Department of History and Welsh History
Hugh Owen Building
A graduate of the University of St Andrews, I was first appointed to a lectureship in medieval history at Aberystwyth in 2001. Previously, I taught at the universities of Swansea and Durham. I have also been a visiting fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) at Cambridge (2004), the Centre for Medieval Studies at Bergen in Norway (2006), the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard (2008-9), and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) at Freiburg in Germany (2010-11), and was a Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (2015).
Former co-Director, Institute for Medieval & Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) (2010-14)
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Member of the Advisory Board for The Mediaeval Journal
Member of the Advisory Board of the Writing History in the Middle Ages book series
Member of the Haskins Society
Politics and Political Culture in Medieval Europe: How did people in the Middle Ages think about power? How did they negotiate conflicting norms and expectations? Kingship, Rebellion and Political Culture, published in 2007 (rev. paperback 2011), explored these issues in relation to notions of resistance and revolt in the aftermath of Magna Carta. I then turned to concepts of kingship, and the complex relationship between the 'people' at large and the ruler, and between norms (what should be) with pragmatic needs (what could be). This resulted in Paths to Kingship in Medieval Latin Europe, c.950-1200 (Cambridge, 2021). A short taster is available here. In addition I have, together with Catherine Holmes and Jonathan Shepard at Oxford, and Jo Van Steenbergen at Ghent, published Political Culture in Three Spheres: Byzantium, Islam and the West, c. 700-1450 (Cambridge, 2021).
Historical Writing and Historical Culture: How did people in the Middle Ages think about, why and how did they engage with the past, and what did they hope to gain from doing so? These questions weer at the heart of a Leverhulme Major research Fellowship that I held from 2019-2022. I am particularly interested in the interplay between historical writing as both a cultural and a social enterprise - something that adhered to certain norms of how accounts of the past ought to be written, but that also required the backing and support of a whole array of people other than the author: brethren, patrons, informants, readers (and so on). A first case study, on the late twelfth-century English chronicler Ralph of Diss, is nearing completion. Another two will follow, on narratives or regnal history, and on the practice of writing history in high medieval Europe. All of which builds on ideas first explored in How the Past Was Used: historical cultures, c. 700-200, ed. Peter Lambert and Björn Weiler (Oxford, 2017). A taster is available here. See also the series of conferences organised on aspects of medieval historical culture organised by PhD students in the department.