The Medieval Studies community in the Pioneer Valley is a thriving group of scholars and students who meet several times each year, usually at organized events of relevance to the study of the Middle Ages. The Five College Medieval Seminar sponsors several talks each year and Mt. Holyoke College is the host of the annual Ruth Dean Lecture in the fall. Institutions in the Valley have also underwritten single large gatherings, such as UMass' 2010 International Boccaccio Conference where more than 60 medievalists from six countries came together to share their research.

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Spring 2014

"Hell, Burning Alive, and Human Societies in Orleans in 1022"

Michael Barbezat, PhD
University of Toronto

Date: Monday, March 10
Time: 4:30 pm
Place: Chapin 101, Amherst College

The presentation will draw upon a forthcoming Journal of Medieval History article on the significance of Hell and hellfire in the sources for the first recorded burning of humans for the crime of heresy in the medieval West at Orleans in 1022. Barbezat suggests that the main sources for this event describe the execution of the heretics by fire as an enactment of their eschatological destinies: the fires of execution literally handed the heretics at Orleans off to the fires of Hell, enacting in miniature the fate that awaited all those who failed to take their place within a united Christian society, be they heretics, Muslims, or Jews.