Monday, July 21, 2008

CFP: Mendicants and Merchants in the Medieval Mediterranean

Mendicants and Merchants in the Medieval Mediterranean

International Medieval Congress

Kalamazoo, Michigan

May 7-10, 2009

Describing the friars as the “merchants of the church,” Francisco GarcĂ­a-Serrano begins the introduction to his book, Preachers of the City: The Expansion of the Dominican Order in Castile, by placing Spanish Dominicans into a broader historical context. In doing so, he highlights the many similarities between mendicants and merchants that developed between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries throughout the Mediterranean, but the relationships between the two communities have rarely been addressed elsewhere in the scholarship on this period. Garcia-Serrano points out that in cities and urban centers throughout the medieval Mediterranean and beyond, friars and merchants crossed paths daily, often living parallel lives that included travel to other countries and interaction and exchange with a wide variety of people with the ultimate goal of “selling” a particular product. To that end, both groups commonly used vernacular languages in order to communicate with as many people as possible. The connections between the mendicants and the merchants are not limited to the similarities in their lifestyles. While the friars provided instruction to the merchant community in medieval universities, the merchants provided financial support for the ministries of the friars. Furthermore, the Mendicant Orders offered the merchants a new kind of spirituality that was tailored to their needs and, with the support of the friars, merchants began to develop their own confraternities.

This session is meant to encourage an interdisciplinary discussion of the relationships between mendicants and merchants that will provide insight into the artistic, literary, and religious exchanges that took place throughout the Mediterranean and beyond between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Because this interaction between the mendicants and the merchants was so extensive, we welcome papers from many disciplines, including but not limited to history, art history, literature, music, and religious studies.

Proposals should be for a fifteen to twenty-minute paper (the length of time to be determined after all proposals have been received). Please submit your abstract of approximately 300 words with a completed Participant Information Form to Emily Kelley at no later than September 1, 2008. The Participant Information Forms are available on line at:

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