Dear colleagues,

Please find in the following the programme for the International Medieval Congress 2012. In many ways, this year's Congress will be a momentous event - for a number of reasons.

Record numbers of proposals meant a record number of sessions accepted, with over 1540 actively involved delegates as speakers, moderators, and round table participants. Our special thematic focus this year will be on 'Rules' - a subject area which clearly stimulated a large response, expertly arranged by Gert Melville as special strand co-ordinator.

We will start this year's Congress with keynote lectures on aspects of rules in a monastic and royal context. Sverre Bagge (Centre for Medieval Studies, Universitetet i Bergen), will start off with 'Changing the Rules of the Game: When Did Regicide Go out of Fashion and Why?'; followed by Nicole Bériou (Centre Interuniversitaire d'Histoire et d'Archéologie Médiévale, Université Lumière Lyon II / Institut Universitaire de France) who will speak on 'Just Follow Christ and the Gospels?: Debates and Confrontations about Rules in the 13th Century'.

The special thematic strand is only one of the many absorbing features of this year's Leeds Congress. Looking through the wealth of papers and sessions on offer I am sure that this year�s programme contains plenty of choice for everyone within the many fields of medieval studies. A grand total of 200 academic sessions is dedicated to many of the other aspects of medieval studies, not captured by the special thematic strand.

Once again we welcome the Medieval Academy of America to the IMC. This year, Alan Stahl (Curator of Numismatics, Princeton University) will be presenting the annual Medieval Academy Lecture, entitled 'The Mediterranean Melting Pot: Crosscurrents in Medieval Coinage'. The lecture will take place on Tuesday evening, and will consider what coinage can tell us about Europe's increasingly influential role in the medieval Mediterranean.

Due to an unprecedented number of deserving sessions, the Congress this year will include an extra time slot on Thursday afternoon. Activities will continue into Thursday evening to mark the move on campus in 2013 and the final year at Bodington. Please keep this in mind when considering your travel arrangements.

As is traditional, the IMC has organised a wide range of events and excursions open to all delegates. There will be a number of workshops, from singing to calligraphy and games, as well as evening performances and tours of sites of historical interest.

Back due to popular demand, there will be another post-Congress excursion under the trusted leadership of Kelly DeVries and Robert C. Woosnam-Savage. This year's trip will return to have a look at the castles of Edward I in North Wales. More details can be found here.

As the United Kingdom will host the Olympic Games in summer 2012, this may have an impact on your travel arrangements. While the Games will not start until 27 July (a full two weeks after the Congress) it may be advisable to avoid the Greater London area (Leeds is 300 km/200 miles north of London).

As mentioned earlier, 2012 will also mark the last year at the current Congress sites of Bodington Hall and Weetwood Hall. We have been immensely fortunate in finding such great sites, and amazing staff and facilities which allowed the Congress to grow and develop into a strong, thriving and dynamic fixture for the medievalists' annual calendar. For 2013, the Congress will move to the University of Leeds' Main Campus. We feel that this move provides ample opportunities to improve what could not be improved with the current setting, while retaining the unique identity and atmosphere of the Congress, which many of you have commented on so positively. More details about the move can be found here.

Thematically, the Congress in 2013 has chosen 'Pleasure' as its special thematic strand. Pleasure covers a wide range of subjects, and which aims to include the multiple aspects of pleasure, its absence and presence, indulgence as well as healthy living. Needless to say, pleasure will also provide plenty of opportunity to sample the delights a closer proximity to the City Centre has to offer. The detailed call for papers for 2013 can be found here.

For the summer 2012, we invite all of you to mark the occasion of the departure from the IMC's current sites with a special evening of music and merriment on Wednesday at the Bodington site, and on Tuesday evening at Weetwood Hall.

All future Congresses will be slightly earlier than in previous years, to be scheduled around the first week of July. This means that the future Congress dates are:

IMC 2013: 1-4 July 2013
IMC 2014: 7-10 July 2014
IMC 2015: 6-9 July 2015
IMC 2016: 4-7 July 2016

Before closing a warm welcome to our new committee members: Esperanza Alfonso, Bettina Bildhauer, Cora Dietl, Helen Fulton, Christian Rohr, and Elaine Treharne (for the Programming Committee) and Brian Richardson and Catherine Karkov (for the Standing Committee). I would also like to thank a number of committee members who retired from the committee over the last twelve months: John B. Dillon, Sharon Farmer, Eva Frojmovic, Kaarina Hollo, Jelle Koopmans, Jeff Rider, and Mary Swan (from the Programming Committee) and Richard Rastall (from the Standing Committee). Not to forget our colleague Helen Gill from the Congress staff who moved on to pastures new within the University of Leeds, and whose contribution to the Congress operation over ten years was immense. We are very grateful for all the input and support over the years.

My colleagues and I are looking forward to welcoming you in Leeds in July.

Axel E. W. Müller
Director, International Medieval Congress