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Beginnings of the IMC

'Why don't we do that?’

In the early 1990s, there was an increasing demand for Europe to have its own international conference for Medieval Studies. Simon Forde, Director of the IMI, and Joyce Hill, Director of the CMS, brought together Leeds medievalists and their networks of scholars from around the world to launch the IMC in 1994. The support of the IMB and its contributors was crucial; members of IMB staff formed the core of the first IMC team. The inaugural IMC registered 859 delegates; in 2017 we welcomed close to 2500 participants from more than 50 different countries, and we expect even more in 2018.

Bodington and Weetwood

From its inception until 2012, the Congress was located at two sites - Bodington Hall and Weetwood Hall - situated some 6 kilometres (4 miles) north of the main University of Leeds campus; most delegates stayed on-site, and many look back on it as a unique bubble in which academics could meet and share ideas. It is remembered fondly by long-standing participants, and the final year closed with celebrations featuring a joust, live music, and the last ever Bodington Disco.

On-campus move

In 2013, the Congress moved onto the main University of Leeds campus where there was more space for academic sessions, professional development workshops, and public events, such as the ever-popular ‘Making Leeds Medieval’, a one-day event featuring combat displays, a craft fair, re-enactments, and musical entertainment. This move was welcomed, although Bodington and Weetwood are still looked upon with nostalgia by long-established attendees. The move offered scope for expansion and growth with a wider range of activities for a more immersive experience.