The congress is open to all individual members of FIDEM and to all affiliates of institutional members of FIDEM. Proposals must be electronically submitted in the Congress webpage. All European languages are official languages of the Congress, as is the tradition in FIDEM meetings. Presentations: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion. Call for papers closes 31st March 2013 (second deadline, with new rate). Abstract Submission and Author Guidelines here.


Fascination with secrets traverses the Middle Ages. A secret is shared by few and coveted by many, requiring a lot of those who have to keep it, or those who want to disclose it. A secret is power, hence the eagerness to discover it. But as curiosity can lead to the abyss and punishment, discovering secrets also requires prudence and caution.

The relationship between secret and discovery expresses itself in the Middle Ages, as in all times, through many other dynamic dualities: mystery and revelation, arcane and evidence, unknown and sought, ignorance and knowledge, esoteric and exoteric, private message and edict, hidden and manifest, conspiracy and complaint. The secret is in the nature, which does everything to hide itself, while he reveals itself in many ways, but only to those who know how to interpret it. So in the Middle Ages there are sciences for all secrets: of God, of elements and things, of the stars, of physiognomy, of women, of happiness, of the delights of paradise, of relics, of holiness, of the inner life, of sin, of power, of distant peoples and lost places, and of countless other things. The secret is itself a big secret. The secret is everywhere, in the narratives of search and discovery, in public or private action, in sciences, in books or encyclopedias. One of the most popular medieval texts, the Secretum secretorum, which collects the secrets of health, politics, nature, astrology, magic, alchemy, becomes a model for the many of the literary works composed to uncover secrets, that thus, paradoxically, cease to be. The secret holds dangerous and valuable knowledge ranging from counterfeiting, to the illusions of the imagination, or the triumph of reason and wisdom.

The secret and its avatars were a silent yet strong driving force in almost all aspects of the Middle Ages. The “Secrets and Discovery” Congress proposes to discuss their presence and importance in the imagination, culture, thinking, sciences, politics, religion, and life during the Middle Ages (from the beginning of the 6th to the end of the 15th century).

The Congress is designed to promote discussion on secrets and discovery from all Medieval Studies domains, in every medieval language, and in different subjects/sections:

  • Confession and Intimacy
  • Conspiracy and Betrayal
  • Government and Diplomacy
  • Health and Life
  • Hermeticism and Transmutation
  • Holiness and Relics
  • Knowledge and Scepticism
  • Mysticisms and Kabbalah
  • Nature and Supernatural
  • Past and Future
  • Planets and Harmony
  • Prophecy and Divination
  • Sermons and Preaching
  • Symbols and Dreams
  • Truth and Fake
  • Unknown Worlds and Lost Places
  • Warfare and Strategy


FIDEM will provide scholarships for young participants (under 35) presenting their research, if they are individual members or belong to a FIDEM's member institution, in order to encourage their participation in the Congress. Application letter (accompanied by curriculum vitae and a letter of recommendation signed by a faculty member) must be sent by e-mail, after online registration in the Congress (see above), by 28th February 2013. They should be sent to Prof. José Meirinhos, secretary of FIDEM, at Candidates will be notified of the outcome on 31th March. No application will be accepted without previous complete registration, including an abstract.


  • Catarina Belo (American University in Cairo), Theories of Prophecy and the Faculties of the Soul in Medieval Islamic Philosophy
  • Enrique Montero Cartelle (Universidad de Valladolid), El descubrimiento de una falsedad: El De stomacho de Constantino el Africano y su fuente árabe
  • Greti Dinkova-Brunn (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto), The Secrets in Miscellanies: Manuscript Cotton Titus D. XX and its Structure
  • Harvey Hames (Ben Gurion University, Beersheva), Discovering the Secrets of God: Kabbalah as an alternative Theology of Judaism in the Thirteenth Century
  • Luís Miguel Duarte (Universidade do Porto), Secrets and Portuguese Geographical Discoveries
  • Pascale Bourgain (École des Chartes, Paris), Non sine Mysterio”
  • Pete Biller (The University of York), Medieval heretics: secrets, secrecy and the Secretum


If you want to organize a special session (up to 3 presentations each one), a round table, a project presentation, or books discussion or presentation, please send a proposal to the Director of the Congress (



1. Register online:

2. Pay online :

Please note that your registration only is concluded after payment!

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The congress is organized by the Gabinete de Filosofia Medieval / Instituto de Filosofia / Universidade do Porto © Fédération Internationale des Instituts d'Études Médiévales