Ancient Kings – Contemporary Politics

Ancient Kings – Contemporary Politics. Medievalism in Central and Eastern Europe

A workshop organized and supported by CEFRES, in collaboration with the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe (GWZO).

Convenors : Olga Kalashnikova (CEU / CEFRES), Jan Kremer  (PedF UK, CEFRES associate)

Date : March 20, 2024
Location  : CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, 110 00 Prague 1, and online. To register
Language : English
Contacts : Olga Kalashnikova,; Jan Kremer,


9:00 – 9:10 Greeting word by Mateusz Chmurski (CEFRES) and Václav Žůrek (GWZO Prague)

9:10 – 9:20 Introduction by the organizers (Jan Kremer, Olga Kalashnikova)

9:30 – 10:20 Keynote lecture: Dina Khapaeva, Political Neomedievalism in Putin’s Russia and Beyond

10:20 – 10:30 Coffee break

10:30 – 11:50 First Session

Cordelia Heß, Are Vikings Still a Thing? Popular and Far Right Use of the Nordic Middle Ages

Christoph Dartmann, Uses of the Middle Ages by the German ‘Alt Right’ in the 21st c.

Karin Reichenbach, Popular Paganism and Malicious Medievalism. Early Medieval Reenactment as Part of Radical Right-Wing Subculture in Central Europe

11:50 – 12:00 Coffee break

12:00 – 13:20 Second Session

Ferenc Kanyó, Pseudohistorical Theories about Medieval Hungary in the Services of the goverment

Tatyjana Szafonova, The Hungarian Big Kurultaj: Diplomatic Negotiations amid Medieval Reenactments

Gábor Klaniczay, Orbán Descendant of Attila? The Theory of Hun-Hungarian Kinship Reloaded

13:20 – 14:00 Lunch break

14:00 – 15:00 Third Session

Martin Šorm, “New Neutral”? Political Medievalism in Contemporary Czechia

Matej Harvát, Great-Moravian Tradition as an Anti-Progressive Banal Medievalism in Slovak Contemporary Public Discourse

15:00 – 15:20 Coffee break

15:20 – 16:40 Fourth Session

Cristian-Nicolae Gaspar, In the Long Shadow of National Communism: Traditions of Officially-sponsored Political Medievalism in Romania

Gustavs Strenga, Is There no Contemporary Political Medievalism in the Baltics? Baltic Medieval Legacy between Oblivion, Consumerism and Geopolitics

Nikita Bogachev, Neo-medievalism, Fantasy Literature, and Chronopolitics in Modern Russia

16:40 – 17:00 Coffee break

17:00 Conclusion


Medievalism presents multifaceted post-medieval reflections of the Middle Ages employed with various incentives in a plenitude of contexts. Our interdisciplinary workshop will be centered around the use, recontextualization, and remediation of medievalism concepts and tropes in political discourse in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. We understand the term “political” not only as configuration(s) of power but also as a specific promotion and justification of concrete ideological doctrines, social, cultural or economic agendas.

Given that some Central- and Eastern-European countries look for their origins in the Middle Ages, these political interpretations of the period are often closely connected to national identity and sometimes to advancement of anti-immigrant, anti-democratic, or militarist agendas. Thus, present-day medievalisms turn into powerful ideological instruments. Investigation of how the medieval past is perceived and how it reshapes the present is crucial for understanding and exposing such appropriations.

The workshop will gather colleagues from multiple disciplines, e.g., medieval studies, public history, anthropology, sociology, political science, memory studies and others, to critically approach the role of the Middle Ages in 21st century politics. In particular, the workshop will focus on such questions as: What tropes about the Middle Ages have become dominant in a given political milieu and why? How are they remediated to a range of audiences? What can it tell about our societies? Speakers will address contemporary interactions with the medieval past across a wide range of media (newspapers, books, movies, television, internet etc.) and representational forms (reenactments, festivals, exhibitions, commemoration events) featuring political discussion and mobilization.