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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Navigating spaces? Geographical Encounters and the Multiple 'Mapping Worlds' of Later Medieval Bristol.

2nd May 2017, 17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Professor Keith Lilley, (Queens University Belfast)

This event is free to attend and open to all and will be followed by a drinks reception in the Courtyard Café, Palace Green Library.

Abstract: This talk will focus on a visual depiction of the city of Bristol which appears in a civic book begun in c.1480. The image of Bristol, attributed to Robert Ricart, the town clerk, has been described as a 'map', or a 'plan', of the city, and seemingly is the first of its type in England. Placed in a mayor's register created for one of England's most wealthy cities of the fifteenth century, the presence of this unique 'map' can only be understood - I argue - if we think further about the locales of medieval geographic production and consumption. Why in Bristol, and why in 1480, does this visual representation of the city appear has much to do with what is happening in the city at this time, and the place Bristol occupies in the wider interconnected world of later medieval England. Using Ricart's map as a starting point, the paper explores the various geographical encounters, past and present, that are embedded in it, as well as its links to the pursuit of geographical futures at this time, of Bristol's role in an expanding Atlantic world. Navigating the spaces of Ricart's map means navigating the spaces and places of Bristol, and its inhabitants, and their tracing their links beyond the city, to London, to Venice, and to the Americas. Only through connecting these multiple 'mapping worlds' can we begin to understand why Ricart uses a map - rather than a text - to visualise his city in early 1480s England.

Professor Keith Lilley is Professor of Historical Geography at Queen’s University Belfast and specialises in the use of maps and mapping to explore medieval worlds. His books include, Urban Life in the Middle Ages, City and Cosmos – the Medieval World in Urban Form, and most recently, Mapping Medieval Geographies, published by Cambridge University Press. He is particularly interested in using spatial technologies to map medieval urban landscapes, as well as developing digital methods to analyse medieval and early modern maps. He is currently Co-Investigator on a Leverhulme Trust funded research project called Mapping Lineages, using quantitative analyses to explore cartographic relationships between historic maps of Great Britain, including those by George Lily and John Speed. He is currently completing a new book called Sovereign Spaces: Survey, Statecraft and Plantagenet

Register here for this and other seminars in the Landscapes series taking place during Easter Term (24th April - 23rd June 2017).

Contact for more information about this event.