Confrat 29th November 2018, Dr Bronwen Everill: “Africa in the Age of Abolition”

“Africa in the Age of Abolition”

Dr Bronwen Everill (Gonville and Caius)

The last Michaelmas Term meeting of the Confraternitas took place in the Knox Shaw Room on a Thursday, yet another sign that the Confraternitas has strayed from its sacred traditions. Our guest, Dr Everill, spoke about West Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Dr Everill sketched out in great detail the trade networks and polities involved in the West African slave trade, focusing primarily on the West Africans rather than the Europeans. She reconstructed an era where political expansion, shifting balance of power and Muslim religious movements added to unrest and change in the region. Dr Everill’s talk pushed particularly hard against simplistic accounts of abolition, by illustrating the various agents driving it, particularly the indigenous ones, and their often very ambiguous motives.

The talk was followed by a barrage of questions; fortunately, we had the time to entertain all of them. The Princeps adjourned the meeting and members of the Confraternitas joined Dr Everill for formal dinner.

Camille Houghton-Grimshaw (Magister Rotulorum)
Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos (Princeps Senatus)


Confrat Senate, 26th October 2018

Christos Konstantopoulos (Princeps Senatus)
Lewis Thomas (Pontifex Maximus)
Kathryn Newbold (Comes Sacri Thesauri)
Jessica Womack (Caeremonarius)
Gianni Fennings (Fabricius)

Apologies from:
Tim Schmalz (Tribune)
Taushif Kara (Tribune)
Camille Houghton- Grimshaw (Magister Rotulorum)

The Senate convened in Blundell Court Fifth Floor Kitchen to discuss:

• The creation of the post of the Informaticus, who would manage the Confraternitas website so that it would not continue to be disused. This would be an official Senate position. Christos had spoken to Chantelle and she had indicated that she would be willing to take on this role. The username and password for the website had been located. Everyone present was in approval of this proposal, all members not present had indicated beforehand that they also approved. There was some discussion about whether the title should be Latin or Anglo Saxon, and it was decided that it should be Latin due to the initial decision of the Confraternitas founders to have titles in Latin. The title was not firmly decided upon, but would work as a title for the time being unless something else came up.

• The next item was the creation of a Facebook page so that Confraternitas events could be advertised to non-History and History and Politics students. This could either be taken on as part of the Informaticus’ role, or could be taken up by the Fabricius. Kathryn commented that this might depend on whether the Informaticus would also have an archival role, and that this might be a good role for the Fabricuius until the archival role of the Informaticus was complete. It was agreed that Gianni would take on the Facebook page for the time being as part of his role as Fabricius.

• Amendment of Clause VIII of the Confraternitas Constitution which states, “That all the Committee be undergraduate members of the college” in order to introduce a sub-clause that would establish the role of the two Tribunes for postgraduates. De facto the tribunes had already been in their roles for five years, but the constitution needed to reflect this. This would be useful to establish postgraduates as members of the Confraternitas so that college would allow the Princeps access to the list of graduates. Lewis agreed, but stressed that the sub-clause needed to be worded so that fellows could not hold positions on the committee. The wording decided upon was:

Sub Clause VIII(a). The position of Tribune shall be reserved for graduate students in the first instance, and devolve to undergraduate students in the absence of willing graduate students.

• There was some discussion about the punishment Dr Fulda might choose to mete out should the office of Princeps ever be given to an engineer rather than a historian.

• Lewis raised the point that nobody was technically a member of the Confraternitas because they had not undergone the initiation ceremony. He did not propose to bring the initiation ceremony back as it is written in the Constitution, but thought it might be a good idea to have a mass initiation at the beginning of the next meeting in which the Pontifex would call out and those gathered would respond that they would keep the society’s secrets. Lewis did not propose amending the Constitution. All present were in favour of this motion.

The meeting adjourned.

Confrat, 13th November 2018,Professor John Morrill, “The Making of Oliver Cromwell Revisited: New Evidence and New Perspectives”

The Making of Oliver Cromwell Revisited: New Evidence and New Perspectives
Professor John Morrill (Selwyn)

The Confraternitas met again in the Knox Shaw Room for the third event of talk of term, which was given by Professor John Morrill. In his welcome address the Princeps also gave a short speech in remembrance of members of the Confraternitas who had fought in World War One, eleven of whom had been killed. He then introduced Professor Morrill.

Professor Morrill had provided the audience with a hand-out which contained three letters written by Oliver Cromwell, and most of the talk was spent in explaining the conclusions that Professor Morrill had been able to draw from their contents. By using these pieces of evidence from Cromwell’s younger years he elaborated on the Cromwell’s radical history, including his religious conversion and involvement with an underground church. Professor Morrill also explained why Cromwell had chosen to attend Sidney Sussex when his family had a tradition of attending Queen’s, and why Cromwell had been willing to imprison the master of Sidney during the later period of the Civil War. His conclusion was that Cromwell had attended the college because it was the cheapest, and that he had not been overly-attached to it perhaps because the college had chosen to sell a piece of silver that he had donated to it. As usual audience members were invited to ask questions at the end, which drew a great deal of interest.

Professor Morrill also gave permission for the talk to be recorded, which was used to encourage the interest of Sidney students in the college’s history. The meeting was adjourned by the Princeps and students left for the formal hall dinner, which Professor Morrill regretted that he could not attend due to another engagement that evening.

Camille Houghton-Grimshaw (Magister Rotulorum)
Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos (Princeps Senatus)


Confrat 30th October 2018, Dr Julia Guarneri, “Beyond the Headlines: The Inside World of American Newspapers in their Heyday”

Beyond the Headlines: The Inside World of American Newspapers in their Heyday
Dr Julia Guarneri (Fitzwilliam)

The Confraternitas met in the Knox Shaw Room for the second event of term, which was a talk by Dr Julia Guarneri. The meeting began with a mass initiation of the members administered by the Pontifex Maximus, which was the first time in a number of years that students had been formally initiated. The Princeps then opened the meeting by introducing Dr Guarneri.

Dr Guarneri spoke about the changes that advertising brought about in American newspapers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and how these changes impacted upon the reading habits of their readerships. The talk particularly focused on the growth of a mass-market consumer culture within American society. In answering questions from the audience Dr Guarneri also touched on the role of newspapers in creating imagined communities within American cities. Audience members were also given the opportunity at the end of the talk to look at a book of comic strips from American newspapers that Dr Guarneri had brought with her. There were such a large number of questions that Dr Guarneri did not have time to answer all of them.

The Princeps adjourned the meeting and the talk was followed, as usual, by a formal hall dinner. At the dinner students were joined by Dr Guarneri.

Camille Houghton-Grimshaw (Magister Rotulorum)
Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos (Princeps Senatus)

Confrat, 21st October 2018, ‘Delieur me from my decytful ennemies’: How the Tudors Mastered Musical Propaganda Dr David Skinner

‘Delieur me from my decytful ennemies’: How the Tudors Mastered Musical Propaganda
Dr David Skinner (Sidney Sussex)

The Confraternitas met in the Knox Shaw Room for the first event of term, which was a talk by Dr David Skinner. The Princeps welcomed the members, and gave a special welcome to the fresher students who were attending the Confraternitas for the first time.

Dr Skinner spoke about the discovery of fragments of music by the composer Thomas Tallis found in the walls of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. The fragments revealed that Catherine Parr had authored words to accompany the music in support of Henry VIII’s war in France, and Dr Skinner found that the piece had been performed at a public ceremony in 1544 to rally the nation around the king during a time of war.

The talk was briefly interrupted by the fire alarm, but the proceedings soon resumed after it was found to be a false alarm.

The audience asked a number of insightful questions, the first of which was asked, as is customary, by a fresher. After this the Princeps adjourned the meeting and some of the confraternitas members left for a formal hall dinner, which Dr Skinner attended.

Camille Houghton-Grimshaw (Magister Rotulorum)

Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos (Princeps Senatus)



Confrat 21st November 2017, Professor Lesley Abrams, “Pagans and Christians in the Early Middle Ages: Conflict, Conversion and Accommodation”

The Confraternitas Historica held its last event for Michaelmas Term 2017 on the 21st of November 2017. Professor Lesley Abrams from The Other Place gave a talk on “Pagans and Christians in the Early Middle Ages: Conflict, Conversion and Accommodation”. Focusing on medieval England and Scandinavia, but also touching on other case studies such as Mexico, Professor Abrams demonstrated the fascinating intricacy of the experience of religious conversion.
Key symbolic points of this encounter were emphasised, such as the practice of baptism in the case of Viking leaders, which entailed not just conversion but also acknowledgment of dependence and interconnection to the godfather’s family, and as such was often used as an extension of geostrategic considerations. Professor Abrams also explored the question of identity: when can one say they have converted? To be a Christian, does baptism suffice? Does your way of life matter? As our speaker demonstrated, these were questions that greatly concerned the religious leaders of the time, and the strategies they chose had profound implications for the future development of religious practices which are still visible today.
Professor Abrams ended her talk cautioning us against ruling too quickly in favour of the more accommodating approaches being more humane. By pointing out that in modern India, Hinduists criticise Christian groups for presenting Mary in a sari, she illustrated that “accommodation” can be seen not only as tolerance, but also as a subtle attempt at luring the masses into the new religion.
The talk was followed by great applause, and our members were so engaged that we did not have time to entertain all of the questions. Unfortunately, Professor Abrams was not able to join us for formal hall.
Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos (Magister Rotulorum)
Isla Stevens (Princeps Senatus)

Confrat 6th March 2018, Dr Marko Hoare, Dr. Roma Sendyka, Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos, “Public and Popular History”

The last meeting of the Confraternitas for the academic year 2017-2018 was held on Tuesday, March 6th,2018, in cooperation – unofficially, due to the industrial action of the University and College Union – with the Public & Popular History Seminar, which is convened by Frater Dr Bernhard Fulda. It was rather original, possibly being the first meeting of the Confraternitas which used Skype to connect the speaker to our fratres and sorores. Or should I say speakers, plural: this was a panel discussion on Painful Pasts: History & Activism, featuring three speakers.

Our first speaker, Dr Marko Hoare, has published extensively on the history of Yugoslavia and was involved in war crimes investigations pertaining to the 1990s wars spawned by Yugoslavia’s disintegration. He spoke to us from the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, on the ways in which historical narratives of the 1940s in particular were formulated during the communist period and then revised after the collapse of Yugoslavia.

Our next speaker, Dr Roma Sendyka, has a deep interest in memory culture; unfortunately, she was unable to grace us with her presence because of a virus. Nevertheless, the wonders of technology enabled her to reach us from Krakow, and explain in detail attempts to raise awareness and establish official commemoration of the Płaszów Concentration camp in Poland’s medieval capital.

The last speaker, Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos, is a frater widely published on Papers 2, 7, 18, 23 and 24, and his use of university sources for his ongoing research on Paper 24 meant he was able to join us in person. Christos spoke about the memory politics surrounding the controversial annual memorial services at the Pigada of Meligalas, a site where Axis collaborators were killed by Greek partisans in 1944.

The discussion elicited insightful observations and queries by the audience. We were especially happy to notice that questions were also asked by attendees who are not part of the Confraternitas family. The major lesson of this event was that Krakow’s internet connection is better to Sarajevo’s. As is customary, the talk(s) was followed by Formal Hall.

Christos-Stavros Konstantopoulos (Magister Rotulorum)

Isla Stevens (Princeps Senatus)