Places of Contested Power

Professor Ryan Lavelle, whose new Places of Contested Power: Conflict and Rebellion in England and France, 830-1150 is published by Boydell & Brewer this week, reflects on the events which took place during the writing of his book.

(This blog post can also be found on Boydell’s Proofed blog)

‘We are often told that works of history have as much to reveal about historians’ own times as about the past.’ OK, maybe this was written while under the influence of a little too much undergraduate historiography teaching and there’s a little pomposity in there but my prefatory notes in Places of Contested Power provide some sort of reflection of the last decade in which – on and off – this book has moved from an inkling of ideas to something that is as tangPlaces of Contested Powerible as a monograph.

Soon after I began to jot out the plans of chapters (later much modified, as it turned out), protests in Tunisia developed into the government-shaking and soon government-toppling events of the Arab Spring. As a distant observer I realised that there was something in notions of the power of place, of where those deprived of power make that point known. As I stretched my field of view, however imperfectly, from my usual Anglo-centric perspective to consider parallels and comparisons with early medieval France in the shape of cross-Channel (trans-Manche) societies, the impact of twenty-first-century unrest and violence became apparent in 2016, when the popular vote to leave the European Union was played out in Britain, with particular vehemence in England and Wales. The impact of protest and subsequent war in the Middle East, with resultant refugee crises had found its way to the Home Counties, and my European-centred universe was turned upside down.

When I had submitted the final manuscript for the book to Boydell last year, I had expected its publication to be an occasion to prompt my own thoughts on Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe, perhaps protesting that there is still room for trans-Manche scholarship, but ground has a tendency to shift in new unexpected ways. Those of us who thought that 2020 would be marked by the momentousness of Britain’s departure from the EU have been put into place by what are proving to be the bigger issues of world-wide pandemic and, more relevant to the topic of my own book, world-wide protests against racial injustice, triggered by the killing of George Floyd on 25 May. Now, at the point when my book is due to be published, the power of contested place becomes apparent to me in yet another way… one that I hadn’t expected but in which – as a privileged white man writing about the early and central middle ages as he enters his own early and central middle ages – I really should have. I can’t pretend that Places of Contested Power is about radical social change. Indeed discussion in the book focuses on the oppositional acts of elite aristocrats and rebel royals rather than rebellion from below, by those who produced the surplus wealth which maintained the social elites’ positions. But while the lack of evidence of popular revolt is a problem (there is very little evidence for this prior to the eleventh century), I’m struck by the ways in which power, when concentrated in the hands of a few, led to those who were denied a share in power using the language of legitimacy in order to contest not the legitimacy of power itself but in order to ensure that their voices were heard and to heighten their own position. Sometimes they were successful. Sometimes not. But the process of looking at the places which were chosen in these contests helps bring us closer to the real motivations and fears of those otherwise dismissed by those who attempt to control official narratives, in terms of ‘madness’ and illegitimacy.

Not had enough yet? Ryan talks about the book on Boydell’s Youtube channel…

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Soldiers in Medieval England

In this blog one of our Associate Lecturers Dr Tom Wex gives us an insight into some of his doctoral research on the English Soldier in the Fifteenth Century.

Around 1452, Agnes Nevyll of London petitioned in the Court of Chancery against her imprisonment. The exact duration of her imprisonment is unknown, but she had been incarcerated as a result of an action of detinue brought against her by Thomas Walker, a soldier who had returned to England by early 1450, following the loss of English Normandy. Thomas claimed that Agnes had misappropriated a quantity of silver dishes and cloth that he had left with her for safekeeping. Agnes’s plea, however, implies that Thomas was himself a thief who had taken advantage of the unrest in London caused by the rebellion of Jack Cade in (May/June) 1450. She claimed that Thomas had stolen the goods from the house of Philip Malpas – an unpopular London alderman – when it had been targeted by the rebels. Moreover, she had only accepted said items as he had forced them on her, and she had feared for her life. Rather than having misappropriated them, they had then subsequently been taken from her by further ‘misruled people’. The truth of the matter remains a mystery for no other relating records survive.

It was not unusual for soldiers to leave valuable possessions with others while they were deployed overseas. A sizable community of soldiers and their families had developed in London and its hinterlands through the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Indeed, Agnes’s own husband was a soldier, still in the king’s service – perhaps in Calais or Gascony – and it certainly possible that he and Thomas knew each other. Yet, despite the inherent risks in bringing legal proceedings against Agnes, that Thomas was a thief should not simply be dismissed – familiarity and trust might well have been reasons he sought her out if he was actively involved in the rebellion. That he is not found listed among those who took advantage of a free pardon offering immunity from future royal action in the wake of the rebellion casts some doubt on the extent of his involvement. In fact, most of the surviving administrative and chronicle sources suggest that most of the soldiery within the city stood against the rebels, this despite the crown’s long-standing inability to fully finance their wages which had left a great many of them impoverished.

This loyalty to Henry VI was not rewarded – there was no medieval welfare system – and numerous demobilised soldiers were certainly reliant on criminality to sustain themselves. Yet these men were not simply violent thugs who could not abandon the more illicit commonalties of war once home. Analysis of all the records generated by the Court of King’s Bench on a nationwide scale between 1442 and 1456, demonstrates that men identified in the records as ‘soldiers’ figure less prominently than the majority of other occupational groups – even churchmen – as the perpetrators of crime, and that the preponderance of the offences of which they were accused were non-violent thefts and robberies. Over this fifteen-year period, men described as soldiers were implicated in only eight murders, ten violent assaults, and ten violent thefts/robberies. Further violent crimes undoubtedly went unrecorded, but this is true across all sections of society and occupational groups. Such violent crimes were viewed with abhorrence in medieval society. However, a sense of necessity in many of the non-violent crimes perpetrated by soldiers is a sentiment not lost in the sympathetic attitudes found in contemporary chronicles, newsletters, ballads, military tracts and other literature regarding the circumstances in which these men were forced to return at the end of the Hundred Years War, and subsequently abandoned by the government for which they had fought.

Dr Tom Wex

Top Image – Court of Chancery c. 1460

Second Image – British Library, Royal 20, C VII (c. 1380-1420).

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Southern History Society Conference 2020: Sport and Leisure in Southern England, c.1500-1990

Image result for nineteenth-century sport

Saturday 8th February University of Winchester: St Alphege 301 (rescheduled from November)

9.45am: Welcome and tea/coffee

10.15am: Steven Cock, ‘Against the Odds? Examining the Emergence of Early Swimming Contests, c.1590s-1830s’, York St John University

10.45: Geoff Swallow, ‘’The West of England circuit of annual swimming matches,1863-1913′, Manchester Metropolitan University

11.15am: Paul Wheeler, ‘”An Ideal Golfing Holiday” – Bournemouth Golf Week 1936-1939’, University of Chichester

11.45am: Tea/coffee

12pm: Tomasz Gromelski, ‘The Dangers of the Hunt in Tudor Southern England’, Wolfson College, Oxford

12.30pm: Amanda Richardson, ‘Deer Parks in Early Modern Southern England’, University of Chichester

1pm: Lunch

1.45pm: Ian Denness, ‘Sporting Culture in Nineteenth-Century Winchester’, University of Winchester

2:15pm: Margaret Houlbrooke, ‘’Back on Track: Sports between the Wars at the University of Reading, 1919-1939′, University of Reading

2.45pm: Tea/coffee

3.15pm: Keynote Lecture – Martin Polley, ‘The Cotswold Olimpicks: A Long History of a Small Event’, De Montfort University

4.15pm: Closing Remarks

Conference fee: £20: including tea/coffee and buffet lunch

If paying by cheque, this should be made payable to the ‘Southern History Society’ (for other forms of payment, please contact the organiser below).

To book a place, please email Simon Sandall ( by Monday 3rd February.

This is a co-badged event with the Wessex Centre for History & Archaeology.

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Graduate Project Lead vacancies: important opportunites for University of Winchester graduates

This year, the University of Winchester are delighted to launch our Graduate Project Leader scheme which offers 20 positions across our departments and faculties to lead on live projects within the University community.
These projects are aimed at our undergraduate graduates of 2018 who are keen to gain additional experience following study at Winchester to enhance their portfolios and skills. This scheme will see successful applicants working in a team at Winchester on a project and be part of a cohort of 20 graduates who will receive training, advice and skills development sessions throughout their two months employment.
The Graduate Project Lead vacancies are now live which consist of twenty two month posts across our services and Faculties offering graduates of 2018 the opportunity to gain a workplace project leadership experience.
These posts are all now open until 18th June 2019 and all positions are live on the University website so please share the link and highlight any specific roles below (link here )
List of roles:
1. Graduate Project Leader (Education Studies Community)
The BA (Hon) Education Studies is a large and complex programme (250+ students) – with two specialised pathways and five subject combinations with other departments. It is important to the nature and traditions of the programme to keep stimulating community development within the student cohort, across awards, levels, and even post-graduation. The timing of this internship coincides with the start of the academic year, which is an ideal time to set the tone for the Education Studies community, and create that sense of belonging.
2. Graduate Project Leader (Development of Work-Placement Infrastructure)
Working closely with the Faculty Work Placement Lead and a Department Administrator in the Business School, the Graduate Project Lead will create and set up systems and processes to build a Faculty work-placement infrastructure with a focus on the promotion and engagement of students with work placement opportunities.   The project will include taking responsibility for the setting up and co-ordination of this year’s Faculty Awards Ceremony which is a key event for the Faculty which brings together employers, staff, students, their families and friends to celebrate their success.
3. Graduate Project Leader (Staff access to Student Records System)
ITS and Registry need to overhaul security access to SITS (Student Record system) to take advantage of the new features provided by our software supplier and to comply with GDPR.
The project will require examination of staff roles to inform the decision on how access will be managed for the Student Record System.  The successful applicant will also explore the options available within the software to ascertain what SITS is able to provide at different levels of access and work with the team to model how this might work within the University.  This would include defining roles within the system and matching these to the requirements of roles within the University, grouping together roles with similar access requirements. 
Findings should be presented as a written report. This would be through consultation with users and guidance from ITS and Registry. Successful completion of this process should lead to a review of the ‘request for SITS access’ form.
4. Graduate Project Leader (Theatre Director – Keats Bicentenary Show)
Two hundred years ago – in autumn 1819 – the romantic poet John Keats visited Winchester to stay for a few months. During his stay in Winchester, he would write his most famous poem, ‘To Autumn’. As part of the Keats anniversary celebrations being coordinated by Winchester City Council, and featuring in Visit Winchester’s tourist guide for 2019, the University of Winchester is working in cooperation with the Hampshire Writers’ Society and Blue Apple Theatre, to present a special show at the Theatre Royal Winchester on 7 October to celebrate the bicentenary of Keats’s fruitful sojourn in our city. The show will be called ‘Two Hundred Yeats of Autumn’ and will include readings, drama, music, film and dance, including new work produced by one of the trustees of the Keats Foundation. We are seeking a director for this show, with experience in theatre performance and direction, who will be responsible for artistic management, stage direction and organisational liaison for this theatrical production and any associated recordings.
5. Graduate Project Leader (Theatre Producer – Keats Bicentenary Show)
Two hundred years ago – in autumn 1819 – the romantic poet John Keats visited Winchester to stay for a few months. During his stay in Winchester, he would write his most famous poem, ‘To Autumn’. As part of the Keats anniversary celebrations being coordinated by Winchester City Council, and featuring in Visit Winchester’s tourist guide for 2019, the University of Winchester is working in cooperation with the Hampshire Writers’ Society and Blue Apple Theatre, to present a special show at the Theatre Royal Winchester on 7 October to celebrate the bicentenary of Keats’s fruitful sojourn in our city. The show will be called ‘Two Hundred Yeats of Autumn’ and will include readings, drama, music, film and dance, including new work produced by one of the trustees of the Keats Foundation. We are seeking an individual who will act as producer & production manager for this show, with experience in theatre production, who will be responsible for the logistical organisation and liaison, stage production and stage management, resource/budget management and promotion of this show and any associated recordings.
6. Graduate Project Leader (Producer – Arts Promotional Films)
The Faculty of Arts at the University of Winchester is planning to make a series of short films promoting the Faculty’s cultural partnerships, provision and events. The successful individual would produce a series of short promotional films promoting subject areas within the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty’s cultural opportunities, partnerships and public engagements, intended for use at open days and other events and online. We are seeking a producer for these films, an individual with strong experience of short film production and direction, with good knowledge of pre-production, production and post-production techniques, including planning, budgeting, camera operation, sound, lighting, editing and organisational management, communication & external liaison skills.
7. Graduate Project Leader (Director – Arts Promotional Films)
The Faculty of Arts at the University of Winchester is planning to make a series of short films promoting the Faculty’s cultural partnerships, provision and events. The successful individual would direct a series of short promotional films promoting subject areas within the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty’s cultural opportunities, partnerships and public engagements, intended for use at open days and other events and online. We are seeking a director for these films, an individual with strong experience of short film production and direction, with good knowledge of pre-production, production and post-production techniques, including planning, direction, camera operation, sound, lighting, cinematography, editing, interviewing, communication and external liaison skills.
8. Graduate Project Leader (Developing Strategy for a Better World)
This is an exciting time to join the Research and Knowledge Exchange (RKE) team, as the University develops its ambitious new ten year strategy. Strategies play an essential role in framing and shaping a University’s place in the world, also embodying its vision of where it wants to be. Research and knowledge exchange are essential components of the university’s mission and vision, and the RKE Centre will soon be embarking on developing its new strategy. The successful candidate will be playing a crucial role in shaping this, gathering evidence to inform its direction.
The role holder will lead a project to explore staff perceptions of how their RKE work relates (or not) to the concepts of sustainability and social justice, founded on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. They will have the opportunity to gain mentoring from a professor and work as part of a small, friendly team of administrators, to lead a research project which gathers data through a combination of an online survey, discussions with academics and professional staff in focus groups and desk-based analysis of existing data sets.
The outcome of the project will be a report with recommendations for how the RKE team can take forward a meaningful, bold vision for its new RKE strategy to ensure that staff and students’ work in these areas makes a difference in the world.
9. Graduate Project Leader (Reduction in Use of Single Plastics)
In connection with the University’s pledge to reduce its use of single use plastics:
  • Create and perform a range of stakeholder engagement programmes for students, staff, Senior Management Team and external bodies in connection with the mapping of the use of single use plastics at the University.
  • Engagement programme would include, but not be limited to, discussion groups, workshops and drop-in sessions.  Prepare and produce the necessary advertising and programme materials necessary for the engagement activities.
  • Working with the University of Winchester Business School, devise and launch a competition for students to come up with an idea to support the reduction in use of single use plastics that would be implemented by the University, including objectives, criteria for judging and prizes.
  • Provide analysis, feedback and recommendations from the engagement programmes orally and in writing to be presented to the various Single Use Plastic Groups and key stakeholders.
10. Graduate Project Leader (Climate 4 Change 2020)
Following a successful performance of four short plays about Climate Change at Winchester Theatre Royal in 2019, the Faculty of Arts is planning to stage another Climate Change theatre show ‘Climate 4 Change 2020’. This time we will use external participants to inform the content, and the Graduate Project Leader will run a number of practical workshop sessions at local schools and businesses to get pupils and staff thinking about their views on Climate Change and the environment in a creative way, coming up with settings, characters, and stories. After these workshops, the Graduate Project Leader will liaise with student writers from the Creative Writing programmes and between them will form ideas for a series of short plays. The students will then write these, and they will be performed by Performing Arts students at Winchester Theatre Royal in Spring 2020, with participating schools and businesses invited to attend. The Graduate Project Leader will be involved with the pre-production process in an advisory role as appropriate from discussions with the staff lead, depending on previous experience.
11. Graduate Project Leader (UWIN Aspire Creative Communities)
UWIN Aspire is the University of Winchester’s programme of access and outreach activity for partner schools in and around North Hampshire. The programme aims to raise aspirations towards and knowledge of higher education for students from under-represented backgrounds. All of our activity is impartial and focuses on breaking down barriers to higher education.
Creative Communities is a pilot initiative that aims to meet an identified need for creative digital skills in our local communities and will inform future strategic decision in our widening access and participation activity, , in line with commitments made within the University’s Access and Participation Plan.
The Project Lead would be given a flexible remit to develop innovative ideas for activity that engage young people and key stakeholders within their local community including schools staff, parents and local charities. Initially, the project would involve engaging academics and professionals with expertise in creative digital technologies in designing a programme of activity. The Project Lead would be required to develop a marketing and communications strategy for the project and ensure the project is delivered within the timescales and budget. Lastly, they would work closely with the Evaluation and Research Officer to develop mechanisms for robust evaluation and monitoring of the initiative, providing a final report to the Director of Widening Participation, with potential for wider dissemination as a case study across the Southern Universities Network (SUN).
Key responsibilities would include:
·         Develop and deliver a pilot programme focused on creative and digital skills within the local community for two secondary schools
·         Manage the project budget
·         Develop and implement a marketing and communications strategy to promote the project
·         Evaluate and report on the project outcomes
·         Lead ambassadors in the delivery of activity
12. Graduate Project Leader – (Student Experience Research Project)
This project would focus on a number of key areas all of which would help inform the Recruitment, conversion and Retention agenda. The aim would be to carry out market research into a number of key areas including:
·         A decline and acceptance survey – why did students accept an offer from Winchester and why did students decline an offer
·         Marketing materials – what works for our students and what doesn’t work for our students and why
·         Transition Workshops with First Year students – what do students need to help them transition from school/college into HE
·         Schools and Colleges data – Working with the team to look data from various sources e.g. DataHE, Datafiltr and Tableau to identify where our students from and where we might seek out new leads
·         Student Experience: Welcome Week and Arrivals weekend first impressions. To work with the Arrivals and Welcome Week team in gathering this information, analysing feedback and identifying change
13. Graduate Project Leader (Review of Faculty Research Ethics Processes)
The aim of this internship is to complete a small-scale project which will identify and report on the ethics scrutiny and approval processes currently in use in each Faculty. With support from the Chair of the Ethics Committee, the intern will design a small-scale project to:
·         identify the key people involved in the Faculty processes and the main areas of activity,
·         gather process data from those with appropriate oversight,
·         map each Faculty’s approach (primarily for staff projects but also identifying if dissertation level research is scrutinised and how) – considering strengths /weaknesses and development needs,
·         present this information in a report, drawing conclusions for future action.
14. Graduate Project Leader (Launch of the Alumni Ambassador Scheme)
Supporting the institutional priorities of student recruitment as well as graduate employability are central to the current work of the alumni team. The Alumni Ambassadors Scheme is a key project in advancing this agenda through channelling alumni pride in their institution into volunteer roles with the purpose of recruiting prospective students to the University of Winchester. Empowering our alumni to act as informed, engaged ambassadors will bring additional, valuable resource to the Winchester student recruitment effort around the world. The Alumni Ambassadors Scheme is in its foundation stages and therefore this Graduate Project Leader would be responsible for officially launching the scheme.
15. Graduate Project Leader (The Effect of Caffeine on Workload Stress)
The study is investigating the effects of caffeine and a workload stressor on a range of cognitive functions (e.g., attention, memory and problem solving). We are hoping the study will contribute to our understanding of the synergistic effects of experiencing work-related stress and caffeine consumption on cognitive functioning. The Graduate Project Leader will be responsible for recruiting participants to the study, data collection and data entry.
16. Graduate Project Leader (Community Stakeholder Project)
The project lead will be responsible for the development of a local stakeholder group for the new Faculty of Health and Wellbeing (HWB).  This project will build on the initial work on stakeholders and communication planning that is taking place in the set up of the new Faculty.
The project manager will explore the recommendations of the Civic Universities Agreement and how to apply them to further build on relationships between the programmes in HWB and the local community.  The project will also include reflecting on how to apply the university wide community impact strategy at a faculty level.
The output of this project will be a report making recommendations and plans for the implementation of the four point recommendations from the Civic Universities Agreement (CUA) in relation to the local external stakeholders of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing.
17. Graduate Project Leader (Statutory Reporting)
The project will involve working with the Finance and Planning team, with the production of year end accounts.  This will entail analysing year end financial data for presentation in the financial statements and preparing the supporting schedule for audit.
Individual tasks will include
·         Data Analysis and Presentation
·         Production of audit schedules
·         Transactional Investigations
·         Carry out initial draft of financial narrative including explanations and potential recommendations if appropriate
18. Graduate Project Leader (Student Engagement)
The project aim is to gather information about the relationship between academic resilience self-efficacy and student engagement. The project is designed to span the duration of the academic year and collect data at several phases. The graduate lead will be involved in the initial implementation and the first wave of data collection and analysis. The following duties and responsibilities are expected:
1)      Conduct a review of relevant literature and prepare a written summary (1500 words)
2)      Creation of the survey using Qualtrics software
3)      Recruitment of participants
4)      Analysis of the first wave of data
5)      Write up of the initial findings, including recommendations for potential initiatives to support the development of academic resilience and resilient learning behaviours.
6)      Disseminate the project goals and findings, for example at an internal workshop (e.g. Learning Lunch).
19. Graduate Project Leader (Exploring Diversity within Resource Lists)
As the Library’s Graduate Project Leader you will be working on a unique project assessing the diversity of reading materials within Talis Aspire Resource Lists at the University of Winchester. 
Across the university sector there is a risk that resource lists largely consist of works by white, male authors, severely limiting the perspectives and interpretations that would otherwise be available to students from a diverse range of authors.  This lack of representation of marginalised groups in reading lists can negatively impact the student experience of our diverse student body, potentially leaving many disenfranchised and unable to identify with their reading.
As the graduate leader for this project, your responsibilities will be as follows:
  • To perform a literature review of any available literature on the diversity of authors in academic reading lists.
  • To analyse the diversity of authors in a sample of University of Winchester resource lists.
  • To assess whether there is a lack of diversity within resource lists at the University of Winchester and how this can be addressed.
  • To present a written report to module leaders and present an oral presentation to subject librarians.
As the Graduate Project Leader for the Library, you will lead this project with the guidance of your mentor and other library staff.  In this role you will also have the opportunity to work alongside library staff and observe the inner workings of an academic library.
20. Graduate Project Leader (Content Creator)
·         The primary responsibility would be to identify and create both informational content and materials to support specific aspects of practical ‘hands on’ learning and teaching.
·         The intern would run a project definition workshop (PDW) and create a project plan for the internship. Guidance will be provided to enable this and refine the goals and objectives; identify resources and start creating content,
·         As content creator for the Psychology Department this might include production of; instructional videos, infographics, checklists or other written materials. The project definition phase would inform further the specifics
·         Additionally, the intern might intersperse creation of assets with technician directed tasks required to prepare for teaching in the coming academic year. These tasks are essential for delivering an exceptional experience (particularly for practical workshops) during the academic term.


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Winchester Medieval Studies at the Leeds International Medieval Congress

The History, English, and Theology, Religion and Philosophy Departments have a full programme this year at the Leeds International Medieval Congress in July 2019, with eleven medievalists speaking in multiple sessions, plus two more moderating and attending. The Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research also takes centre stage, sponsoring two sessions at Leeds in its first year as a research centre.

Here are your Winchester medievalists’ research activities at Leeds, in order of session schedule:

Monday, 1 July, 1115-1245

Dr Rob Houghton of the History Department is very busy this year at Leeds, and he hits the ground running in the first sessions of the conference starting a strand on ‘Games for Teaching, Impact and Research,’ sponsored by The Public Medievalist where Rob is an editor This first session features papers from James Neel (Arizona State University), David DeVine (Arizona State University) and Antonio César Moreno Cantano (Universidad Complutense de Madrid).

In the same session slot, recent History MA graduate Emer. Prof. Tom Watson will be presenting his Master’s research in a paper titled ‘An Examination of the Factors that Prolonged the Cults of Anglo-Saxon Saints to the 16th Century’ in session 138 alongside Agon         Rrezja (Institute of National History, Skopje) and Anna Gusakova (Lomonosov Moscow State University).

Also in the same scheduled time, Dr Katherine Weikert of the History Department will be participating in a Round Table session 140, organised and moderated by Daniel Brown (Köln) titled ‘The Materialities of Medieval Studies.’ The panel will include Dr Mateusz Fafinski (Freie Universität Berlin), Dr James Michael Harland (Eberhard-Karls-Universität-Tübingen) Dr Dolores Jørgensen (Universitetet I Stavanger), and Johannes Waldschütz (Stadtmuseum und Archiv, Stockach).

Monday, 1 July, 1415-1545

Dr Rob Houghton continues his organised strand on ‘Games for Teaching, Impact and Research’ in session 246 with Winchester History’s Dr Matthew Bennett presenting a paper titled ‘Recreating Conquests: 1016 and 1066 as Decision-Making Games.’ This session will also include papers from Prof. Owen Gottlieb (Rochester Institute of Technology, New York) and Dr Juan Hiriart (Salford), and is moderated by Dr Katherine J. Lewis (Huddersfield).

In the same session slot, Dr Katherine Weikert is this time presenting a research paper in Session 236, titled ‘Reconstituting the Middle Ages: Using Medieval Sources to Recover the Material Past II – Working with Inventories,’ organised by Dr Laura Cleaver (Trinity College Dublin) and Prof. Kate Gerry (Bowdoin College, Brunswick.) Katherine’s paper is titled ‘Things Forgotten: The Inventories of the Liber Eliensis.’ This session includes papers from Dr Judith Collard (University of Otago, New Zealand) and Prof. Marian Bleeke (Cleveland State University, Ohio).

Monday, 1 July, 1630-1800

Dr Rob Houghton’s ‘Games for Teaching, Impact and Research’ continues, with Rob presenting a research paper in this session titled ‘Beyond Education and Impact: Games as Research Tools and Outputs.’ This session includes papers from Dr Mariana Lopez (York) and Dr Laura Harrison (Edinburgh), with moderator Dr Victoria Cooper (Leeds).

Dr Katherine Weikert has organised, and will be a respondent to, a panel titled ‘Object, Memory, History’, focusing on the research ideas of her 2018-19 University Early Career Research Fellowship project. This session, 331, is also sponsored by the University’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research. Prof. Bjorn Weiler (Aberystwyth) will chair papers from Dr Karl Kinsella (Oxford), Dr Jonathan Turnock (Durham), and Prof. Laura Gathagan (State University of New York Cortland).

Monday, 1 July, 1900-2000

Dr Katherine Weikert ends her Monday sessions in a Round Table, session 429, organised by Dr Martyn Lawrence of the Royal Armouries, Leeds, titled ‘Repositories of Ingenious Inventions: How can Academics, Curators and Archivists Work Together More Effectively?’ This Round Table includes Prof. Oliver Creighton (Exeter), Prof. Kelly DeVries (Loyola University Maryland), Dr Paul Dryburgh (The National Archives), Dr Sophie Harwood (Humboldt-Universität Berlin), and Malcolm Mercer (Royal Armouries Leeds).

Katherine is chairing two further panels throughout the conference on ‘Living in a Material World: Materiality and Monasticism‘, Session 632, Tuesday 1115-1245, and ‘Inside and Outside the European Castle’, Session 1305 on Wednesday, 3 July, 1630-1800.

Tuesday, 2 July, 0900-1030

Dr Carey Fleiner of the History Department will be speaking in Session 512, exploring her Carolingian roots (or slumming it with the medievalists, she says as a Classicist) in ‘Using and Not Using the Past in the Transformation of the Carolingian World I: Negotiating Carolingian Identities, c. 800-900,’ organised by Dr Alice Hicklin (Freie Universität Berlin) and moderated by Dr Charles West (Sheffield). Carey’s paper is based in her research for a book under contract with Liverpool University Press, and is titled ‘Humour in the Work of Ermoldus Nigellus: A 9th-Century Carolingian Poet.’ Carey will be speaking alongside Dr Cinzia Grifoni (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien), Prof. Eric J. Goldberg (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Prof. Maximilian Diesenberger (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien).

1. The Beans contemplates Seneca as a crucial part of Dr Carey Fleiner’s research process.

Dr Rob Houghton of History continues his busy, busy Leeds, organising a second strand called ‘Playing the Middle Ages’ featuring throughout Tuesday. These sessions are also sponsored by The Public Medievalist. Rob will be chairing this session, 546, which includes a paper from Winchester History PhD student John Hopley titled ‘Historical Culture and National Identity within Assassin’s Creed.’ Further research papers will be from Dr Victoria Cooper (Leeds) and Laura Castro Royo (St Andrews).

2. Dr Rob Houghton speaking at The Interactive Pasts Conference in 2018.

Tuesday, 2 July, 1115-1245

Dr Gordon McKelvie of the History Department will be speaking in Session 606 as a part of the History of Parliament Trust celebration of the completion of its volume covering 1422 to 1461. This session, ‘The Late Medieval English Parliament II,’ is organised by Dr Hannes Kleineke (History of Parliament Trust, London) and moderated by Dr Linda S. Clarke (History of Parliament Trust, London.) Gordon will be speaking alongside Dr Sean Cunningham (The National Archives) and Dr Simon Payling (History of Parliament Trust, London).

Gordon is also chairing two additional sessions throughout the conference, in ‘England and Scotland at Peace and at War in the Later Middle Ages II’, Session 207, Monday, 1 July, 1415-1545, and ‘New Approaches to Medieval Anglo-Jewry I: The Governmental Sources’, Session 1018, Wednesday, 3 July, 0900-1030.

Dr Rob Houghton’s strand ‘Playing the Middle Ages’ continues with Session 646, with papers from I. Medel, E. Pillet and S. McPhaul, moderated by Dr Simon Trafford.

Tuesday, 2 July, 1630-1800

Dr Cindy Wood of the History Department has organised Session 842, ‘Medieval Masons,’ which will also see her speaking on her ongoing research on Winchester Cathedral with a paper titled, ‘William Vertue, Master Mason, and His Self-Portraits in Stone.’ This session also features Dr Lucy Wrapson (Cambridge) and Dr Jenny Alexander (Warwick), and will be moderated by Winchester History’s Dr James Ross. This session is sponsored by the University’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research.

3. Dr Cindy Wood presents her research at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2018.

Dr Rob Houghton’s strand ‘Playing the Middle Ages’ continues with Session 746, with papers from M. Mindrebø, A. Bierstedt and J.M. Rubio, moderated by James Hill.

Tuesday, 2 July, 1900-2000

Dr Rob Houghton’s strand on ‘Playing the Middle Ages’ closes with this round table featuring Dr Victoria Cooper (Leeds), Dr Katherine J. Lewis (Huddersfield), Dr Simon Trafford (London), and Rob himself.

Wednesday, 3 July, 1415-1545

In this session, Dr Eric Lacey of the English Department is presenting a paper on the natural world and sensory perception in early medieval society, focusing around his research on birds.

4. Dr Eric Lacey speaking at the Early Medieval Power and Faith Symposium in 2018.

Wednesday, 3 July, 1900-2000

Dr Rob Houghton will close out his busy Leeds in this ‘lightening-round’ Round Table on ‘Brevia on Bishops and the Secular Clergy in the Middle Ages, organised by Dr Evan Gatti (Elon University, North Carolina) and sponsored by EPISCOPUS: The Society for the Study of Bishops and Secular Clergy in the Middle Ages. Rob will be speaking alongside Aneilya Barnes (Coastal Carolina University), Jae-keong Chang (Edinburgh), Sigrid Danielson (Grand Valley State University, Michigan), Paweł Figurski (Uniwersytet Warszawski) and Pippa Salonius (Monash University, Victoria).

Thursday, 4 July, 1115-1245

Gabrielle Storey of History will be speaking in Session 1631, ‘The Plantagenets: Sibling Affection, Rivalry, and Dynastic Self-Interest in the Later Middle Ages,’ organised by Dr Adrian Jobson and moderated by Prof. Louise Wilkinson, both of Canterbury Christchurch University. Gabrielle’s paper is titled ‘A Mother’s Role: Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Rebellions of 1173 and 1183,’ based in her current PhD research. The session’s two further papers are from Dr Jobson and Dr Paul Dryburgh (The National Archives.)

Thursday, 4 July, 1415-1545

Dr Toni Griffiths of History and TRP features in Session 1721, ‘New Approaches to Medieval Anglo-Jewry III: Remembering the Jews of Medieval England,’ organised by Dean Irwin and moderated by Prof. Louise Wilkinson, both of Canterbury Christchurch University. Toni will present a paper titled ‘Bristol’s Medieval Jews and 33 Jacobs Well Road: The Jewish Equivalent to ‘Tutankhamen’s Tomb’ or Simply an Abandoned Bet Tohorah?’ The overall session sees Toni speaking alongside Prof. Anthony Bale (Birkbeck, University of London), and Esther Robinson-Wild (York).

Although not speaking this year, Prof. Emeritus Michael Hicks will be out and around at Leeds as well, enjoying the papers and the conference.

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In Our Time on Radio 4 – Dr James Ross on Queen Margaret of Anjou

In Our Time on Radio 4 – Dr James Ross on Queen Margaret of Anjou

When I was approached to be one of the guests on Radio 4’s In Our Time to discuss Queen Margaret of Anjou (1430-82) in May this year, it wasn’t a hard decision to say yes. Margaret is a fascinating character who deserves serious discussion, but I am also keen that the period of history I study (the fifteenth century generally but particularly the Wars of the Roses) gets greater attention and that the fruits of academic research are available to the general public, both of which the programme aimed to do. Nonetheless, I did have two worries. Firstly, discussing Margaret as a person, investigating queenship during the Wars of the Roses and placing her within the context of the fiendishly complicated politics of the 1450s and 1460s so that the non-specialist could follow – all in 40 minutes – was always going to be tricky. Secondly, the broadcast was live, and the audience was in the millions…
Fortunately, the BBC staff worked hard to reassure the guests (Dr Katherine Lewis at Huddersfield, Dr Joana Laynesmith at Reading and myself), and, as they said it would, once you are in the little studio and underway, it felt less like a national broadcast and more like a friendly four way chat between the guests and the host, Melvyn Bragg, who brings his own authority and presence to the debate. We discussed the role of a queen in the fifteenth century, how Margaret came to be queen of England, and how her role changed when her husband, King Henry VI, collapsed, probably never to recover fully, how far she became the leader of the Lancastrian party, and how she tried to keep her husband on his throne, ensure the succession of her son, and the continuation of her own role as queen – and why she ultimately failed in these aims.
Once the live broadcast was over, there was a more relaxed discussion that was also recorded and contains some interesting debate. We all felt we had contributed something to the discussion overall from different perspectives, without committing major errors (or accidentally swearing on live radio!). See for yourself how successful (or not) we were in conveying what was expected of Margaret as a queen, how she performed that role and recast it, and the extreme difficulty of her position during the Wars of the Roses – the official podcast is here:

Dr. James Ross, Reader in Late Medieval History, University of Winchester

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Outlaw King: Some Interesting Choices

Although I am not the biggest movie buff in the world, a sense of professional obligation led me to watch the recently released Netflix original ‘Outlaw King’. A film relating to Robert the Bruce, Anglo-Scottish warfare and late medieval views of war covers many of the topics that I get to teach at Winchester (e.g. the First English Empire to second year students, which is just about to get to Edward I, and a comparative study Chivalry which I teach to third year students). Outlaw King is by no means not be the best film ever made (though much better than its 1995 equivalent Braveheart) it did nevertheless throw up a few curiosities, which dovetail nicely with some lectures I am currently preparing. By this I’m not talking about some of the films inaccuracies (Edward II was never at the battle of Loudoun Hill for instance) but a few general perceptions of the period and those involved.

The most impressive thing about Bruce is that his propaganda definitely lives on, particularly the murder of John Comyn, an act that was almost certainly premeditated. Surviving Scottish chronicles for the murder were all written several decades later with the benefit of knowing Bruce’s eventual victory, but even these written in the Scotland of Bruce’s descendants were all, to varying extents, uneasy about the killing. Indeed, there are so many narratives from both England and Scotland for this murder that we will never know the intricacies of what happened at Greyfriars in Dumfries. This gave the filmmakers a great deal of discretion in how they portrayed the event. It is therefore interesting that the version they presented – Comyn treacherously threatening to inform Edward I of Bruce’s desires to usurp and Bruce stabbing him in a fit of rage – is very much a Bruce version of events. Indeed, the film is very good at portraying Bruce as a patriot looking to help his kingdom; not the head of a noble house with royal ancestry staking a claim to the throne, which is what Bruce’s actions must have looked like to contemporaries given his propensity to switch side in the decade or so before his Road to Damascus moment.

Edward II’s is also interesting, especially compared with the portrayal of him in Braveheart where he was portrayed as weak, somewhat effeminate, with many subtle hints about his sexuality that have not aged well over the past 23 years. The Edward II presented here is still unsure of himself but much more assertive and ill-tempered with no reference made to the king’s sexuality. Indeed, Edward II’s sexuality has been the source of speculation since his life. Again, whether Edward II was homosexual, bisexual or simply heterosexual but accused of homosexual desires simply as a way of further smearing his name (which is only found in chronicles in the three years following his death and then not again until the sixteenth century) is, once again, something unknowable and therefore gave the filmmakers some choices. They choose to avoid any comments on Edward II’s sexuality, giving the somewhat accurate portrayal of a bad-tempered, somewhat dislikeable individual, which certainly rings true of a man who twenty years later was deposed in a rebellion, in part headed by his estranged wife.

Another effective aspect of the film is the manner in which it conveys the very small-scale nature of much medieval warfare: the film’s climatic battle at Loudoun Hill was a small-scale affair and it was a brave decision to end here as opposed to leaping seven years forward to the more famous, and larger, battle of Bannockburn. Medieval warfare was rarely about such set piece battles and Bruce’s objective of winning small skirmishes, burning castles and waging a guerrilla war come across effectively. Similarly, the brutal punishment meted out to traitors is presented in all its gore in this film, particularly the rather horrific (if historically inaccurate) killing of Robert’s younger brother Neil at the hands of Edward II – not for the squeamish to watch. War is portrayed as brutal and the film cannot be accused of glorifying warfare and for that it should be praised.

One thing that did bug me a little, however, was the constant references to not fighting within the chivalric code. My assumption is that the scorched earth policies employed by both armies in the Wars of Independence is supposed to be presented as something that was alien to ideas of chivalry: the great theory of medieval warfare in which valiant opponents were offered the chance for honourable surrender in death. True, there was little evidence of this around this time, particularly in Edward I’s reactions to Bruce’s usurpation which was, even by Edward I’s high standards, and incredibly brutal affair. Yet, fourteenth-century kings and nobles were able to reconcile these ideals with the practicalities of waging war, particularly in relation to treason. The chivalric code allowed for such brutal as a means of punishing treason and rebellion, as rebels had forsaken the key chivalric duties. While we might view the way these wars were fought as being contrary to the chivalric code, I doubt contemporaries has such a distinction. Chivalry was simply too engrained in the worldview of the medieval nobility for any king or noble to say they were forgoing chivalry.

This was not the film I was expecting to see. It’s not the best film at introducing who all these characters are (I got lost a few times and I teach this topic!). I expected to see the standard over the top film culminating at Bannockburn, a story which forgets the fact that it took a further 14 years, and numerous brutal raids into the north of England, to achieve peace. Looking at only the year or so either side of Bruce seizing the crown was an interesting way to go, and presumably leaves scope to make a follow on depending on popularity.

In all, Outlaw King is a film worth watching that, if nothing else, made some interesting choices giving at least one historian something to think about.

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The Legacy of Alfred the Great: A Winchester Chat


Dr Katherine Weikert, Dr Ryan Lavelle, Prof. Barbara Yorke, and Prof. Michael Wood at the Winchester Discovery Centre, 12 Sept 2018

Dr Katherine Weikert, Dr Ryan Lavelle, Prof. Barbara Yorke, and Prof. Michael Wood at the Winchester Discovery Centre, 12 Sept 2018 (photo courtesy of Mike Hall)

The launch of the 2018 Heritage Open Days in Winchester provided the opportunity for an evening of reflection between Winchester medievalists and the eminent historian and broadcaster, Professor Michael Wood. On the agenda were ‘Why do the Anglo-Saxons Matter?’ and ‘Extraordinary Women’.

The sell-out evening at the Winchester Discovery Centre lecture theatre featured the History Department’s early medieval historians Dr Ryan Lavelle and Dr Katherine Weikert, along with Professor Emerita Barbara Yorke. Ryan and Katherine give their thoughts…

Michael Wood opened proceedings with his thoughts on the long legacy of the Anglo-Saxon world, its cultural richness and its diversity. Since his BBC series, In Search of the Dark Ages hit TV screens in the late 1970s and 1980s, Michael has held a reputation for making the deep past come alive to an audience, and this was certainly apparent in the discussion. Equipped with his own deep knowledge of the period, Michael asked us about what makes us passionate about this period, drawing down to how this links to our research specialisms—for Ryan this is the way the landscape beneath of feet links to a dramatic historical record; for Katherine this is the way the stories of the period are told and retold, helping form the identities of generations during the medieval period across what is sometimes wrongly seen as a ‘dividing moment’ in 1066.

Linking with the Heritage Open Days’ theme of ‘Extraordinary Women’, we also nominated some favourites: Barbara suggested Æthelflæd, daughter of King Alfred and ruler of the midland kingdom of the Mercians until her death 1100 years ago in 918; Ryan ran through the twists and turns of the life of Emma of Normandy, who was married first to Æthelred ‘the Unready’ and later to Cnut ‘the Great’ (subject of Ryan’s new biography in the ‘Penguin Monarchs’ series), and who was the mother of two English kings in the 11th century; Katherine, whose interests in the ‘Anglo-Norman’ period will result soon in a new examination of the places of women and men in residences of the aristocracy, nominated one of the most important women of the 12th century, the ‘Empress’ Matilda, who drew on her links to the Anglo-Saxon royal family to emphasise her right to rule the English kingdom in a bloody civil war.

Though we had been more than a little nervous about the prospect of ‘chatting’ in front of a packed house with such a learned and well-respected host and in the company of the wonderful Barbara Yorke, the evening proved to be relaxed and enjoyable. We received great feedback from the audience who had been entertained but who had, we are told, also learned much about an early medieval period of English history. We learned much too, both about ways of thinking about history itself, and about the ways in which an expert such as Michael can make even obscure details accessible and enjoyable beyond the academy.

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Trip to the National Archives – Student Perspectives

For many historians, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the profession is trawling through the archives finding hitherto undiscovered gems or re-examining well known documents in a new light. This is what our discipline is built on and for those of us lucky enough to teach the subject to a group of enthusiastic students the opportunity to allow them to see and handle the original documents themselves is always one to be taken.

On 20 March 2018 two Winchester historians – Dr James Ross and Dr Gordon McKelvie – took a group of their final year Depth Study students who have spent the academic year studying the Wars of the Roses or the Hundred Years War on a trip to the National Archives. The visit introduced students to a range of archival sources relating to kingship, propaganda and money in their respective topics. The Depth Study is a year of intensive study on a particular historical topic relating to the lecture’s research expertise, which is a vital component of a B.A history degree.

Like all of our field trips at Winchester, the trip was designed not merely as a nice ‘add-on’ but as a way of enhancing the learning experience of our students by employing additional methods beyond the traditional lecture. But you don’t need to just take our word for this. Three of the students who went on this field trip kindly agreed to provide a short testimony of their own experiences of the trip.


Alex Moore

“As a student currently studying History and the Medieval World, at the University of Winchester, the opportunity to visit the National archives was incredible.  Not only was the whole experience fun and engaging, the chance to come into direct contact with original medieval documents, brought out from the archives, was a privilege. During the day we were given a gentle introduction into the methods and cataloguing behind the archivist’s process, before we were presented with an array of 13 individual primary sources to explore. These included, Indentures, Muster Rolls, Court documents and even an original seal which had been partly restored. The sheer volume and variety of the sources was enlightening, and each item was addressed by a member of staff who gave detailed narratives, explaining the context and merit of each of the documents. We were invited at the end of the session to examine all the pieces on display and were able to appreciate the true importance of the documents up close. The session was a very useful and rewarding experience which helped give insight into the role of the national archives, shed light on the real primary sources used by historians, and has given me something else to include in my exam answers! I would like to thank all the members of staff who were involved in the trip and its undertaking, as well as the staff at the National Archives who helped to give us a wonderful experience!”


Amy-Jane Humphries

“It was a trip tinged with nostalgia. Piling onto a coach early on a Tuesday morning was delightfully reminiscent of school trips during primary and secondary school. With watery almost-spring sunshine filtering in through the tinted windows, the coach careened up the motorway towards the National Archives. Many of us in the Wars of the Roses depth study had never been to the National Archives, myself included. I was imagining endless corridors stacked high with shelves bursting with old scrolls tied in the middle with string. The last thing I expected was to see council documents and Parliament rolls laid out on tables, there for us to peer at with a mix of awe and confusion as if they’d been there all along. It seems almost clichéd to say so but in the documents, the last year came alive. It all made sense. Seeing the pages where Richard, Duke of York had signed his name alongside the scrawl that we were assured was the Earl of Warwick’s signature was astonishing. It’s easy to imagine we’re learning a great fairy-tale when studying medieval history. It all seems just a little bit fantastical until you see the ink, the seals, and the documents: the real mechanisations of the state. It was a reminder that these people were real human beings, not caricatures, and that the Wars of the Roses were more than just a moment in time we review as historians but something that was lived and suffered through. I am incredibly grateful to Dr James Ross, Dr Gordon McKelvie, and to Dr Sean Cunningham at the Archives for organising what was truly an incredibly special trip. It’s one I will never forget.”


Austin Pritchett

“We recently visited The National Archives as part of our Hundred Years’ War module. A member of staff, Dr Sean Cunningham, gave us a brief talk about the types of documents available in the archives and how we can find, access and study them. This was both extremely useful and informative, but naturally the highlight of our trip was when we were then given access to a select group of documents.

These ranged from indentures of military service, which detail the composition and wages of late medieval armies, to drawn-out records of law cases, of which few were ever solved. It was fantastic to be able to handle these documents (the parchment upon which most of them are written is far more durable than expected) and to see the signatures of important individuals who we have studied for several years. The thought of Duke Richard of York sitting down to sign the document you are holding is, at least for the medieval historian, a source of immense excitement.

The trip gave the group insight as to how scholars have studied these sources in the past and transferred that raw information into the secondary material which we study today. It also highlighted the difficulties of doing so, including the linguistic hurdles and issues of material survival. The trip was both very informative and entertaining and I highly recommend this experience to any students of history.”


The department would like to thank Alex, Amy and Austin for contributing to our blog.

The department would also like to thank Dr Sean Cunningham of The National Archives for helping to facilitate this trip and sharing his expertise with our students.


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Studying History and the Medieval World at Winchester: A Student’s Perspective

[In this blog Austin Pritchett, a final year BA student coming to the end studying for his degree in History and the Medieval World has kindly agreed to publish a reflection on his time with us in the History Department at Winchester]

I am coming to the end of my final year of studying History and the Medieval World at the University of Winchester. My overall experience of the degree has been an extremely positive one. I chose this course in particular because my main area of historical interest has always been the Middle Ages. However, the module choice for medieval students is not limited only to medieval topics. I have studied plenty of other periods such as Ancient Rome, British India and even Old English as a language. The course title guides the focus of your studies and what period your third year dissertation will cover, but it does not limit what modules you are able to study throughout.

Tutors consistently provide informative and engaging lectures, while opening up the floor for discussion during seminars. I have yet to attend a lecture or seminar which has not both interested me and made me think thoroughly about the topic of discussion. Tutors have also regularly demonstrated that they are willing to go above and beyond to help their students. I have always received support and feedback when I need it.

There have been plenty of educational experiences available. I have been able to study local Hampshire records, handle Saxon artefacts at the British Museum and most recently explored Hundred Years’ War documents at The National Archives. I highly recommend these enriching experiences to all medieval historians.

Socially, there are plenty of clubs and societies which cater to various interests and hobbies, all the way from sports to politics. The History Society (don’t let the name deceive you) hosts great socials, including its infamous white shirt pub crawl at the start of each year. Cliché aside, it’s definitely true that you find your friends for life at university. The messing around in the flat, the nights out, the deadline stress – it all forges great friendships with people you would not have met otherwise.

Having almost completed my time at Winchester, I know I will be able to look back on so many fond memories. The course, the city and the people here have all made this the best experience of my life, and I certainly feel ready for the future.

[The History Department would like to thank Austin for agreeing to write this blog and his kind word].

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