Justine Firnhaber-Baker
Senior Lecturer, University of St Andrews

I work on France between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, covering the period of the early Capetian and late Valois monarchies, the Hundred Years War (1337-1454), and the Black Death (1348-50). Within that space and place, my work focuses on power and politics in both institutional ways (kingship, lordship, communities) and in social relationships and interactions, like wars, revolts, and lawsuits. I have published extensively on violence and its uses and meanings in legal, political, and social contexts. My work relies principally upon unpublished archival and manuscript sources, especially lawsuits and royal pardon letters, as well as the records of municipal and monastic institutions. Methodologically, I combine close reading of individual texts with the prosopographical and semantic analysis of relatively large datasets. Increasingly, I take a comparative approach, contextualizing the history of France in relation to that of other medieval societies and in cross-chronological perspective.

My second monograph, The Jacquerie Revolt of 1358, will be published by Oxford UP in 2021. Focusing on one of the most famous and enigmatic rural revolts of the Middle Ages, it shows how the uprising came about through a combination of both short-term political factors linked to the Hundred Years War and longer-term socio-economic changes resulting from the Black Death. While all previous interpretations of this revolt have struggled to assign it a single cause or meaning, I approach it as a mass experience, whose individual participants and victims understood it from multiple perspectives, and as a process, which unfolded over time in unpredictable ways. Based on this holistic understanding, the book reconciles a centuries-long conflict between views of the revolt as either an emotionally-charged outburst against the nobility or a carefully-calibrated action undertaken in cooperation with a political faction in Paris in order to protect commercial routes. Research for this book, as well as a related edited collection of essays on medieval uprisings, The Routledge History Handbook of Medieval Revolt, was supported by an AHRC Early Career Fellowship (2013-16).

My first monograph, Violence and the State in Languedoc, 1250-1400, published by Cambridge in 2014, was about how the royal French state dealt with the wars waged by nobles and other powerful people against one another. It demonstrated that instead of trying to impose a ‘monopoly on legitimate violence’ in the manner of modern states, the kings and their officers worked to mediate these conflicts and bring the parties to a peaceful settlement. By doing this, the crown increased its authority considerably, but as much through cooperative engagement with local power as through coercion. The book challenges a long-standing narrative of royal and seigneurial power as waging an oppositional struggle in which one’s gains always came at the other’s expense.

I co-edited another collections of essays, Difference and Identity in Francia and Medieval France, with Meredith Cohen. My articles have appeared in Past and Present, the Journal of Medieval History, and French History, among others. I also co-edit The Mediaeval Journal, published by Brepols, and I edit The St Andrews Series in French History and Culture, published by OpenBook Publishers.

Dirk Schoenaers
Research Fellow (February-July 2015)

I am a literary historian, mainly interested in the regional historiography and history of translation of the medieval Low Countries. My research interests include transcultural contact, the relation between language, translation and conflict, book history and how narratives are transformed in the process of manuscript dissemination. During my undergraduate studies at the catholic Universities of Brussels (KUBrussel) and Leuven (KULeuven), I mainly focused on medieval Dutch literature and computational linguistics. Afterwards, I wrote a PhD-dissertation on the Dutch translation of Froissart’s chronicle (2010) at the University of Liverpool, where I also did editorial work on the Online Froissart (Sheffield/Liverpool). Between 2011-2015, I was based at University College London as research associate in the AHRC-funded Medieval Francophone Literary Culture Outside France project (UCL, KCL, University of Cambridge), investigating the manuscript dissemination of six iconic French literary/historiographical texts throughout Europe and beyond. I have published on Middle Dutch chronicles (Jan van Boendale, Lodewijk van Velthem, Gerrit Potter van der Loo), aristocratic book collections (together with Hanno Wijsman) and the illustrative programmes of Froissart’s Chroniques. Forthcoming projects include narratives of revolt in the historiography of the Low Countries, an edited volume on Francophone culture outside France (together with Nicola Morato, Université de Liège; to be published with Brepols) and a history of translation in the Low Countries (together with Theo Hermans, UCL, Cees Koster and Ton Naaijkens, both Universiteit Utrecht).


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