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William North

William North

  • Professor of History, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, History, Medieval & Renaissance Studies


Bill North teaches courses in early medieval history (late antiquity to the 12th century), early Christian thought and asceticism, medieval intellectual, legal, institutional history, medieval historiography and hagiography, and the history of the Byzantine Empire. He has a particular interest in the dynamics--institutional and intellectual-- of religious controversies, interfaith dialogue, and reform movements of the 11th and 12th century, and has written several articles that address specific aspects of the institutional and artistic culture of the period. He has also co-directed (with Victoria Morse) a term length OCS program in Rome on History, Religion, and Urban Change in Medieval Rome.

At present, he is completing a collection of translated sources on the Saxon rebellion against King Henry IV (1073-1089) which is to be published by Catholic University Press; collaborating with Jason Glenn of USC on a source collection on the Central Middle Ages (ca. 880-1050); working with V. Morse on the translation of Opicino de Canistris' In Praise of Pavia (1329) which will be published by Italica Press, as well as an article length study of 11th century reformer Bonizo of Sutri's Book on the Christian Life.  Original translations of new material is central to much of his teaching, and he enjoys working on translations at all times, especially with students. He has worked during summers with students a variety of translation projects, including a full translation of a 15th century Latin source on the Ottoman Turks (Summer 2013).

His long term research projects concentrate on the edition and analysis of the Opera Omnia of Abbot Richard of Préaux (†1131), a student of Anselm of Canterbury; the role of biblical exegesis and asceticism in monastic and clerical reform in the eleventh and twelfth centuries with a special emphasis on Bruno of Segni and other reform exegetes; and interreligious polemic and dialogue in both Eastern and Western Christianity. He is also collaborating with Professor Robert Somerville of Columbia University on a volume dedicated to the Council of Reims in 1119, one of the most fully documented councils of the 11th and 12th centuries. 

North is co-director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies with his colleague Victoria Morse. Since 2002, he has also had the great pleasure to serve as Faculty Coordinator for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Program designed to support students from underrepresented groups consider careers as researchers and teachers in the Academy.

In 2011, North received an NEH Teaching Enhancement Grant that allowed him to travel extensively in Turkey and Greece to support his courses on Byzantium. In the Summer of 2014, North co-led an NEH seminar in Rome with Professor Maureeen Miller of UC Berkeley; it was dedicated to the theme Reform and Renewal in Medieval Rome.

Professor North has also served as the Editor of the peer-reviewed Haskins Society Journal between 2007-2012 and continues as the Associate Editor of the Journal.  He was also the Conference Director for the Haskins Society's annual conference from 2014-2016.


Education & Professional History

Princeton University, AB in Religion 1989

University of California (Berkeley), MA, PhD in History 1998

Fellow in Post-classical Humanistic Studies, American Academy in Rome, 1995-1996

Fellow in Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, 1998-1999

At Carleton since 1999.

Languages Spoken

Highlights & Recent Activity

Current Projects

  • “The Formation of Canonical Cognition in the Age of Reform: The Evidence of Bonizo of Sutri’s Liber de Vita Christiana." In Bureaucracy and Law, 1000-1250: The Practice Use of Canon Law and the Growth of Ecclesiastical Government, ed. M. Eichbauer and Danica Summerlin (forthcoming, Brill 2018). 

  • A Church Council Observed:  The Council of Reims 1119, ed. and trans. W.L. North and R. Somerville (book proposal) 
  • “Singing the Song of Reform in Eleventh-Century Italy: Ecclesiology, Political Allegory, and the Case of Vaticanus Latinus 4235,” in Festschrift for I.S. Robinson, ed.Thomas McCarthy and Patrick Healy (in preparation for Brepols)
  • Opicino de Canistris.  In Praise of Pavia (1330), trans. W. L. North & Victoria Morse with introduction by V. Morse (Accepted for publication by Italica Press, New York).  Manuscript near completion.
  • Sovereignty and Sedition in the Age of Reform:  Contemporary Views of the Saxon War, 1073-1089. (Accepted for publication in series Medieval Texts in Translation, Catholic University Press).  Manuscript near completion.

  • The Central Middle Ages: A Reader, co-editor with Jason Glenn (USC). (In preparation and under contract with the University of Toronto Press.  Submission date Fall 2014). I have collaborated with three Carleton students on texts for this volume.

  • The Word, the Spirit, and the Flesh: Exegesis and the Transformation of Clerical Culture in the Age of Reform (1050-1130).  Book-length monograph in preparation. 

  • Ricardi Pratellensis (†1131) Opera Omnia Exegetica.  Critical editions of the hitherto unedited commentaries of Richard of Préaux on the five books of the Pentateuch, the Book of Ruth, and the Solomonic books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.  (In preparation)

Conferences (last 3 years)

  • "The Scandals of Conciliar Actions: Opportunity, Audiences, and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion at the Council of Reims 1119." Symposium of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, St Louis University, 20-24 June 2016.

  • "Con, Conversion, and Confession: ,Relics, Church Union, and the Instability of Identity in the Fourteenth-Century Mediterranean." Invited Presentation at University Southern California23 March 2016.

  • ""Making the Word Flesh: Exegesis, Clerical Culture and the Making of a Discursive Community in Gregorian Rome". Invited Presentation, MARCO Sympsium, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 5 March 2016.

  • Chronicling Catastrophe on the Slavic Frontier: Border Conflict, Contentious Politics, and the Memory of the Battle of Chlumec (1126). 25-27 February 2016.

  • “Voice, Knowledge, and the Creation of Community in Hrabanus Maurus’ De Institutione Clericorum.” Medieval Academy of America, 10-12 April 2014.

  • “I Heard It Through the Grapevine...”: Legitimacy, Representation, and the Politics of Information during the 'Pravilegium' Crisis 1111–1116.” Charles H. Haskins Society International Conference, Boston College, Boston, MA Oct. 25-27, 2013.

  • “Regarding Henry: Ritual, Resistance, and Rapprochement in the Creation of Bamberg (ca. 1007).” Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference. New College. Sarasota, FL, 4-8 March, 2014.

  • “The Importance of Being Solomon: Abbatial Duties and Proverbial Wisdom in the Commentary on Proverbs of Abbot Richard of Préaux (1101-1130/1).” 2012 Charles H. Haskins Society International Conference, Boston College, Boston, MA Nov. 4-7, 2012

  •  “The Formation of Canonical Cognition in the Age of Reform: The Evidence of Bonizo of Sutri’s Liber de Vita Christiana.” 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies.  Kalamazoo, MI. 13-16 May 2012.  Also presented at XIV International Congress of Medieval Canon Law.  5-10 August 2012.

  • “Peter vs Peter: Scripture, Law, and the Conception of Petrine Authority in the Liber de unitate conservanda.” Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference. New College. Sarasota, FL, 8-10 March.

  •  “Real Christians Can Wear Pants! or Manners, Motivations, and the Loci of Christianization in the Ninth Century.” American Historical Association, Annual Meeting. Boston, MA. Jan. 6-9, 2011.

Recent Publications (last 6 years)

  • Haskins Society Journal 27 (2015). Co-Editor. In progress.

  • Haskins Society Journal 26 (2014). Co-Editor. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2015.

  • Haskins Society Journal 25 (2013). Co-Editor. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2014.

  • Haskins Society Journal 24 (2012). Editor. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2013.

  • HaskinsSociety Journal 23 (2011). Editor. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2013.

  • Haskins Society Journal 22 (2010). Editor. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2012.

  • Haskins Society Journal 21 (2009). Editor. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2010.

  • Translation of selection of Gesta Dagoberti in Erik Inglis, "Remembering and Forgetting Suger at Saint-Denis, 1151-1534: An abbot’s reputation between memory and history," Gesta 54 (2015), 219-243 at 221 n.15.

  • Translation of Agobard of Lyon "Treatise on the insolence of the Jews," in The Jew in the Medieval World, 315-1791, ed. Marc Saperstein & J. Marcus (New York: Hebrew Union College, 2016).

  • "Bonsai of the Consanguities: Cultivation and control of incest regulation in the works of Bonizo of Sutri." Early Medieval World 23 (2015), 478-499.

  • Translation of selections from “The Responses of Pope Nicholas I to the Questions of the Bulgars A.D. 866 (Letter 99),” in Reading the Middle Ages, ed. Barbara Rosenwein, 2nd edition (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2013).

  • w/ Anthony Cutler.  “The Gift of Service.  The Charter of the Confraternity of the Virgin of Naupaktos.” In Donation et Donateurs à Byzance (Realités Byzantines) (Paris, 2012). Pp. 206-219.

  • “Hearing Voices:  An Approach to the Confessions of Augustine of Hippo”.  In The Middle Ages in Text and Texture: Essays in Memory of Robert Brentano, ed.  Jason Glenn.  (Toronto: U of Toronto, 2011).

Courses Taught This Year

  • EUST 207: Rome Program: Italian Encounters (Spring 2019)
  • HIST 201: Rome Program: Building Power and Piety in Medieval Italy, CE 300-1150 (Spring 2019)
  • LCST 101: Rome Program: Elementary Italian (Spring 2019)
  • EUST 111: The Age of Cathedrals (Fall 2019)
  • HIST 233: Cultures of Empire: Byzantium, 843-1453 (Fall 2019)
  • (Winter 2020)
Profile updated September 15, 2019

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