Urban Cultures of Contest in Premodern Europe -

A (pretty) short review of the International conference at the Institute for Comparative Urban History (Münster, 20-22 October, 2016)

Program of the conference

A very fruitful 3 days international conference has just ended. I was co-organiser and I can say on the behalf of the organising committee (Dr. Christian Jaser – Berlin and Dr. Jean-Dominique Delle Luche – Paris) that it went beyond our expectations. It stemmed from a panel held together at the IMC in Leeds in 2013 about martial pleasure. We felt then that it had more potential and deserved a better window. The Institute for Comparative Urban History and the generous support of the Thyssen Foundation provided the platform for experts coming from the broad International scene (USA, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany and Italy).

In the various sessions different contests such as fencing contests, palio (horse races), tournament, battagliole, foot races, naval races, shooting contests, academic and artistic contests were addressed in the perspective of a comparative approach of “culture of contest”, through the lenses of urban history approaches.

 Conference attendees

Conference attendees

By comparing case studies about this rich – and often understudied – material, based on solid interdisciplinary approaches, document mapping, deep and broad archival sweeps, the contributors drew the promising lines around the concept of a comparative urban culture of contest spanning from 14th until 17th c.

We now will focus on the endeavours needed to turn this great conference into a milestone collective volume, paving the way for the (many) research interests into the topic, hoping for the development of a needed renewal of historical approach of these competitive phenomena.