Dr Melanie Brunner

Dr Melanie Brunner


I studied for my MA in Medieval History, Modern History and English Language at the University of Augsburg (Germany), interrupted by a year as an Erasmus student at the University of Edinburgh. I came to Leeds to work on my PhD (part-time) at the Institute for Medieval Studies while at the same time working for the International Medieval Bibliography (IMB). I finished my PhD in 2006 and am currently working for the School of History as Project Editor of the IMB (since 2007) and as lecturer in Medieval Studies (since 2013).


  • Director of MA Medieval Studies

Research interests

I am particularly interested in late medieval ecclesiastical and religious history, especially the interactions of theology, (canon) law and papal administration; the history of the mendicant orders, particularly the Franciscans; and ideals of voluntary poverty and religious reform. I have recently begun a new project exploring the political culture and the process of decision-making at the papal court in Avignon (1305-1378).

I am a member of the DFG-Netzwerk Imitation: Mechanismen eines kulturellen Prinzips im Mittelalter, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and chaired by Dr Jörg Sonntag (Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig/Technische Universität Dresden) and Dr Gerald Schwedler (Universität Zürich).

Additionally, I am part of Marginalisation and the Law: Medieval and Modern, sponsored by the White Rose Collaboration Fund and chaired by Maroula Perisanidi (Leeds)

I have also been involved with the DFG-Netzwerk Stilus Curiae: Spielregeln der Konflikt- und Verhandlungsführung am Papsthof des Mittelalters (12.-15. Jahrhundert), funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and chaired by Dr Jessika Nowak (Universität Basel) and Dr Georg Strack (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München).

From September 2013 to September 2017, I have been involved in Working Group 3 (‘European Networks of Knowledge Exchange’) of the EU-funded COST Action IS1301 New Communities of Interpretation: Contexts, Strategies and Processes of Religious Transformation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, chaired by Dr Sabrina Corbellini and based at the University of Groningen. 

Some recent publications:

‘The Power of the Cardinals: Decision-Making at the Papal Curia in Avignon’, in Authority and Power in the Medieval Church, c. 1000 – c. 1500, ed. by Thomas W. Smith (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020), pp. 355-369

‘Good and Bad Friars: Polemical Patterns and Strategies between Franciscans in the Early Fourteenth Century’, medieval worlds, 7 (2018), 80-97

‘Rom in Avignon: Imitation und Adaption im Papstpalast’, in Nachahmen im Mittelalter: Dimensionen - Mechanismen - Funktionen, ed. by Andreas Büttner and others, Beihefte zum Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, 82 (Vienna: Böhlau, 2018), pp. 135-152

‘The Power of the Canons? Episcopal Authority and the Cathedral Chapter of Sion (Valais) around 1300’, in Episcopal Power and Local Society in Medieval Europe, 1000-1400, ed. by Peter Coss and others (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017), pp. 97-114

‘Nach dem Konzil von Vienne. Konfliktlösung und Entscheidungsfindung in der Spiritualenkrise und im Armutsstreit’, in Ecclesia disputans: Die Konfliktpraxis vormoderner Synoden zwischen Religion und Politik, ed. by Christoph Dartmann, Andreas Pietsch and Sita Steckel, Historische Zeitschrift: Beihefte, 67 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), pp. 203-230

‘Johannes XXII. als Reformer? Päpstliche Verwaltungspolitik und Ordensreform von oben’, in Papst Johannes XXII. Konzepte und Verfahren seines Pontifikats, ed. by Martin Rohde and Hans-Joachim Schmidt, Scrinium Friburgense (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), pp. 119-148

 ‘Pope John XXII and the Michaelists: the scriptural title of evangelical poverty in Quia vir reprobus’, Church History and Religious Culture, 94 (2014), 197-226

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Medieval Studies (University of Leeds)
  • MA History and English (Universität Augsburg)

Professional memberships

  • Ecclesiastical History Society
  • Mediävistenverband

Student education

Research Supervision

I would particularly welcome doctoral projects in the following areas:

  • medieval ecclesiastical history
  • history of the papacy
  • history of the mendicant orders
  • late medieval political culture
  • canon law

Current PhD students

  • Pawel Cholewicki, 'The emergence of the Franciscan Observance and the disintegration of the Bosnian vicariate, from the reforms of James of the Marches until the fall of the Bosnian- Dalmatian Union (1432-69)' [co-supervision with Prof. Emilia Jamroziak. Funded by the LDS scholarship]
  • Yinwen Mai, ‘Bishop Gilbert Foliot and his administration in dioceses of Hereford and London’ [co-supervision with Prof. Julia Barrow. Funded by a China Council scholarship]
  • Elsa McDonald, ‘Constructing an alternative cloister: the creation of a feminised religious discourse in the writings of Marguerite Porete and Christine Pizan’ [co-supervision with Prof. Ros Brown-Grant. Funded by WRoCAH]
  • Andrea Mancini, 'Preaching and penance. The role of Niccolò da Osimo in the observant reform of the Friars Minor (1382-1455)'  [co-supervision with Prof. Emilia Jamroziak] 

Completed theses:

  • Matthew Beckmann (2015), ‘Franciscan soteriology at the University of Paris to 1300’ [co-supervision with Dr William Flynn]
  • Kirsty Day (2016), ‘Constructing dynastic Franciscan identities in Bohemia and the Polish Duchies’ [co-supervision with Prof. Emilia Jamroziak]
  • René Hernández Vera (2015), ‘Franciscan manuscripts in Padua from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century: following the traces of a conception of the book’ [co-supervision with Prof. Brian Richardson]
  • James Hill (2017), ‘The papacy and the Eastern Mediterranean 1305-1362’ [co-supervision with Prof. Graham Loud]
  • Vanessa Wright (2020), ‘The textual and visual uses of the literary motif of cross-dressing in medieval French literature, 1200-1500’ [co-supervision with Prof. Ros Brown-Grant, Dr Catherine Batt]
  • Kaan Gorman (2022), ‘'The wilderness and the world: encounters between the Carthusians of late medieval England and the secular world' [co-supervision with Prof. Emilia Jamroziak. Funded by the LARS scholarship]

Research groups and institutes

  • Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums
  • Politics, Diplomacy, and International History

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>