The Centre for Medieval Studies is an academic research network of the Tallinn University.  

The Centre has three main aims:  

  • to create an innovative and supportive forum for scholars working with the Middle Ages;
  • to encourage and initiate interdisciplinary research and collaboration; 
  • to coordinate, promote and offer information about medieval studies in Estonia.

The major emphasis of the Centre's research focuses on the medieval Europeanization process and the cross-cultural interaction in the frontier areas, with a special emphasis on the comparative research into the political, social, economic, cultural and religious integration of the Baltic Sea region (10th-16th centuries).

The Centre co-operates with national and international scientific programs; regularly holds seminars, lecture-series and conferences; launches research projects; as well as develops multidisciplinary curricula for academic graduate and postgraduate training in medieval studies at the University of Tallinn.

The Centre was officially formed in 2005, since 2015 it is part of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Art History. It brings together researchers and postgraduate students from various Estonian universities and research institutions, involving a wide range of disciplines, such as history, archaeology, art history, theology, and folklore and literature studies.


Seminar of the Centre for Medieval Studies in cooperation with the lecture series “Cats, Dogs, and Artists” of the Art Museum of Estonia

Date: 28 October 2020, at 18:00
Location: Kadriorg Art Museum
Speaker: Anu Mänd (Tallinn University)
Subject: The Good and the Bad: Cats and Dogs in Medieval Art
Abstract: Animals in medieval Christian art were often used as symbols or allegories, referring to human vices and virtues or symbolising the everlasting battle between good and evil. Many animals, including cats and dogs, had more than one meaning and, depending on the context, they could act as positive or negative characters. Cats and dogs were included in the paintings of several well-known artists, such as Jan van Eyck and Pietro Lorenzetti, but also by Hermen Rode and Bernt Notke, who created altarpieces for churches in the Baltic Sea region. In the lecture, the multiple meanings of cats and dogs in art were discussed and special attention was paid to the animal symbolism in late medieval altarpieces in Tallinn.

The seminar was chaired by Tiina-Mall Kreem.

Head ja pahad. Kassid ja koerad keskaja kunstis


The 15th Anniversary of the Centre for Medieval Studies

Date: 29 September 2020, at 16:30
Location: Tallinn City Archives
Speakers: Inna Jürjo, Kersti Markus, Marek Tamm, Krista Kodres, Erki Russow, Tiina-Mall Kreem
Abstract: In the Autumn of 2020, fifteen years passed from the foundation of the Centre for Medieval Studies. It was celebrated by the launching of six books, authored or edited by members of the Centre and published this year:
Inna Põltsam-Jürjo. Viin, vein ja vesi. Joogikultuur Eestis kesk- ja varauusajal. Tallinn: Argo.
Kersti Markus. Visual Culture and Politics in the Baltic Sea Region 1100-1250. Leiden & Boston: Brill.
Anu Mänd & Marek Tamm (eds.). Making Livonia: Actors and Networks in the Medieval and Early Modern Baltic Sea Region. London & New York: Routledge.
Krista Kodres, Merike Kurisoo, Ulrike Nürnberger (eds.). Indifferent Things? Objects and Images in Post-Reformation Churches in the Baltic Sea Region. Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag.
Erki Russow. Lood ja leiud Tallinna algusest. Tallinn: Stilus.
Alati meie kõrval. Kassid ja koerad 16.−19. sajandi kunstis / Always by Our Side. Cats and Dogs in 16th−19th Century Art. Toim. Tiina-Mall Kreem ja Aleksanda Murre, tekstid Anu Mänd, Anu Allikvee ja Kersti Kuldna-Türkson. Tallinn: Eesti Kunstimuuseum.

The book launch was followed by an informal gathering.
The event was chaired by Anu Mänd.

Keskaja keskus

Juubelil esitletud raamatud


Seminar of the Centre for Medieval Studies

Date: 3 September 2020, at 16.00
Location: Ruins of the Padise monastery
Speaker: Villu Kadakas (Tallinn University)
Subject: On the construction history of the Padise monastery in the light of recent studies
Abstract: Villu Kadakas, who for many years has conducted studies of the building archaeology of the Padise Cistercian monastery, provided an overview of the findings in recent years. During the seminar, the group moved through the different parts of the ruins and discussed the possible functions of rooms. Special attention was paid to architectural details on the floors and walls and to carved stones that were found during the excavations.

The seminar was chaired by Anu Mänd.


Seminar of the Centre for Medieval Studies

Date: 28 May 2020, at 16:15
Location: via Zoom
Speaker: Karl Peeter Valk (PhD student at Tallinn University & the University of Sorbonne)
Subject: The image of the Teutonic Order in the writings of Philippe de Mézières (1327–1405)
Abstract: Philippe de Mézières, a French knight, diplomat, adviser of kings and popes and a promoter of crusading ideology, travelled widely almost in entire Europe and wrote about it in his main work, Songe du Vieux Pèlerin. In its first part, he addresses critically the political and moral situation in contemporary Europe but praises the Teutonic Order. The positive image of the Order deserves attention, especially because other contemporary institutions and persons were treated critically by de Mézières. The aim of the lecture was to discuss the political and ideological agenda of the author and the possible reasons for a positive image of the Teutonic Order.

The seminar was chaired by Anu Mänd.

Karl Peeter Valk


Seminar of the Centre for Medieval Studies

Date: 20 February 2020, at 16:15
Location: Tallinn City Archives
Speaker: Gustavs Strenga (National Library of Latvia / Tallinn University)
Subject: Gifts, religiosity, discipline and memory as tools of group-building. The case of transport workers’ guilds in late medieval Riga
The two transport workers’ guilds – the Beer Carters and Porters were one of the largest urban groups in late medieval Riga. Though founded in the late 14th and early 15th century, they were transformed in the mid-15th century gaining higher status and more prestigious sacral spaces than before. They were hybrid groups, a confraternity like organisations that hosted both ‘non-Germans’ (Latvians and Livs) and also ‘Germans’ from the elites and artisan middle class. This presentation will focus on the use of gifting, religiosity and discipline as elements of group-building between the 1450s and 1470s when these groups experienced a surge of resources and members, focusing on that how these elements helped them to create new identities and communities.

The seminar was chaired by Anu Mänd.


Seminar of the Centre for Medieval Studies

Date: 13 February 2020, at 16:15
Location: Tallinn City Archives 
Speaker: Anu Lahtinen (University of Helsinki)
Subject: Nobility in Finland in the Reformation Period: Sources, Questions, and Interregional Connections
Abstract: Historian Anu Lahtinen, presently Professor of History at the University of Helsinki, has thoroughly studied the history of noble families in the Baltic Sea region. In her lecture, she focused on recent research on sixteenth-century nobility in Finland as well as on their interregional connections and pointed out prospects of future research. The presentation was based on her previous and ongoing studies on noble families in the Baltic Sea Region. 

Picture: Epitaph of Arvid Stålarm and Elin Fleming

The seminar was chaired by Anu Mänd.

Nobility in Finland in the reformation period

Seminar of the Centre for Medieval Studies

Date: 23 January 2020, at 16:15
Location: Tallinn City Archives
Speaker: Madis Maasing (University of Tartu)
Subject: Livonica in the Prussian Privy State Archives (1511–25 and 1540–50)
Abstract: The years 1511–25 and 1540–50 have not been very popular in the study of Livonian political history, which is partly caused by the lack of published sources. However, there survive plenty of documents from these years in the Prussian Privy State Archives (Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz) in Berlin. In the seminar, the preliminary results of Dr Maasing’s three month’s stay in this archive were presented.

The seminar was chaired by Anu Mänd.

Madis Maasing