You have javascript disabled in your browser. We recommend turning it on for a better experience on this site.


Killing the King, monks in the tub and latrine beer parties: the bending and breaking of Medieval rules

Killing the King, monks in the tub and latrine beer parties: the bending and breaking of Medieval rules

More than 1700 medievalists, including jousting knights, storytellers and harpists, will descend on Leeds next week for the 18th International Medieval Congress.

 The Congress, organised by the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds, is the biggest academic event of its kind in the UK and the largest medieval-themed academic conference in Europe. It runs from 9 – 12 July.

This year, scholars will look at the rules of medieval society and how they were made, bent, stretched and broken. Among a huge array of topics, experts will discuss:
  • How women subverted rules about public carousing by holding ‘medieval drinking parties’ in latrines: the modern day equivalent of gossiping in a nightclub toilet
  • Regicide – or the practice of murdering the king – was a normal phenomenon in early medieval Europe, but who wrote the rules that saw its decline in the later Middle Ages?
  • Monks were strictly prohibited from bathing in the company of women – suggesting that in actual fact, this happened rather often.

Axel Muller, Director of the International Medieval Congress, said: “Rules are an integral part of everyday life. Today we are grappling with the consequences of rule-breaking on a massive scale, as seen in the current banking crisis.

“But we also embrace the rules of the forthcoming Olympics and its principles of fair play. It is often assumed that the medieval period was an seriously unruly time, but rules played an important part in daily life then too. This Congress aims to put rules back on the medieval map.”

For further information, contact:

Contact: University of Leeds Communications & Press Office: Tel +44 (0)113 343 4031, email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

  1. The International Medieval Congress ,which takes place between 9 – 12 July at the University of Leeds, is the biggest academic event of its kind in the UK and the largest medieval-themed academic conference in Europe.
  2. The paper on women’s beer parties will be given by Professor Martha Bayless from the University of Oregon. Professor Sverre Bagge from the University of Bergen will discuss regicide, and Professor Elizabeth Archibald from Bristol University is an expert on medieval bathing customs. For further information on these papers or to request an interview with the authors, please contact Louise Vaughan, IMC Press Officer at imcpress@leeds.ac.uk or 07984 203075

Back to the top