Confraternitas Senate Meeting, 6th February 2019

The Senate convened to discuss creating a competition to design a new Confraternitas crest, which would be put on new society merchandise. The Princeps, Magister, Pontifex, Caeremonarius, Treasurer, Informaticus and one of the Tribunes were in attendance. It was decided that after the submissions were made a poll would be carried out amongst members to decide the winner, and that the prize for the winner would be a free formal at the last meeting of term. There were subsequently five submissions, out of which Ethan Lee’s design was the winner with 38.9% of the 36 votes cast.

Magister Rotulorum – Camille Houghton-Grimshaw

Princeps Senatus – Christos Constantopoulos


Confraternitas Annual Dinner, 26th January 2019

The guest speaker for the annual dinner was professor of imperial Russia Simon Dixon, who gave a fascinating insight into the workings of the Foreign Office in Moscow. Also invited to speak were Dr Rhys Jones, who followed Professor Gerstle’s example from the previous year by delving into the minutes from Confraternitas meetings taken around a hundred years ago. Lewis Thomas (Pontifex Maximus) also delivered a speech, as did Christos Constantopoulos (Princeps Senatus). Following the meal many of the members retired the bar, where they remained until closing time.

Magister Rotulorum – Camille Houghton-Grimshaw

Princeps Senatus – Christos Constantopoulos

Confraternitas Dissertation Evening, 17th January 2019

The evening provided an opportunity for third year students taking dissertations (Jono Faber, Lewis Thomas, Charlie Walton and Christos Constantopoulos) to discuss their research with members of the Confraternitas, and for younger members to ask about the practicalities of dissertation research and writing. Ella Nixon, a third year who chose to take an additional paper instead of a dissertation, also had the chance to talk to students about alternatives to taking a dissertation. We had also planned to hear from Tim Schmalz about his PhD research, but he was unfortunately delayed and so was unable to make the meeting. Attendees were invited as usual to formal hall after the talk.


Magister Rotulorum – Camille Houghton-Grimshaw

Princeps Senatus – Christos Constantopoulos


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)