NYU’s Medieval and Renaissance Center presents the first speaker in our Fall 2021 Distinguished Lecture Series, Isabel Moreira.
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About the event:
"Slave, Queen, and Abolitionist: The Life and Legacy of St. Balthild of Francia (d. 680)."
St. Balthild is easy to find in Paris. The statue of this Merovingian queen is among the twenty queens and illustrious women whose presence has adorned the Luxembourg Gardens since the 1840s. Yet the enduring success of Balthild's cult in the Paris region can appear surprising: she was not French by birth, she was not a great mystic or miracle worker, nor was she the most royal of saints having been elevated from slave to queen through her marriage to King Clovis II. However, her status as a slave and her policies against the slave trade marked her out as interesting to nineteenth-century abolitionists. Reflecting on the challenges of writing the biography of a seventh-century slave and queen, this talk will examine Balthild's remarkable story and the use that has been made of it across the centuries.
About the speaker:
Isabel Moreira is Professor of History, and 2020-2022 James L. Clayton Research Professor at the University of Utah.
Her scholarship focuses on the social, cultural, religious and intellectual history of Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages with an emphasis on cultural expressions of religious ideas in the Merovingian period. Her most recent publications have focused on the history of purgatory and the afterlife as expressions of ideas about power, religion, and justice.
She is editor (with Bonnie Effros) of The Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian World (publication 2020), 45 essays by prominent and emergent scholars, historians and archaeologists, exploring the history and connections of the Merovingian World. In 2010 Heaven's Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity was published by Oxford University Press (2014 paperback), and also in 2010 she published, with Margaret Toscano, Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, a collection of 15 essays that consider ideas of hell beginning in its classical roots and extending to modern graphic novels and journalism in an era of terrorism. In 2000 Dreams, Visions and Spiritual Authority in Merovingian Gaul was published by Cornell University Press, a work that examines how authority was constructed at the margins of established institutions of power and how ultimately, a commitment to the idea of access to the spiritual realm was maintained in the face of more restrictive voices, allowing for the negotiation of power in individual communities.
Her current interests include Merovingian rings, ghost narratives, and historical biography.
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