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Medieval Studies Workshop | Mercenaries, States, and Organized Violence: Europe and North Africa, 1100–1500

April 8, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Michael Lower, Professor, History, University of Minnesota

Workshop: “Mercenaries, States, and Organized Violence: Europe and North Africa, 1100–1500”

Friday, April 8th, 2022 | 12:00–1:00pm CT | Science Hall, Room 450

*Please note that these workshops are restricted to UW–Madison faculty, students, staff, and participants of the GAMS Colloquium.*

RSVP for readings to Tania Kolarik at tkolarik@wisc.edu.

Abstract: Medieval European mercenaries are often seen as impediments to state formation because European monarchies found them expensive and difficult to control. By taking a broader comparative approach to their deployment that encompasses North Africa, I show that these soldiers could serve as effective agents of state power. Abandoning the mercenaries is sometimes represented as a positive break with the medieval past that accelerated European progress into the modern political order of states and standing armies. From a comparative point of view, however, this transition looks more like a gradual retreat from a system for organizing violence that continued to function well in other parts of the world.

Professor Lower’s public lecture and workshop is sponsored by the Anonymous Fund, the Program in Medieval Studies, Department of History, Department of Art History, Institute for Research in Humanities, Middle East Studies Program, Center for Religion and Global Citizenry, and the Graduate Association of Medieval Studies. This lecture and workshop is also funded in part by an Associated Students of Madison (ASM) viewpoint neutral grant and the Wisconsin Experience Grant (WEG). For accessibility accommodations, please contact: gams@rso.wisc.edu.


Science Hall
550 N. Park St.
Madison, WI 53706 United States
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