Walter P. Simons

Professor of History

Growing up in Bruges, one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Europe, Walter Simons never had any doubt in his mind that he wanted to be a medievalist. He was trained as a historian in Belgium and at the Center for Medieval Studies in Poitiers, France, before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Ghent, Bruges' arch-rival from the Middle Ages. A very medieval academic peregrination brought him from his native Flanders to the United States, which he finds not very medieval but all the more fascinating. His research is devoted to the social environment of religious movements in the high and late Middle Ages, gender, mysticism, urban history, history of the Low Countries, and historical methodology; additional interests are popular culture, art, and the two world wars of the twentieth century. He is the author, most recently, of Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, paperback 2003) and editor, with Miri Rubin, of The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. IV: Christianity in Western Europe, c.1100-c.1500 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009). He is currently writing a book on a thirteenth-century woman, Elizabeth of Spalbeek.


408 Carson Hall


  • M. A. History, University of Ghent, Belgium
  • Diplôme d’Études Approfondies de Civilisation Médiévale, Centre d’Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale, University of Poitiers, France
  • Ph.D. History, University of Ghent, Belgium

Selected Publications

  • The Cambridge History of Christianity , vol. IV: Christianity in Western Europe, 1100-1500 , ed. with M Rubin (2009)

  • Ludo J. R. Milis, Religion, Culture, and Mentalities in the Medieval Low Countries: Selected Essays , ed. with J Deploige, M De Reu, and S Vanderputten (2005).

  • The Productivity of Urban Space in Northern Europe , ed. with P Arnade and M Howell (2002).

  • Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries , 1200-1565 (2001; paperback 2003)

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Works In Progress

  • Philip of Clairvaux, Vita Elisabeth of Spalbeek , ed. and trans. of thirteenth-century text with commentary 

  • Manual labor and religious ideals in medieval Europe