New perspectives on 15th-century towns: FLAG Workshop I meets in Aberdeen

‘Order’, ‘budget’ and ‘unity’ were among the themes explored in the first FLAG workshop on the topic of New perspectives on civic administration in fifteenth-century towns.

In-person workshop participants meet together and online

On 5 and 6 November FLAG hosted its first international workshop, a ‘hybrid’ in-person and online gathering in Aberdeen. This brought the project team together, alongside participants invited to share perspectives from their own work.

Some early arrivals in Scotland visit Dunottar Castle

The FLAG team presented the project’s challenge to identify shared aspects of ‘urbanitas’ in towns as different as Augsburg and Aberdeen. The themes of ‘order’, ‘budget’ and ‘unity’, and the digital tools and methods deployed in FLAG, were explored in the first two papers given by the project researchers.

The invitees then presented work-in-progress papers on their own work, covering aspects of medieval urban record keeping, and the interlinked themes of ‘order’, ‘budget’ and ‘unity’. An important goal of FLAG is to bring Scottish and German historiography into closer dialogue, and this was evident in the rich discussions that followed each paper. We were also treated to a display of Aberdeen council register volume one, by Phil Astley (City Archivist). Our hybrid format was a success, with the kind assistance of PhD student Ebba Strutzenbladh as facilitator. All participants followed the current measures for covid-19 mitigation. The programme outline follows below.

A full report on the workshop will be made available at the FLAG project website.

The meeting also allowed for some excursions around the formal planned sessions, including to Dunottar Castle, and Huntly Castle.

The walls of Huntly Castle welcomed some of the group

On 5 November the programme included the following sessions:

Welcome and introduction – Jörg Rogge (Mainz) and Jackson Armstrong (Aberdeen)

Wim Peters (Mainz) and William Hepburn (Aberdeen), Digital hermeneutics: methodology and first results from the Aberdeen ARO corpus

Regina Schäfer (Mainz), Talking about Law and Order in Augsburg

Amy Blakeway (St Andrews), War and the burghs, 1528–1550

Julia Bruch (Köln), Accounting Practices in Monasteries, Towns and Courts. Methodological Reflections

Dunottar Castle ruins

Elizabeth Gemmill (Oxford), The language of things: descriptions of objects and consumables in the burgh court records of late medieval Aberdeen

Jessica Bruns (Halle), Knowledge between pages. Book usage as a new form of administrative practice in late medieval Soest

Eliza Hartrich (UEA, Norwich), For the Comene Wele? Languages of Unity and Division in English and Irish Municipal Records, c. 1450-1500

Phil Astley (Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives) – viewing of Aberdeen Council Register volume from City Archives

Some FLAG visitors outside Huntly Castle

On 6 November the programme included the following sessions:

Jens Klingner (ISGV, Dresden), Texts and transmission. City books and account books from late medieval Dresden

Andrew Simpson (Edinburgh), Brieves in the Burgh Records of Aberdeen, ca.1400-1500: Some Preliminary Thoughts

Christian Speer (Halle), Are town books reliable witnesses of the past? Critical considerations on the categories “note“, “transcript” and “fair copy” based on the Libri civitatis and Libri obligationum of Görlitz in the 14th and 15th century

The workshop was held in the Craig Suite at the Sir Duncan C. Rice Library, University of Aberdeen. The crisp November weather offered a sunny treat to participants, some of whom who also took up the kind offer of a visit to see the Kirk of St Nicholas.

One of the medieval effigies in the Kirk of St Nicholas

Following the end of the workshop the sun came out for a visit to King’s College Chapel, and St Machar’s Cathedral, while others went to see the Dons lose to the Steelmen, before carrying on to hear Public Service Broadcasting play at the Music Hall!

St Machar’s Cathedral under a rainbow

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