“Empire”, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July 2014— LIMITE : 31/08/2013

7-10 July 2014

The IMC seeks to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of
all aspects of medieval studies. Papers and sessions on any topic or theme
in the Middle Ages are welcome. Each Congress has one particular special
thematic strand on an area of interdisciplinary study in a wider context.
However, this strand is not intended to be exclusive and submissions from
all spheres of medieval research, in any major European language, are

The IMC seeks to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of
all aspects of Medieval Studies. Paper and session proposals on any topic
related to the Middle Ages are welcome. However, every year, the IMC chooses
a specific special thematic strand which - for 2014 - is 'Empire'.

Although the last western Roman emperor was deposed in 476, the Roman Empire
continued to shape imagination even when it had ceased to play a major
political role. Throughout the Middle Ages, 'Empire' suggested a claim to
universal lordship. The concept of imperium implied not only the ability and
power to exercise authority over others, but could also be used to
distinguish spiritual from secular spheres of power. There was also the
concept of 'informal empire', a term often employed by modern historians to
describe a group of distinct territories held together by ties of commerce,
ideology, dynastic traditions, or conquest.

'Informal empires' were forged by King Cnut in the 11th century and by the
rulers of Aragon in the 14th. The papacy, the western Empire, and Byzantium
all claimed to inherit the mantle of Rome, while the Caliphates expressed a
similar claim to universal leadership. The meaning of imperium, in turn,
became a central issue in medieval scholarship, whether in scholastic
theology, medieval philosophy, canon law, or the writing of history and
literature. No type of empire was unable to avoid challenges (and
challengers). Each type exercised a profound influence not only on politics,
but on every aspect of daily life: on commerce and trade as well as the
environment, cultural practice, social structures and organisation, the
movement of ideas and people. Empires and their rulers could also be
products of political and cultural memory and myth-making, with Charlemagne,
Arthur, and Troy perhaps among the more famous examples.

'Empire' was not limited to the regions surrounding the medieval
Mediterranean. Universal monarchy was central to the self-representation of
imperial China, while informal empires rose and fell in Africa as well as in
Asia and pre-Columbian America. Christian, Confucian, Buddhist, and Islamic
scholars discussed 'Empire' in all its varieties and forms.

Empire was a universal phenomenon, and thus calls for sustained exploration
across a wide range of disciplines, and geographical and chronological areas
of expertise.

Points of discussion could include:

• The role of settlers, merchants, rulers, and others in creating and
fashioning empire • The decline and fall of empires • The typology of empire
• The governance and organisation of empires • The experience of empire by
individuals and communities • The representation of Empire in music, art,
literature, and material culture • Traditions of empire, their use and
development • Theoretical models of Empire: Medieval and modern • Concepts
and practices of empire in the Islamic world, Africa, America, and Asia •
The role of imperium in medieval philosophy, theology, and literature • The
role of universal authority in medieval thought and practice • The influence
of medieval concepts and practices of empire on their post-medieval

 We prefer proposals to be completed online - a quick, easy, and secure
Paper proposals must be submitted by 31 August 2013; Sessions proposals must
be submitted by 30 September 2013.

The IMC welcomes session and paper proposals submitted in all major European
languages. For further details please contact:
Axel E. W. Müller
International Medieval Congress
Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds Parkinson Building 1.03,
Tel.: +44 (113) 343-3614  Fax: +44 (113) 343-3616
email: imc@leeds.ac.uk

Camille Rhoné

Agrégée d'histoire, titulaire d'une thèse de doctorat en histoire de l'Islam médiéval ("Défendre le territoire en Iran nord-oriental - Khorassan et Transoxiane -, IXe-XIe siècle"), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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