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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Wilhelm Levison Memorial Lecture

Wilhelm Levison, born in Düsseldorf in 1876 of a Jewish family, was one of the greatest historians of the early middle ages. Lecturer at Bonn in 1903 and professor in 1909, the Nuremberg laws of 1935 forced him as a Jew to resign his chair, and in November 1938 he was debarred from the use of libraries. In early 1939, Durham University, which had in 1931 awarded him an honorary doctorate, offered him a fellowship. In April 1939 he and his wife Elsa moved to Durham where he continued his research until his death in 1947 and prepared for publication his most important work, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century. He and his wife are buried in the Bow Cemetery.

This lecture series was inaugurated in 2008 in order to celebrate the scholarly vision and achievements of Professor Levison. Each year a speaker is invited to build upon the foundations of cross-Channel cooperation and understanding in medieval history which Professor Levison did so much to establish.

8th Wilhelm Levison Memorial lecture and dinner: Kings, Emperors, and the Cosmos: History without Frontiers

18th November 2015, 17:30, Pemberton rooms, PG21, Palace Green , Professor David Rollason, Durham University

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the cafe, Palace Green Library. The lecture and reception are free and open to all, however, booking is essential.

There is an option to dine with the speaker in the Senate Suite at Durham Castle for a cost of £45.

We are pleased to be able to offer five dining places for postgraduate students for a reduced price of £25 these will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. 

To book for the lecture and/or dinner please click here

Professor David Rollason was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, whence he graduated in 1972, and then the University of Birmingham and the Collège de France. He was appointed to a lectureship by the University of Durham in 1977 where he remains Emeritus Professor. He has published on pre-Conquest English saints and on Durham medieval historical writing, especially that of Symeon of Durham; and he is about to publish a book with Princeton University Press, The Power of Place: Rulers and their Palaces, Landscapes, Cities, and Holy Places. He is at work on a new edition (with Michael Lapidge) of Symeon of Durham's History of the Kings of the English and the Danes; and he has in prospect an edited volume on episcopal and papal palaces, and a second edition of his textbook, Early Medieval Europe 500-1100: The Birth of Western Society.

Abstract: In the spirit of Wilhelm Levison’s England and the Continent in the Eighth Century, this lecture will address the question of how far one of the aspects of rulership which crossed frontiers Europe-wide and persisted across many centuries was the belief that the ruler’s power stemmed from his position in the cosmos. It will examine especially royal and imperial sites which were seemingly designed to express this belief, ranging from the Roman Pantheon and the Mausoleum of Hadrian with their apparent emphasis on the relationship of rulers to the sun, to the cosmic domes of such palaces of southern Spain as that of Pedro the Cruel, right up to the equally cosmic design of Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles.



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Past Lectures