The Sixteenth Century Society held their annual conference in Bruges, Belgium, welcoming hundreds of early modernists to the city, with 320 sessions over three days spread across five venues in the city centre. The programme for the conference showed the vast variety of approaches to the study of the period in contemporary scholarship. The importance of key figures in the study of the sixteenth was evidenced by sessions on particular individuals, including Edmund Spenser and his Faerie Queene, Thomas More and his works, and a special session on Erasmus and his Novum Instrumentum omne, published 500 years ago this year. The history of religious movements and religious conflict was also strongly represented with panels on, for example, English Catholicism and Religious Conflict at the Court of Elizabeth I, and a series of sessions focusing on aspects of Jesuit activity. The study of the creation of texts formed the focus of several other panels, including Creating and Storing Knowledge in England and Italy. Various aspects of politics and political culture were addressed in panels such as Jostling for Position in Tudor-Stuart England: Petty Politics, Gifts, and Rivalries. The recent turn towards using social science approaches to study early social networks in sociological and anthropological terms was also reflected in several sessions, including a series of panels organised around the methodological challenge of this. In a panel dealing with Politics, War, and Government in Northwest Europe, I presented my paper Factions, Ideologies & Personalities: Sir Francis Walsingham and Anglo-Scottish Politics c. 158090, contributing with the two other speakers in the same session to an exploration of the mechanisms and realities of government in the period.
The keynote lecture, From Ghent to the World: Charles Vs Longest Living Legacy, delivered by Rolena Adorno (Yale), was held in the historic surroundings of the Stadshallen on the evening of Friday 19th. The keynote was followed by a wine reception, with a parallel drinks reception hosted at one of the hotels by the University of York Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies. Both of these more informal social occasions provided ample opportunity for catching up with familiar faces and getting to know new ones. A stimulating and enjoyable conference in a beautiful city.
Hannah Coates, School of History
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