Menestrel held its first meeting on 5 June 1997. It was initiated by the Paris URFIST (Unité régionale de formation à l’information scientifique et technique) in order to develop a documentary network for medieval studies on the Internet. The workgroup was built around the editorial board of Le Médiéviste et l’Ordinateur (The Medievalist and the Computer), together with scholars and documentation specialists from various organisations.
promoting European web-based resources for mediaeval studies, particularly in the French language; enhancing the international visibility of medievalists and their work; and bridging communication barriers between scholars;
providing a free critical index of on-line resources in the field of medieval studies for the use of scholars, students and laymen alike.
These aims are the foundation on which our network is built, as defined by the common “charter” that members of Menestrel adhere to.
The charter was adopted by the network in 2000 in order to define its identity, establish common rules, and promote discussion and initiative among a heterogeneous scientific community spread across different countries. The charter may be signed both by individuals and by legal entities. A custom appendix outlines each signatory’s specific contribution; this commitment is signed and dated and may be revised according to circumstance.
The original vocation of Menestrel has developed over the years. Promoting the use of the internet in the research activity of historians, assessing available resources and contributing to the recognition of medieval scholarship on the worldwide web have remained our principal goals, but in 2007 we began to realise the importance of combining “traditional” and new tools and approaches. In the field of heuristics, the methodological gap between generations is becoming a major challenge. Both URFIST and university libraries are especially dedicated to dealing with this emerging problem, by means of new information tools for students.
Further information :
Le Médiéviste et l’Ordinateur (37, Winter 1998).
«Médiévistes sur l’internet: sources, travaux, références en ligne...», in Comprendre les usages d’internet (colloque, École normale supérieure, 3-4 décembre 1999), Paris, 2001, p. 98-102.
«Ménestrel, un réseau mesuré», in Colloque Mesures de l’internet, Nice, 12-14 mai 2003, Sophia-Antipolis, 2004, p. 198-208.
«Portails médiévistiques», journée d’études, 8 octobre 2005.
M. SMITH & C. DUCOURTIEUX «L’expérience de Ménestrel: douze ans dans l’Internet médiéval», in Les historiens et l’informatique: un métier à réinventer, Rome, décembre 2008, Rome, École française de Rome, 2011 [On ligne HAL-SHS: http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00646461/].