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Prof. dr. G. (Guy) Geltner

Medieval History
Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Geschiedenis
Photographer: onbekend

Visiting address
  • Kloveniersburgwal 48
  • Room number: D1.04C
Postal address
  • Postbus 1610
    1000 BP Amsterdam
  • Profile


    BA (1997-2000) Hebrew University
    MA (2001-2003) Princeton University
    PhD (2003-2006) Princeton University
    Post-doc (2006-2008) University of Oxford

    For an updated CV, publications, projects and blog please go to my personal website

    Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Amsterdam

    The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Amsterdam (CMRSA) was founded in 2010 as a platform for collaboration among medievalists and Renaissance studies scholars across different fields at the University of Amsterdam. To read more follow the link below. 

    Link to CMRSA website

    Books and edited volumes

    Flogging Others: Corporal Punishment and Cultural Identity from Antiquity to the Present (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2014)

    Lijfstraffen worden vaak gezien als een infaam overblijfsel van de westerse geschiedenis. Een versluierde laag barbaarse praktijken, massaal afgezworen gedurende het beschavingsproces. Geltner laat zien dat het legaal opleggen van fysieke pijn helemaal niet is verdwenen uit de moderne strafrechtpraktijken en dat het niet per se typerend is voor oude beschavingen. Evenmin is er sprake van een versnelde afname van lijfstraffen na de Verlichting. Reeds in de Oudheid plaatste men vraagtekens bij deze praktijk. We moeten het gebruik van lijfstraffen dan ook eerder zien als een beweging die onder druk van verschillende stromingen door de tijden heen toe- of afneemt. Zo zagen moderne staten, voorheen koloniale regimes, niet een afname, maar juist een toename van het aantal lijfstraffen. NB The book has appeared in Dutch and English.

    Flogging Others on the AUP Website

    La prigione medievale: una storia sociale (Rome: Viella, 2012)

    An Italian translation of The Medieval Prison: A Social History (see below)

    La prigione medievale on La Viella website

    The Making of Medieval Antifraternalism: Polemic, Violence, Deviance, and Remembrance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

    Documenting the scale and scope of opposition to the medieval mendicant orders, this book contends that the phenomenon reaches far beyond an ecclesiastical in-house debate and supports only tenuous links with Reformation or modern forms of anticlericalism. Drawing on numerous sources, it shows that people from all walks of life lambasted and occasionally assaulted friars, orchestrating in the process detailed and suggestive scenes of urban violence. At the same time, it demonstrates the friars' active role in forging a medieval antifraternal tradition, not only by deviating from their founders' paths, but also by chronicling their suffering inter fideles and thus incorporating it into the orders' identity.

    The Making of Medieval Antifraternalism on the OUP Website

    Defenders and Critics of Franciscan Life, co-edited with Michael F. Cusato (Leiden: Brill, 2009)

    The essays in this volume revisit John V. Fleming's 1977 A n Introduction to the Franciscan Literature of the Middle Ages , from a number of different perspectives, including social, religious and literary history, as well as art, exegesis, political thought and the history of education. A prominent, but not exclusive, theme of the contributions is the distinction between "defenders" and "critics" of medieval Franciscanism, categories which recent scholarship has challenged.

    Defenders and Critics on the Brill Website

    The Medieval Prison: A Social History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008)

    The modern prison is commonly thought to be the fruit of an Enlightenment penology that stressed man's ability to reform his soul. The Medieval Prison challenges this view by tracing the institution's emergence to a much earlier period beginning in the late thirteenth century, and in doing so provides a unique view of medieval prison life.

    The Medieval Prison on the PUP Website

    De Periculis Novissimorum Temporum (Leuven: Peeters, 2008)

    In 1256, amidst growing tensions between Parisian secular and mendicant academics, William of Saint-Amour published his major assault on the friars, Depericulis novissimorum temporum , or On the Dangers of the Last Times . As its title proclaims, the treatise employed the exegetical language of apocalypticism to expose the mendicants' success as the ultimate universal threat, and to warn theirsupportersthatthey were siding with the Antichrist. William's party was soon silenced, yet for centuries De periculis continued to furnish the basic vocabulary of anti-fraternal polemics. Medieval poets, Reformation theologians, modern playwrights - all have drawn upon this anathematized treatise to different ends.

    De periculis on the Peeters Website
  • Teaching

    Overzicht algemene geschiedenis II: het middeleeuwse Europa en de Renaissance

    UvA Course Catalog

    Death and Dying in Medieval Europe (MA Seminar; Fall 2009; Fall 2010)

    Whether seen as a transitional moment, an end, a beginning, or neither, death has been continuously reinterpreted in ways thatboth shaped and reflected broader social, intellectual, political, and economic developments. Understanding how Western societies developed their understandings of death and the process of dying (and, by implication, life and living) offers a unique perspective on these cultures' perceptions of history, the cosmos, the body, social relations, and moral conduct. By looking at different texts, images, and physical sites, this seminar examines key several questions associated with death and dying: How were afterworlds shaped? In what ways did the living relate to the dead and vice versa? Is death gendered or stratified? Why are tombs and graveyards important?

    UvA Course Catalog

    Monasticism and Asceticism from Late Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages (BA Seminar; Spring 2010)

    This course offers an in-depth introduction to Western monastic thought, life, and culture. We will trace monastic phenomena from their late-antique origins in Egypt and Ireland, to the rise of urban, lay asceticism in the late fourteenth century. At each meeting we will analyze the internal functioning of religious communities, their self-perception, and the justifications and motivations for their members' entry into religious life. We will also observe the ways in which monks interacted with their social and natural environment, and their impact on medieval education, administration, and lay piety. Some key themes will be the environmental dimension of monasticism (in its urban and rural settings), the role of gender and class in monastic development, the relations between monastic spirituality and learning, tensions with the priesthood and secular power, and competition among different monastic models.

    UvA Course Catalog

    The Medieval Crusades (BA Seminar; Fall 2010)

    This course examines the background, development, and implications of medieval crusading for both Western Europe and its neighbors. By looking at Latin, Greek, and Arabic texts (in translation), as well as art and material remains from that period,wewill address, among others, the following questions: What was a crusade and why did different men, women, and children embark on it? What lies behind the success of certain crusades and the failure of others? In what sense was the Kingdom of Jerusalem a European outpost? How did the crusaders affect the lives of those they encountered and fought against? Were the crusades a religious movement or a holy war? How informed were western Europeans about Islam and vice versa?

    UvA course catalog

    Pre-Modern Public Health (MA Seminar; Fall 2010)

    How did past governments, institutions, and individuals define and pursue the creation of healthier environments? How did pre-modern societies recognize and imagine health threats? What forces were at work in shaping certain solutions at the expense of others? We will examine these and other questions through a variety of original sources (textual and material) and in conjunction with modern theories and methodologies converging on the study of public health, urban justice, and environmental studies. The course will focus on but will not be limited to urban Europe .

    UvA course catalog

    De wereld van de Italiaanse stadstaten (13e-17e eeuw) (BA seminar; Spring 2011)

    De Italiaanse stadstaten, zoals Venetië, Florence, Pisa, Lucca en Bologna, vormen één van de invloedrijkste fenomenen in de geschiedenis van Europa. Binnen hun stadsmuren en palazzi, en op hun drukke pleinen en markten vonden ontwikkelingen plaats die de gehele samenleving transformeerden. In deze cursus zullen we de veranderende wereld van de Italiaanse stadstaten tussen de dertiende en de zeventiende eeuw onderzoeken aan de hand van verschillende media en methoden. Iedere week analyseren we hoe een specifiek thema in de historiografie is behandeld en bestuderen we primaire bronnen (in vertaling).
    De thema's die we onder andere zullen bespreken zijn politieke cultuur, religie, de commerciële revolutie, burgerlijke architectuur en de stedelijke ruimte, de positie van de "ander" (vrouwen,joden, migranten), geweld en sociale controle. Een reis naar Midden- en Noord-Italië maakt onderdeel uit van deze collegereeks. Studenten zullen ter plaatse gebruik maken van de stedelijke ruimte als studieobject.

    UvA course catalog

    Historische Klassieken (RMA kermodule, Fall 2011; Fall 2012)

    This course introduces Research Masters students to some of the most exciting and foundational works in history. By reading and discussing both recent and not-so-recent historical 'classics', we will trace the development of history writing as a profession and a scientific discipline, and ask what tools and strategies historians employ as scholars and authors.

    Co-taught with Prof. dr. Mieke Aerts

    UvA Course Catalog

    The History of Punishment (BA Seminar, Spring 2012)

    This seminar offers a broad historical perspective on the development of penal practices as a form of social control. We will discuss, for instance, the methods and uses of enslavement in the ancient world; the social, economic, political, and theological constraints on the "birth" of the prison in the late Middle Ages; the death penalty; and alternative forms of social censure that prevail in tribal cultures. We will also engage topics such as torture and truth, gender in punishment, and the spatial and performative dimensions of punishment.

  • Medieval History and Medieval Studies at UvA

    Medieval History at the University of Amsterdam

    Medieval history is a trans-regional, comparative, and multidisciplinary field. Its unique interest for us lies in the variety of vistas into human experience it hasto offer as the best-documented pre-modern culture our planet can boast. This appeal is further augmented by the enormous impact that developments in this period had on shaping the present, from geopolitics to religion, from agriculture to architecture, and from commerce to the world of arts and letters.

    Our taught program covers the length and breadth of Europe and the Mediterranean basin from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries, with a stronger focus on the latter half of this period. We lay a particular emphasis on comparative research, whether within a certain region or between regions - a method that our faculty is uniquely qualified to pursue. Medievalists at Amsterdam are actively engaged in a number of projects and collaborations, such as the comparative study of urban public health, literacy, the culture of elites, deviance, and corruption. Our diverse training and backgrounds enable us to examine these and other themes from multiple perspectives and foster a truly stimulating environment, combining intellectual rigor and mutual enrichment.

    Our research students pursue their own interests without losing sight of the broader implications of historical analysis. Accordingly, they are encouraged to bring their expertise into dialog with a variety of established and evolving disciplines, both within and outside medieval studies, whether through participating in conferences, seminars and workshops or in informal settings such as field-trips and guided tours.

    Whatever degree you are pursuing, as a student of medieval history at the UvA you will enjoy access to extraordinary material and human resources in a dynamic setting. The university and city are not only home to excellent research libraries and archives, but they also host a vibrant community of specialists in medieval studies, from literature, to archaeology, to art and theology (for further details, please follow the link below to the Center for Medieval Studies Amsterdam).

    Center for Medieval Studies Amsterdam

    People, Projects, and Publications in Medieval History at the UvA

    We pride ourselves on being attentive to our students' needs and on providing them with the skills and opportunities essential for their intellectual and professional growth. To know more about studying medieval history at UvA, please contact the Faculty of History, Archaeology and Region Studies:
    Follow the link below to learn more about members of the medieval historians at the UvA.

    Title M.A. tutorials offered in Medieval History

    M.A. students at the history department can now arrange to have individual tutorials with faculty members. The idea is to offer students a chance to work intensively on a particular topic (e.g., popular rebellion, maritime trade, etc.) or develop a specific set of skills (paleography, statistical analysis, Arabic sources, etc.), whether in conjunction with a particular research group or completely independently.

  • Publications





    • Geltner, G. (2018). Public Health. In S. R. Blanshei (Ed.), A Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Bologna (pp. 103-128). (Brill's Companions to European History; Vol. 14). Leiden: Brill. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2017). Fighting Corruption in the Italian City-State: Perugian Officers’ End of Term Audit (sindacato) in the Fourteenth Century. In R. Kroeze, A. Vitória, & G. Geltner (Eds.), Anticorruption in History: From Antiquity to the Modern Era (pp. 103-121). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [details]
    • Kroeze, R., Vitória, A., & Geltner, G. (2017). Introduction: Debating Corruption and Anticorruption in History. In R. Kroeze, A. Vitória, & G. Geltner (Eds.), Anticorruption in History: From Antiquity to the Modern Era (pp. 1-17). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2015). "Antifraternal Polemics: Between Literature and Social Reality". In Francesco e i frati minori nello specchio dell’Europa, Proccedings of the 42nd Conference of Franciscan Studies, Assisi (17-19 October 2014) (pp. 313-331). Spoleto: Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo.
    • Geltner, G. (2015). Clôture et déclôture. Ordres mendicants et menace du scandale Âge. In Règles et dérèglements au milieu clos (VIIe-XIXe siècle) (pp. 341-351). Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.


    • Geltner, G. (2014). Finding Matter out of Place: Bologna’s fango ('dirt') notary in the history of premodern public health. In R. Smurra, H. Houben, & M. Ghizzoni (Eds.), Lo sguardo lungimirante delle capitali: saggi in onore di Francesca Bocchi = The Far-Sighted Gaze of Capital Cities: essays in honour of Francesca Bocchi (pp. 307-321). Rome: Viella. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2014). History of corporal punishment. In G. Bruinsma, & D. Weisburd (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 2106-2115). Springer. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2014). The Friar. In S. H. Rigby (Ed.), Historians on Chaucer: The 'General Prologue' to The Canterbury Tales (pp. 156-169). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [details]


    • Coomans, J., & Geltner, G. (2013). On the Street and in the Bathhouse: Medieval Galenism in Action? Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 43(1), 53-82. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2013). A Cell of their Own: The Incarceration of Women in Late Medieval Italy. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 39(1), 27-51. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2013). Healthscaping a medieval city: Lucca’s Curia viarum and the future of public health history. Urban History, 40(3), 395-415. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2013). Patrolling Normative Borders after the Black Death: The Bishop of Lucca’s Criminal Court. In K. L. Jansen, G. Geltner, & A. E. Lester (Eds.), Center and periphery: studies on power in the medieval world in honor of William Chester Jordan (pp. 169-180). (Later Medieval Europe; No. 11). Leiden: Brill. [details]
    • Jansen, K. L., Geltner, G., & Lester, A. E. (2013). Introduction. In K. L. Jansen, G. Geltner, & A. E. Lester (Eds.), Center and periphery: studies on power in the medieval world in honor of William Chester Jordan (pp. 1-11). (Later Medieval Europe; No. 11). Leiden: Brill. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2012). La prigione medievale: una storia sociale. (La storia. Temi; No. 27). Roma: Viella. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2012). The making of medieval antifraternalism: polemic, violence, deviance and remembrance. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2012). Public health and the pre-modern city: a research agenda. History Compass, 10(3), 231-245. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2011). Social deviancy: a medieval approach. In C. Chazelle, S. Doubleday, F. Lifshitz, & A. G. Remensnyder (Eds.), Why the Middle Ages matter: Medieval light on modern injustice (pp. 29-40). London: Routledge. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2010). Brethren behaving badly: a deviant approach to medieval antifraternalism. Speculum, 85(1), 47-64. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2010). Mendicants as victims: scale, scope, and the idiom of violence. Journal of Medieval History, 36(2), 126-141. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2010). No-woman’s land? On female crime and incarceration, past, present, and future. Justice Policy Journal, 7(2). [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2010). ‘The best place in the world’: imaging urban prisons in Late Medieval Italy. In C. Goodson, A. E. Lester, & C. Symes (Eds.), Cities, texts and social networks, 400-1500: experiences and perceptions of medieval urban space (pp. 263-278). Farnham: Ashgate. [details]






    • Geltner, G. (2015). Een geruisloze verplaatsing: hoe de stadsgevangenis verdween uit Amsterdam en elders. In EU@Amsterdam. Een stedelijke raad (pp. 133-140). Amsterdam: AUP.


    • Geltner, G. (2014). De gesel en de ander: lijfstraffen en culturele identiteit van Oudheid tot heden. Amsterdam: AUP. [details]


    • Jansen, K. L., Geltner, G., & Lester, A. E. (2013). Center and periphery: studies on power in the medieval world in honor of William Chester Jordan. (Later Medieval Europe; No. 11). Leiden: Brill. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2011). La prison urbaine: pratiques civiques, discours religieux et enjeu social. In I. Heullant-Donat, J. Claustre, & E. Lusset (Eds.), Enfermements: le cloître et la prison: VIe-XVIIIe siècle (pp. 321-330). (Homme et société). Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2010). I registri criminali dell’Archivio Arcivescovile di Lucca: prospettive di ricerca per la storia sociale del Medioevo. In S. Pagano, & P. Piatti (Eds.), Il patrimonio documentario della Chiesa di Lucca: prospettive di ricerca: atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Lucca, Archivio arcivescovile, 14-15 novembre 2008 (pp. 331-340). Firenze: SISMEL. [details]


    • Cusato, M. F., & Geltner, G. (2009). Defenders and critics of Franciscan life: essays in honor of John V. Fleming. (The medieval Franciscans; No. 6). Leiden: Brill. [details]
    • Geltner, G. (2009). William of St. Amour’s 'De periculis novissimorum temporum': a false start to medieval antifraternalism? In M. F. Cusato, & G. Geltner (Eds.), Defenders and critics of Franciscan life: essays in honor of John V. Fleming (pp. 127-143). (The medieval Franciscans; No. 6). Leiden: Brill. [details]



    • Geltner, G. (2015). [Review of: Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey, Healthy Living in Late Renaissance Italy (2013)]. H-Italy.
    • Geltner, G. (2015). [Review of: Steven Vanderputten, Monastic Reform as Process: Realities and Representations in Medieval Flanders, 900-1100 (2013)]. The Medieval Low Countries. An Annual Review.



    • Geltner, G. (2013). [Review of: J.B. Pierce (2012) Poverty, heresy and the apocalypse: the Order of Apostles and social change in medieval Italy, 1260-1307]. English Historical Review, 128(535), 1538-1539. [details]




    • Geltner, G. (2010). [Review of: S. Dale, et al. (2007) Chronicling history: chroniclers and historians in medieval and Renaissance Italy]. English Historical Review, 125(513), 398-399. [details]


    • Geltner, G. (2018). Learning from the Countryside: Field Masters (camparii) and Urban Healthscaping in Later Medieval Piedmont. Paper presented at European Society for Urban History Conference, Rome, .


    • Geltner, G. (2016). Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship.

    Talk / presentation

    • Geltner, G. (speaker) (7-9-2016). The Urban Viarius, Bio-Power and the Gaze of the State in Later Medieval Italy.
    • Geltner, G. (speaker) (13-4-2016). Healthscaping the Premodern City: Italy, 1250-1500, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
    • Geltner, G. (speaker) (16-3-2016). From Roads to Health: The viarius and Urban Wellbeing in Later Medieval Italy, Utrecht Center for Medieval Studies.
    • Geltner, G. (speaker) (2016). The Urban Viarius: Public Health, Biopolitics and the Gaze of the State in Late Medieval Italy, Consortium Seminar in Medieval History, Chicago.


    • Zaneri, T. (organiser) & Geltner, G. (organiser) (25-6-2021). Launch of Healthscaping Website and Bologna WebGIS (organising a conference, workshop, ...).


    • Foncke, M. E. (2021). Water's worth: Urban society and subsidiarity in seventeenth-century Holland. [details]
    • van Kleij, N. P. D. W. (2021). Beyond the façade: Town halls, publicity, and urban society in the fifteenth-century Low Countries. [details]



    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities