoid it; and her most recent work concerns an enthusiastic Dominican friar, Venturino of Bergamo, who led a pilgrimage to Rome in 1335 but ended up condemned by a papal tribunal and banished for 7 years. Both the Humiliati and Venturino were eventually reinstated, though with very different effects. Whether these concerns reflect anything about Frances is for others to decide, but they certainly drive the interest which led to her teaching a course investigating the treatment of Heretics and Social Outcasts in the late middle ages.

Frances is also a strong believer in the intellectual advantages of collaboration between disciplines: she lives with an art historian, so perhaps it is inevitable that she thinks that the two ways of working, those of history and art history, have a great deal to learn from each other.  She has tried to put this into action in her teaching, through courses exploring textual, archaeological, and art historical evidence (on Medieval Rome, and The Early Mendicants). She was also the driving force behind the launch of the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies, combining the vast range of expertise of St Andrews mediaeval historians with that of extraordinary colleagues in the Schools of English, Modern Languages, Divinity, Philosophy and, of course, Art History. SAIMS has exploded into life in the six years since it began, with the launch of The Mediaeval Journal, annual academic visitors, lectures, conferences and seminars in addition to the numerous students successfully working across disciplines.

2013 has been an unusual year: taking on responsibility for the School of History submission to the Research Excellence Framework has given her a much greater knowledge of the research of colleagues across the School, but at the cost of hands-on understanding of over-engineered bureaucracy (something medieval Italians knew a lot about). On the other hand in April she was delighted to receive the Student Association award for best doctoral supervisor in the University.

In the latter part of AY2013-14, Frances will head to Washington for six months to work on a monograph on religious office-holding and public life in late mediaeval Italy. On her return she will be presiding at the Ecclesiastical History Society Summer Conference in Sheffield (24th-26th July 2014). Her chosen theme is ‘Doubt’. Perhaps that says it all.

Spotlight on Jamie Page

Jamie PageDr Jamie Page joined the School of History in September 2013 as a short-term Teaching Fellow in Mediaeval History, but is well acquainted with the place having come to St Andrews in 2004 to study for an undergraduate degree in Mediaeval History and German. Having graduated in 2008, Jamie then became one of the first to study for the new MLitt in Mediaeval Studies, which turned into an AHRC-funded PhD supervised by Professor Frances Andrews and Dr Bettina Bildhauer. During this time Jamie also held a Scouloudi Fellowship from the Institute of Historical Research in London.

Dr Page’s research focuses on prostitution and sexuality in late mediaeval German-speaking regions. He is interested in the broader history of sexuality, and a good part of his doctoral work involved examining the sexual identity of mediaeval prostitutes as represented in court documents and literary texts. Having been lucky enough to spend a year researching in the archives of Bavaria and Switzerland during his PhD, Dr Page is also interested in the social history of towns, particularly Zurich in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. One of the chief pleasures of his time in the archives came from the discovery that, far from being the jealous and impatient guardians of knowledge that he had been led to believe, German archivists are almost universally delightful.

Jamie Page MSDr Page is currently working on an article which explores the role of brothel ordinances in the regulation of prostitution in fifteenth-century Germany. This work branches out from his doctoral thesis, from which he is currently also drafting a book proposal. This book will examine the central theme of subjectivity and sexual identity in the milieu of late medieval prostitution, as well as offering readers an insight into everyday life in German brothels of the late Middle Ages. In 2011, Dr Page also acted as an adviser and interviewee for a German television documentary on mediaeval prostitution. The programme, Käufliche Liebe im Mittelalter: Wie Wanderhuren wirklich lebten (Venal Love in the Middle Ages: How prostitutes really lived) aired to an audience of 8 million in the spring of 2012.

Jamie Page GermanyDr Page currently teaches ME3426: Women and Gender in Later Mediaeval Europe as well as the sub-honours module ME2003 Europe in the High Middle Ages, and contributes to the MLitt in Mediaeval Studies. Outside academic life he is a keen, though disgracefully fairweather cyclist and Munro-walker. He is also a committed Germanophile, and becomes depressed if denied the sweet air and powerful beers of Munich for more than six months.

Gender & Transgression Conference 2013

SAIMS Postgraduate Organisers of the Gender & Transgression Conference: Eilidh Harris, Laura Tompkins, Mike French, Anna Peterson and Miriam Buncombe

SAIMS Postgraduate Organisers of the Gender & Transgression Conference: L-R Eilidh Harris, Laura Tompkins, Mike French, Anna Peterson and Miriam Buncombe

May 2013 saw the return of the Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages Postgraduate conference, hosted by the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies and supported by the School of History. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the conference, the conference was expanded across three days.

The PG sessions at this year’s conference covered a broad range of subject matter and disciplines, from ‘Gender and Religious Identity’ through to ‘Cross-Dressing in the Middle Ages’. The conference was able to boast a truly international participation this year, with speakers from all over Britain, Europe and America.


Prof. Pauline Stafford gives the keynote lecture

Prof. Pauline Stafford giving the keynote lecture

A session sponsored by the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature, provided an excellent opportunity to bring together institutes with an interest in the medieval period; a lively discussion following the session spilled over into the first wine reception of the conference, also sponsored by CMEMLLProf. Pauline Stafford (University of Liverpool) gave this year’s keynote address, speaking on ‘Reading Gender in the Old English Vernacular Chronicles’. The paper was extremely well received, and Prof. Stafford’s involvement throughout the conference was greatly appreciated.


Conference participants visiting University Library Special Collections

Conference participants visiting University Library Special Collections

The expanded time frame of the conference allowed for some St Andrews-focused activities on the Friday afternoon. The Special Collections department ran an excellent session on some of the library’s most interesting medieval documents. A second group enjoyed a walking tour of mediaeval St Andrews with Dr Alex Woolf and was rewarded for their bravery in the face of torrential rain with a quick pint in the pub afterwards!  After a mentally (and for some physically!) stimulating day everyone was ready for the conference meal, this year held in the Golf Hotel.

The conference ended with a particularly stimulating round table discussion led by Prof. Frances Andrews. This highlighted many key themes that had arisen over the past few days, and was instructive for spotlighting strands for consideration in future years.  Feedback from post-graduates and staff alike has once again been very positive and the organisers hope that the conference can continue to go from strength to strength.

Dr Alessia Meneghin appointed to ERC project at University of Cambridge


Dr Alessia Meneghin, who was awarded a PhD from St Andrews in 2011, has been appointed to a three-year position as Research Associate in Italian Renaissance Studies at the University of Cambridge. Dr Meneghin will be working on an innovative and interdisciplinary project funded by the European Research Council and led by Dr Abigail Brundin (Modern and Medieval Languages), Prof. Deborah Howard (History of Art and Architecture) and Dr Mary Laven (History).


130114-renaissance-pietyThe project Domestic Devotions: The Place of Piety in the Renaissance Italian Home, 1400-1600 brings together the study of books, buildings, objects, spaces, images and archives in order to understand how religion functioned in the Renaissance and Catholic home, and will investigate practices of piety of the artisanal household in three significant zones: Naples and its environs; the Marche in central Italy; and the Venetian mainland.

Dr Meneghin’s doctoral research on ‘The unglamorous side of shopping in late medieval Prato and Florence : the Ricordanze of Taddeo di Chello (1341-1408), and Piero Puro di Francesco da Vicchio (1397-1465)’ was supervised by Prof. Frances Andrews.

History wins in Students’ Association Teaching Awards 2013

teaching-awards-lThe School of History has been remarkably successful in the 2013 St Andrews Students’ Association Teaching Awards. We congratulate two of our staff for winning Teaching Awards: Dr Bridget Heal won the award for best Dissertation / Project Supervisor in the Faculty of Arts, and Prof. Frances Andrews won the award for best teaching at postgraduate level.

Congratulations also to Dr Rory Cox who was nominated for best teaching at honours level.

Dr Stefan Visnjevac awarded BA Postdoctoral Fellowship

Stefan VDr Stefan Visnjevac has won a three-year British Academy Postdoctoral fellowship to work on a fifteenth-century preacher, Leonardo Mattei and his world. Dr Visnjevac was awarded his PhD by the University of St Andrews in 2012 after completing his doctoral research on the Religion and Public Life in Late Mediaeval Italy AHRC-funded project under the supervision of Prof. Frances Andrews.

Dr Visnjevac’s new project, Educating and Entertaining in Fifteenth-Century Friuli: The Life and Preaching of Leonardo Mattei (1399-1469), will be conducted at the University of Roehampton. Dr Visnjevac will be working closely with Prof. Trevor Dean.

On his British Academy postdoctoral project, Dr Visnjevac writes:

“Recent years have seen an explosion of interdisciplinary interest in medieval sermon studies, especially for early Renaissance Italy, where mendicant preaching peaked in popularity and significance to public life. The enormous variety in content has been explored from the standpoint of equally diverse interests – from social and devotional practices, theological standpoints, politics and economics, to drama and performance, and the development of language. Yet, many remain an untapped resource, particularly for fifteenth-century studies”

“Significant aspects of the culture, mechanics, content, reception, and thought of preaching remain unknown outside of the Observant Franciscan, Tuscan-centric focus which has dominated for the last forty years. My project addresses this long-standing imbalance by bringing to light the prolific, but unexamined, Dominican Conventual Leonardo Mattei da Udine (1399-1469). Held in great regard as a preacher during his own lifetime, but now virtually forgotten, Mattei preached in Florence, Venice, Udine, and in the presence of the pope. His sermons found widespread posthumous popularity throughout late medieval and early modern Italy, France, and Germany. Crucially, Mattei thoroughly involved himself in the religious, social, and political developments of his native Friuli, to which his career was intrinsically linked. Through examination of Mattei’s activity in Friuli, the project thus aims to throw fresh perspective on this least-studied region of late medieval Italy. It will further make available comparative data for sermon studies through close analysis of the structure and content of his sermons, and provide a much-needed new set of edited sermons.”

Sub-honours student Alasdair Grant awarded URIP 2013

Alasdair GrantThe School of History warmly congratulates Alasdair Grant, a second year student of Latin and Mediaeval History, who has been awarded an Undergraduate Research Internship (URIP) for summer 2013. With the scheme giving preference to junior honours students,  Alasdair’s success in securing a URIP in his second year of study is a great achievement. Alasdair will be working under the supervision of Prof. Frances Andrews.

Alasdair writes:

“I have a particular interest in  Mediterranean history and literature. Last semester, whilst reading for an essay on Italian city-states as part of the module ME2003 Europe and the High Middle Ages, I found a reference to a mediaeval Latin poem about a Pisan military expedition to North Africa in 1087, dubbed the Carmen in Victoriam Pisanorum. Wandering totally off my essay topic, I became very interested in this poem, and found that it had received virtually no scholarly attention, and that what it had received was problematic. I felt that this poem, which has been seen as representing an early stage in the development of the Crusading movement, as well as having a lot to say about Pisa, the Italian Communes, Christian-Muslim relations, and contemporary literary attitudes, deserved better. Taking what I have used for my Classical Latin studies as a model, I resolved to translate the source into English verse, give it a line-by-line commentary, and write an assessment of its value as source material. My hope is that through this project, the poem can be read as an interesting narrative in its own right, but also become more readily available for future studies on the medieval Mediterranean.”

Alasdair joins third-year honours students Hazel Blair and Olympia Severis in an a remarkable round of successes for History students in the University Research Internship Scheme.