Introduction from Dr. Cartwright

Hello to everyone at Christopher Newport! As the new medieval historian on campus I’m pleased to be joining the community here. I’m currently teaching our new history courses on the Early Middle Ages (Fall 2015) and the Later Middle Ages (Spring 2016), and working on courses on the Crusades, Medieval England, and the Black Death for the 2016/17 academic year. I’m really enjoying being part of this program, and happy to get the chance to introduce you all to some of what I do.

 

The abbey of La Trinité, Caen. Founded by Matilda of Flanders in 1066 and where her daughter Cecilia became abbess. © C. Cartwright 2013

The abbey of La Trinité, Caen. Founded by Matilda of Flanders in 1066 and where her daughter Cecilia became abbess. © C. Cartwright 2013

Very broadly, I study the High Middle Ages. In particular I focus on the Anglo-Norman world of the tenth and eleventh centuries. My research focuses on family networks – the connections and ties of birth, marriage, fostering and friendship that bind together kingroups. In medieval Europe government was done through such groups, and political power and wealth were often gathered together or distributed through these family ties. I began my career researching the women who held the title of countess in Normandy in the tenth and eleventh centuries, particularly focusing on Matilda of Flanders, the wife of William the Conqueror, who became queen of England after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

My work involves the field known as “Digital Humanities”. To study family relationships and to see how individuals exercised power and used their wealth I study medieval charters. I currently have a database of over 300 Norman charters which records the appearance of every individual in an active role. This database allows me to look for patterns of behavior and patterns of appearance which inform us about the ties and connections that brought kin and friends together in medieval Normandy.
The manuscript reading room of the Archives Départementales de Seine-Maritime, © C. Cartwright 2013

The manuscript reading room of the Archives Départementales de Seine-Maritime, © C. Cartwright 2013

 

Currently I am studying one particular Norman woman named Emma. Emma was a member of the ducal family in Normandy, and mother of William fitzOsbern (a close friend of William the Conqueror and Matilda). Emma was also the first abbess of the nunnery of Saint-Amand in Rouen. In 2013 I received a grant from Le Moyne College (where I worked previously) to travel to Normandy and do research on Saint-Amand at the Archives Départmentales de Seine-Maritime in Rouen. This summer I plan to study the cartulary of the foundation to see what role Emma played within the house. The cartulary has been digitized, and can be seen if you click on the image of the manuscript here.

 

 

 

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