Graduate Student Invitation Series Lecture: "The Impostor Sea: The Making of the Medieval Mediterranean"


Location: Zoom

Hussein Fancy Headshot


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Each year the Medieval Institute's graduate students organize a lecture, inviting a scholar to speak and conduct a subsequent graduate seminar; Professor Fancy will be the fifteenth speaker in the series. 

This lecture traces the activities of religious impostors, pious robbers, repentant smugglers, and multi-religious gangs, who populated the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century western Mediterranean. Rather than outlaws or “enemies of all,” Fancy argues that these figures were central to the making of the late medieval Mediterranean. More exactly, he argues that a broad, juridical turn inspired new efforts to regulate illicit commerce and fraud, efforts that not only reflected but also shaped social practices, entrenching new religious, territorial, and racial boundaries. He presents three cases—three attempts to regulate smuggling—in Rome, Tunis, and Barcelona—in order to demonstrate how political and religious authority expanded not at the expense of illicit commerce but through its definition, regulation, and ultimately, its inclusion.

Hussein Fancy is associate professor of history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of The Mercenary Mediterranean, which received the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize for best first book in European History from American Historical Association. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. Most notably, he was a Junior Fellow of the Michigan Society of Fellows, a Carnegie Scholar, an ACLS Fellow, and a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.

Originally published at