University of Notre Dame
President: Richard Kay, University
Friday, October 10, 1975
Informal gathering --
pm Tour of the Medieval Institute and Ambrosiana:
Saturday, October 11, 1975
and Coffee. Registration Area.
Presiding: CHARLES W. CONNELL, West Virginia University
Welcome: JEFFREY B. RUSSELL, University of Notre Dame
Lunch and Business Meeting. Dining Area.
Presiding: E. RANDOLPH DANIEL, University of Kentucky
Break. First Floor East Lounge.
The Illustrated Manuscripts of the Ambrosiana from the
Sherry and cheese offered by the University of Notre Dame
7:00 Dinner. Dining Area, Center for Continuing Education.
Presiding: RICHARD KAY, University of Kansas
CHARLES T. DAVIS, Tulane University
As you may recall, at last year's meeting the president proposed that this group commemorate the nine hundredth anniversary of Pope Gregory VII's absolution of King Henry IV at the castle of Canossa. To pursue this possibility, an ad hoc committee was appointed, which hereby wishes to report its recommendations.
We have conducted our deliberations in utmost secrecy, all the more so because last year's president appointed us, as the saying goes at the Curia "in petto." Needless to say, the Bicentennial of American Independence has been our never-failing source of inspiration.
Our first recommendation concerns the name of the celebration. By analogy to the word "bicentennial," we think that it might be called a "nongennial." But since this would be impossibly pedantic, we propose instead that the Canossa Centenary simply be called the "non-centennial."
Our next problem was to find some appropriate way, or ways, to celebrate a non-centennial. To ensure wide interest and maximum participation, it was suggested that everyone this year might take a concubine. Or, if you would rather stay home, you might paint up your neighborhood fire hydrant to look like a medieval monk.
Or, in a more serious vein, we faculty might recapture the spirit of the Investiture Struggle by denouncing all trustees and administrators who seek to control faculty appointments and to set medievalists' salaries at ridiculously low levels. Almost certainly these academic imperialists will in turn adopt the outraged role of the emperor, and then we can, with humble glee, excommunicate them.
In our idealism, however, we should not forget that even a non-centennial can be profitable. Of course we must have some souvenirs. What about a Canossa paperweight? It will be one of those little glass balls, with a pope and a king inside. When you turn it over, you get a snowstorm.
These are good ideas, but the committee doubts whether the conference as a whole can implement them. Therefore, we leave them to the initiative of individual medievalists, whose ingenuity can no doubt find yet other appropriate ways to celebrate. For example, you may have noticed that in honor of the occasion, I myself am sporting a modest tonsure. Moreover, in keeping with the spirit of Canossa, I am also prepared to sell the office of treasurer of this organization to the highest bidder. (I am also prepared, if necessary, to repent.)
Speaking again in my official capacity as chairman, I must report that the committee feels that the Midwest Medieval Conference should concentrate its collective efforts on a single spectacular event, which it is now my duty to describe to you.
It is a pageant, the like of which you shall never see. Imagine a wide stage that has, as its backdrop, a map of the medieval world, stretching from Scotland [gestures right] to China [Left]. Against this background, the members of our conference form an impressive tableau representing: the world of 1076 and all that.
In the far west lie the British Isles, dominated by the imposing figure of Don Sutherland, as William the Conqueror. At his right kneels Lanfranc, the loyal archbishop of Canterbury, played by Richard Helmholz. The Conqueror's left hand rests nobly on the Bayeux Tapestry, which is wrapped around John Henneman, so we can recognize him instantly as Odo of Bayeux. Behind them in the shadows lurks Dean Ware, happy in his favorite role as Inguld, the mysterious abbot of Croyland. Apart from this group, at the extreme right of the stage stands Saint Margaret, the Anglo-Saxon princess who became queen of Scotland, played, with many a smile, by Sarah Farley.
Meanwhile, across the channel in Normandy, we see Saint Anselm, the faithful prior of Bec, busy seeking understanding. It is not an easy role to play, but Bennet Hill is doing his best. A more warlike figure dominates the French scene, however, for the Normans are actually being defeated by King Philip I, in the regal person of Frank Pegues. More or less milling around France are also several token nobles, including David Nicholas as Robert the Frisian, the count of Flanders; and Bernie Bachrach as that irrepressible troubadour, William IX of Aquitaine.
Spain, as usual, is a mess, in the midst of which we can discern Father Daly, soberly dressed and sitting upon a figure that is flamboyantly--even garishly--clad. This symbolizes the victory of the Roman rite over the Mozarabic liturgy, as played by Jeremy Adams.
At the other end of the stage lies shadowy Cathay, under the rule of Bruce Flood, who as the Emperor Shen-tsung is regulating the economy into chaos. Nearer to Europe swarm the Seljuk Turks, who, flushed with their victory at Manzikert, are conquering Damascus and Samarkand under the leadership of Malik Shah, whom we recognize, with some surprise, as Tim Runyan. In the same general area appear several figures dressed as Byzantine emperors, so it is hard to tell which is John Barker.
There is light in the east, however, as the spotlight catches Jack McGovern dashing off quatrains in his cameo performance as Omar Khayyam. But our eye is quickly drawn towards the center of the stage by the restless activity of Robert Guiscard, the Norman weasel, whom Anna Comnena described as "a fair giant of Herculean strength, with a ruddy complexion, broad shoulders, and flashing eyes." Yes, it is Richard Ring. Julian Plante is dusting off a pile of manuscripts that he has just brought to Italy: he is Constantine the African.
At the center of our stage stands the Holy Roman Empire, where we find a crowded scene that has Canossa at its center. Back in Germany waits the king's mother, Agnes of Aquitaine, portrayed by Renata Wolf. Also in Germany is Ron Steckling as the leader of the ambitious nobility, the Antiking Rudolf of Suabia. Both sides struggle to gain the attention of public opinion, which is personified by Bishop Mermann of Metz and played by our expert on medieval public opinion, Chuck Connell. All of these Germans are raised up on a table at the back of the stage, and in front of this table, which is Germany, stands a phalanx of graduate students, who are the Alps.
In front of them, on the Lombard plain, Lon Shelby is perched on a high stool. He, of course, is the castle of Canossa. On the floor lies the marquess of Tuscany, Godfrey the Bearded, who was assassinated last February, and the remains are impersonated here by Tom Blomquist. His wife and heiress, the Countess Matilda, confidante of pope and king alike, is the incomparable Marcia Colish. At her side is the king's godfather, Hugh, the grand-abbot of Cluny and eminence grise of Europe, in which part we typecast Richard Sullivan. Throughout the scene the abbot and the countess shuttle between pope and king, accompanied by the pope's own legate, Don Queller.
One attendant always remains at the pope's side and keeps showing Gregory a strange sheet of parchment. This is Jim Brundage in the key role of Popeye... you know, Dictatus Papae. On the other side of the castle, the king is attended by his faithful wife, Bertha of Savoy, and their infant son, the future Henry V, played respectively by Louise Robbert and Steve Rowan. The king himself is kneeling humbly in the snow that surrounds Lon Shelby. Immaculately dressed in sackcloth, King Henry IV looks as if he would like to leave, but is is waiting patiently, in a statesmanlike way, for the three days to elapse. It is Karl Morrison, our vice-president.
Meanwhile, back on the pope's side of the castle, we see him trying to make up his mind. Gregory's face is surrounded by a cowl; he paces impatiently, tosses coins, and makes Virgilian sorties into his missal. Occasionally he bites his fingernails. We wonder why Peter Damian called him "my Holy Satan." He wipes his brow, pushes back his cowl, and at last we can see Hildebrand. Now we know what Damian meant, for it is Spike Williams!
This story ought to be narrated by Lambert of Hersfeld, for he was the chronicler who first told it. But I have another role in mind for myself--a role that is at once more humble and more memorable. I am the snow.
Wherefore: The committee for the non-centennial recommends that, whereas a non-centennial deserves a non-celebration, be it therefore resolved that the conference accept this report in itself as a sufficient commemoration of Canossa. The committee further directed its chairman to present this report without revealing the names of its members, which motion was passed over my dissenting vote.
[Secretary Ware left no notes on the meeting at Notre Dame.]