The Friday Countdown | IMC 2017 Special

The International Medieval Congress (IMC) 2017  rolls into Leeds on Monday 3 July

Sword-bearing knights, costumed dancers and a throne made famous by TV’s Game of Thrones all feature as part of an historical extravaganza held in Leeds.

More than 2,500 researchers and scholars from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the International Medieval Congress (IMC) ­– one of Europe’s largest annual academic gatherings – at the University of Leeds.

The main academic activity takes place on campus from Monday 3 to Thursday 6 July, but a series of public events in Leeds, designed to bring the Middle Ages alive for members of the public of all ages, begins this Sunday 2 July with a Medieval Day at the Museum at Leeds City Museum.

IMC Director Axel Müller said: “As well as welcoming thousands of scholars from all over the world to Leeds for the Congress, we take lots of pleasure in encouraging members of the public of all ages to sample some of the more colourful aspects of medieval life.

“It’s also great to be able to offer something extra this year for Game of Thrones fans to enjoy – after all, most elements in the show’s stories are based on medieval sources.”

We have picked just a few of the events that are open to the public, but the full list of activities can be found on the dedicated IMC website and through their Twitter and Facebook pages – so come along and join the fun!

4. Medieval Day

Medieval Day at the Leeds City Museum


The IMC events programme kicks off with Medieval Day at the Museum on Sunday 2 July.

Tales of heroes and monsters will be told by a master raconteur, with classic yarns from the Middle Ages like the Old English epic poem “Beowulf”, which is guaranteed to delight old and young alike.

Representatives from the Royal Armouries Museum will demonstrate how knights got ready for battle using some pieces from their exhaustive collection. Members of the Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project will demonstrate how they are commemorating a key but sometimes overlooked moment in British history – the 1066 Battle of Stamford Bridge, near York, against an invading Viking army. A Yorkshire tapestry to rival the famous Bayeux commemoration of the Hastings battle later that year is in preparation.

The event offers an opportunity to find out more about life in the Middle Ages from the experts with an afternoon of displays and demonstrations for all ages, a perfect Sunday afternoon for the whole family!

3. More Than Just A Game of Thrones!

Replica Throne from the Game of Thrones


At first we were a little hesitant to watch Game of Thrones – by the third hour of the last film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we had just about enough of fantastical adventures through land filled with wizards and dragons, thank you very much.

But by the second episode of George R.R. Martin’s epic we were absolutely hooked. What at first appears to be just another fantasy series (we had the pleasure of watching Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in the 90’s) is actually study on the dubious acquisition – by birth right or force – and corrupting influence of power combined with the author’s unwillingness to spare anyone from an untimely and usually painful demise. At least, that is what we got from watching it…

Anyway, IMC 2017 will give visitors the chance to see what the view is like as the monarch of Westeros by sitting an eye-catching replica of the Iron Throne from hit HBO television series Game of Thrones. Fans of the medieval fantasy epic will be able to have their picture taken sat on the replica, which was made by enthusiast Victoria Maclean and is signed by various members of the cast. The display comes just in time for the release of the much anticipated new series on 16 July!

In return for their throne selfies, people will be asked to make a small donation to a bursary fund which helps academics attend the IMC.

Forged from the blades of surrendered enemies, the Iron Throne is famously uncomfortable, but the replica is a little more forgiving as it is not made of iron. In return for their throne selfies, people will be asked to make a small donation to a bursary fund which helps academics attend the IMC. After what happened to previous incumbents – SPOILER ALERT – from the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen, to King Joffrey Baratheon and his father Robert, taking a pew on this particular seat comes with consequences. You have been warned!

2. Abso-Lute Radio

The Troubadours and Trouvères were songwriters who composed and performed music between the 11th and 14th centuries in what is now the South of France.

They created a new poetry in their songs, wildly inventive in form with beautiful melodies. IMC offers a chance to catch modern day purveyors of the art form in the beautiful setting of the Leeds Universities Catholic Chaplaincy, where you can also visit for Mass at 13:15 Monday to Thursday.

Check out the video above and come along to one of the shows and immerse yourself in the songs of yesteryear!




Performed by Trouvère

Trouvère have been playing music together for more than ten years, particularly love music of the high Middle Ages – the time of the crusades and of the arts of courtly love. They recreate and reinterpret the magnificent music of these times, based on thorough historical research alongside musical experience and understanding.

They will be performing from the “Chansonnier du Roi”, or “King’s Songbook” is a major source for the music of the troubadours and trouvères, and also contains the earliest surviving sources of European dance music.

Produced by or for Guillaume II de Villehardouin, the French prince of the Morea in southern Greece in the middle years, it is a premier expression of the courtly chivalric image that such princely courts liked to promote for themselves.




Performed, with commentary, by Jon Erik Schelander

Jon Erik Schelander started singing the songs of the Troubadours 25 years ago in the Languedoc, France where Occitan, the language of the Troubadours, is still spoken.

His work in medieval music has included publishing two Troubadour songbooks, translations of Troubadour texts and the making of musical instruments. He has performed Troubadour programs for universities, early music groups, arts centres, folk festivals, and the Edinburgh Fringe as well as on the radio in France and England.

1. Making Leeds Medieval

International Medieval Congress 2017


As the academic sessions for IMC 2017 draw to a close, University Square will come alive for a range of medieval activities including historical craft demonstrations and displays, samples of medieval food and local Yorkshire produce, a falconry display, musicians, and much more!

There will be a market featuring historical craft demonstrations. Have a browse and grab some of the hand-crafted items, including hand-bound books, clay pottery, embroidery, haberdashery, historic beads and jewellery, and leather bags and pouches. Come along and pick up the most in vogue fashion from the period and add it to your wardrobe!

Bookworms will be able to discover some of the latest titles from over 25 publishers exhibiting at the IMC Bookfair in the Parkinson Building, which will be open daily from 10:00 am Monday until 13:00 on Thursday – obviously with breaks for sleep in between!

There will also be a number of live craft demonstrations, such as textile dyeing, embroidery and textile arts, food demonstration, and a pottery demonstration.

Something for every medievalist – from fresh-faced apprentices to grizzled scholars!

Just so you know, we do not have any association with any of the news outlets, film, music and podcast recommendations. The views expressed in these do not represent the views of the University of Leeds.