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


Carson Hall, Room C408
HB 6107


  • 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, 2020.

  • “Worlds Apart? Beguine Communities of Nivelles and the Abbey of St Gertrude, from Marie d’Oignies (d. 1213) to the Liber Ordinarius (c. 1300).” In The Liber Ordinarius of Nivelles (Houghton Library, MS Lat 422): Liturgy as Interdisciplinary Intersection, 97­–131.  Edited by Jeffrey F. Hamburger and Eva Schlotheuber.  Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020.

  • “Wrestling with the Angel: Huizinga, Herfsttij, and Religion.” In Rereading Huizinga: Autumn of the Middle Ages, A Century Later, 41–64.  Edited by Peter Arnade, Martha Howell and Anton van der Lem.  Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2019.

  • (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.

+ View more

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.