Open Letter to the President of France

The Medieval Academy of America has been asked to circulate the following open letter addressed to the President of France, urging patience and care as plans take shape for the repair and renovation of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. A rough English translation of the letter follows. The letter was written by Medieval Academy member Xavier Dectot and a small group of French curators, including Mathieu Deldicque and Oriane Beaufils. Email restore.notre.dame@gmail.com to add your name.


Monsieur le Président,

Au soir du 15 avril, les regards du monde entier se sont tournés vers Notre-Dame de Paris embrasée, rappelant combien ce monument n’est pas que celui des catholiques, des Parisiens, des Français ou même des Européens, mais un de ces édifices que le génie de ses bâtisseurs successifs a légué à l’humanité. La France s’est dotée très tôt, en partie sous l’influence du brûlant roman de Victor Hugo qui sonna comme un plaidoyer pour la cathédrale parisienne, d’une législation visant non seulement à la protection des monuments historiques, mais aussi, à prévoir un cadre d’action lorsqu’ils ont été mutilés par les ravages du temps ou des hommes. Dès 1862, le gouvernement a choisi de placer la cathédrale parisienne, alors en cours de restauration, sous la protection de cette législation. Plus d’un siècle plus tard, c’est encore sous l’impulsion de la France, entre autres, que l’UNESCO choisit de mettre en place une liste du patrimoine mondial de l’humanité, assortie de critères de protection précis. En 1991, la France a demandé et obtenu l’inscription sur cette liste des rives de la Seine à Paris, s’appuyant notamment sur la présence, en leur cœur, de Notre-Dame de Paris et plus largement sur l’existence d’une perspective qui s’était constituée entre le Moyen Âge et le début du XXe siècle,
protégée en tant que telle.

Une telle protection ne saurait exister sans une déontologie qui s’impose à tous ceux qui œuvrent à l’entretien, à la conservation et à la restauration de ces monuments. Là encore, la France fait figure de pionnière, notamment grâce aux réflexions de Jean-Baptiste Lassus et d’Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, élaborées autour de leur pratique dans l’Île de la Cité, à la Sainte-Chapelle et à Notre-Dame. Cette déontologie, évidemment, a évolué. Elle a abouti à la charte de Venise en 1964, complétée par le document de Nara en 1994, qui fixent un cadre internationalement reconnu aux interventions sur les monuments, tant pour les opérations de conservation que de restauration ou de reconstruction
partielle.

Dans toute cette histoire, la France a longtemps joué un rôle moteur, s’appuyant sur des institutions d’excellence formant les spécialistes de la protection, reconnues internationalement et attirant des étudiants du monde entier (École de Chaillot, Institut national du patrimoine, formations universitaires, compagnonnage aussi, aujourd’hui inscrit, à la demande de la France, sur la liste du patrimoine immatériel de l’humanité). Ce n’est pas un hasard si le siège du Conseil International des Monuments et des Sites se trouve à Paris. Cette excellence de la France dans le domaine patrimonial, on en a encore vu la preuve dans l’intervention exemplaire des pompiers dont l’action a permis d’éviter un désastre bien pire, et dans les actions qui ont permis de consolider dans l’urgence la
cathédrale et d’en évacuer l’essentiel des œuvres déplaçables au cours de la semaine. Nous avons tous conscience d’avoir échappé à un désastre majeur, celui de l’effondrement de la cathédrale et de la disparition avec elle des 850 ans d’histoire qu’elle conserve.

Malheureusement, cette excellence a aussi été quelque peu oubliée par les gouvernements précédents, et avec elle l’investissement national dans la sauvegarde du patrimoine : comme le montre le rapport du Sénat sur le projet de loi de finances pour 2019, les crédits de paiements affectés à l’entretien des Monuments historiques, hors grands projets, ont diminué, en euros courants, de 2010 à 2012, avant de se stabiliser, toujours en euros courants, depuis 2013. Depuis longtemps, pourtant, les alertes se multiplient sur l’insuffisance criante de ces budgets, obligeant à privilégier des travaux d’urgence, tels ceux qui se déroulaient à Notre-Dame, plutôt qu’une approche véritablement planifiée.

Aujourd’hui, le drame est là, et il nous dépasse tous. Notre-Dame de Paris n’est pas qu’une cathédrale, pas que l’un des monuments majeurs de l’architecture européenne. C’est l’un des monuments autour duquel, pendant près de deux siècles, se sont constituées la protection et la déontologie françaises et mondiales des Monuments historiques. L’émotion qui l’a entouré a montré combien ce drame était mondial, il nous reste à en percevoir toute la portée historique.

C’est pour cela que nous, universitaires, chercheurs et professionnels du patrimoine, de France et d’ailleurs, nous permettons de nous adresser à vous aujourd’hui, Monsieur le Président, pour vous demander, comme l’a si bien dit Jean Nouvel, de « laisser le temps du diagnostic aux historiens et aux experts avant de [vous] prononcer sur l’avenir du monument ». Nous savons que le calendrier politique demande d’agir vite, nous savons combien une Notre-Dame mutilée pèse sur l’image de la France. Néanmoins, ce qui va se passer à Notre-Dame dans les années à venir nous engage, tous, bien au-delà de ce calendrier. L’enjeu de ces travaux dépassera les mandats politiques comme les
générations, et c’est à leur aune que nous serons jugés.

Aussi ne venons-nous pas vers vous pour préconiser telle ou telle solution. C’est trop tôt. Que pourrat-on faire ou ne pas faire, quels choix seront possibles? Nous ne pouvons apporter de réponse à ce jour. Cela dépend de contraintes techniques qui sont fonction de l’état du bâtiment. Mais ces choix doivent aussi se faire dans le respect de ce qu’est Notre-Dame, plus qu’une cathédrale parmi d’autres, plus qu’un monument historique parmi d’autres, en ayant une approche scrupuleuse, réfléchie, de la déontologie. L’histoire de Notre-Dame de Paris fait que l’ampleur de l’incendie dépasse ses seules
conséquences matérielles. Vous avez déclaré, Monsieur le Président, vouloir restaurer Notre-Dame. C’est notre souhait à tous, mais pour ce faire, n’effaçons pas la complexité de la pensée qui doit entourer ce chantier derrière un affichage d’efficacité. Prenons le temps du diagnostic. L’exécutif ne peut se passer d’écouter les experts, la France en forme parmi les meilleurs du monde et nombre de ceux-ci se trouvent dans votre administration, au Ministère de la Culture. Sachons reconnaître leur expertise, prenons le temps de trouver le bon chemin et alors, oui, alors fixons un délai ambitieux pour une restauration exemplaire non seulement pour le présent, mais aussi pour les générations à venir.

L’excellence des savoir-faire des artisans et entreprises de France, leur expérience, celles de ses architectes, l’expertise de ses conservateurs, de ses historiens, sont mondialement reconnues. La place à part de la cathédrale a attiré, à travers le monde, l’attention des universitaires et de nombreux programmes de recherche dont les résultats sont aujourd’hui à notre disposition. Ces ressources françaises et internationales mettent les meilleures chances du côté de la France pour rétablir NotreDame dans sa dignité de symbole. Sachons les écouter. Faisons-leur confiance, faites-leur confiance, sans retard mais sans précipitation. Le monde nous regarde. Aujourd’hui, il ne s’agit pas d’un geste d’architecture mais de millions de gestes, humbles et experts, gouvernés par la science et le savoir, dans le cadre d’une politique patrimoniale renouvelée, ambitieuse et volontariste, soucieuse de chaque monument, qui redonnera à la cathédrale d’Hugo,
de Viollet-le-Duc, la nôtre, la vôtre, sa place et sa fonction dans l’histoire et dans l’avenir.


Monsieur le Président,

On the evening of 15th April, the whole wold looked in horror at the fire in Notre-Dame, reminding us how this monument does not belong solely to Catholics, Parisians, French or even European people, but is a heritage that the genius of its successive builders bequeathed humanity. France was amongst the first countries to see the role played by those historic monuments, adopting very early, partly influenced by Victor Hugo’s masterpiece novel pleading for the Parisian cathedral, a legislation aiming not only at protecting them, but also, as part of the Legislative branch’s foresight, designing the conditions in which to act should they become mutilated by men or time. As soon as 1862, the government chose to place the Parisian cathedral, then being restored, under the protection of these laws. Over a century later, France, once again, alongside other countries, pushed for the UNESCO to put in place a World Heritage list, with specific protection criteria. In 1991, France asked, and obtained, that the banks of the Seine in Paris be placed on this list, putting forward, in particular, the central place of Notre-Dame and, more widely, a structured perspective constituted between the Middle Ages and the early 20th century, which deserved protection.

Such a protection cannot exist without a deontology for all those charged with upkeeping, conserving and restoring those monuments. Once again, France was a pioneering figure, building on the practice of Jean-Baptiste Lassus and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the Île de la Cité, both in the Sainte-Chapelle and in Notre-Dame. This deontology, of course, has changed over time. It lead to the Venice charter in 1964, amended by the Nara document in 1994, giving an internationally recognised procedure for heritage interventions, for conservation as much as for restoration or partial reconstruction.

In this history, France has, for a long time, played a central role, based on world-class institutions educating protection specialists, internationally recognised and drawing students from across the continents (École de Chaillot, Institut national du patrimoine, universities, as well as the compagnonnage, now part, as per France request, of UNESCO’s immaterial heritage). It is not by chance that the International Council for Monuments and Sites is based in Paris. This French excellence in heritage, we saw it at work once again last week, in the praiseworthy action of the firemen who prevented much worse a disaster, and in the following acts that allowed the urgent propping up of the building and the removal of most of the mobile artworks. We are all conscious that we avoided much worse a disaster, the potential collapse of the cathedral and the destruction, with it, of the 850 years of history it preserves.

Alas, this tradition of excellence was slightly forgotten by the previous governments, and with it, national investments in heritage preservation: as shown by the Senate’s report on the 2019 budget, the credits allowed to the conservation of the Monuments Historiques have diminished, in current euros, between 2010 and 2012, before stabilising themselves, still in current euros, from 2013 onwards. Yet, for a long time now, alerts have been raised as to how insufficient those budgets were, and that only urgent works, like those that were taking place in Notre-Dame, could be done, rather than a planned, structured approach.

We now have to face the disaster, and it goes far beyond us all. Notre-Dame of Paris is not just a cathedral, not just one of the major heritage of European architecture. It is one of the buildings around which, for nearly two centuries, French and world heritage protection and deontology were constituted. The emotion it created showed how much this was a world drama, the historical perspective of which we still have to grasp.

This is why we, academics, researchers, heritage professionals, from France and elsewhere, are now coming to you, Monsieur le Président, to ask, as Jean Nouvel expressed so well, that “historians and experts be given the time to diagnose before [you] take a decision on the future of the monument”. We know that the political time requests quick action, we know how much a mutilated Notre-Dame weighs on French image. Nevertheless, what will happen in Notre-Dame in the years to come engages all of us, far beyond that time. The challenge of these works goes far beyond political mandates,
beyond generation, it is by how we respond to them that we will be judged.

As such, we don’t come to you to plead for this or that solution. It is too early. What can we or can’t we do, what are the options? We don’t know yet. It will depend on technical constraints, resulting from what the building can bear. But these choices must also be done respecting what Notre-Dame is, more than a cathedral amongst others, more than a heritage site amongst other, with a scrupulous, thoroughly thought, conception of deontology. The history of Notre-Dame in Paris means that the breadth of the fire goes far beyond its material consequences. You have said, Monsieur le Président, that you wanted to rebuild Notre-Dame so that it would be “even more beautiful”. It is what we all
want, but in order to do so, we must not ignore the complex process of thought that must drive this endeavour, beyond the necessary efficiency. Let’s take the time to diagnose. The Executive branch can’t afford not to listen to the experts, of which France educates some of the best, a large number of which are in your administration, in the Ministère de la Culture. Let’s acknowledge their expertise, take the time to find the right way and then, yes, fix an ambitious goal for an exemplary restoration, not only for the present, but also for the future generations.

French artisanal and business excellence and experience, that of our architects, the expertise of its curators and historians are renowned throughout the world. The special place of the cathedral has drawn towards it, throughout the world, academic attention and numerous research programs, the result of which are now at our disposal. Those French and international resources give France all the opportunities to bring Notre-Dame its symbolic dignity back. Let’s listen to them. Let’s trust them. Trust France, without delay, but also without precipitation. The world is watching us. The world and the centuries to come.

Today, this is not just an architectural gesture, but millions of gestures, humble or expert, governed by science and knowledge, within a renewed, ambitious, willing, heritage policy, caring for each monument, that will give back to the cathedral of Hugo, Viollet-le-Duc, ours, yours, its place and its role in history and in the future.

 

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Rare Book School: manuscript courses this summer

Rare Book School is currently accepting applications for its summer 2019 courses. Following are just a few of our offerings on medieval and early modern manuscripts:

The Book in the Manuscript Era (H-20) with Raymond Clemens: Learn about the manuscript book in the West from late antiquity to the beginning of the sixteenth century, using the manuscript resources of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Topics include the book form; its materials and construction; the writing and decorating of books; different types of books: biblical, theological, historical, poetic, legal, classical, liturgical, and devotional; the histories of books; the manuscript book in the digital age. H-20 runs June 9–14 at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Advanced Seminar in Medieval Manuscript Studies (M-90) with Barbara A. Shailor: Deepen your understanding of the varied approaches to medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. Students will use hands-on analysis and discussion of manuscript fragments and codices in the collections of Yale’s Beinecke Library to improve their paleographic and codicological skills. Previous coursework and experience with manuscripts, and very good or excellent knowledge of Latin are required for this course. M-90 runs June 9–14 at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

The Medieval Manuscript in the Twenty-First Century (M-95) with Will Noel & Dot Porter: An introduction for students of both the digital humanities and manuscript studies to the concepts and realities of working with medieval manuscripts. Students will discuss digital surrogacy and best practices when digitizing medieval manuscripts as well as current publication technologies and resources for digitized medieval manuscripts. Those interested in manuscripts and digital technologies are welcome to apply! Advanced technological experience is not required. M-95 runs June 23–28 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Visit www.rarebookschool.org for course details, previous student evaluations, and instructions for applying. We hope to see you and fellow bibliophiles in an RBS course soon.

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Conference – Invasion 1169

Invasion 1169

The National Conference on the Occasion of the 850th Anniversary of the Anglo-Norman Invasion, 2–4 May 2019

About this Event

May 2nd, 2019, marks, perhaps to the very day, the 850th anniversary of the first landing in County Wexford in 1169 of the Anglo-Norman adventurers enlisted by the king of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada. Their arrival marks the start of the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland.

Within two years, Henry II would become the first reigning English monarch to set foot on Irish soil. In what was arguably the single most formative event in Irish history, King Henry formally brought the island under the lordship of the English crown, a constitutional relationship that endures to the present day in the case of Northern Ireland.

To mark the 850th Anniversary in May 2019 of this foundational moment in the shared history of Ireland and Britain, Trinity College Dublin will host the national conference on the history of the Invasion, which will take place on 2nd to 4th May 2019. By assembling a platform of world experts, the conference will communicate the latest findings in historical scholarship on the 1169 Invasion and its aftermath to the widest possible audience. This conference also marks the third meeting of the biennial Trinity Medieval Ireland Symposium, a series that seeks to make cutting-edge historical scholarship accessible to all people and promote a wider public understanding and enjoyment of medieval Irish history.

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Fires at Notre-Dame and Al-Aqsa Mosque

To the Members of the Medieval Academy of America:

If, like me, you were stunned by the images of Notre-Dame in flames and were shocked a second time to hear that fire also broke out yesterday at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, there is better-than-expected news to share today.

The fire at Al-Aqsa was quickly extinguished and resulted in no injuries and no significant damage to the interior or exterior of the complex.

The medieval vaults at Notre-Dame did what they were meant to do: with the exception of a section at the crossing, the vaulting held firm as the wooden beams above it collapsed, protecting the interior of the Cathedral. The great rose windows survived. Even so, the damage and loss is significant, and one firefighter was injured.

Many members have asked me how they can help with the restoration of the Cathedral. Here are some immediate initiatives:

1) The French Heritage Fund has set up a special fund for the restoration of Notre-Dame. 100% of all donations will go towards the Cathedral’s restoration – there will be no administrative fees charged, and your donation is tax deductible. Click here to donate.

2) If you have particular expertise regarding the Cathedral or Gothic art and architecture in general, please contact me explaining your expertise and detailing any special resources you may have (photographs, data, measurements, etc.) so I can add your name to a growing list of experts that will be forwarded to the relevant French authorities as they begin their work.

I know that for many of you, the destruction at Notre-Dame feels personal. We all know that the Cathedral is more than stone and mortar. For many of you, it is a life’s work of study. By pooling our collective expertise, I hope that the Medieval Academy can play a small part in bringing Notre-Dame back to life.

Lisa

Lisa Fagin Davis
Executive Director
Medieval Academy of America

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Katherine Jansen (The Catholic University of America) appointed Editor of Speculum

Editor of Speculum

Katherine Ludwig Jansen has been appointed the new editor of Speculum, beginning 1 July 2019.

Jansen will continue as Professor of History at the Catholic University of America, where she has chaired the Department of History, served as interim director of the Center for Medieval and Byzantine Studies, and cofounded the university’s Rome Center. She received her PhD from Princeton University, and has held visiting professorships both at Princeton and at Johns Hopkins University. Her first book, The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages (2000), won several prizes; her second monograph, Peace and Penance in Late Medieval Italy, was published last year. She has also co-edited three volumes: Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation; Charisma and Religious Authority: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Preaching, 1200-1500; and Center and Periphery: Studies on Power in the Medieval World in Honor of William Chester Jordan. She has held NEH, ACLS, and Fulbright fellowships as well as residential fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Villa I Tatti, and the American Academy in Rome.

During her tenure, Catholic University will house the editorial offices of Speculum on its campus. Books for review should continue to be sent to the Medieval Academy offices in Cambridge until further notice; please check the Speculum web page for updates. Sarah Spence, the current editor, continues in her role until 31 August and will handle the production of issues that are already in process, while Jansen will deal mainly with new submissions until that time.

The Medieval Academy welcomes Kate, and thanks Sallie for her leadership and service, CUA for its support of Speculum and medieval studies, the search committee (chaired by David Wallace) for its hard work, and everyone involved for their patience.

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Jobs for Medievalists

Job Posting: Indexer for Bloomsbury Medieval Studies

Bloomsbury Medieval Studies is a new online resource launching in Autumn this year. To make the content more discoverable we are looking for someone with experience of keyword indexing to assign terms to book chapters and images. Ideal candidates will have had experience entering data into a database and working on online products or working with a library classification system.

Available via institutional access, Bloomsbury Medieval Studies will be a new interdisciplinary digital resource with a global perspective, bringing together high-quality secondary content with visual primary sources, a brand new reference work and pedagogical resources to support students and scholars across this rich field of study.

This work can be done remotely and will need to be completed by July 2019.

For more information, please contact Elizabeth.Hill@Bloomsbury.com

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Call for Papers -Writing Home: Literatures of Place & Belonging, c.1300-1600

Writing Home: Literatures of Place & Belonging, c.1300-1600

25th-26th July 2019, University of Liverpool

What makes a home? Is it as our four walls and families, neighbours and neighbourhoods? Our parishes, towns, cities, and countries? Our values, cultural practices, and experiences? Or is home where we have come from, where we are, and maybe, hopefully, where we are going? Join us in July at the University of Liverpool for a two-day conference exploring how home took shape in the literatures of the late medieval and early modern periods. We will consider how ideas of home changed over time in response to religious, political, and economic upheaval, civil unrest, and human and cultural migration.

Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Physical and conceptual parameters of home.
  • How these parameters shifted during translations & redactions
  • Migrant experiences & home-building practices.
  • Writing home abroad or in exile.
  • The relationship between smaller and larger units of home & belonging (e.g. the household and the parish; the parish and the city; the city and the country, etc.).
  • Sensing home: somatic experiences of belonging.
  • Literary representations of domesticity and the household.
  • Reading homes in miscellanies (patronage, organising principles, signs of readership and manuscript culture).
  • The ‘beginnings’ of home in origin narratives, foundation myths, and genealogies.
  • Legendaria and folktales: literatures that enrich the history of home.
  • Performing home on stage and at court.

We welcome abstracts for 20-minute papers related to the themes outlined above. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short biography of around 100 words to homeuol@liverpool.ac.uk. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 30th April 2019.

We are hoping to receive funding for a limited number of small bursaries available for early career researchers to contribute to travel and accommodation costs. If you could like to be considered for these, please put a note in your bio and we will contact you with further information. Applicants must not have access to institutional funding.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Deadline for “The Medieval Book

May 1 is the application deadline for Western Michigan University’s 2-week intensive course “The Medieval Book” (June 10-21, 2019). Admission to the course, which is offered for professional or personal development without credit or for 2 graduate credit hours, is by competitive application. https://wmich.edu/professional/medieval-book

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Call for Papers – “Materials and materiality in Medieval image”

November 2019: Call for papers: “Materials and materiality in Medieval image”. – The Workshop will last two days at the Centro de Investigación en Arte, Materia y Cultura, UNTREF (Av. Antártida Argentina 1355, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires). 

The submitting of proposal in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese will be until 1st June 2019.

For more informations: https://rmblf.be/2019/04/04/appel-a-contribution-materials-and-materiality-in-medieval-image/

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California Rare Book School to offer course on Scientific and Secular Medieval Manuscripts

California Rare Book School at University of California, Los Angeles will be offering an intensive course on Scientific and Secular Medieval Manuscripts this year. The course will be taught by Drs. Melissa Conway and Cynthia White, from August 12-16, 2019, on the UCLA campus. The class is limited to twelve students. Applications and further information can be found on the CalRBS website: www.calrbs.org.

The course description follows:  While biblical, liturgical, and devotional manuscripts survive in the greatest number, religious texts tell only one part of the vibrant intellectual history of the Middle Ages in Europe. This course will focus upon the varieties of scientific and secular manuscripts, among which are medical, astronomical, and mathematical texts; bestiaries and natural histories; herbals and agricultural manuals; itineraries, chronicles, romances, and collections of poetry. Usually illustrated and often lavishly illuminated, these manuscripts were major sources of information and entertainment for several centuries. Using a combination of the extensive holdings in UCLA’s Special Collections, online sources, and field trips to the UCLA Biomedical Library, and the Getty Museum, this course will provide an overview of the too-often overlooked history, production, distribution, and survival of scientific and secular manuscripts.  This year the class will receive an exclusive curator’s tour of the Getty’s exhibition “Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World.” By the end of the class students will be familiar with important examples in each genre, and the range of resources for continuing study.

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