Dr Godfried Croenen, Reader in French Historical Studies, used the break in teaching during tutorial week to make a research trip to Rome and Vatican City. While there Dr Croenen worked in the Vatican Library, which houses one of the most important collections of medieval manuscripts in the whole world. Dr Croenen used his visit to study several precious manuscripts that contain French chronicles from the 14th and 15th centuries, a particular focus of his current research. The codices he was working on in the Vatican were once part of the private library of Queen Christina of Sweden, who had brought together an extensive and exquisite collection of medieval French manuscripts. Having converted to Catholicism Queen Christina moved to Rome and took her collections of books and art works with her. After her death in 1689 her books were purchased by Pope Alexander VIII for the Vatican Library, where they are still housed and available for study to scholars from all over the world.

Dr Croenen at the Vatican’s Porta Sant’Anna, behind which is the courtyard where the papal archives and library are located. The Swiss Guards protect the Vatican and only allow through accredited scholars and people who work in Vatican City

Dr Croenen also gave a lecture at the Villa Lante (Finnish Institute in Rome). He spoke about a manuscript from the Vatican Library that contains the Chroniques of Jean Froissart. The codex Reg. Lat. 869 is one of the most important surviving manuscripts containing Froissart’s text. Dr Croenen has published a new edition of the text in this manuscript as part of the Online Froissart project, for which he acts as co-director.

Having first explained the importance of Froissart and his Chroniques in which the author recounts the wars between France and England in the 14th century, Dr Croenen reflected on the unique character of the Vatican manuscript and on the crucial role that it can play in scholars’ understanding of the historical oeuvre left by Froissart.

Dr Croenen giving his lecture in the Villa Lante, a Renaissance villa located on the Gianicolo Hill overlooking the city of Rome. It was originally designed as a summer retreat and is decorated with frescoes by Giulio Romano, one of Raphael’s pupils.

Dr Croenen’s lecture was followed by a lively question-and-answer session and a dinner hosted by the Institute’s president Dr Tuomas Heikkilä.