Redes de Poder en las Sociedades Medievales

Departamento de Estudios Medievales
Instituto de Historia

SH-Social Sciences and Humanities
SH6 The Study of the Human Past
SH5 Cultures and Cultural Production

Networks of Power in Medieval Societies is an interdisciplinary research group headed by specialists in medieval art (Therese Martin), Christian kingdoms (Julio Escalona, Cristina Jular Pérez-Alfaro, Ana Rodríguez), and al-Andalus (Eduardo Manzano). The group investigates networks of power in Christian and Islamic societies through an analysis of the written, material, and artistic record. It is based on groundbreaking scholarship crossing several disciplines, advocating the combination of sources in order to produce significant knowledge concerning the creation and effects of dominion in medieval multicultural societies.

The objective of the research group is the study of structures and relationships of power in the Middle Ages. In both Islamic and Christian societies, «power» is understood not only as a social hallmark and a political practice, but also as a language reflected through different sorts of evidence. For this reason, the group focuses on a wide variety of sources, including charters and chronicles, archives and libraries, objects and buildings. A basic premise of this approach is the consideration of documentary and material/artistic evidence on equal and complementary terms, rather than as independent or subsidiary fields. Another feature of the group is its interest in multiculturalism in medieval times in general, and in Iberian societies in particular, holding that the investigation of power—both theory and practice—in Christian and Muslim formations under the above-mentioned approach has the capacity to open innovative perspectives for medieval studies as a whole. Our unique comparative approach seeks to explain, for example, why certain sorts of institutional continuity come to characterise government and society in the West, but not in the Islamic world. A similar comparative approach is applied to the study of medieval territoriality: how territory was claimed, maintained, and disputed by multiple overlapping actors, as well as its role in the construction of social complexity. The group also has the objective of reassessing the position of medieval women in networks and representations of power by demonstrating that their importance within the history of art has been undervalued, delving into their roles as patrons and facilitators, producers and artists, owners and recipients, within specific social and political contexts across cultural and religious divides.

Research Areas and Internationalization

The members of Networks of Power in Medieval Societies have a very strong track record of highly regarded interdisciplinary research with an emphasis on internationalization.

Therese Martin (researcher in charge) specializes in the central Middle Ages, focusing on Romanesque art and architecture, along with women’s involvement with art across a range of medieval cultures. She previously directed an ERC Starting Grant, Reassessing the Roles of Women as ‘Makers’ of Medieval Art and Architecture (2010-2015, Recently, she was the Kratter Visiting Professor in the History Department at Stanford University (Oct. 2017-Mar. 2018), a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (Nov. 2017), and the 2019-2020 Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies.

Ana Rodríguez (MEDhis coordinator) investigates power relations in Christian kingdoms of the central Middle Ages. She is currently the Principal Investigator of an ERC Advanced Grant, Petrifying Wealth. The Southern European Shift to Masonry as Collective Investment in Identity, c. 1050-1300, and she previously headed Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom, a Marie S.-Curie Initial Training Network consisting of eleven institutions in Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Israel, France, and the Netherlands, coordinated from the CCHS-CSIC in Madrid.

Eduardo Manzano’s research has concentrated on the history of Islamic Spain in the medieval period and on the political implications of social history and memory. The director of the Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CCHS-CSIC) from its inception until 2012, he was more recently a Research Visitor at St. Johns College, Oxford (Jan.-Mar., Apr.-July 2014) and Tinker Professor at the University of Chicago (Sept.-Dec. 2014). In November 2018 he was appointed Global Professor of the British Academy at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (2019-2023).

Julio Escalona focuses on the history and archaeology of European societies during the early and central Middle Ages, with a primary interest in the study of early medieval social complexity as expressed in the relationship between human populations and the territory they inhabit. Since 1997 he has been affiliated with University College London, where he is currently a Senior Research Associate in the Institute of Archaeology. 

Cristina Jular Pérez-Alfaro works on a range of topics in medieval history, from local power structures and royal territorial institutions of the Kingdom of Castile through the sixteenth century. Her current research focuses on how noble archives were constructed in the longue durée, especially the estate archives of the Castilian aristocracy. IP of Scripta manent.

Inés Calderón Medina is specialist in Social History of power, focused on the study of noble power in the Iberian kingdoms during the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. She has been professor at the Universitat de les Illes Balears and has recently joined the CCHS as a tenured scientist. Her book Los Soverosa. A noble kinship between three royal kingdoms. Power and kinship in the Hispanic Middle Ages (s. XI-XIII) was awarded the 2019 Almeida Fernandes Prize for Medieval History of Portugal.

The participating scholars subscribe to the argument that cross-cultural research has the possibility to open new doors to a broader understanding of both the past and the present. Just as the cultures of the Mediterranean have been inextricably interrelated since the Middle Ages, so to comprehend them today, we argue that they must be examined as part of a greater overall milieu. Each scholar within the PTI-MEDhis consortium contributes research that makes comparisons across societies, religions, chronologies, or geographies in order to shine a light on patterns of similarities while revealing significant distinctions. By hosting international research seminars and encouraging scholarly interchange beyond national borders, PTI-MEDhis aims to contribute to the breaking down of artificial barriers constructed by disciplinary or dialectical differences.

The research group Networks of Power in Medieval Societies regularly hosts international scholars of all levels, from pre-doctoral students through full professors, at the CCHS-CSIC in Madrid. In addition, members of the group have organized symposia and conferences both in Madrid and at international institutions.

MEDhis Technical Team:

Almudena Blasco Vallès. MEDhis Observer Manager

Isabel Boyano Guerra: MEDhis Academic Manager

Otros Integrantes / Other People

Jorge Elices Ocón. Investigador Ramón y Cajal

Tjisje Geertje Jasperse. Investigadora Ramón y Cajal

Rocío Maira Vidal. Investigadora posdoctoral

Alicia López Carral. Investigadora postdoctoral

Cristina Pérez Pérez. Investigadora postdoctoral

Andrea Yañez. Gestora Proyecto

Verónica Abenza. Investigadora postdoctoral

Marta Vírseda. Investigadora postdoctoral

Gema Rayo. Investigadora postdoctoral

Raúl Villagrasa. Investigador predoctoral

Enrique Capdevila. Técnico Informático

Juan Manuel Martín. Técnico SIG

Alejandro Piñel. Técnico Investigación

Álvaro Carvajal. Investigador postdoctoral

Anna Kelleys. Posdoctoral British Academy

Jordi Morelló. Investigador posdoctoral

Gema Mancebo. Investigadora predoctoral

Teresa Martínez. Investigadora predoctoral