Society Events

This is a list of all upcoming events in chronological order. Events which have already taken place can be found here.

February 1st 2021    Lecture on the Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire (LatinSacrum Romanum ImperiumGermanHeiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

On 25 December 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Emperor, reviving the title in Western Europe, more than three centuries after the fall of the earlier ancient Western Roman Empire in 476. The title continued in the Carolingian family until 888 and from 896 to 899, after which it was contested by the rulers of Italy in a series of civil wars until the death of the last Italian claimant, Berengar I, in 924. The title was revived again in 962 when Otto I was crowned emperor, fashioning himself as the successor of Charlemagne and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries. Some historians refer to the coronation of Charlemagne as the origin of the empire, while others prefer the coronation of Otto I as its beginning. Scholars generally concur, however, in relating an evolution of the institutions and principles constituting the empire, describing a gradual assumption of the imperial title and role.

The exact term 'Holy Roman Empire' was not used until the 13th century, but the concept of translatio imperii, the notion that he—the sovereign ruler—held supreme power inherited from the ancient emperors of Rome, was fundamental to the prestige of the emperor. The office of Holy Roman Emperor was traditionally elective, although frequently controlled by dynasties. The mostly German prince-electors, the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire, usually elected one of their peers as 'King of the Romans', and he would later be crowned emperor by the Pope; the tradition of papal coronations was discontinued in the 16th century.

February 3rd 2021    Sanssouci - An Illustrated Talk with Wine

Sanssouci was the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park. The palace was designed/built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 to fulfill King Frederick's need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court.

The palace's name emphasises this; it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as 'without concerns', meaning 'without worries' or 'carefree', symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power. The name in past times reflected a play on words, with the insertion of a comma visible between the words Sans and Souci, viz. Sans, Souci. Kittsteiner theorizes that this could be a philosophical play on words, meaning 'without a worry/concern' or it could be some secret personal message which nobody has interpreted, left to posterity by Frederick II.

For more details, please get in touch with the Hon. Secretary.
Bookings forms will be available in the autumn.

December 12th 2021    Cosimo de' Medici

Cosimo de' Medici was born in Florence to Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici and his wife Piccarda Bueri on 10 April 1389. At the time, it was customary to indicate the name of one's father in one's name for the purpose of distinguishing the identities of two like-named individuals; thus Giovanni was the son of Bicci, and Cosimo's name was properly rendered Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici. He was born along with a twin brother Damiano, who survived only a short time. The twins were named after Saints Cosmas and Damian, whose feast day was then celebrated on 27 September; Cosimo would later celebrate his own birthday on that day, his 'name day', rather than on the actual date of his birth. Cosimo also had a brother Lorenzo, known as 'Lorenzo the Elder', who was some six years his junior and participated in the family's banking enterprise.

In the realm of philosophy, Cosimo, influenced by the lectures of Gemistus Plethon, supported Marsilio Ficino and his attempts at reviving Neo-Platonism. Cosimo commissioned Ficino's Latin translation of the complete works of Plato (the first ever complete translation) and collected a vast library that he shared with intellectuals such as Niccola de' Niccoli and Leonardo Bruni. He also established a Platonic Academy in Florence in 1445. He provided his grandson Lorenzo de' Medici with an education in the studia humanitatis. Cosimo certainly had an influence on Renaissance intellectual life, but it was Lorenzo who would later be deemed to have been the greatest patron.

August 15th 2022    Trip to Ely Cathedral

The city's origins lay in the foundation of an abbey in 673, one mile (1.6 km) to the north of the village of Cratendune on the Isle of Ely, under the protection of Saint Etheldreda, daughter of King Anna. This first abbey was destroyed in 870 by Danish invaders and rededicated to Etheldreda in 970 by Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester.[25] The abbots of Ely then accumulated such wealth in the region that in the Domesday survey (1086) it was the 'second richest monastery in England'. The first Norman bishop, Simeon, started building the cathedral in 1083. The octagon was rebuilt by sacrist Alan of Walsingham between 1322 and 1328 after the collapse of the original nave crossing on 22 February 1322. Ely's octagon is considered 'one of the wonders of the medieval world'. Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner believes the octagon 'is a delight from beginning to end for anyone who feels for space as strongly as for construction' and is the 'greatest individual achievement of architectural genius at Ely Cathedral'.

Our Trip

The bus will leave from outside the Post Office at 9am. We will have a guided tour with Professor Snape.

Tickets are available from Sandra on 01206 123456 or by sending us an application form.

Please book soon: we are often fully booked.