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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.

CANCELLED: Levison Memorial Lecture: The Pilgrimage Experience: European Pilgrims and English Shrines in the Middle Ages

18th May 2020, 18:00 to 19:00, Dr Tom Nickson

The Pilgrimage Experience: European Pilgrims and English Shrines in the Middle Ages

In celebration of the anniversaries of the death and translation of Thomas Becket, this lecture will consider the experience of pilgrims to English shrines in the Middle Ages, especially pilgrims from Europe. I will focus on Canterbury, but will also consider other sites, including Durham. In particular, I will explore the significance and experience of light and darkness in medieval saints’ cults, and their management through stained glass windows, lamps, candles and other ephemera. How did the experience of saints’ shrines in England compare with those on the Continent? And how might this prompt re-evaluation of spaces that we now see artificially lit by electric lighting?

Booking details to follow shortly.


Past Lectures