Walter P. Simons

Academic Appointments

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.  His publications include Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, paperback 2003) and The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. IV: Christianity in Western Europe, c.1100-c.1500, co-edited with Miri Rubin (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

  • (editor) A Cultural History of Peace in the Medieval Age.  London: Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming March 2020.

  • (with Sean Field) “A Prophecy Fulfilled?  An Annotated Translation of the Sources on the Death of Crown Prince Louis of France (1276) and the Interrogations of Elizabeth of Spalbeek (1276-1278).” The Medieval Low Countries 5 (2018), 35–91.

  • “Beginnings: Naming Beguines in the Southern Low Countries, 1200–1250.” In Labels and Libels: Naming Beguines in Northern Medieval Europe, 9–52.  Edited by Letha Böhringer, Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane, and Hildo van Engen. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2014

  • (editor, with Miri Rubin). The Cambridge History of Christianity , vol. IV: Christianity in Western Europe, 1100-1500.  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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Works In Progress

  • Philip of Clairvaux, Vita Elisabeth of Spalbeek , ed. and trans. of the thirteenth-century text with commentary. 
  • Manual labor, begging, and religious ideals in medieval Europe.