University of Leuven Medieval History Doctoral Fellowship 2017, Belgium

Publish Date: Jun 29, 2017

Deadline: Jul 23, 2017


For Medieval History, Leuven we are looking for a motivated doctoral student to investigate the functioning of councils and synods during the ‘long tenth century’. Central to this research is a thorough terminological study and contextual analysis of these meetings in West-Francia and Lotharingia. The objective is to grasp the meaning of ecclesiastical assemblies within the framework of the complex transformation of the Post-Carolingian world. Your research, which will take place under the supervision of Professor Brigitte Meijns, will result in a doctoral dissertation after four years.


The KU Leuven Research Unit Medieval History explores the western Middle Ages from a viewpoint of continuity between the Middle Ages and Late Antiquity, on the one hand, and the Early Modern period, on the other. By abandoning traditional periodization, the members of this research unit invite interdisciplinarity and cross-border research without losing sight of the individuality of the medieval period. Their geographical research area consists, broadly speaking, of the region of the Southern Low Countries and its interaction with the surrounding regions. The research of our staff members and the courses they teach at KU Leuven focus on the interaction between Church and society, on the one hand, and urban history, on the other. The study of the relationship between ecclesiastical and secular authorities during the Early and High Middle Ages is one of the cornerstones of our research. Particular attention is paid to the authority of tenth- and eleventh-century bishops in the church province of Rheims and neighbouring dioceses.


Ecclesiastical Assemblies and the Transformation of Post-Carolingian Society. Councils and Synods as a Forum for Negotiation between Kings, Church Leaders and Secular Magnates (Francia, c.875-c. 1050)

This project will investigate the functioning of councils and assemblies during the‘long tenth century’, a period of crucial transformation in society. In traditional scholarship early medieval ecclesiastical gatherings have essentially been considered as a practical tool for the administration of the Church, and as such, they have been disregarded in scholarship on political assemblies. This project proposes a shift from an almost exclusively religious interpretation towards a more holistic approach. This new approach is in line with early medieval society as the integration of religion and politics left little room for highly independent secular and ecclesiastical spheres. The project will focus on the host of regional, provincial and diocesan church andother assemblies which gathered in West Francia/France and Lotharingia during the important transition from Post-Carolingian to ‘feudal’ society. It will test the hypothesis that against the background of fading royal power, these meetings, which dealt with a range of issues (political, religious, social),operated as a forum for negotiation and decision-making between church leaders,kings and secular magnates, and as a means to broadcast visions about the proper ordering of Church and society. In particular, it will be argued that is was precisely through the organization of a wide range of these assemblies that bishops took the lead and played a decisive role at key moments in the history of West Francia and Lotharingia.


  • You have obtained a Master’s degree in History with excellent results (by September 2017, at the latest).
  • You have a keen interest and demonstrable expertise in the history of the Middle Ages.
  • You possess a good command of English, French, German and Dutch.
  • You possess a positive research attitude and a good knowledge of (medieval) Latin.
  • You are enthusiastic about communicating your research at (inter)national conferences, social media, education and in (international) journals. 


We offer you a doctoral fellowship for a period of four years in a young and dynamic research environment.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Brigitte Meijns, tel.: +32 16 32 49 98, mail:
For questions regarding doctoral research at the Research Unit Medieval History, please contact dr. Ortwin Huysmans:

Please add to your cv and motivation letter, the following information: 
- a diploma supplement listing the seperate results of your courses during both BA and MA
- a pdf-version of your MA-thesis (or a sample chapter of the MA-thesis)
For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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