Previous Society Events





You can find here a list of previous events in chronological order. Upcoming society events 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.



May 16th 2018    William Shakespeare's First Folio

Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio. The First Folio is considered one of the most influential books ever published in the English language.

The contents of the First Folio were compiled by John Heminges and Henry Condell; the members of the Stationers Company who published the book were the booksellers Edward Blount and the father/son team of William and Isaac Jaggard. William Jaggard has seemed an odd choice by the King's Men because he had published the questionable collection The Passionate Pilgrim as Shakespeare's, and in 1619 had printed new editions of 10 Shakespearean quartos to which he did not have clear rights, some with false dates and title pages (the False Folio affair). Indeed, his contemporary Thomas Heywood, whose poetry Jaggard had pirated and misattributed to Shakespeare, specifically reports that Shakespeare was 'much offended with M. Jaggard (that altogether unknown to him) presumed to make so bold with his name.'

Some Shakespeare directors and theatre companies producing Shakespeare believe that while modern editions of Shakespeare's plays, which are heavily edited and changed, are more readable, they remove possible actor cues found in the Folio, such as capitalization, different punctuation and even the changing or removal of whole words. Among the theatre companies that have based their production approach upon use of the First Folio was the Riverside Shakespeare Company, which, in the early 1980s, began a studied approach to their stage productions relying upon the First Folio as their textual guide. In the 1990s, the First Folio was reissued in a paperback format more accessible to the general public.



August 8th 2017    Illustrated talk on the Synod of Whitby

The Synod of Whitby in 664 was a Northumbrian synod where King Oswiu of Northumbria ruled that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practised by Irish monks at Iona and its satellite institutions. The synod was summoned at Hilda's double monastery of Streonshalh (Streanshalch), later called Whitby Abbey.

In placing the synod in its proper historical context, Anglo-Saxon historians have also noted the position of the synod in the context of contemporary political tensions. Henry Mayr-Harting considered Alchfrith's interest in the convocation of the synod to be derived from his desire to see his father's position in Bernicia challenged and to see the replacement of Colmn with another bishop who would be more aligned with himself.



May 17th 2016    Lecture on Orford Castle

Orford Castle is a castle in the village of Orford, SuffolkEngland, located 12 miles (20 km) northeast of Ipswich, with views over the Orford Ness. It was built between 1165 and 1173 by Henry II of England to consolidate royal power in the region. The well-preserved keep, described by historian R. Allen Brown as 'one of the most remarkable keeps in England', is of a unique design and probably based on Byzantine architecture. The keep still stands among the earth-covered remains of the outer fortifications.

The 90-foot-high (27-metre) central tower was circular in cross-section with three rectangular, clasping towers built out from the 49-foot-wide (15-metre) structure. The tower was based on a precise set of proportions, its various dimensions following the one-to-the-root-of-two ratio found in many English churches of the period. Much of the interior is built with high-quality ashlar stonework, with broad, 5-foot-6-inch-wide (1.7-metre) staircases. The best chambers were designed to catch the early morning sun, whilst the various parts of the keep were draught-proofed with doors and carefully designed windows. Originally the roof of the keep, above the upper hall, would have formed a domed effect, with a tall steeple above that.

The keep was surrounded by a curtain wall with probably four flanking towers and a fortified gatehouse protecting a relatively small bailey; these outer defences, rather than the keep, probably represented the main defences of the castle. The marshes nearby were drained, turning the village of Orford into a sheltered port. The castle, including the surrounding ditch, palisade and stone bridge, cost £1,413 to build, the work possibly being conducted by the master mason Alnoth. Some of the timbers were brought from as far away as Scarborough, and the detailed stonework being carved from limestone from Caen in Normandy, the remainder of the stone being variously local mudstone and coralline, as well as limestone from Northamptonshire.