CFP: « Secrets and Discovery in the Middle Ages », 5th European Congress of Medieval Studies, 25-29 juin 2013, Porto

The 5th European Congress of Medieval Studies of the Fédération Internationale des Instituts d’Études Médiévales (FIDEM) is organized by the Gabinete de Filosofia Medieval, Universidade do Porto, Portugal.


Fascination with secrets traverses the Middle Ages. A secret is shared by few and coveted by many, requiring a lot of those who have to keep it, or those who want to disclose it. A secret is power, hence the eagerness to discover it. But as curiosity can lead to the abyss and punishment, discovering secrets also requires prudence and caution.

The relationship between secret and discovery expresses itself in the Middle Ages, as in all times, through many other dynamic dualities: mystery and revelation, arcane and evidence, unknown and sought, ignorance and knowledge, esoteric and exoteric, private message and edict, hidden and manifest, conspiracy and complaint. The secret is in the nature, which does everything to hide itself, while he reveals itself in many ways, but only to those who know how to interpret it. So in the Middle Ages there are sciences for all secrets: of God, of elements and things, of the stars, of physiognomy, of women, of happiness, of the delights of paradise, of relics, of holiness, of the inner life, of sin, of power, of distant peoples and lost places, and of countless other things. The secret is itself a big secret. The secret is everywhere, in the narratives of search and discovery, in public or private action, in sciences, in books or encyclopedias. One of the most popular medieval texts, the Secretum secretorum, which collects the secrets of health, politics, nature, astrology, magic, alchemy, becomes a model for the many of the literary works composed to uncover secrets, that thus, paradoxically, cease to be. The secret holds dangerous and valuable knowledge ranging from counterfeiting, to the illusions of the imagination, or the triumph of reason and wisdom.

The secret and its avatars were a silent yet strong driving force in almost all aspects of the Middle Ages. The “Secrets and Discovery” Congress proposes to discuss their presence and importance in the imagination, culture, thinking, sciences, politics, religion, and life during the Middle Ages (from the beginning of the 6th to the end of the 15th century).

Congress Sessions are designed to promote discussion on secrets and discovery from all Medieval Studies domains, in every medieval language, and in different subjects:

Confession and Intimacy
Conspiracy and Betrayal
Government and Diplomacy
Health and Life
Hermeticism and Transmutation
Holiness and Relics
Knowledge and Scepticism
Mysticisms and Kabbalah
Nature and Supernatural
Past and Future
Planets and Harmony
Prophecy and Divination
Sermons and Preaching
Symbols and Dreams
Truth and Fake
Unknown Worlds and Lost Places
Warfare and Strategy

Keynote Speakers
Catarina Belo (American University in Cairo), Theories of Prophecy and the Faculties of the Soul in Medieval Islamic Philosophy
Enrique Montero Cartelle (Universidad de Valladolid), El tratado Secreta mulierum, liber minor y el De secretis mulierum atribuido a Alberto Magno
Harvey Hames (Ben Gurion University, Beersheva), Discovering the Secrets of God: Kabbalah as an alternative Theology of Judaism in the Thirteenth Century
Luís Miguel Duarte (Universidade do Porto), Secrets and Portuguese Geographical Discoveries
Pascale Bourgain (École des Chartes, Paris), “Non sine Mysterio”
Patricia Stirnemann (IRHT – Paris, France), Le secret et l’art dans les manuscrits
Pete Biller (The University of York), Medieval heretics: secrets, secrecy and the Secretum

Call for papers (until 15th February)

The congress is open to all individual members of FIDEM and to all affiliates of institutional effective members of FIDEM. Proposals must be electronically submitted in the Congress webpage

All European languages are official languages of the Congress, as is the tradition in FIDEM meetings.
Presentations: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion.

Special sessions: if you want to organize a special session (up to 3 presentations each one), a round table, a project presentation, or books discussion or presentation, please send a proposal to the Director of the Congress (

Fees payable up to 15th February (after 15th February and March: + 30 %; in April to June + 50%):
€ 50 (with paper); € 70 (without paper); € 25 (students with paper); € 30 (students without paper).
Congress Banquet: € 30
Electronic Payment only :

Participation scholarships

FIDEM will provide scholarships for young participants (under 35) presenting their research, if they are individual members or belong to a member institution of FIDEM, in order to encourage their participation in the Congress. Application letter (accompanied by curriculum vitae and a letter of recommendation signed by a faculty member) must be sent by e-mail, after online registration in the Congress (see above), by 31s January 2013. They should be sent to Prof. José Meirinhos, secretary of FIDEM, at Candidates will be notified of the outcome on 31 March. No application will be accepted without previous complete registration, including an abstract.


After double blind review, the Congress proceedings will be published in FIDEM’s series “Textes et études du Moyen Âge”, distributed by Brepols Publishers.


Congress email :
Congress Registration and Call:
FIDEM’s email:

More information:


Agrégée d'Espagnol et docteur en Histoire médiévale à l'Université de Nantes, elle travaille sur les mudéjars/morisques et la littérature aljamiada (Espagne, XV-XVIe s.).

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