Rita Costa-Gomes

Professor (on leave Fall 2019-Spring 2020)


Contact Info

LA 4228


Ph.D., Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1994

Areas of Expertise

Medieval Europe


Rita Costa-Gomes joined the History Department in 2005. She earned her PhD in Medieval History at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal with a dissertation titled, "A Corte dos Reis Portugueses no final da Idade Média." Her research focuses on the history of Portugal, Iberia, the Mediterranean, and the Early Atlantic, 1000-1500 AD, particularly social, cultural, urban, and environmental history, the history of court societies, the history of landscapes, the history of the late medieval nobility, and the history of historiography.

Dr. Costa-Gomes's curiosity about the Middle Ages was piqued as an undergraduate. As she recalls, "I was working as a research assistant for the Portuguese historian Joel Serrão on his new edition of the essays of the nineteenth-century author and medievalist Alexandre Herculano (1810-1877).. More than three decades later, my curiosity remains, and I keep trying to answer all my questions. I would like to provide to Towson students similar opportunities to cultivate their curiosity." Her motto is "sapiens ubicumque peregrinatur.”

Dr. Costa-Gomes published the first study of the royal court of Portugal in a book entitled The Making of a Court Society: Kings and Nobles in Late Medieval Portugal (Cambridge University Press, 2003). Two volumes of her ongoing series about medieval frontier castles, A Ring of Castles, have now been published in English. She is currently writing a book-length study of the impact of royal itinerance in the emergence of political territories and in the landscapes of Iberia between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries.

Dr. Costa-Gomes has developed a webpage called “Medieval Baltimore” resulting from a collaborative writing project of Towson students that explores how the Middle Ages is visible and alive in the Baltimore metropolitan area in buildings, museum artifacts and the lives and work of people who devote themselves to the study and appreciation of all things medieval. Medieval Baltimore can be found at www.medievalbaltimore.net

Selected Publications

“Les Déplacements de la Cour Portugaise: Deux axiomes et quatre hypothèses pour une comparaison des monarchies ibériques”, E-Spania (Online Journal) 8 (2009).
“The Royal Chapel in Iberia: Models, Contacts and Influences”, The Medieval History Journal12 (1), 2009, 77-111.
“The Court Galaxy”, in Anthony Molho , Diogo Ramada Curto, eds., Finding Europe. Discourses on Margins, Communities, Images (Thirteenth to Eighteenth Centuries) (Oxford-New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 185-203.
“Zurara and the Empire: Reconsidering Fifteenth Century Portuguese Historiography”, History of Historiography/Storia della Storiografia 47(2005),56-89.
“Letters and Letter-Writing in Fifteenth Century Portugal”, Regina Schulte, Xenia von Tippelskirch (eds), Writing, Reading, Interpreting and Historicizing: Letters as Historical Sources, Florence: Working Papers of the European University, 2004, 11-37.

Recent Book Reviews

“Stéphane Péquignot, Au Nom du Roi. Pratique Diplomatique et Pouvoir durant le Règne de Jacques II d’Aragon (1291-1327), Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 2009”, forthcoming in the American Historical Review
“María Narbona Cárceles, La Corte de Carlos III el Noble, rey de Navarra: espacio doméstico y escenario del poder, 1376-1415, Pamplona: Barañáin Navarra (EUNSA), 2006”, Francia-online, 2009-2.
(in collaboration with Olga Bettencourt) “Review article: Publications on the Portuguese Earthquake of 1755”, Bulletin of the Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Study 33/2 (2008), 30-33.

Recent Lectures and Presentations

“The Spatial Turn and Un-archived Histories” at the Workshop “Un-archived Histories” organized by the History Department, Emory University, 2011.
“Cultural Exchanges between Africa and Iberia in the late 1400s”, at the Conference “Contact and Exchange in Medieval Europe”, St John’s College, Oxford, 2010.
“Alfarrobeira: The Death of the Tyrant?”, at the International Conference on “Death at Court”, Greifswald University (Germany), 2010.
“A Lost City in the Early Atlantic: Ribeira Grande (Cape Verde) before Drake’s Conquest” at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, Ottawa (Canada) , 2010.

Awards and Honors

Research Grant FLAD/Biblioteca Nacional at the National Library of Portugal, Fall 2011
Audrey Lumsden-Kouvel Fellow at the Newberry Library, Chicago, 2009.
Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Italy, 2002

Courses Taught    
Fall 2021    
HIST 390 Medieval Cities of Europe  
HIST 403 The Renaissance Experiment  
TSEM Towson Seminar