Call for Papers – Henry of Blois and the Twelfth-Century Renaissance

Grandson of William the Conqueror and brother to King Stephen, Henry of Blois
(1101-1171) was undoubtedly one of the most significant figures in twelfth-century England, yet no substantial academic study of him in English exists. By turns, kingmaker, ecclesiastical politician, diplomat, and elder statesman, Henry of Blois played a central role in shaping the course of the Anarchy that characterized much of his brother’s reign and, towards the end of his life, presided over the trial of Thomas Becket. For over four decades he held the bishopric of Winchester and the abbacy of Glastonbury in plurality and, between 1139 and 1143, effectively governed the English Church as Papal Legate. Raised and tonsured at Cluny, he considered himself a spiritual son of Peter the Venerable and, if no great thinker or writer himself, he was intimately engaged with those that were. Henry’s influence and activities extended across Europe; he travelled extensively and became twelfth-century England’s most prolific collector and patron of the arts. Despite all this, the only major monograph written on him was published in German (by Lena Voss) as long ago as 1932, and remains untranslated. In part, this surprising omission in the literature results from the extraordinary range of Henry’s own activities and spheres of influence. Scholars have tended to focus on his importance only within their discipline, and as such there remains no comprehensive account of this influential and complex figure, nor any study that posits Henry in relation to the wider intellectual and cultural developments associated with the Twelfth-Century Renaissance.

Papers are therefore sought for a volume of collected essays from across the relevant disciplines that explore the breadth of Henry of Blois’ life, influence and legacy. The aim of this volume is to bring together a range of scholars working on Henry of Blois in a variety of disciplines. A number of distinguished academics have already undertaken to contribute, including historians, art and architectural historians, manuscript specialists and archaeologists, from Europe, the United States and Australia.

Please send a brief CV (no longer than 2 pages) and abstracts of no more than 500 words by 15th September 2013 to:

We will solicit first drafts in August 2014 in order to go to press in the third quarter of 2015 with a publication date in spring or summer 2016.

For further details please contact the editors: Dr John Munns (Cambridge) and Dr William Kynan-Wilson (Cambridge) on the email address above.

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