December 30, 2023
Arts and Rituals of Death in Byzantine Literature

By Stavroula Constantinou, Centre for Medieval Arts & Rituals (CeMAR, UCY)

Chanting, poetry recitation, and storytelling played a key role in Byzantine rituals, while rituals and ritual languages and structures constituted important elements of poetry and prose. This blog post brings to the fore the strong interrelationships between arts and rituals in Byzantine literature.
November 30, 2023
Following the Footsteps of Jesus: Bamberg’s Late Medieval Stations of the Cross

By Florian Abe, Tucher Kulturstiftung / Freie Universität Berlin

This blog post delves into Bamberg's late medieval Stations of the Cross, exploring their unique arrangement mirroring Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa. These types of ensembles offered an immersive pilgrimage experience by intertwining art, architecture, and rituals that allowed visitors to physically follow Christ's steps, forging a profound connection between faith and experience that can still be grasped in the city today.
October 31, 2023
Breaking Βread and Βreaking Churches

By Associate Professor Robert Nelson, Melbourne University.

Is there a better way to understand the polemic between Byzantium and Rome that erupted in the eleventh century over the appropriate bread for holy communion? A new approach suggests that the ritual in church also entailed a domestic ritual, and the theological disagreement must be understood in visceral terms.
September 30, 2023
Languages of Shame: The Pillory and Its Impact on Metaphorical Ways of Speaking

By Gerlinde Gangl, M.A., University of Bamberg

The pillory punishment is one of the degrading punishments of the Middle Ages and Modern Times (executed in Europe until 1848), whereby a delinquent person was publicly exposed. In addition to the pillory, the associated punishment rituals remained alive in cultural memory. This becomes discernible in the metaphors employed in everyday expressions of many European languages.
August 31, 2023
Rituals and the Sound of War – The Belliphonic in the Middle Ages

By Hannah Potthoff, Technische Universität Chemnitz

Sound studies are an important aspect of both the study of rituals as well as of war. Researching the belliphonic, as done in the DFG-funded project “Belliphonie im Mittelalter” at TU Chemnitz, can give important insights in how sounds were used in medieval wars as part of warfare and its narration and memory.
July 31, 2023
Naming Patterns in Venetian Cyprus: The Case of Marathassa Valley

By Dr Marina Ilia, NetMAR UCY ESR

This blog discusses the significance of names and how they passed from one generation to the other, providing insights into a family's past and social status and local history. It specifically looks at the naming conventions of Venetian Cyprus in the Marathassa valley, using a census conducted in 1549 and analyses naming patterns based on age, gender, and family origin.
June 29, 2023
Rituals and Spaces of Punishment: NetMAR at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds (2023)

By Michaela Pölzl (UNI BA)

The EU-funded project Network for Medieval Arts and Rituals (NetMAR), which will participate in the upcoming International Medieval Congress in Leeds (IMC, 03-06 July 2022), takes once again the opportunity to share with the NetMAR blog readers a preview of the four papers of its session that will be given by some of the project’s young researchers.
May 31, 2023
Faked Rituals in ‘Tristan and Isolde’ or Who Knows What?

By Dr Andrea Schindler, University of Braunschweig

One has to believe in rituals, otherwise they don’t work. But of course, one can also just pretend to perform a ritual, or not do it properly. In ‘Tristan and Isolde’ of Gottfried of Straßburg, we learn what happens if some people know the truth about rituals – and some don’t.
March 31, 2023
Sexual Temptations in Early Byzantine Collective Biographies

By Dr. Andria Andreou, Centre for Medieval Arts and Rituals, UCY

Were early Christian ascetics tempted by sexual desire? And if they did, in what forms did they experience such a temptation? How did they manage (or not) to overcome temptation? The hard battles that ascetics gave against sexual temptations, as depicted in two collections of early Byzantine tales, is the subject of this blog post.
February 28, 2023
On the Power of Beauty in Church and Liturgy

By Dr. Wiebke-Marie Stock, University of Bonn, Germany/University of Notre Dame, USA

What is beautiful can attract and enchant us, it can uplift us, but it can also distract. It is, therefore, by no means clear whether the beautiful should play a role within the realm of the divine. This text discusses how ideas of beauty were championed or censured by philosophers and theologians.
December 30, 2022
Of Mumblings and Carvings: How magical is the Old High German Word rûna (‘rune’) and its Derivations?

By Dr Aletta Leipold, Saxon Academy of Science and Humanities

The Old High German noun rûna does not denote a character, as one might erroneously assume based on the meaning of the German word Rune. The majority of words connected to rûna, rûnên and related derivates and compounds pertain to the semantic field of words such as ‘whisper’, ‘whispering’, ‘murmur’, and ‘murmuring’. This semantic range, associated with orality, was further expanded to include meanings related to ‘sorcery’ and ‘secret’. How much magic is in these Old High German words and what may we learn from them about medieval concepts of magic?
November 30, 2022
The Perpetual Cycle between Birth and Death in Medieval Art

By Savvas Mavromatidis, University of Cyprus (PhD student in the Interdepartmental Programme in Byzantine Studies and the Latin East)

How is the ‘distance’ or perhaps the lack of ‘distance’ between cultural and social phenomena, such as conception, birth, death, and the practices regarding the care of newborns and the dead conveyed in medieval art? This blog post investigates the didactic, social, devotional, and performative role of painting and funerary sculpture as formed in the Middle Ages.
October 30, 2022
The ‘Tegernsee Debate’ and the Theological Reform Movement of the 15th Century

By Prof. Dr. Christian Schäfer, University of Bamberg

In the mid-15th century, the writings of Nicholas of Cusa elicited a controversy on the purpose and efficacy of intellectual powers for the knowledge of God, the so-called ‘Tegernsee debate’. But he and his followers not only participated in this dispute about the intellect and its role in the mystical ascent, they also drew conclusions from it to strengthen their reform movement.
September 30, 2022
Teaching (in) the Middle Ages: Arts – Rituals – Education: Recap of the First International NetMAR Summer School

By Michaela Pölzl (UNI BA)

International NetMAR Summer School: NetMAR is excited to share with its blog readers a recap of its very successful summer school on “Teaching (in) the Middle Ages: Arts – Rituals – Education” that was held at the University of Bamberg in July 2022.
August 31, 2022
Stultiphonic Soundscapes and the Ship of Fools

By Alyssa Steiner

Alyssa Steiner (University of Bamberg). ‘Lyplep, Cris Cras, Rrrrrrrr!’ The fools on board of Sebastian Brant’s didactic Ship of Fools (1494) are a loud and rowdy crew. In contrast, the medieval church is a highly codified and ritualised soundscape. Embrace the noise and discover what happens when the two clash in Fool’s literature.
July 31, 2022
Research Communication and Communication Networks in Medieval Studies

By Viviane Diederich M.A.

Research communication plays an increasingly important role in contemporary societies. Young researchers are expected to start from an early stage to present their research to different types of audiences. It is, therefore, very important to test their communication skills and build their confidence through different channels such as those offered by NetMAR. This blog post explores various levels of research communication and substantiates its findings with examples from the field of Medieval Studies.
June 27, 2022
Creating, Performing, and Transgressing Borders and Boundaries


NetMAR at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, 2022. NetMAR is excited to share with its blog readers a preview of its two sessions and six papers that will be delivered by some of the project’s PhD candidates and young researchers at IMC on 05 and 07 July 2022. Visit our blog space to learn more about NetMAR's participation in IMC.
May 30, 2022
Welcome Nibelungs! The Burgundians’ Arrival in Etzel’s Kingdom in the Codex Hundeshagen

By Dr. Nadine Hufnagel

Most of the illustrations in the only fully illustrated manuscript of the Nibelungenlied (Codex Hundeshagen) do not show action scenes. Instead, they depict primarily situations of courtly ritual, especially scenes of reception and farewell. Nadine Hufnagel of the University of Bamberg explores how text and image work together to foreshadow the further development of the story, when the Burgundians arrive at Etzel’s court. 
April 29, 2022
Regrowing Maimed Spires as an Act of Rebuilding Collectivity

By Dr Michalis Olympios

When did French sensitivity to the significance of medieval architectural patrimony emerge? How does Gothic architecture becomes a timeless symbol of national unity? The historian of Western medieval art Michalis Olympios of the Centre for Medieval Arts & Rituals at the University of Cyprus discusses how the restoration of maimed spires functions as an act of rebuilding collectivity. 
March 30, 2022
A ‘Byzantine’ Map in Context: ‘Since You can See the Earth as a Whole, you Should Believe you are in the Sky’

By Dr Chiara D’Agostini

NetMAR examines medieval arts together with rituals with the intention of addressing their intersections. Does this approach also apply to the investigation of scientific subjects? Would NetMAR’s holistic approach fit to the subject of geography? By taking as a case study the reception of Ptolemy’s Geography in 13th-century Byzantium, this blog post will try to answer this question.
February 28, 2022
Exploring Identity’s Third Space; or What Happens When a Medieval Hero Wears a Disguise in European Bridal-Quest Epics

By Janina Dillig

Storytelling often resorts to narrative patterns. This is especially true for narratives with an oral tradition, which we encounter frequently in medieval literature. Usually, the use of narrative patterns in medieval literature is understood as a byproduct of the process of memorization, but narrative patterns may also be understood as elements of ritualization in the art of storytelling.
January 30, 2022
Representing Kingship (and Queenship): On the Role of the Visual for the Understanding of Medieval Rituals

By Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto

What lies behind coronation rituals? Why are they important? What do they hide and what do they reveal? Dr Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto of Universidade de Santiago de Compostela goes behind the scenes to investigate the role of the visual in understanding medieval (and modern) coronation rituals.
December 30, 2021
Medievalism in Linguistic Teaching

By Gabriele Knappe & Patrizia Noel Aziz Hanna

What is ‘linguistic medievalism’ and what can it teach us? In our brand new post, Prof. Gabriele Knappe and Prof. Patrizia Noel Aziz Hanna of the University of Bamberg jointly present a teaching experiment they carried out on ‘Linguistic Medievalism’. Read on to find out what they did and what they found!
November 30, 2021
A palimpsest that faith built: The Church of the Transfiguration in Sotera (Cyprus) and its Murals

By Maria Parani

Dr Maria Parani tells the story of one of the many medieval churches that populate the Cypriot countryside: that of the Church of the Transfiguration at the village of Sotera in southeast Cyprus. Tracing its history of successive building phases and painting campaigns opens up a window into the lives of the people whose needs - social and spiritual - it served.
October 30, 2021
Rituals at the Grail Table

By Daniele Gallindo Gonçalves

Whether it’s the time we get up in the morning or when we eat or go to sleep, our daily routines are a form of ritual. However, can we really call such (individual) habits rituals? What is actually a ritual? As defined by Gerd Althoff, a ritual is “a formally-standardized symbolic sequence of actions that has a specific effectiveness”, since it has the capacity to (re)produce “a social, political, spiritual, etc. change of state” (Althoff; Stollberg-Rilinger 2008: 144).
September 30, 2021
Manuscript production in medieval Cyprus for church rituals

By Marina Toumpouri

Medieval written records are complex things; it is not easy (or often possible) to pin down their provenance, history of ownership, and transmission. In this month’s post, Dr Marina Toumpouri of the University of Cyprus considers the case of surviving Greek manuscripts and the work historians and philologists must do to access their distant but exciting world.
August 31, 2021
The past is a foreign country: Medievalism and Time Travel Narratives

By Sarah Böhlau

From the moment the time travel narrative entered human imagination at the end of the 19th century, opening doors to both past and future, the medieval period has held a special point of interest for many storytellers. Examining the foreign period through the lens of temporal tourism provides a unique way to relate to the past – and rituals are important support structures in this journey.
July 30, 2021
Medieval Rituals, the Arts, and the Notion of Medievalism

By Nils Holger Petersen

In principle, aesthetic evaluation is not essential for judging the successfulness of rituals. The aesthetic value of song, however, was instrumental for the function of medieval liturgical rituals. Elements of these, gradually received into the modern arts, question the distinction between the medieval and medievalism.
June 30, 2021
The Seven Deaths of Maria Callas, by Marina Abramović

By Christos Hadjiyiannis

In her latest work, Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović stars as Maria Callas. The work opened at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich on 3 September 2020. In his review of the opera, Dr Christos Hadjiyiannis, Scientific Project Manager of NetMAR, suggests that the opera borrows much from late antique and early medieval texts that thematise the suffering of Christian women.
May 29, 2021
What kind of heritage do ancient and medieval texts constitute?

By Lars Boje Mortensen

The NetMAR project is seeking to better understand and promote local heritage by bridging the disciplines of art history, literature, musicology, history and more – all under the lense of ritual. NetMAR takes place just as we are seeing a significant surge, and new trends, in the global discourse of heritage.

One of the key aims of NetMAR is to involve in its workings a wide variety of voices and to foster dialogue.

Through a series of monthly blogposts, NetMAR members and affiliates share their insights, original research, ideas and opinions concerning medieval arts and rituals with the community in a way that is accessible and, crucially, inviting of everyone’s thoughts and responses. We welcome everyone’s feedback – so please do not hesitate to get in touch to let us know what you think.

Among the subjects that are broached in our monthly posts are the following:

  • What do we mean by heritage and how can we protect it?
  • How do medieval arts and rituals survive in contemporary theatre?
  • Manuscripts produced in medieval Cyprus for church rituals.
  • Storytelling in monastic contexts
  • Rituals of medieval breastfeeding
  • A Cistercian nunnery in medieval Nicosia
  • The architecture and murals of the church of the Transfiguration at Sotera

As well as established researchers sharing their expert insights, the NetMAR blog offers a platform for Early Stage Researchers to showcase their work. NetMAR is working with a number of PhD students who are doing extraordinary work on various aspects relating to medieval arts and rituals. In specially commissioned posts, Early Stage Researchers attached to NetMAR offer their own unique takes on such matters as:

  • The Venetian period in Cyprus and the relationships between lords and citizens
  • The history of medieval agriculture in Cyprus and the long history of landscape
  • Burial ceremonial and sculpture during the time of the Lusignans in Cyprus
  • Byzantine texts and monument epigraphs.

At the same time, blog hosts posts by members of the wide network of stakeholders associated with the project. NetMAR is establishing links with local industry and various tourist organisations, including, for example, the Nicosia Tourist Board (NTB). In this blog, NetMAR members describe also the different ways in which specialist research conducted within NetMAR can reach the wider community.

Posts appear here and are advertised on all of our social media.