Rulers and Saints

prasseda and casimir

The notions of ‘sanctity’ and ‘dynasty’ are omnipresent in medieval studies. Interestingly, they are very often used to explain and clarify each other. When monarchs promote the cult of saints, we assume that this is done to build dynastic identity and legitimisation.  We see how rulers build their family identity and take for granted that the sanctity of the holy patrons they chose is something well-defined, stable, and always available to use.

The workshop is supposed to deal with the two ideas jointly. The questions we are asking are: How did the concepts of sanctity and dynasty influence and reinforce each other?  Did the creation of new cults by the ruling families effect the very concept of sanctity?  Did the changing way Christians venerated their saints influence the way their cult was used for the purpose of identity building?

Organised by the research fellows of the ERC ‘Cult of Saints’ and the ‘Jagiellonians’ Projects based at History Faculty and TORCH. Generously supported by the Oxford Medieval Studies and the Sanderson Fund.



9.15-9.45 Registration and coffee (St Luke’s Chapel)

9.45 Introduction to the workshop (St Luke’s Chapel)

10.00-11.30 Session 1: Rulers and Saints in Late Antiquity (St Luke’s Chapel)

Marta Tycner (‘Cult of Saints’): Constantine the Great and the cult of saints at the very beginnings of Christian monarchy

Paweł Nowakowski (‘Cult of Saints’): Epigraphic manifestations of an early dynastic discourse. Anicia Juliana, Justinian, and the building inscriptions of the churches of St. Polyeuktos and Sts. Sergios and Bakchos in Constantinople

Nikoloz Aleksidze (‘Cult of Saints’): Parthian in Form, Roman in Essence: Legitimising kingship in the late antique Caucasus


11.30-12.00 Coffee break (St Luke’s Chapel)

12.00-13.30 Session 2: Rulers and Saints in the Early Middle Ages (St Luke’s Chapel)

Marta Szada (Warsaw University): Holy Queens and Their Children. Sanctity and Dynastic Policies in Merovingian Gaul

Grzegorz Pac (Warsaw University): Limits of royal female sanctity in the Early Middle Ages

Steffen Hope (Odense): A dynasty of saints? The minor saints of medieval Norway and their association with Saint Olaf


13.30-14.30 Sandwich lunch (St Luke’s Chapel)

14.30-16.00 Keynote lecture (St Luke’s Chapel)

Gábor Klaniczay (Central European University, Budapest): 'Beata stirps' revisited. The use of the concept of dynastic sainthood by the Angevins and the Luxemburgs in the 14th century

16.00-16.30 Coffee break (Seminar Room)

16.30-17.30 Session 3: Rulers and Saints in the Late Middle Ages - Jagiellonian dynasty (Seminar Room)

Stanislava Kuzmová (‘Jagiellonians’): The failed saints of the Jagiellonians? King Wladislaus of Poland and Hungary and contemporary ideas of dynastic sainthood

Giedrė Mickūnaitė (‘Jagiellonians’): Dynasty at the gates of paradise: Casimir is the name, Jagiellonian is the password


17.30-18.00 Final discussion & closing remarks (Seminar Room)

18.00-19.00 Wine reception (Seminar Room)

Dinner for the speakers


The event is open to all and free, including refreshments, upon registration by emailing by 10 May


Oxford Medieval Studies
Cult of Saints
Jagiellonians: Dynasty, Memory and Identity in Central Europe

Audience: Open to all