Medieval Iberian Saints 2019-2022

Saints were the heroes of medieval culture, the centre of lively cults which presented them as active intercessors and examples for their fellow Christians. In this AHRC-funded project, we explore how devotion to medieval saints was constructed through the combination of liturgical, musical and material elements, in an area that has received little scholarly attention despite its rich culture: early medieval Iberia. Our study of the development and transmission of Iberian saints’ cults from the Visigothic period to the 14th century integrates hagiography, liturgical texts, chant, and material culture for the first time. This offers a new perspective on how saints were constructed by and experienced by the communities that venerated them. We will publish a series of peer-reviewed journal articles and a team-authored monograph, as well as inviting an international general public to gain a new appreciation of this unique heritage via an interactive, multilingual and multimedia exhibition (a previous version of this exhibition is available here).

We know that saints were proudly defended elsewhere in Western Europe as local patrons and community figureheads, and that veneration of saints was gendered: women were commemorated for virginity; and men were celebrated for leadership. Iberian saints, however, have not been analysed for their socio-cultural significance and integrated into wider European paradigms. This is the result of inaccessible manuscript sources, and lack of scholarly familiarity with the distinctive Old Hispanic rite. Iberian saints brings together an interdisciplinary team to address these gaps in the research agenda, and to produce the first holistic study of saints’ cults in early medieval Iberia, straddling multiple disciplinary specialisms, and engaging with how the veneration of Iberian saints shifted over the centuries, in particular during and after the 11th-century imposition of the Roman liturgy across much of Iberia.

Within this project, we are adding a significant body of Old Hispanic material to and, facilitating integration of Old Hispanic liturgical evidence into the wider European context. This data sharing will make the Old Hispanic materials widely accessible, with the (intricate and unfamiliar) liturgical structure ready parsed. We are undertaking innovative transcription work in our web-based Chant Editing and Analysis Program ( Old Hispanic notation is unpitched, which poses significant challenges to scholars engaging with the melodies. In Iberian Saints, we continue to develop analytical tools and methods that break new ground in our understanding of medieval monophonic melodic languages, available to all through our software and exemplified in our publications.

For further information about thisi project please contact the Project Administrator Laura Lanceley

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