Conference Recordings: The Literature and History of Anglo-Dutch Relations, Medieval to Early Modern
This British Academy funded conference crossed conventional chronological, linguistic, geographical and disciplinary boundaries to explore the cultural history of relations between English and Dutch speakers, from the Norman Conquest through to the Reformation. The conference took place online between 6 – 8 January 2022. Recordings of the presentations are available below.
Day One: Thursday 6 January 2022
Welcome and introduction - Ad Putter (13:30 - 13:40)
Session 1 - From Court to City: Urban cultures and literary exchange (13:40 - 15:00)
Chair: Kathleen Kennedy (University of Bristol)
Master Brundyche of Braban in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament
Abstract: Master Brundyche of Braban in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament (East Anglia, late fifteenth-century) is a fascinating character in a fascinating play. Almost everything about this character has been questioned in scholarship (is he original or a later addition?, is he a quack or not?), but this paper will mainly focus on his status as an immigrant from the Low Countries and aims to show that the supposed nationality of the quack/doctor is vital in our understanding of his presence and role in the play overall. He is in fact the only character from the Low Countries to survive in late medieval English drama and his addition to a play that is much concerned with corrupting foreign influences gestures towards late medieval English xenophobia and unease with immigration.
Charlotte Steenbrugge is lecturer in Medieval Literature in the School of English at the University of Sheffield. She works predominantly on English medieval drama but has also worked on Dutch and French drama and non-dramatic literature. Her latest monograph, Drama and Sermon in Late Medieval England: Performance, Authority, Devotion was published in 2017. She also co-edited Cultures of Compunction in the Medieval World (Bloomsbury, 2021). She is currently interested in the absence of English farces and the use of prologues and epilogues in medieval drama.
Art and Business: the cultural consequences of Anglo-Dutch trade and migration in the long fifteenth century
Abstract: This paper examines the relations between the literary and visual arts on the one hand and the lively trade and diplomacy between the Low Countries and England. The Merchant Adventurers, who controlled the export trade in woollen cloth to the Low Countries and the import of fine linen and luxury goods from the Low Countries, provide an ideal focus. The figure of WIlliam Caxton, who worked his way up to become Governor of the Merchant Adventurers in the 1460s, is of special interest, and the paper proposes that details of his professional life may offer an explanation for his remarkably early acquaintance with the output of the printer from Gouda, Gheraert Leeu. Personal contact between the two is further indicated by Leeu's printing of Caxton's books after the latter's death. Indeed, it is thanks to Leeu that we have a book that I argue was Caxton's own translation from a Dutch original: Solomon and Marcolf. Caxton's repeated visits to Gouda on diplomatic business in 1475 may have provided the occasion on which Leeu and Caxton met. The visual arts are represented in this paper by the work of the 'Caxton master', probably from Utrecht, where the Merchant Adventurers under Caxton were based for two years, and the stained-glass window showing Henry VII and Elizabeth of York in Antwerp cathedral (made 1503), which was almost certainly commissioned by the 'English nation'.
Ad Putter is Professor of Medieval English at the University of Bristol and Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies. He is co-author of North Sea Crossings: The Literary Heritage of Anglo-Dutch Relations.
Strangers in Early Tudor London: Dutch Artisans and the Evil May Day Riot of 1517
Abstract: This paper will consider the experience of Dutch immigrants in London in the first several decades of the sixteenth century. Those years were marked by sometimes violent xenophobic attitudes on the part of some Londoners, most notably in the anti-immigrant riot in 1517 that came to be known as Evil May Day. The rioters on that night specifically targeted the most densely populated immigrant enclave in London, the precinct of St Martin le Grand. I’ll focus on what I’ve been able to piece together about the life of one of the residents of St Martin’s, the Dutch-born shoemaker Peter Peterson. Peterson was by no means a typical immigrant, but looking closely at what we know about him helps to unlock some of the complications of the life of a Dutch stranger artisan in London in the early sixteenth century.
Shannon McSheffrey is Professor of History at Concordia University in Montreal. She has written five books and various scholarly articles on aspects of English society, culture, and politics between 1400 and 1550, most recently Seeking Sanctuary: Crime, Mercy, and Politics in English Courts, 1400-1550 (OUP, 2017). She is currently at work on two books, one on the Evil May Day anti-immigrant riot in London in 1517, and the other (with Ad Putter) on a rogue London guild of Dutch hatmakers in the early sixteenth century.
Coffee Break (15:00 - 15:30)
Session 2 - Literature in context: Brabant, Flanders and England (15:30-17:00)
Chair: Sjoerd Levelt (University of Bristol)
From our own correspondent: Brabant chroniclers about the royal dynasty of England (c. 1280-1320)
Abstract: What picture do Brabant chroniclers such as Jan van Heelu, Jan van Boendale and Lodewijk van Velthem paint of the English dynasty in the decades around 1300? Heelu dedicated his description of the Battle of Woeringen, an extensive ode to Duke John I of Brabant, to the daughter of King Edward I, the future Duchess, but is otherwise remarkably sparse with information about England and the English court. Boendale, too, pays relatively little attention to England in his early works - especially the first version of the Brabantsche yeesten (1316). Velthem, who must have had the necessary English information at his disposal, presents it in a rather idiosyncratic way. King Edward I plays an important role in Velthem's account because, in the eyes of the chronicler, he has found that the stories about King Arthur are more often true than earlier chroniclers believed. Moreover, Velthem tries to convince his audience that in the very near future (after 1317) the English king will play a major role in the conflict between Flanders and France. Velthem's work seems to foreshadow the later historiography of Brabant in which Edward III will play a prominent role.
Remco Sleiderink is professor of Dutch literature up to 1800 at the University of Antwerp. In his research, he often focuses on the context in which Middle Dutch literature emerged, with particular attention to the Duchy of Brabant and the dynamics between the court and the city. He is also very committed to the study of manuscripts, and in particular to the study of fragments. Most recently, he co-authored an article in Fragmentology - which is fully open access - in which a fragment of a hitherto unknown Middle Dutch Alexander compilation is studied and edited.
From Ruusbroec to Mary of Nemmegen: Dutch Mysticism and Devotion in Late-Medieval England
Abstract: Although some avenues of textual transmission from the Low Countries to England were anonymous, or nearly so, in certain late-medieval mystical and devotional texts one finds instead a much more finely-grained interest in the particularities of the Low Countries. From the mistaken belief in Jan van Ruusbroec’s running a Carthusian monastery outside Brussels to the picaresque interest in the place-names encountered during the journeys of a penitent former paramour of the Devil, the devotional landscape of the pre-Reformation Netherlands and its environs was a significant component of English literary engagement with its closest Continental neighbor. Perhaps the most intricate example is from the press of Antwerp printer Jan van Doesborgh: the English text Mary of Nemmegen (1518) survives today in a unique copy in the Huntington Library. This text’s peculiar blend of the picaresque, devotional, hagiographic, and theatrical is likely a loose prose adaptation of a prosimetric Dutch rhetorician play, Mariken van Nieumeghen. Although Elckerlijc / Everyman is, of course, the best-known instance of Dutch drama translated for an English reading public, Mary of Nemmegen demonstrates a far more detailed interest in the geography of the Low Countries and its penitential relationship to Cologne and Rome.
Steven Rozenski is Assistant Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Rochester, New York. He is the co-editor, with Elisa Foster and Julia Perratore, of Devotional Interaction in Medieval England and Its Afterlives (Brill, 2018) and author of the forthcoming monograph Wisdom’s Journey: Continental Mysticism and Popular Devotion in England, 1350-1650 (University of Notre Dame Press).
Campaigning and Framing in French and Dutch. The English Court and the Continent at the Start of the Hundred Years War
Janet van der Meulen (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)
Day Two: Friday 7 January 2022
Welcome and Introduction - Ad Putter (13:30 - 13:35)
Plenary Lecture - Elisabeth van Houts, Emmanuel College, Cambridge (13:35 - 14:45)
Chair: Anna Sapir Abulafia (University of Oxford)
The Serf from Sint Truiden, His English Wife and their Bilingual Sons
Non-elite Anglo-Dutch Relations in Their Literary Context, 1000-1200
Abstract: Research on cross-maritime use of English and Dutch for the period of my concern has focused primarily on the elite exchange of linguistic skills, almost all emanating from Latin sources. For maritime communication the tendency is to assume, with Maryanne Kowaleski, that French was the lingua France of the Channel and the North Sea. Even if this is true for the later Middle Ages it is possible, as I hope to show, for my period to challenge this assumption in favour of an active non-elite Anglo-Dutch scene. At lower social strata of the population Anglo-Dutch multilingualism was a lived reality on both sides of the North Sea and Channel, even though its intensity varied from place to place. The information about non-elite multilingualism is snippety or only hints at linguistic skills. As most of the evidence is silent about the precise vernacular communication that took place, what you will hear is my reconstruction of what these blanks might conceal, and how imaginative reconstruction of the reality of multilingual communication might link up with the explicit snippets of evidence. I will draw from Latin narrative and documentary sources such as miracle stories, chronicles, charters and law from fou riverine areas: St Trond/Sint Truiden in the Meuse/Maas valley of eastern Brabant, Tiel on the Waal in Gelderland, as well as Canterbury and London on the River Thames in England. The second shorter part of my paper will contain reflections on the significance of elite Latin authors and their detail on non-elite Anglo-Dutch communication.
Elisabeth van Houts is Emeritus Honorary Professor in European Medieval History at the University of Cambridge and College Lecturer and Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Born and educated in the Netherlands, she came to Cambridge as a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Dutch Research council in 1984 and have been there ever since. She has lectured at international conferences and was Visiting professor at Paris VII ‘Diderot’ (1999) and New York University (2012).
Anna Sapir Abulafia graduated from the University of Amsterdam and pursued her career at Cambridge before taking up the Chair of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at Oxford in 2015 along with a Fellowship at LMH. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2020, she focusses upon the interaction of medieval Christianity and Judaism within the context of twelfth and thirteenth-century theological and ecclesiastical developments. Her current research looks at Canon Law through the lens of Christian-Jewish relations. Books include Christians and Jews in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance and Christian-Jewish Relations, 1000-1300. Jews in the service of medieval Christendom.
Coffee Break (14:45 - 15:15)
Session 3 - Monastic networks as conduits for literary exchange (15:15 - 17:15)
Chair: Elisabeth van Houts (Emmanuel College, Cambridge)
Channel Crossings and Transformation of 11th-century Literary Culture
Abstract: Among the most striking features of the literature of the long twelfth century is classisicm – both learned clerical classicism and the investment made by the laity in using the classical past to explore secular experience. This paper will use two well-known texts written for English queens by Flemish monks, the Encommium Emmae reginae and the Vita Ædwardi Regis, to raise questions about the place of Saint-Bertin, in Saint-Omer, in the history of classicism in the long twelfth century. Alongside these two texts, it will consider texts written at Saint-Bertin and the community’s links with other religious foundations on both sides of the Channel, to open up the contribution of Saint-Bertin to the distinctive classicism which flourished in Northern France and England in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In essence, this paper will flip the orientation of my 2017 monograph, which argued for the agency of English royal women’s literary patronage in this space, to argue for the agency of the monks of Saint-Bertin and to highlight the integral place of Flanders, alongside England and France to innovations of the eleventh century.
Elizabeth Tyler is Professor of Medieval Literature at York, where she is also co-director of the Centre for Medieval Studies. She is co-director of the Centre for Medieval Literature, a Danish Centre of Excellence, and co-founder of its journal - Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures. Her books include England in Europe: English Royal Women and Literary Patronage c. 1000-c. 1150 (Toronto, 2017) and (as co-editor) Historical Writing in Britain and Ireland, 500-1500 (CUP, 2019). She is developing a project on the writing of vernacular literature ‘Entanglements: Vernacular Literary Cultures in Latin Europe (c.350-c.1150)’and has recently published, ‘Vernacular History-Writing in the Ninth Century: An Entangled Approach’ with Prof Máire Ní Mhaonaigh (Cambridge).
People, Places and Praise: Religious Networks and Anglo-Dutch Literary Exchange in the Middle Ages
Abstract: In this paper I discuss links between Lambert of Saint-Bertin and Godfrey of Cambrai, prior of St Swithun’s, Winchester. I first look at what and how Godfrey contributed to Latin literature in England. I then highlight the fact that his contribution to links between England and the Low Countries was not confined to literature. Finally, I discuss Godfrey's verses in praise of Lambert.
Moreed Arbabzadah is a Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, a Research Associate in the Faculty of History and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics. His research interests include Medieval Latin, textual criticism, Classical epigraphy and linguistics (especially bilingualism).
Stylometry and the Oeuvre and Itinerary of Goscelin of Saint-Bertin
Abstract: Despite his cultural-historical and literary significance for the Latin eleventh century, the canon of works attributed to the itinerant hagiographer and poet Goscelin of Saint-Bertin (ca. 1025/35– d. shortly after 1107) is still subjected to much scholarly debate. In the late 1050s or early 1060s, Goscelin crossed the Channel from the Flemish abbey of Saint-Bertin to England, where he became respected and praised for his figurative and rhyming Latin prose style. After a sojourn of some twenty years at the monastic cathedral of Sherborne, he was commissioned by a number of reputed English religious houses to refurbish the oral and written narratives of their local saints. In this presentation, Jeroen De Gussem will discuss the steps he is taking toward an exhaustive, systematic and data-driven assessment of all works currently ascribed to Goscelin by applying the method of stylometry, a statistical method which comprises a set of state-of-the-art computational algorithms for analyzing stylistic patterns in literary texts. The larger aim of De Gussem's research is to arrive at a deepened understanding of Goscelin's itinerary, his network, his literary mode of operation and, ultimately, the stylistic influence he exerted on his direct contemporaries and later admirers.
Jeroen De Gussem is Doctor in History and Literary Studies and junior postdoctoral fellow at the History Department of Ghent University. He is specialized in stylometry, Latin literature and the cultural history of the High Middle Ages. He is mainly interested in authorship and attribution, intellectual networks, literary collaboration and the mobility and translatability of Latin style. Central to his work is the aim to combine divergent fields of expertise, especially the application of computer science to the study of historical literature.
Reading English Poetry at Saint-Peter's abbey in Ghent: The Mortuary Roll of Mathilde of Sainte-Trinité in Context
Abstract: Study of the exchange of literary texts between England and the Low Countries allows us to get a glimpse of the complex factors that drove the circulation of specific genres and individual texts, and the fact that these genres and texts acquired significant ‘meta-data’ along their journey. In this paper I shall look at the funerary roll of Abbess Mathilde of Sainte-Trinité in Caen (d. 6 July 1113) to suggest that this document would have been of great interest to the monks of Saint-Peter’s abbey in Ghent. This was partly because of the opportunity it provided for them to observe current trends in poetic composition across the English Channel. But the monks will also have been interested because the roll and its carrier acted as unintended conduits of information about political, socio-economic, and institutional developments in the regions they had previously visited.
Steven Vanderputten is Professor of Medieval History at Ghent University. He is the author of numerous articles, book chapters, edited volumes, and monographs on monastic history, with a particular emphasis on the period between 800 and 1200. His principal publications include Monastic Reform as Process. Realities and Representations in Medieval Flanders, 900-1100 (Cornell University Press, 2013), Dark Age Nunneries. The Ambiguous Identity of Female Monasticism, 800-1050 (Cornell University Press, 2018), Medieval Monasticisms: Forms and Experiences of the Monastic Life in the Latin West (De Gruyter/Oldenbourg, 2020), and Dismantling the Medieval: Early Modern Memories of a Female Convent’s Past (Brepols, 2021).
Day 3: Saturday 8 January 2022
Welcome and introduction - Ad Putter (13:30 - 13:35)
Plenary Lecture - Bart Besamusca, University of Utrecht (13:35 - 14:45)
Chair: Henrike Lähnemann (University of Oxford)
bokes wrytten or imprynted: Medieval Manuscripts and Early Printed Editions from the Low Countries for Use in England
Abstract: In this lecture the ways in which the book producers of the medieval Low Countries contributed to the cultural heritage of England are discussed. The first section deals with scribes and illuminators from the Low Countries who crossed the Channel to work in England. Examples include Quintin Poulet and the Horenbout family. The second section focuses on the export of manuscripts from the Low Countries to England. I pay attention to Sarum Books of Hours, and the book ownership of Edward IV and the so-called ‘Calais group’. The third section deals with the English importation of early printed books from the Low Countries. I discuss Margaret of York’s support of William Caxton, the book production of Gheraert Leeu and Jan van Doesborch, and the exportation of prohibited books to England. I stress that book producers from the Low Countries contributed to the unification of a culture that was shared by audiences at both sides of the North Sea.
Bart Besamusca is Professor of Middle Dutch Textual Culture from an International Perspective in the Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies at Utrecht University. He has published widely on medieval narrative literature, manuscripts and early printed editions. His book-length studies includes The Book of Lancelot (Cambridge 2003). He co-published the critical edition Of Reynaert the Fox (Amsterdam 2009) and co-edited The Dynamics of the Medieval Manuscript (Göttingen 2017) and Early Printed Narrative Literature in Western Europe (Berlin 2019). He is currently supervising the research project ‘The Multilingual Dynamics of the Literary Culture of Medieval Flanders, ca 1200 – ca 1500’.
Henrike Lähnemann holds the Chair in Medieval German Literature and Linguistics at the University of Oxford; her interest in North Sea crossings comes from the Hanseatic Trade and the religious links between Northern Germany, the Netherlands, England and Scotland, such as mysticism, devotion and Reformation hymns e.g. in Miles Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes and Spirituall Songes. She is currently editing the correspondence of the Benedictine nuns of Lüne (1,800 letters mid-15th to mid-16th century) and the bilingual Latin-Low German prayer books of Medingen. Her other interests are palaeography, history of the book, and digital humanities – and she always welcomes contributions for the blog historyofthebook.mml.ox.ac.uk. Twitter handle @HLaehnemann
Coffee Break (14:45 - 15:15)
Session 4 - Communities and Transformations in Anglo-Dutch Exchange (15:15 - 17:15)
Chair: Bart van Es (University of Oxford)
Crossing Borders. Literary relations between England and the Low Countries in the first quarter of the sixteenth century
Abstract: This presentation will focus on the role Jan van Doesborch had as an publisher of fiction in English. I will demonstrate that the firm of Jan van Doesborch can only be fully understood if we take the ‘whole’ of his production into account. For that matter I will briefly focus on two cases: Virgilius the sorcer and The nine drunkards. In relation to these texts I will deal with the connections he had with publishers/printers in England, and thereby with his influence on English literature.
Peter J.A. Franssen studied Dutch Language and Literature at the University of Amsterdam. In 1990, he got his PhD on the thesis ‘Tussen tekst en publiek. Jan van Doesborch, drukker-uitgever en literator te Antwerpen en Utrecht in de eerste helft van de zestiende eeuw. Amsterdam / Atlanta 1990’. Ever since, he has been writing about books published by Jan van Doesborch resulting in articles and an edition of De tovenaar Vergilius (Hilversum 2010). Currently, he is collaborating with Dr. R.J. Resoort on an edition of Die historie van Buevijne van Austoen (Antwerp, Jan van Doesborch, 1504), a rather unknown Dutch version of the medieval bestseller Beuve de Hamptone / Bevys of Hampton. It will appear in the spring of 2022.
The Dutch Church Library Project: crossing borders of all sorts
Abstract: This paper discusses the project to catalogue the library of The Dutch Church at Austin Friars, London, the first Protestant church of the Netherlands. Its library was established around the same time as the Bodleian Library. Starting in 2013, with two people working on it, the project has developed in scope as well as in head count, crossing the Atlantic and London. It now involves the London Metropolitan Archives, the University of Central Oklahoma and Lambeth Palace Library. Some interesting findings will be discussed, as well as the special challenges that the project posed. The catalogue itself may be nearly finished, the project isn’t and the opportunities for research of the collections are numerous.
Marja Kingma worked at the British Library since 2008 and became curator for Germanic studies in 2011, covering Dutch, Flemish, Frisian and Afrikaans. I have over 30 years of experience as a qualified librarian in various libraries in the Netherlands and London. My interests cover a wide spectrum within the arts and humanities, with an emphasis on the Netherlands and Belgium and in particular the relationship between the Low Countries and the UK over time.
Medieval Memes in Early Modern Anglo-Dutch Historical Writing
The Politics of Production: English, Danish and Dutch Bible Editions
Abstract: The story of early modern bible production is a Europe-wide one, marked by intertextuality, material exchange, and opportunism. This paper turns attention to the means by which different translations were presented, including supposedly merely decorative elements, the political influence of grand national bible projects, and the shared contexts within which translators and printers worked. The networks that lie beneath these cultural expressions form the thread that this talk follows. Transnationalism insists that no national border is truly closed – in fact the boundaries may be said to be constituted by the networks that cross and exceed them. Anglo-Dutch relations have been drawn wider here to include Denmark and the German Lands, who were an indispensable part of the connections between England and the Low Countries. The examples chosen of a Danish, an English and a Dutch bible edition exploited networks that stretched over Northern Europe, leaving their traces at each station along the way.
Esther van Raamsdonk is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Warwick, researching the politics of biblical translation and narrative in an Anglo-Dutch context. Her book on Milton, Marvell and the Dutch Republic argued for a transnational approach to understanding these key writers. Before joining Warwick, she worked as researcher on the Networking Archives project. She has published on Anglo-Dutch travelogues, Joost van den Vondel and John Milton, and imagology in Renaissance Studies, The Seventeenth Century, Milton Quarterly, and Renaissance and Reformation. Together with Sjoerd Levelt and Michael Rose, she edited a forthcoming volume on Anglo-Dutch relations for Routledge
Closing remarks and social (17:15 - 18:00)