President: David Sefton, Eastern
Registration Begins. West
2:15 - 3:15
2:15 - 3:15Session I
Dating of Clovis' Baptism
Christian Hebraism: Raymond Martini, OP, and Nicholas of Lyra, OFM
artis in a consilium of Cino da Pistoia
- 4:45 Session
II (Graduate Student Papers)
Leadership in the Pre-Reformation English Parish
or Order? A Medieval Model for Reinterpretation of Early Methodism
Faction and Electoral Corruption in Early Renaissance Venice: Elections
in the Great Council, 1383-1387
Registration and Coffee.
Stewart Center, Room 314.
Session III, Room 314
Women as Priests in Early Medieval Gaul and Germany: An Examination of
Documents and Incidents
Peter's Letter to the Franks (CC #10) and the Carolingian Contribution
to the Creation of a Middle Distance
10:00 - 10:30
Session IV, Room 314
between the Latin and the Turco-Mongol Worlds
Denis Sinor, Indiana University
Images, Jurisdiction and the
Treasury of Merit
in the Thirteenth Century
The Textual Sophistication of
High Medieval Scholars
Coffee, Room 326
Session VI, Room 314
Small Village in Tuscany: San Pietro a Marcigliano in the
Intended Readers of Dante's Monarchia
4:15 - 5:15 Banquest Address, Room 314
in Venice: Against the "Ain't it Awful School"
Donald E. Queller, University of Illinois
7:00 Reception. Union
Club, Room 356.
- 8:00 Banquet.
After Dinner Speaker:
President’s Reception. Union Club, Room 356.
[Included in brackets are Martin Arbagi's handwritten notes, originally for the benefit of Dean Ware, who was unable to attend the 1993 meeting. -TFM]
This near-tragic story begins in July 1992. My family and I had just returned from an expedition to the wilds of New England, where we had attended Freshman Orientation (now parents and siblings are "oriented" as well as the prospective freshman!) at the college my older son would enter that Fall. While opening my backlog of mail, I noticed a panicky letter from Gregory Guzman of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, our Program Chairman for the upcoming meeting. He had evidently received few proposals for papers, and was, or so he thought, faced with the prospect of our spending the entire weekend sitting in solemn silence staring at each other. Did I have any ideas for a paper, even if the research were strictly tentative, he earnestly entreated? [All this is true. Greg did send out the letter.]
I quickly sent Professor Guzman a reply. Anyone who has had experience as a Program Chairman, I explained, knows that most proposals for papers arrive a week before the deadline, or in the two weeks following its expiration. [True.] But it was too late. Before he could receive my letter, Guzman himself had arrived in Dayton. [Now we are moving into fiction.] Luckily, I happened to be in my office when he came, and invited him to lunch at the Faculty Dining Room.
The place was strangely deserted when we entered, perhaps because it was between terms and no classes were being held. Indeed, the waiters and other menials outnumbered the customers.
The only other patron there besides Guzman and myself was, to my knowledge, not even a member of the faculty. He was a curious figure. I had first met him a number of years back when our Graduate School of Professional Psychology had just opened. He strode out of the building as I was walking by and asked directions to the College of Liberal Arts.
"You were in the wrong building," I observed, pointing out the correct one.
"Yess," he answered, in English that was good, but by reason of its sibilance, obviously that of a foreigner rather than an American. "Clearly, I had put too literal an interpretation upon the word 'Pssychology.'"
Though puzzled by this odd reply, I went about my business. Since then, I had seen him at times hanging around the Department of Sociology, but more frequently in the offices of the Department of Religion. I asked the chairman of the latter whether or not the fellow was a member of the adjunct faculty, but he muttered something unintelligible about "going back to the primary sources," and strode away.
It was, then, this peculiar character who occupied the table next to ours, eating his luncheon with a carafe of red wine before him and, contrary to University regulations, smoking a cigar.
Guzman was distraught almost to the point of hysteria. Not even my explanation of why he had not received anything yet would calm him down. "Martin," he said, "right now, I'm so worried about being humiliated before all my old friends and colleagues, I'd do anything to be assured of a good program. Why I'd ... I'd even sell my soul to the Devil!"
At this point, the stranger at the table next to our turned. "Excusse me," he said in his sibilant English, "may I, ass you Americanss ssay, 'cut in'? I could not help but overhear Dr. Guzzman's wordss, in which I have a perssonal interesst. You ssee, I am the Devil." [Tremendous outburst of laughter.]
My reaction was the same as yours. I laughed. However, the laughter was struck from my lips as I saw my colleague nod agreement to the Devil's terms. "Greg!," I exclaimed. "This man is a crank. What other kind of person frequents Sociology Departments? And even if he is what he says, how can you know he will keep this ... this agreement? 'Father of Lies' and all that, you know. If you'd only wait a few weeks..."
The Devil, visibly upset with my attack upon his honor, cut me off with a cold look. "Had you been lisstening insstead of laughing vacantly," he said, "you would have heard me proposse to project Professsor Guzzman into the future. He will actually attend the 1992 Midwesst Medieval Hisstory Conference and ssee the fruitss of our contract." Then, turning to Guzman, he went on, "Of coursse, if you wish to back out becausse of the objectionss of a ssecond-rate sscholar at a third-rate sstate universsity..."
"No, no!," exclaimed my colleague. "Where do I sign?"
"I thought sso. Here, I have the formss in my attaché casse. Please excusse the quality of the printing. In my ... office, we have the latesst computerss but you undersstand we musst sstill usse old-fashioned thermal printerss. I really musst inssisst that you ssign in blood. Thiss ssmall insstrument" (he withdrew one from his case) "is ussed in the best blood bankss." He pierced Guzman's forefinger and withdrew blood into a pipette which he inserted into a specially designed Mont Noir fountain pen. "Ssign on the dotted line," he said, indicating one at the bottom of the contract.
Guzman signed. I sighed.
"Now," said the Devil, darting me a glance of triumph, "I shall ssend you to the campuss of Purdue Universsity at Wesst Lafayette. The date will be the ssixth of November, 1992. You shall sspend Friday afternoon and all day Ssaturday there. You may even have ssome time at the Pressidential cocktail party afterwardss to ssavor the fruitss of my--your--endavor. Afterward, you shall return here, to thiss very table at dinner-time tonight. I for my part have ssome businesss at another universsity, arranging for an endowed chair. I shall return tonight before I go home to ... collect you."
I gave a groan of defeat as Guzman suddenly disappeared. There wasn't even the traditional puff of smoke. Smirking, the Devil paid his bill and left. I surreptitiously followed and saw him climb into a car--I believe it was Japanese-a Mazda Manichaean--and drive off.
After a restless afternoon, I found myself back at the Faculty Dining Room shortly before six. I ordered dinner for two. Guzman reappeared.
"Welcome back, Greg!" I exclaimed with feigned gaiety. "How was it?"
"Martin, it was marvelous. I arrived on time and the regulars were all there. The two Friday sessions were, as always, devoted to the graduate student papers.
"I was a bit worried about the Devil's fulfilling his contract because of what you'd said, and because several of the participants had not yet arrived. Even you came a few minutes late. Since I chaired the session, I went ahead with the first paper, that of Mark Spencer, Randy Daniels' student, on the date of Clovis' conversion. Luckily, you entered just a couple of minutes after he began and promptly started taking notes. The precise date of Clovis' conversion to Orthodox Christianity lies somewhere between 496 and 508. Gregory of Tours, our principal source, does not give the exact year but tells us Clovis converted after a victory over the Alemanni and that he was baptized at Reims. Clovis, however, won more than one victory over the Alemanni, and Reims passed in and out of Frankish hands before they finally conquered it for good. All this has given rise to a raging historical controversy, but the most probable date appears to be 498.
"The next paper, on Mediaeval Christian Hebraism, was by Deanna Klepper, Robert Lerner's student. She was one of those who arrived late. She'd forgotten about the change in time zones, and apologized: 'I suddenly remembered that I'd lose an hour, and drove like the Devil to make it up.' [True!] I could have sworn she leered at me as she said that, but maybe it was my imagination. We moved to the high and late Middle Ages from the earlier era, and from chronology to linguistics. We now know that from the 12th century on, many Christians knew Hebrew. Both Franciscans and Dominicans established schools at the major universities where such languages as Hebrew, Arabic, and Mongol were taught. The question among modern scholars is: Did the Friars study languages as we do today, for the sake of scholarship, or was this a missionary endeavor? Such Mediaevalists as Jeremy Cohen believe the latter, but Ms. Klepper noted evidence that this was only true for the Dominicans while the Franciscans approximated the ideal of modern scholarship: knowledge for its own sake. Only in the 15th century do the Franciscan begin actively to preach against the Jews and use their knowledge of Hebrew to this end.
"The third paper, by Timothy Sistrunk, Jim Brundage's student at Kansas, was not the topic printed on the Program. Instead, he spoke to us on the language of praise used in Mediaeval contracts. The contract he chose was one made between the city of Bologna and one Ugo Borgononi, a public doctor, i.e., one hired by the municipality presumably to care for indigent patients. Sistrunk pointed out that we tend to think of the praise in the contract as stereotyped language, but that in the absence of modern licensing procedures (though these were beginning to evolve by this time), the general repute of a professional, especially a doctor, was important. A successful doctor must be a man of probity and good reputation. The 'boilerplate' contractual language, banal as it was, provided 'societal affirmation' of Ugo's reputation and competence.
"By this time the audience had swelled considerably as people from more remote areas began to arrive, and I could see from this and from the high quality of the presentations that the Devil was certainly keeping his part of the bargain. The second session opened with a paper by Catherine French, Barbara Hanawalt's student, on church wardens in late Mediaeval England. Church wardens were the legal representatives of the typical English parish of that epoch for such matters as litigation. They also 'owned' parish property, since Common Law no longer recognized saints as legal personae, and also acted as fundraisers--'Directors of Development'--in modern academic administraionese.
"Carrying on the late Mediaeval and early modern English theme, Mark Smith, Randy Daniels' student, then spoke on John Wesley's Mediaeval antecedents. Although Wesley denounced monastic practices, Mr. Smith concluded that there was a strong Catholic element in Wesley's thought. Indeed, in many ways, Wesley can be thought of as a Protestant Francis of Assisi.
"The last graduate student paper was by James Everett, Don Queller's protégé, on the difference between theory and practice in Venetian politics. In theory, posts in the Serena were filled through free elections. In practice, however, despite a number of procedural impediments specifically designed to stop this kind of thing, the elections before 1300 were dominated by family politics, with votes of kinsmen and their supporters playing a vital role. After 1300, family or clan solidarity fades, but 'networking' continued, though to be sure on a less intensive level.
"After dinner, we all proceeded to a gala reception at the palatial mansion of our host, John Contreni and his beautiful wife. But once again, I was disturbed by a portent. I was roaming from suite to suite, sampling the Beluga caviar and truffled paté and sipping iced champagne. After admiring the faux baroque frescoes on the ceiling of the Ballroom and the fifty-foot quarter-sawed mahogany table in the Graduate Assistants' Banquet Hall, I strayed into the paneled Library and overheard two of my older colleagues. [All this is teasing Contreni, who was Dept. Chairman but was also in line for a Deanship.] One had just noted with pleasure the Dr. Contreni owns a well-thumbed copy of William Stearns Davis' old book, Life on a Mediaeval Barony. [True!]
"'I bet he takes all his lectures on social history from this!,' he chuckled.
"'Just because you do it doesn't mean he does the same,' his companion retorted, putting down his snifter of century-old cognac. 'The last thing you saw on social history were the dirty pictures in Jim Brundage's book, you old devil!'
"The Saturday morning session opened on time with a welcome by Dr. Contreni.
"The first paper, by Donald Hochsteller, dealt with femmes consacrées in Gaul from the 6th through the 9th centuries. Such women were not necessarily nuns or anchoresses, but could also be widows or virgins. They had such titles as deaconess or canoness, and could distribute Communion, especially to shut-in women, and could even act as Eucharistic assistants. Professor Hochsteller noted evidence that indicated abbesses or even ordinary nuns could consecrate other nuns in the absence of the bishop.
"Robert Cutler's paper dealt with the distinction between sacred and profane before ca. 1000. Earlier scholarship held that society before that date tended to me 'monochromatic'--i.e., there was little variation in how the sacred and the profane were viewed. But Dr. Cutler adduced evidence to indicate that well before 1000--in fact, already by the 8th century--a 'middle distance' was evolving between 'mythic' thinking and truth. Citing, among other data, a papal letter in which St. Peter addresses Pepin the Short, Professor Cutler observed that Pepin appeared to be quite aware that the letter had actually been written by the current pope or some member of his staff. 'St. Peter' was merely a literary device to heighten the rhetorical effect of the letter.
"An emerging tradition at our Conferences is to have the Program Chairman schedule a lecture by his or her mentor, preceded by an encomium. My own mentor having gone to where the Devil could no longer get hold of him, Satan arranged for Dennis Sinor, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University and the world's foremost authority on Medieval Central Asia, to appear before the assemblage. I of course introduced him with a superb prologue literally ghost-written for me. Dr. Sinor presented the audience with a sweeping overview of European contact with Central Asia and its Altaic inhabitants from the probable first mention of the Turks by Pomponius Mela in the 1st century A.D. down to John of Plano Carpini, William of Rubruck, and Marco Polo in the late Middle Ages.
"We then proceeded to an excellent business luncheon provided by our genial host, no doubt with some silent help from the real Program Chairman of the Conference. Officers elected at the luncheon included Amy Livingstone of Maryville College, Kay Slocum of Capital University, and Ed English of Notre Dame, Program Committee; Chuck Bowlus, President, and James Brundage, Vice-President. There was no report from the CARA Delegate this year. Aside from election of officers, the business was dominated by an apocalyptic admonition from our Treasurer, who called for stern measures to curb budgetary deficits and impending bankruptcy, the main cause being the stipend paid to graduate students who read papers at the Friday afternoon session. 'If we don't replenish our bank account, there will be hell to pay!, he warned. James Murray moved that we impose a surcharge of five dollars upon our Conference Registration Fee to pay the expense. The incoming President, Professor Bowlus from Arkansas, wished to make it clear that he had nothing to do with the surcharge, and begged the Secretary to emphasize that in the Conference Minutes." Professor Guzman paused here and frowned. "Somehow," he continued, "I believe there was supernatural prescience involved with this, but I shall never know.
"It was clear that the Devil was taking no chances, and using only talent of proven excellence, for he chose Robert Shaffern, well-known to attendees of previous conferences, to commence the first afternoon session. Professor Shaffern spoke on indulgences and the Treasury of Merit. Previous scholarship has emphasized the corruption inherent in the indulgence system. Yet simultaneously we know that bishops and other ecclesiastics with impeccable reputations for probity had used indulgences. A number of theories have evolved to explain the belief in indulgences and the Treasury of Merit. Professor Shaffern's own hypothesis is that they were a way of reestablishing papal and episcopal power against popular religion and the growing mercantile culture of the late Middle Ages.
"The next paper, by Steven Williams of Northern Iowa University, was on the textual sophistication of high-Mediaeval scholars. Traditional scholarship has emphasized Mediaeval naiveté regarding things such as relics and old texts. The intellectuals of the Middle Ages have been viewed as uncritical readers, tolerating corrupt texts and bad translations. But Professor Williams noted that there were numerous exceptions to this rule. While Mediaeval textual criticism even at its best never matched the standards of the Renaissance humanists, much less modern scientific editing, it could be quite sophisticated.
"The second afternoon session was dominated by Italian affairs. Tom Blomquist's 'micro history' of the Ricciardi, a Luccan clan, and its properties in a nearby Tuscan village, was a slight change from the topic originally announced in the Program. We know that the High Middle Ages in northern Italy saw the communes gradually extending their influence into the contado, the surrounding rural countryside. After tracing the beginnings of Ricciardi wealth in the 1230s, Dr. Blomquist showed how they bought land in the area of the village, San Pietro a Marcigliano. The Ricciardi pretty much left their rural properties alone. They made little attempt to consolidate the peasant smallholders into a few large estates. Urban merchants who owned rural land, concluded Dr. Blomquist, preferred stability to innovation and did not wish to invest much time in their rural holdings.
"'Skip' Kay, your predecessor, brought a memorable Conference to a close with a rhetorical flourish with his paper on the intended audience of Dante's De Monarchia. Professor Kay compared the De Monarchia, with its precise and emphatic arguments carefully framed in syllogisms almost forcing assent to its conclusions, to a paper read to graduate students by an insecure assistant professor himself not far removed from the status of a student. Some legal expertise is assumed, but no more than any educated Mediaeval reader would have. Some knowledge of history and poetry is assumed, but these two disciplines were cultivated privately in the Middle Ages and not taught in universities independently of rhetoric. Finally, despite its apparent universalism, the work in fact focuses mainly on Italy. In short, concluded Dr. Kay, although we do not know the precise occasion for its writing, De Monarchia is a propagandistic work meant for the widest possible educated Italian audience.
"The Devil introduced one innovation to the Conference, balancing it by restoring an old practice.
"The innovation was to move the traditional after-dinner address forward so it was delivered before the meal, on the theory that as we age, more and more of us tend to fall asleep after eating. Donald Queller of the University of Illinois spoke on 'Marriage in Venice: Against the "Ain't it Awful?" School.' Dr. Queller observed that contemporary social history frequently emphasizes the bleak side of everyday life in the pre-modern era. This is especially true with regard to the history of women. A daughter was merely regarded by upper and middle-class families as a pawn to be used for family advancement. But his own research into Venetian history has demonstrated that women had considerable freedom, and that marriages were frequently contracted as much for love as for financial or social considerations. Professor Queller apologized to the audience, saying that recent medical problems plus learning how to use a new computer had almost prevented him from coming. 'In fact, it's positively spooky that I'm here at all.' [True!]
"By now, the Conference was drawing to its close, and Don's remark made me more nervous than ever, for I knew that soon I'd be paying the Price for the Devil's services."
At this point, Dr. Guzman paused in his narrative. "You know, Martin," he said, "it's just beginning to dawn on me ... eternity is a long time! What can I do?" Sobbing, he buried his face in his hands.
"Do??," I replied. "Greg, you can flee! Where? I have it! Visit Karl Morrison in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Devil would never think to look for you in New Brunswick, New Jersey. But wait ... can you spare a few seconds to tell me about the conclusion of the Conference?"
Taking a deep breath, Guzman continued: "After dinner, Satan revived a custom. It seems that in the early days of the Conference, when you and I were mere graduate students, the after-dinner speech was a comic one. Well, this time we had some prematurely senile buffoon [Yours truly...] get up and rant for about forty minutes about Oscar Wilde, Max Beerbohm, and Liudprand of Cremona. He seemed to keep the audience awake, though he never finished his talk." [True!]
Of course, I'd been taking notes throughout all this, to save myself the trouble of doing so at the meeting itself. "Who was this court jester, so to speak?" I inquired.
Once again, Guzman paused. He gave me a sly, side-long glance. "Well," he said, "I suppose it doesn't matter since I won't be seeing you any more ... the after-dinner speaker was none other than..."
Here we were interrupted. The Devil strode in, an almost ear-to-ear sneer on his face. "Well, Guzzman, are we ready to ... go?" he sarcastically asked.
I felt terribly guilty, for had I let Guzman "beat it" earlier, he might have escaped. Quick thinking was needed to save my poor colleague. "Just a moment, old boy," I cried. "you'd promised Dr. Guzman here a high-quality Conference. Yet, I understand from him that the after-dinner speech was less than memorable."
Satan was taken aback. "You ... you mean you actually told him about that?," he gasped, turning to Guzman.
Guzman nodded helplessly.
I pressed my advantage. "Look here, my good fellow, bad publicity could ruin the academic side of your business. If word of this were to get about..."
"The pressentation wassn't all that bad," snapped the Devil.
"Could it compare with that given by David Herlihy on 'The Making of the Mediaeval Family' when the Conference was held at Purdue a decade earlier? With Joe Strayer's lecture at the University of Illinois in 1969, reflecting his premature despair about the future of Mediaeval studies in an age of 'relevance'? Guzman told me about the Friday evening reception at the palazzo Contreni, but could that compare with the party held at Milwaukee in 1973, when Jim Brundage took us all to a reception at the Schlitz brewery on a bus and brought us back in wheelbarrows, then topped it off on Saturday with a banquet lecture by Giles Constable?"
Satan's sneer had vanished. He turned to Guzman. "You're dissmisssed. I have bigger fissh to fry. Thiss fellow hass ssaved you. Academia hass been a ssubstantial portion of my bussiness ever ssince Fausst, and I cannot afford the bad publicity. [Another tremendous outburst of laughter and applause.] But ass for you"-- he turned to me as he said this--"I shall sstrike you dumb sso you can never give an account of thiss before your colleaguess!" With that parting shot, he disappeared, once again leaving no telltale puff of smoke. (I later learned this was due to environmental regulations.)
And so it was that I saved Gregory Guzman from eternal damnation. Since I already had my notes, I never did attend the Conference itself. The "Martin Arbagi" you saw was a mere phantom, materialized by the Devil to give an aura of authenticity to the proceedings. Guzman, however, has steadfastly refused to reveal the identity of the after-dinner speaker and as you can see, has not even showed up at this year's gathering. I believe that for some strange reason, he is avoiding me. [True! Greg didn't show! I put that in at the last minute.]
As for Satan, I saw him last Summer in Manhattan, strolling down Madison Avenue near Brooks Brothers. [I went to Brooks Brothers in Manhattan in teh Summer of '93. I did not see Satan.] "Hello, old fellow," I exclaimed, walking up to him. "I hope there are no hard feelings about that little episode in Dayton a few months ago. I assure you, I've held the entire matter in the strictest confidence." But he looked right through me as though I wasn't there and walked by, ignoring my outstretched hand.
Can you imagine that? I was snubbed by the DEVIL! I don't believe I shall ever live it down.
Martin Arbagi, Notary
[Postscript: I inserted the phrase about the Devil's "striking me dumb" because I was recovering from a cold and still had a sore throat and a raspy voice. I should also mention that the central idea for the Minutes was taken from Sir Max Beerbohm's short story, "Enoch Soames," which, luckily, is now in the public domain.]