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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Slater Fellow Lecture: A Durham Monk Engages Others: Thomas Swalwell’s Marginalia on Jews, Muslims, and Lutherans

22nd November 2018, 17:30 to 18:15, Senate Suite, Prof Anne Thayer

Thomas Swalwell was one of the last generation of Benedictine monks to live in the Durham Priory prior to its dissolution in 1539. The many marginal annotations that fill his books reveal his engagement with their content across a wide variety of subjects, including a remarkable interest in the religious understandings and practices of Jews and Muslims.

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Many of his sources for such information were highly polemical, yet his notes indicate that he valued these traditions as tools for thinking. He noted that such material “is better for reading than for preaching,” but that “the truth is better recognized by comparison.” With the coming of religious change in the early days of the Reformation, Swalwell extended his study to include aspects of Lutheran teaching. Especially on the issue of monastic vows, his marginalia disclose passionate traditional commitment. He died as a devout monk, but he was remarkably learned about other ways of believing.

Lecture in Senate Suite 5:30pm to 6.15pm

Followed by wine reception

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