From Childeric to Charlemagne: Imagining Power  in the Kingdom of the Franks
with Professor Leslie Webster (University College London)
at Sutton Hoo on Saturday, 30th June , 2018

During the day we shall consider Childeric and the earliest Frankish (Merovingian) kings, Frankish princely burials of the 6th and 7th centuries, and Frankish women – in particular  queens, princesses, saints and abbesses.  We shall finish by looking at the great Carolingian king Charlemagne and the rebirth of an empire. We will focus on visual presentations of kingship and rule in these two major dynasties

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:    Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:    The Merovingian kings: Frankish princely burials and symbols of power

11.15 – 11.40:    Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:    Powerful women: Frankish queens, princesses, saints and abbesses

12.40 – 14.00:    Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:     A new empire: the irresistible rise of Charlemagne

14.50 – 15.10:    Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:    Charlemagne to Charles the Bald: the power of art

c.16.00:                Thanks and Close

About Professor Leslie Webster

Leslie Webster was for many years senior curator of the British Museum’s unrivalled early medieval collections, with particular specialism in Anglo-Saxon art and archaeology. She was formerly Keeper of the Museum’s Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory, before she retired in 2007. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and an Honorary Visiting Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. During her time at the Museum she co-curated four major exhibitions on Anglo-Saxon and early medieval themes, including The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art, 966-1066, and The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900. She has also curated five European exhibitions for the European Science Foundation’s Transformation of the Roman World Project, as well as an exhibition on The Anglo-Saxon Feast at the National Trust Visitors’ Centre at Sutton Hoo. In addition to writing exhibition catalogues, she has lectured and published widely on Anglo-Saxon art and artefacts, and edited several volumes of essays; her most recent books include Anglo-Saxon Art: a New History, and The Franks Casket, both published in 2012. Her time is currently occupied as co-editor of and contributor to The Staffordshire Hoard: an Anglo-Saxon Treasure, the official publication of the find, which will be published next year.


When asked “What was best about the Day?” at a previous Study day by Leslie respondents said:

  • Leslie! Her knowledge, understanding and ability to convey this with wit!
  • Leslie was a very clear and knowledgeable speaker and the topics covered were interesting and thought provoking.
  • Speaker’s expertise, supported by very good illustrations. Good timing too.
  • Leslie’s effortless command of the subject
  • Energy, enthusiasm & warmth of discussion
  • Wealth of information (visual as well) clearly conveyed, but also open to comment, other ideas. Relaxed atmosphere, so conducive to discussions.
  • Academic quality – this day has surpassed all other Study days I have attended


Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

Bardières-Fronty, Isabelle, et al., Les Temps Mérovingiens; Trois Siècles d’Art at de Culture (451-751) (Paris Musée de Cluny 2016)

Bullough, Donald, The Age of Charlemagne, 2nd edition (Ferndale 1980)

Costambeys, Marios,  et al., The Carolingian World (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks 2011)

Einhard & Notker the Stammerer, Two Lives of Charlemagne, tr. David Ganz (Penguin Books 2008)

Fouracre, Paul, & Richard A Geberding, Late Merovingian France, History and Hagiography, Manchester Medieval Sources series (Manchester University Press 1996)

Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, tr. Lewis Thorpe (Penguin Books 1994)

Halsall, Guy, Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West  450-900 (Routledge 2003)

Wamers, Egon, & Patrick Périn (eds.) Königinnen der Merowinger; Adelsgräber aus den Kirchern von Köln, Saint-Denis, Chelles und Frankfurt am Main (Schnell und Steiner 2013)

Wood, Ian, The Merovingian Kingdoms 450-751 (Longmans 1994)