Isabel Moreira teaches in the History department at the University of Utah (since 1992). She specializes in the history of late antiquity with special focus on the Merovingian era. She has written two monographs. The first, Dreams, Visions and Spiritual Authority in Merovingian Gaul, was published in 2000 (Cornell UP); her second, is on the early history of purgatory is titled “Heaven’s Purge”: Purgatory in Late Antiquity (Oxford UP, 2010). She has co-edited two essay collections: Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical and Contempoary Perspectives (Ashgate, 2010), with Margaret Toscano, and the Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian Word (in press, OUP) co-edited with Bonnie Effros and expected to appear in Fall 2019. Current projects include Merovingian rings, ghosts in the early middle ages, and the connection of possessions with salvation.
Prof. Moreira is currently working on a cultural biography of Balthild of Francia (c. 626-80), a seventh-century queen and Catholic saint. She has provided the following summary to whet your appetite for Wednesday’s discussion:
Balthild of Francia was important figure in her time. Yet, because of the remote time period, and the specialized nature of the sources, she is little known outside the field of Merovingian studies. This project seeks to remedy that obscurity through a cultural biography that explores the life and times of a queen who lived in the seventh-century barbarian west, an era that has been termed (problematically) the “dark ages.” In fact, this was a time when Francia was still connected by trade and political aspirations to the Byzantine world. By contrast to so many other women of the era, even elite women, the documentary and material sources for the life and times of this seventh-century queen are exceptionally well-preserved. Indeed, as a result of new scientific methods and new approaches to archaeology, she is someone about whose life and environment we continue to know more. More challenging, however, is to think about how to write a biography of an individual who is remote in time from our own, who has left no self-authored works, and whose political career prompted such widely divergent assessments. Can one write a biography of a seventh-century queen?