Vacancy: Teaching Fellow in Mediaeval History

Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_octobre_detailThe School of History is seeking to appoint one 17-month Teaching Fellow in the history of late Mediaeval continental Europe (c. 1100-1500). This position is created by the award of an AHRC Early Career Fellowship to Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker. Applicants should have teaching experience at university level and should normally hold an examined PhD on any aspect of the history of late Mediaeval continental Europe.

This teaching fellowship will start on 9 January 2014, or as soon as possible thereafter until 8 June 2015 on a full-time, fixed-term basis.

Further particulars and how to apply can be found by clicking here.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to the Chair of Mediaeval History, Dr Tim Greenwood,, or the Director of Teaching, Dr Bernhard Struck,
Closing Date for Applications:  28 November 2013

Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker awarded French History Prize

Justine.Firnhaber-Baker-2Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker has been awarded the French History Article Prize for 2012 for her article ‘Jura in Medio: the settlement of seigneurial disputes in medieval Languedoc‘, published in French History 26:4 (December, 2012). French History is published by Oxford University Press.

Dr Firnhaber-Baker’s article addresses a major lacuna in the scholarship on medieval ‘dispute processing’, meaning the settlement and pursuit of violent conflict, usually by aristocrats. Although most of the classic articles on the subject focus on France in the high Middle Ages, there has been almost no attention paid to the later period, largely due to scholars’ assumptions that the imposition of state-sponsored coercive justice eliminated such activities. Focusing on royal judicial and administrative responses to seigneurial wars in fourteenth-century Southern France, the article demonstrates that processes of violent conflict and extrajudicial settlement actually remained robust in the later Middle Ages. The key difference in this later period was that royal courts and officers were now involved in the pursuit and settlement of the dispute through both judicial and extra-judicial means. Although royal involvement in extra-judicial settlements could be viewed as signs of royal weakness, in fact, it demonstrates the crown’s successful penetration of local power relations.

This award complements several recent successes for Dr Firnhaber-Baker, including an AHRC Early Career Fellowship.

St Andrews Historians Run Edinburgh Marathon for Charity

Marathon 2013

Members of the School of History ran the Edinburgh Marathon relay challenge last weekend (26  May) to raise money for MS Scotland – the sixth year in a row the Medievalists have done this. It was a glorious day with a real festival atmosphere.

There were two teams – one led by James Palmer with postdoc Fernando Arias, Neil Montgomery, and postgrad Roberta Cimino, the other led by Justine Firnhaber-Baker with postgrads Kimberley Knight-Ford and Will Eves. The route was divided into four legs, starting in Edinburgh city centre and winding through Holyrood Park down to the Forth, past Musselborough Race Course, out into the countryside and then back to Musselborough for a much needed rest! The teams managed impressive times of 3hrs 44mins and 3hrs 40mins respectively.

For the second team this was a particular achievement because a last-minute withdrawal meant that Kimberley ran two legs consecutively, of 8.4 miles and 5.6 miles! She also did so faster than James and Fernando managed running the same legs individually.

The teams want to raise to £1000 for MS Scotland, a charity chosen because of a former student of Mediaeval History who has Multiple Sclerosis. They are still only half-way to their target but there is still time to sponsor them retrospectively – either contact them directly or donate online at, where you can add ‘gift aid’. Any support is much appreciated!

The History Society’s Annual Interdepartmental Quiz 2013

Each year a handful of only the bravest tutors make their way to the History Society’s Interdepartmental Quiz (IDQ). The quiz pits the brains of Ancient, Mediaeval, Modern and Scottish tutors against each other in a battle to be crowned IDQ champions.


The teams this year were: Dr Jon Coulston, Mr Risto-Matti Sarilo  & Mr Emerson Stevens for Ancient History; Professor Chris Given-Wilson, Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker and Dr Katie Stevenson for Mediaeval History; Professor Conan Fischer, Dr Kate Ferris and Mr Nick Blackbourn for Modern History (defending champions) and for Scottish History, Professor Colin Kidd, Dr Christine McGladdery and Dr Jacqueline Rose.

There were five rounds; four based on the respective historical periods of the teams and a general knowledge round. Each team was given the chance to answer questions relating to their own historical period. If a team could not answer the question the other teams could use their buzzers (in this case a tambourine, a horn, a bell and a frying pan) to grab double points.IDQ_Nessie

After a hard fought battle, and some dodgy historical re-enactments by the History Society committee, Scottish History took the lead with an impressive 24 points, beating Medieval (19pts), Ancient (18pts) and Modern (5pts) and claiming IDQ victory for 2013.IDQ_ScottishWinners

Can Scottish hold on to their victory or will someone else claim supremacy in 2014? We’ll have to wait and see.


Third-year History honours student Hazel Blair awarded University Research Internship (URIP)

Hazel BlairHazel Blair, a third year Mediaeval History undergraduate, has been awarded a St Andrews Undergraduate Research Internship (URIP), to research the cultural significance of scientific experimentation at the courts of the Scottish Renaissance kings James III, James IV, and James V.  This is a ten-week project undertaken over the summer and will be conducted under the supervision of Dr Katie Stevenson.

Hazel writes:

“In my current module on the Renaissance in Late Mediaeval Scotland, I was astounded to discover that there has been little analysis of the growing trend in science experiments at court, despite common recognition of it in the sources and in the historiography. My project will be a fitting expression of my continuing love for mediaeval history at undergraduate level. On entry into honours, my work and learning became more specialised. I have had a wonderful time learning about women’s lives in the Middle Ages, and I have also had quite a unique opportunity to immerse myself in the intricacies of mediaeval apocalyptic traditions. I am privileged to have had my article ‘The end of time in sixth century Francia: Bishop Gregory of Tours’ Histories’ accepted for publication in the new undergraduate journal Groundings Ancients, which represents three students from each of the universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. This taste of academia intrigued me. Therefore, this summer, I am overjoyed to be spending ten weeks researching and analysing such a fascinating area of Scottish history. My project will include a survey of the financial records of the kings’ reigns, and analysis of contemporary chronicles and court poetry. I will question the extent to which science, medicine, alchemy, and astronomy were significant tools of kingship and authority in late mediaeval and Renaissance Scotland. I will also consider the significance of scientific experiments within the Stewart court on the rise of medicine within the Scottish universities. My project will be comparatively linked to two other studies taken in the last two years, which explore these themes in the crown of Aragon and in Italian court culture. I hope to place this part of Scotland’s history in its wider European context and am very much looking forward to the commencement of my research internship this June.”

Hazel joins a long and distinguished tradition of successful students from the School of History on the University’s URIP scheme since its inception in 2008. Hazel’s fellow honours student, Olympia Severis, and sub-honours student Alasdair Grant have also been awarded places on the scheme.

Spotlight on Justine Firnhaber-Baker

Justine FBJustine Firnhaber-Baker is a lecturer in medieval continental history specializing in France from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. She came to St Andrews in 2010 following a stint as a post-doctoral research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. She holds Ph.D. and Masters degrees from Harvard University and a B.A. from Wellesley College.

Dr Firnhaber-Baker’s research interests are mainly focused on political and legal history. Her first book, Violence and the State in Languedoc, 1250-1400, will be published by Cambridge University Press in early 2014. Based primarily on archival research, the book looks at the wars that local powers, such as lords and towns, fought against one another in Languedoc in order to discuss larger questions about the rise of the royalist state in France. In addition to this book, Dr Firnhaber-Baker has published articles in journals that include Past & Present, The Journal of Medieval History, and French History.

Justine Diff&Id volume

With the art historian Meredith Cohen, she has co-edited a volume of essays entitled Difference and Identity in Francia and Medieval France (Ashgate, 2010) that demonstrates the multiplicity of ways that difference could function in medieval society. She is currently working on a book-length study of the Jacquerie revolt of 1358, which will be the first monograph to appear on the subject since the nineteenth century, and she is organizing a workshop on medieval revolt in April at St Andrews.

At St Andrews, Dr Firnhaber-Baker teaches the honours options ME3425 ‘The Age of Revolt, 1250–1450’, ME3426 ‘Women and Gender in the Later Middle Ages’, and the special subject ME4815 ‘France from Philip Augustus to Philip the Fair’.

Justine ME4815atStDenis

In 2012 Dr Firnhaber-Baker met up with her special subject students in Paris, where they spent several days visiting the Sainte-Chapelle, the Louvre, the basilica of Saint-Denis, and other places important to later Capetian France. She regularly supervises directed reading modules for MLitt students on topics ranging from the Albigensian Crusade to the patronage of Jean de Berry. She is currently jointly supervising (with Frances Andrews) a doctoral student researching the comparative history of hospitals in Narbonne and Sienna.

You can find out more about Dr Firnhaber-Baker via her School of History staff page or her profile on