Page tree

Get started by adding some pages to this space. Create page.

Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Name: James Peter Edward Kawalek

PhD: History

Thesis Title: A Cultural Centre at the Edge of Europe: Historical Writing and Europeanisation in Twelfth-Century Compostela


Thesis Description:

My project seeks to analyse the Historia Compostelana, a twelfth-century ‘house history’ from the Cathedral of Compostela, as a piece of historical writing and re-assess medieval Spain’s relationship with contemporary Latin Europe. Produced during a time of European cultural expansion, the HC reflects a key moment in the Europeanisation of Spain. Compostela, at the edge of Europe, embraced this change and became a major European centre for art and pilgrimage. The HC, a laudatory account of Diego Gelmírez’s (Compostela’s reforming bishop) life and deeds, is innovative in form and detailed in content; it offers a precious first-hand account of the city’s transformation. Key questions include: What can the HC, in form and content, tell us about the changes in twelfth-century Compostela and its emerging links with Europe? To what extent was twelfth-century Spain a cultural outlier with respect to the rest of Latin Europe? The project will begin by analysing the HC as a piece of historical writing and then, by comparing it with contemporary histories, will assess its relationship with Latin Europe. As the intention of this study is to illuminate the HC’s cultural contexts, a focus on matters such as: genre, literary style, and social and political viewpoints will be maintained.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

  • Dr William Purkis- University of Birmingham
  • Prof Aengus Ward- University of Birmingham

Papers Given

  • 'Memory and Narrative in the Historia Compostelana'- Memory: Creation, Practice, and Transmission, University of Basel (June 2019)

Scholarly/ Public Engagement


  • Co-organiser- 'How to apply for PhD Funding' PGT talk.



  • 2015: Medieval Studies MA, University of Manchester, (Distinction).
  • 2014: Religions and Theology BA (hons), University of Manchester, (First Class)



  • Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (2018-2021).
  • Towneley Family John Rylands Research Institute Medieval Studies Studentship (2014-2015).


Other Research Interests:

Cult of saints, medieval apocalypticism, eschatology, history of the book, and biblical studies.




University email address:

Twitter: @james_kawalek


  • No labels