Until the first International Medieval Congress took place in 1994, scholars of the European Middle Ages had to travel to the United States if they wished to discuss their research with fellow medievalists.
This was because the only annual international gathering for scholars of the Middle Ages was at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
This gap in the intellectual market was filled when Leeds medievalists came up with the idea of an international congress to foster interdisciplinary exchange on medieval studies in Europe.
The result, the first IMC, attracted to Leeds almost 900 delegates from all over the world. Six years on, this annual congress has become a major event for medievalists. IMC 2000, to be held in Leeds from July 10-13, will play host to about 1,300 scholars.
The IMC is organised by the International Medieval Institute, which supports research and teaching on the European Middle Ages and which draws on the International Medieval Bibliography, the world's leading bibliography of medieval studies.
Axel E. W. Muller is director, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds.