Professor Emilia Jamroziak

Professor Emilia Jamroziak


I graduated from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan and Central European University in Budapest and received my PhD from the University of Leeds in 2001. Since then I held a lectureship in medieval history at the University of Southampton, a post of Research Officer at the Centre for Metropolitan History, University of London and I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of History and Classics, University of Edinburgh. I joined the University of Leeds in September 2005 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2008 and to Professor in 2014. The recording of my inaugural lecture can be found here.

In 2019-2021 I was MWK COFUND Fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, Universitât Erfurt funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 665958In February-March 2019 I hold the Invitational Fellowships for Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science as a guest of Dr Toshio Ohnuki at Okayama University. In 2015-16 I held Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers at the Technische Universität Dresden, in spring 2009 I was a fellow at the Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte then at the Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. In summer 2005 I held a fellowship at the Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas in Leipzig. 

I am a member of the Medieval Central Europe Research Network (MECERN) and the chair of the Janos Bak Research Fellowship programme.

Between 2016 and 2019 I was the director of the Institute for Medieval Studies

Research interests

My research focuses on the culture of medieval monasticism, interactions between religious institutions, especially Cistercian monasteries and the laity from the early twelfth to the early sixteenth century. Geographically my work spans Britain (particularly the North and Scotland), Central Europe, East-Central Europe and the Baltic. My 2005 monograph on Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire examined the workings of local social networks and the processes of their survival and change. My second monograph Survival and Success on Medieval Borders (2011) examined strategies of Cistercian communities on the frontiers of northern Europe. I have completed a new synthesis of the medieval history of the Cistercian order (Routledge 2013) and contributed to the Cambridge Companion to the Cistercian Order (ed. Mette B. Bruun). I have also co-edited with Janet Burton a volume on the theme of religious and lay interactions in Northern and Western Europe between 1000 and 1400 and with Karen Stöber another collection of article on the monasteries on medieval borders and frontiers of Europe. I am also an invited contributor to The Cambridge History of Monasticism in the Latin West.

Current Research Projects

The powerful afterlife of medieval monasticism – from the tyranny of origins, nationalism, modernization paradigm to the transcultural perspectives (Horozon 2020-University of Erfurt funded project 2019-2020)

This project aims to explain key historiographical processes that history of medieval monasticism has been the subject to from the nineteenth-century onwards. Far from being marginal, the modern historiography of medievall monasticism is a powerful test-case for a wider understanding of the interpretational processes of history, meta-levels of historiographical developments as well as opportunities of the transcultural approaches that emerged in the recent years. It builds on my entire research work so far  and utilizes my expertise in comparative studies and established knowledge of historiographical traditions in both Western (especially German- and English-language scholarship) and East-Central Europe (academic studies in Slavonic languages). The study is envisage to be thematic examination with chapters focusing on different interpretational paradigms and will explore different intellectual underpinnings, influences and constructs that contributed to the developments of each of these models of interpretation. Although monasticism has late Antiquity roots and long post-medieval histories, the medieval period is the formative one and has been studied with particular intensity. It is frequently used as a stage that not only shaped but also defined this phenomenon. The ‘tyranny’ of origins has affected the historiography of medieval monasticism a great extent and continues to do so. The value attached to – or rejection of – monastic heritage has been shaped in significant ways by how the history of monasticism has been incorporated into linear histories of nation-states. The confessional perspectives – Catholic and Protestant were very important in shaping western-European historiography in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. The resurgence of the confessionally-driven interpretations in parts of East-Central Europe (especially Poland, Croatia and Hungary) and its impact on the approaches to the medieval monastic history are crucial for the wider understanding of contemporary identities and the place that medieval history has in the politics within the region. Since the development of the academic study of monasticism, the trans-European monastic networks have been routinely studied from the perspective of modern political borders and subjecting it to the specific periodisation concerns as well as set of questions that removed or diminished agency of such communities vis-à-vis political structures. In most extreme versions it had led to the models that removed the religious component from the analysis altogether. The powerful image of rationality and economic planning, as well as seeing strategic innovations in the monastic structures have been central to the Weberian-inspired models of interpretation. Whitest economy-focused approaches largely disappeared by the late-twentieth century, the models that interpret monastic structures and many elements of monastic culture as a precursor of modern rationality, often using the terminology of ‘innovation’ remained, at meta-level, anchored in the concept of progress and development. 

The sacred landscapes of medieval monasteries: an inter-disciplinary study of meaning embedded in space and production (AHRC -funded project 2018-2023)

This project seeks to identify appropriate data and to develop methodologies which will reveal how the makers of individual monasteries, including the orders themselves, their patrons, artists and their wider communities, designed these institutions into the fabric of the world around them and how the world itself was adjusted physically to reflect the metaphysical. The project will seek both to understand the ways in which the monastery was laid out in relation to existing topographies and to explore the background and motivation for these actions. Such analyses will be set alongside the history, archaeology and geography of estate economy and political patronage. The project has selected two British regions for comparative purposes, Wales and central Lincolnshire. Together with another Co-I Prof. Janet Burton and PDRA Dr Katy Dutton we are exploring the complexity of institutional memory and archival practices.

Past Research

The AHRC-funded project 'The cult of saints in Cistercian monasteries in the later middle ages: regionalism and pan-European trends'. (2012-2013) and Humboldt-Stiftung funded 'The Cult of the "Founding Fathers" in Late Medieval Monastic and Mendicant Orders'. (2015-2016). A monograph, in preparation, examines the forms of the cult of saints in Cistercian monasteries from the 14th to the early 16th century to show how Cistercian communities became rooted in their regions and localities and how they took up new religious fashions but also how the filiation networks continued to be an important route for the transmission of ideas across Europe. The project combines case studies (from Bavaria, Franconia and the Rhineland) with an extensive survey of Cistercian houses across European Christendom to show degrees of regionalisation and trans-regional network and the nature of cult-adoption within the Cistercian environment. The creation of the figure of  Bernard of Clairvaux as the 'founding father' of the order is examined in both textual and visual sources as well as wider process in late medieval culture. By doing so, I explain how the white monks adopted elements of popular religiosity to their relationship with the outside world, built it into their own institutional identity and their bonds with the Cistercian family and within the local context.

Digitizing the Monastic Past (2014-15) was a collaboration between the LHRI and the Institute for Medieval Studies. Together with  Michael Spence (IMS) I have received a Faculty of Arts Pump-Priming Award for a project that examines the surviving business manuscripts of Fountains Abbey, one of the largest and most important monastic institutions in the medieval North, in order to understand how its archive was constructed and deployed to manage the abbey’s institutional memory. We investigated ways in which information was amended, embellished and excised over four centuries, revealing the editorial decisions of successive abbots, and their strategies for controlling the historic representation of the monastery and the process of decision-making. The initial pump-priming stage conducted by Rene Hernandez Vera of the project build methodological ground-work for a large-scale project.

During 2007-08 academic year I completed the project 'Border loyalties and disloyalties: a comparative study', funded by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme, which considered the role of Cistercian monasteries on the frontiers of northern Europe. Spanning twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, this project explored six case studies of Cistercian foundations in Pomerania and Neumark and on the Scottish-English border focusing on their involvement in the trans-border networks, relationships with the local and external centres of power as well as the impact of wars and other forms of violence on those monastic communities.  Listen to my podcast in which I describe the project and some of its results.

The outcomes of the project are a monograph Survival and Success on Medieval Borders: Cistercian Houses in Medieval Scotland and Pomerania from the Twelfth to Late Fourteenth Century and a database of Melrose Abbey charters created by Katharine Keats-Rohan. Also co-edited with Karen Stöber, a collected volume of studies exploring the roles and strategies of monastic houses on the political and cultural frontiers of medieval Europe (Brepols 2013). 

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


  • PhD (University of Leeds)
  • MA (University of Leeds)
  • MA (Central European University, Budapest)
  • MA (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Student education

On the UG level, I teach modules on medieval religious culture, popular belief, and medieval Jewish history. I also contribute to the level 1 teaching on medieval Europe. On the PGT level,I co-teach an module on late medieval individual and communal religious experience and supervise MA dissertations. 

Research Supervision

I would particularly welcome doctoral projects in the following areas:

  • society and religion in high and late middle ages in Northern, Central and East-Central Europe

  • Cistercian order

  • monastic and mendicant culture

  • historiograhy

  • material culture of medieval monasticism (as a co-supervision with Dr Hugh Willmott, Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield)

Current PhD students:

  • Pawel Cholewicki, 'The Rise of the Observance and the disintegration of the Bosnian vicariate (1432-1469)' [co supervision with Dr Melanie Brunner. Funded by the LDS scholarship]

  • Andrea Mancini, 'Preaching and penitence in the age of Observance. The Summa confessorum of the Franciscan Nicholas of Osimo and the economic ethics of Observant Franciscans in the late Middle Ages (c1350-c1453)'  [co-supervision with Melanie Brunner]

  • Chris Latham ‘Comparative analysis of narratives of the undead in medieval English and Icelandic literature’ [co-supervision with Dr Alaric Hall]. 

Completed PhD thesis:

  • Dr Steve Werronen (2013): 'Ripon Minster in its social context: 1350-1530'. Steve is digital marketer and web developer. 

  • Dr Mike Spence (2014): 'Record-keeping at Fountains Abbey and the management of Malham in Craven'. 

  • Dr Audrey Thorstad (2015): 'Living in an Early Tudor Castle: Household, Display, and Space 1485-1542'. Audrey is Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas.

  • Dr Kirsty Day (2016) 'Constructing Dynastic Franciscan Identities in Bohemia and Polish'. Kirsty is Teaching Fellow in Medieval History, University of Edinburgh.

  • Dr Richard Thomason (2016): 'Hospitality in a Cistercian abbey: The case of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds in the later middle ages'. Richard is a civil servant.

  • Dr Clarck Drieshen (2017) 'The dissemination and reception of visionary devotional instruction of continental origin in late medieval England'. Clarck is working in the Cambridge University Library Special Collections. 

  • Dr Francesca Breeden (2018): 'Communal Solitude: the Archaeology of the Carthusian Houses of the Provincia Angliae, 1178-1569' [Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield].

  • Dr Victoria Yuskaitis (2020), 'Anchorites in Shropshire: An archaeological and literary analysis of the anchoritic vocation'. Victoria is Academic Skills Officer, University of Southampton.

  • Kaan Gorman, (2022, MPhil) 'The Wilderness and the World: Encounters between the Carthusians of Late Medieval England and the Secular World' 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Jewish Studies
  • Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums

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="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>