John Van Engen

John Van Engen


Andrew V. Tackes Professor of Medieval History

Graduate Program Field

Medieval History


Cultural and Religious; Twelfth-Century Reform and Society; Late Medieval Religious Movements; Women Writers; Monasticism; Canon Law; Christianization


B.A., Calvin College


John Van Engen joined the faculty at Notre Dame in 1977 after receiving his Ph.D. at UCLA in 1976 under the direction of Gerhart Ladner and studying for two years in Heidelberg under Peter Classen. For twelve years (1986-98) Van Engen served as director of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. He was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1993-94 and the fall of 1998, a fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center at Princeton University in 1999-2000, a visiting professor at Harvard University in the fall of 2002, and a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in the fall of 2011. He is also a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, a corresponding member of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, and in the year 2007-08 served as president of the American Society of Church History. Van Engen’s recent Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life (2008) has been awarded three major prizes.

Van Engen is a historian of culture, intellect and religion during the European Middle Ages. His work may be divided broadly into three areas: cultural and intellectual renewal during the twelfth century, religious movements in the later middle ages, and notions of “Christianization” in Medieval European history. His books and essays deal with monasticism, women’s writing, schools and universities, inquisition, canon law, notions of reform, and medieval religious culture generally. Beyond editing scholarly symposia, he is actively translating medieval texts from Latin and Middle Dutch, and has underway a large edition of core historical materials for the movement called the Devotio Moderna. Over the past twenty years he has supervised twenty-one doctoral dissertations, with several more underway.

Current Projects:


At present Van Engen is completing several essays on late medieval women writers, as well as the reconstruction and complete translation of a previously little known woman mystic, preacher and spiritual autobiographer named Alijt Bake (1413-55). He is at work now on the narrative of European history from the eleventh into the thirteenth centuries, a book tentatively entitled Europe after the Year 1000.

Selected Publications:

Rupert of Deutz (1983)

“The Christian Middle Ages as an Historiographical Problem,” The American Historical Review 91 (1986), pp. 519-52.

Ed. (with Michael Signer), Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century Europe (2001)    

Religion in the History of the Medieval West (2004)

Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Late Middle Ages (2008)

“Multiple Options: The World of the Fifteenth-Century Church,” Church History  77 (2008), pp. 257-84. 

 “Christendom c. 1100. On the Cusp of the Twelfth Century: Latin Christendom and the Kingdoms of the Christened,” The Cambridge History of  Early Medieval Christianity, ed. Thomas Noble and Julia Smith (2008)

 Ed. with Thomas Noble, European Transformations (Notre Dame 2012).


Contact Information

Office: 614 Hesburgh Library
Phone: 574-631-5062

Mailing Address:
Department of History
219 O'Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556


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