“We are all servants” — The Diversity of Service in Premodern Europe (20-22 Sept)

When and Where

Friday, September 20, 2019 9:00 am to Sunday, September 22, 2019 4:30 pm
Great Hall, Centre for Medieval Studies
Lillian Massey Building
125 Queen's Park Crescent


Organized by Isabelle Cochelin (UofT), Elisheva Baumgarten (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Konrad Eisenbichler (UofT) with Lochin Brouillard (UofT) and Emma Gabe (UofT)

Scientific Advisory Board: Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux (EHESS) and Diane Wolfthal (Rice University)

Administration: Lane Springer (UofT)

Click here for Registration 

Location: Great Hall, Centre for Medieval Studies (UofT)


Friday: September 20th

8am-9am – Registration

9am-9:30am – Opening Remarks

I. Service in (Jewish and Christian) Legal and Religious Discourses

9:30am-11:00am – The Legal Discourse on Service 

Chair: Steven Bednarski (University of Waterloo)

Ilana Ben-Ezra (New York University), “Between Custom and Law: Raymond de Penaforte’s approach to the Master-Servant Relationship Between Jews and Christians”

Yael Ejgenberg (Bar-Ilan University), “Domestic servants in Jewish households and rabbinical law in medieval Europe”

Sarah Pech-Pelletier (Univ. Paris 13), “L’évolution de la notion de ‘service’ entre les XIIIe et XVIe siècles: serviteurs, esclaves et maîtres sous le regard de la loi”

11:00am-1pm- Lunch (ad lib)

1pm-2:30pm – The Concept of Service in Religious Texts 

Chair: Lochin Brouillard (University of Toronto)

Magda Hayton (Missouri State University), “The Concept of Service in Hildegard of Bingen’s Apocalyptic Discourse and the Making of the Exordium magnum

Judah Galinsky (Bar-Ilan University), “The Religious Ideal of the “Faithful Servant”: Moses of Coucy and Rashi”

Discussion on the importance of service in both medieval Judaism and Christianity led by Elisheva Baumgarten (Hebrew University), Darlene Brooks Hedstrom (Wittenberg University), and Isabelle Cochelin (University of Toronto)

2:30pm-3pm- Coffee Break

II. Service in Lay Context (in Christian and Jewish milieus)

3pm-4:30pm – Differences in Status and Religion 

Chair: Judith Baskin (University of Oregon)

Lucie Laumonier (Concordia University), “Domestic Service in Late Medieval Languedoc: The Household and the Family”

Federica Francesconi (University at Albany, SUNY), “Anonymous Women, Last Wills, and Domestic Service in the Early-Modern Venetian Ghetto”

Natalie Rothman (University of Toronto), “Patronage and servitude in early modern Catholic Istanbul”


Saturday: September 21st

8:30-10:30am –Servants and Masters

Chair: Natalie Zemon Davis (University of Toronto)

Debra Blumenthal (University of California at Santa Barbara), “’Services for which I expect to be compensated’: Mothering as a Labor of Love in Fifteenth-Century Valencia”

P. J. P. Goldberg (University of York, UK), “The experience of life-cycle servanthood in later medieval English town and country”

Shannon McSheffrey (Concordia University), “Servants, Masters, and Xenophobic Violence in early Tudor London”

Elizabeth S. Cohen (York University), ““I am a girl, a servant, and I eat their bread”: Domestic service and dependency in Rome, circa 1600”

10:30am-11am – Coffee Break

11am-1pm – Trust and Mistrust 

Chair: Angela Zhang (York University)

Emily J. Hutchison (Mount Royal University, Calgary), “Mutual Suspicion and Distrust: Servants and Masters in the Criminal Records of Late Medieval Paris”

Kim M. Phillips (University of Auckland), “Breast into Service: Wet Nurses in Late Medieval England”

Elena Brizio (Georgetown University, Fiesole Campus, Italy), “Friends or Enemies? Sienese Servant Women in the 15thand 16thcenturies”

Marlee Couling (York University), “‘She would long since have been starved’: The Alliances of Mistresses and Female Servants in Seventeenth-Century England”

1pm-2pm- Lunch

III. Service in Christian Religious Contexts

2pm-3:30pm –Service in Female Religious Communities 

Chair: Bert Roest (Radboud University)

Kate E. Bush (University of Rhode Island), “Maids of the Handmaidens: Manual Labor in Female Franciscan Community, c. 1250-1550”

Emma Gabe (University of Toronto), “The Discourse on Service in the Late Medieval Sister-Books”

Isabel Harvey (Humboldt University, Berlin & Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice), “Tridentine Reform of Convents from Below: When Servants Become Converse Nuns”

3:30pm-4pm -Coffee Break

4pm-5:30pm –Serving Recluses, Priests and the Sick 

Chair: Konrad Eisenbichler (University of Toronto)

Laura Moncion (University of Toronto), “Crossing the Threshold: Recluses and their Servants”

Adam J. Davis (Denison University), “Servants in Medieval Hospitals: In Service of the Sick Poor ‘Lords of the House’”

Roisin Cossar (University of Manitoba), “The Life Stories of Clerics’ Servants in Fifteenth-Century Italy”


Sunday: September 22nd

IV. Service in Art, Literature and Court

9:30am-11am – Service at Court 

Chair: Elisa Brilli (University of Toronto)

Arnaud Montreuil (University of Ottawa), “Qui pour armes servoient: service and knighting in vernacular literature (12thand 13thcent.)”

Jiting Chu (Zhengzhou University), “L’Accompagnement en tant que service : les suivantes des dames de haute noblesse à la fin du Moyen Âge”

Rolf Strom-Olsen (IE School of Arts & Humanities, Madrid), “The Part-Time Courtier: the periodic contract system at the Court of Burgundy”

11am-11:30am- Coffee Break

11:30am-1pm – Visual Representation of Service 

Chair: Matt Kavaler (University of Toronto)

Francesca Canadé Sautman (Hunter College), “Women Servants, Headwraps and Turbans: Locating Status and Service in the fifteenth-century Burgundian Reach”

Diane Wolfthal (Rice University), “The Unseen Servant”

Mathilde Legeay (University de Nantes), “Between painting and reality: maidservants in seventeenth-century religious Italian painting”

1pm-2pm – Lunch

2pm-3:00pm – Staging Service and Servants 

Chair: Mario Longtin (Western University)

Laura Muñoz (UCLA), “Servants and the Politics of Language Choice in Three Plays by Guillén de Castro”

Rosalind Kerr (University of Alberta), “Masters and Servants On and Off stage in The Commedia dell’Arte”

3pm-3:30pm- Coffee Break

3:30pm-4:30pm – Concluding Round Table 

Chair: Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux (EHESS)

Diane Wolfthal (Rice University), Shami Ghosh (University of Toronto), Elizabeth Ewan (Guelph University), and Mario Longtin (Western University, London).


125 Queen's Park Crescent