As the largest academic conference of its kind in Europe, the International Medieval Congress attracts more than 2,700 medievalists from all over the world! It provides a thriving forum for the discussion of all things of Medieval Studies. It’s always jam packed with a variety of events, from academic lectures to combat demonstrations and a medieval craft fair.

Here in the Leeds University Library Galleries, we celebrated by showcasing the best and beautiful from our Special Collections, welcoming over 300 visitors throughout the week. Each day we displayed an assortment of medieval treasures; illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, chained books and more. Members of the team from Special Collections at the University of Leeds were on hand to give visitors the chance to meet the people who take care of these priceless items.

Annunciation to the Virgin (fol. 86v), from Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis [BC MS 7]

On Monday we held ‘Meet the Archivist!’ where representatives from archives and libraries across the region, including the Universities of York, Durham, and the Borthwick Institute, were invited to tell visitors about the medieval materials they have in their unique and distinctive holdings.

Visitors were treated to a choice selection of ‘Manorial Documents’ on Tuesday. These documents are an invaluable source of information about ordinary people’s lives from the 13th to the 16th century. Many of Special Collections’ manorial documents that were on display are part of the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society collection which is on long term deposit. Of particular interest were the extensive series of court rolls of the manor of Wakefield (1274-1925) and records in the Skipton Castle Collection.

‘Wednesday Wonders’ proved extremely popular, showcasing beautiful illuminated 15th-century French and Flemish books of hours, psalters, and prayer books, as well as German chained manuscripts from the 1450s.

King David (fol. 21r), Textualis Quadrata from [Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis]

The final session of the week was ‘Investigating Provenance’, understanding the use and abuse of early printed books, where book labels, bookplates, annotations, dedications, visual marginalia and other evidence can reveal fascinating details about the lives and libraries of previous owners.

We’d like to thank everyone for visiting our sessions and the Special Collections team for all their hard work! Be sure to come back next year.