CfP: Fortification and Sovereign Powers (1180-1340). Carcassonne, 18-21 November 2021

Call for Papers: Fortification and Sovereign Powers (1180-1340). Carcassonne, 18-21 November 2021

Fortified Architecture and territorial control in the 13th Century

The Department of Aude (France) and the Association Mission Patrimoine Mondial (World Heritage Mission) are organizing an international scientific conference in Carcassonne from 18-21 November 2021 on the theme of  “Fortification and Sovereign Powers (1180-1340); Fortified Architecture and territorial control in the 13th Century”.
The 13th century was a special period in terms of territorial expansion of the main principalities in Europe and in part of the Mediterranean world. For these sovereign powers, control of territories through networks of fortresses was a necessity, faced with populations that were not really in the control of the dominant elites, or claims by other sovereign powers. Replacing the sites of the former power, these fortified complexes were meant to have a military, administrative and also symbolic role to embody the new masters of the territory.
For these expanding sovereign powers and sometimes in confrontation with each other, coherent – and often centralised – management of the territories required a streamlining of processes, which led to the creation and development of increasingly efficient administrative tools, both centrally and regionally. A consequence or as an accompaniment to the phenomenon, we observe the development of a new type of fortified architecture, the exact reflection of this new organisation of power and the concerns of their sponsors. Thus, large fortified complexes were formed, like the castles and towns of Philip II in the northern half of France; the fortresses of Edward I of England in Wales; the superb palace-castles of Frederick II in Italy and Sicily; the royal fortifications of Carcassonne and Corbières; and many others, in Aragon, Flanders, Castile, Bohemia, all the way to the Latin states of the East.
This international conference aims to compare the latest research in the field in order to understand the similarities of these sovereign administrative and architectural policies across Europe, their interactions in a context of confrontation, but also their particularities and their differences, depending on the political, geographical and artistic contexts of each one, while examining the issues of circulation of models and concepts. To achieve this, the meeting will have to focus on a pragmatic and concrete vision, based on the history of the sources as well as on the analysis of the architecture, but also on the understanding of the geography of the terroirs and the urban factor. To better understand the phenomena at work, the purely monographic aspect will be abandoned in favour of synthesis and cross- cutting analysis communications. It will therefore be the opportunity to compare the views of historians, geographers, architects and archaeologists.
Draft sessions

  1. From confrontation to conquest: strategies to control the territory and its borders
  2. Sovereign powers and administrative management of the territories
  3. Construction: economics of the project and craftsmen
  4. Architectures of power: standardisation, adaptation and symbols
  5. Castles, towns and villages: population control
  6. Fortresses in times of armed peace and war

Proposals for papers (title and 300 words abstract) must be submitted by 31 January 2021 at
For more information, please download the call for papers here.
Under the scientific direction of Jean Mesqui (Litt. D.) and Denis Hayot (PhD in Art History and Archaeology), this project is part of the process of candidature for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of ‘the City of Carcassonne and its sentinel mountain castles’. It follows a first symposium organized in 2018 on ‘Castles and fortified cities, the contributions that new knowledge brings to the notion of authenticity’, whose various interventions can be found at this web page (the proceedings of the symposium have been translated and are being published).

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