Dr. Rutger Kramer

 
UU
UU
Drift 6
Drift 6
3512 BS Utrecht

Dr. Rutger Kramer

UU
r.d.kramer@uu.nl

My research over the years has always circled the Carolingian court of the later eighth and early ninth centuries. Specifically, I am interested in the way power and authority are constructed in narratives emanating from the circle around such figures as Charlemagne and his son Louis the Pious, and how these ideas are subsequently received, reinterpreted and even criticized by their followers farther afield. These echoes would then find their way back to the inner circle, and in the process create a “feedback loop” where varying ideas of and justifications for power were at times amplified or indeed subdued.

In my monograph, Rethinking Authority in the Carolingian Empire: Ideals and Expectations during the Reign of Louis the Pious (813-828) (Amsterdam, 2019) I have demonstrated how this process of reinforcement between the intellectual elites affected ongoing projects of “church reform” at the time, and indeed the very concept of "reforms" itself. More importantly, I also show how precisely these proposed religious reforms gave a moral, ethical and eschatological weight to political decision-making processes.

In addition to working on Carolingian empires and communities, I am also currently studying the 'long history' of Saint Nicholas - how he developed from an obscure saint in the Eastern Mediterranean into the cultural force of Sinterklaas/Santa Claus he is today. Taking the many different versions of his life story that have been written over the centuries, my aim is to show how Nicholas - like so many long-lived saints - is both a conservative force and a catalyst for innovation and change.

For both projects, a red thread throughout all my work, whether it concerns hagiographical narratives and monastic culture, “imperial” historiography, is the long history of medieval mentalities. Given that some such medieval phenomena are still palpable today, I have over time developed a secondary interest in modern medievalism and its influence on pop culture. Medieval History, after all, is not strictly speaking a study of past events, but rather of the stories that are told about them as they unfold – and this unfolding can take a long time indeed.