Phyllis Jestice


Address: Maybank 324
Office Hours: MWF 11:00-12:00 & by appointment.
Phone: 843.953.1420

Dr. Phyllis G. Jestice is a historian of medieval Europe, with a particular fondness for Germany in the central Middle Ages and a dislike for people who mistakenly call it the "Holy Roman Empire."  She is a west-coaster, with a Ph.D. and M.A. in History and Humanities from Stanford Uniersity and a B.A. in European History from the University of Puget Sound (in her home town of Tacoma, WA).  Dr. Jestice is currently president of the Southeastern Medieval Association.

In recent news, Dr. Jestice’s 2018 monograph about the empresses of tenth-century Germany (Imperial Ladies of the Ottonian Dynasty; Palgrave Macmillan) has just been published in German translation—the translation made employing artificial intelligence and turning out quite nicely (after some necessary editing).  She is now pushing further back into history, returning to her first love of history of religion to study recluses in the early medieval West.  These were (and are) people who voluntarily have themselves confined to a small cell for life, the better to commune with God; they played a surprisingly important role in shaping the religiosity of early medieval people.  Besides scholarly writing, she also translates from German and has developed an odd sideline in medieval warfare, with a a large number of book chapters and volumes intended for a popular audience.  Those works have not been translated into a surprising number of languages, including German, Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Magyar.  In her spare time, she indulges shamelessly in music as a reasonably gifted violinist, harpsichordist, and singer.


Ph.D., History and Humanities, Stanford University, 1989

M.A., History and Humanities, Stanford University, 1985

B.A., History, University of Puget Sound, summa cum laude, Coolidge Otis Chapman Honors Scholar, 1982

Research Interests

History of medieval Europe with current emphasis on twelfth-century ecclesio-political history.

Work in progress: “Daughters of Jerusalem: Inheritance, Foreign Marriage, and the Crafting of the Crusader States.

Courses Taught

Just about anything medieval, including Church-state relations, medieval Ireland, medieval England, the Crusades, medieval frontiers, the 100 Years War, the Vikings, and the Early Middle Ages.

Honors and Awards

2005 USM Aubrey K. and Ella G. Lucas Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award 
2008 Mississippi Humanities Council Humanities Teacher Award.


Recent Publications:

The Imperial Ladies of the Ottonian Dynasty: Women and Power in Tenth-Century Germany (Palgrave MacMillan, April 2018)

Castles of the World (Amber Books, 2019)

Medieval Knight (Amber Books, 2018)

Translation of Jochen Schenk and Graham A. Loud, eds., The Origins of the German Principalities, 1100–1350 (Ashgate, 2017)

Other Publications:

Wayward Monks and the Religious Revolution of the Eleventh Century. E.J. Brill, Studies in Intellectual History, 1997.

 "A Great Jewish Conspiracy?  Worsening Jewish-Christian  Relations and the Destruction of the Holy Sepulcher." In Christian Attitudes toward Jews in the Middle Ages: A Casebook, ed. Michael Frassetto.  Routledge, 2007.

"A New Fashion in Imitating Christ: Changing Spiritual Perspectives around the Year 1000." In
The Year 1000: Reactions and Responses, ed. Michael Frassetto.  Brill, 2003.

Encyclopedia of Irish Spirituality (ABC-Clio, 2001).

"Why Celibacy?  Odo of Cluny and the Development of a New Sexual Morality," in Medieval Purity and Piety. Essays on Medieval Clerical Celibacy and Religious Reform, ed. Michael Frassetto, Garland, 1998.