Premodern Iberia and the Western Mediterranean

Our Research

The Medieval Studies Research Group features the largest cluster of medieval Iberianists in the United Kingdom. Our members examine premodern Iberia and the Western Mediterranean through a wide range of topics, including: the power and authority of Iberian rulers (both Christian and Islamic); economy and society in pre-modern Iberia; the Visigoths and their legacy; and intellectual cultures in pre-modern Iberia.

Power and Authority: Iberian Rulers and Their Subjects

Our research examines the creation, development, and involution of the major Christian and Islamic polities of the Iberian Peninsula, together with the idea and representation of power and authority within these polities. We use a range of source materials (from chronicles to royal diplomas; and from Visigothic votive crowns to Umayyad ivory caskets) to understand the governing technologies available to rulers, as well as the prestige and power that caliphs, kings, and their counsellors presumed to display and deploy.

Economy and Society in Pre-modern Iberia

Medieval Iberia has bequeathed us an astonishing array of documentary and archaeological artefacts with which we can examine the economy and society of this geopolitically complex peninsula. We make use of the increasingly sophisticated insights emerging from urban and rural archaeological contexts to pose new questions of the settlement patterns, living arrangements, and productive strategies of local societies. A longstanding interest in charters underpins much of the research of some of our scholars, widening our knowledge of the multiple contexts in which the written word shaped and expressed the economic concerns of even the most humble members of these societies.

Intellectual Cultures in Pre-modern Iberia: Romans, Visigoths, and Beyond

As Roman rule gave way to Visigothic dominance within the Iberian Peninsula, Hispano-Roman culture remained firmly rooted in the region. Our research focuses on the religious, social, and cultural history of Visigothic Iberia, and the legacy within the Peninsula of both Rome and the Visigoths. We are interested in the writing of history, particularly the works of Isidore of Seville, the production of poetry, including that of Eugenius of Toledo, and in the study and translation of Austrasian and Visigothic letters. We have a special interest in Latin language, literacy, and literature, from late Rome to the high Middle Ages, including the De viris illustribus tradition and Latin Christian bibliography.


Image: Great Mosque of C√≥rdoba (Spain). Courtesy of Dr Esther Dorado Ladera.