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Professor Beat Kümin

Featured: Tower Capsules Tower Capsules Project Project Site

 Quick links: Personal Profile, UG Teaching, PG Training, Research, Outreach & Publications 

Latest: Warwick History Hour (21/5) - Beyond the Town Hall essay - 'Parish Memory' Symposium (11/5)

Introduction: the clip below highlights some research interests and how they inform teaching (full version):

Video Still Marli

Personal Profile

I studied History and English at the University of Bern and completed doctoral research on late medieval parishes at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Following a research fellowship at Magdalene College, a Swiss National Science Foundation project on public houses and acting as Peter Blickle's assistant, I joined Warwick's History Department in January 2001. Since then, I obtained a Habilitation in early modern history (Bern 2005) and held visiting appointments, fellowships or secondments at Bielefeld (2011-12), GreifswaldLink opens in a new window (Alfried Krupp Wissenschafts-kolleg, 2012-13), KonstanzLink opens in a new window (2015 and 2018), Montreal (McGill 2022, #DigiMont22), Brussels (ULB/VUB #BrIASBK23, 2023) and Frankfurt (2023). In 2014, I directed Warwick's Centre for the Study of the RenaissanceLink opens in a new window (2014) and, from 2020-23, the 'Food & Drink Cultures' strand of Warwick's Global Research Priority on Food.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society / Higher Education Academy and a member of the conseil scientifique of the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food.Link opens in a new window Together with Prof. Brian Cowan at McGill, I co-edit Bloomsbury's 'Cultures of Early Modern EuropeLink opens in a new window' series (see flyer in margin) and serve on the boards of the journals Food & History and Brewery History Link opens in a new windowas well as Adam Matthew's Food and Drink in History. Involvement in other scholarly bodies includes the Warwick Network for Parish Research (as My-Parish co-ordinator), Drinking Studies NetworkLink opens in a new window (co-founder), German History SocietyLink opens in a new window (committee member 2005-8), Warwickshire Local History SocietyLink opens in a new window (committee member 2012-19) and the Microhistory NetworkLink opens in a new window. In Switzerland, I was appointed a federal expert for heritage and help to assess (post-)doctoral scholarship applications submitted to the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Privately, I follow the changing fortunes of several footie teamsLink opens in a new window and keenly explore all aspects of Italian gastronomy. Together with my family I enjoy travelling and skiing in the Alps.


Undergraduate Teaching

At Warwick, I have convened / contributed to three core modules ...

... and directed two options:

Elsewhere, I have taught UG modules on popular religion, Reformation change and drinking cultures at Bern, Bielefeld, Cambridge & Konstanz. In 2023, I co-hosted a Eutopia summer school on the history of violence (Dresden, tweets).


Postgraduate Training

I contribute to Warwick's MA in Early Modern History, including its core moduleLink opens in a new window. Further afield, I taught a masters option at Bielefeld / Germany in 2011, lectured for CEU and co-directed five annual Summer UniversitiesLink opens in a new window of the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food at Tours / France (2014-18). External examining experience includes PhD / DPhil / MA by Research theses at Birmingham, Dresden, Gloucestershire, Hull, Oxford, St Andrews, Trinity College Dublin, UCL, Vienna and postgraduate taught programmes at AberdeenLink opens in a new window, Cambridge, OxfordLink opens in a new window and York.

I always welcome proposals for PhD / MA research projects in any field of early modern European history, particularly those relating to the social, religious & cultural history of local communities. Current research students include:

  • Angus Crawford, 'Almshouse, Guild, and Town Community: The Lord Leycester Hospital in its Urban Setting, c. 1571-1700' (with Naomi Pullin & Angela Nicholls; profile)
  • Kristi Flake, 'The Impact of the Book of Homilies on the English Reformation and the Development of English Protestantism 1547-1714' (with Mark Knights & Peter Marshall; profile)
  • Daniel Gettings, 'Sustaining Body and Soul: The English People and their Water c. 1550-1750' (profile)
  • Serin Quinn, 'Love and Gold: A Comparative History of the Tomato in Britain and Italy, 1500-1900' (with Rebecca Earle; profile)

Completed PhD / MA by Research projects:




The 'Alte Wirt', a sixteenth-century inn at Obermenzing near Munich. Source.


Research Interests

My field is the cultural history of German-speaking Europe and England (c. 1400-1800). In particular, I work on political/religious/social life, food/drink consumption & memory in local communities over the early modern period.

Principal research themes include:

  1. Local memory and trans-generational communication: a Gerda Henkel Foundation funded project on the custom of depositing chronicles, coins & objects into tower capsules placed on top of buildings across the German lands since the Middle Ages (Cambridge / Brussels / Frankfurt lectures, overview article, spatial approach, project homepage).
  2. Parish communities in the 'long' Reformation: see books like The Shaping of a CommunityLink opens in a new window; The Parish in English LifeLink opens in a new window; Landgemeinde und KircheLink opens in a new window; The Communal Age in Western Europe c. 1100-1800Link opens in a new window, Pfarreien in der VormoderneLink opens in a new window, contributions to the English Parish ChurchLink opens in a new window & advising on Warwickshire Parish Accounts
  3. Food, drink & social exchange: reflected in my roles in Warwick's Food GRP & the 'Social Sites' network; books like The World of the TavernLink opens in a new window, Drinking MattersLink opens in a new window, Brewing CulturesLink opens in a new window, A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern AgeLink opens in a new window; the source collection Public Drinking in the Early Modern WorldLink opens in a new window; and a video on church ales.
  4. Rural self-government in the Holy Roman Empire: a Fellowship at the Alfried Krupp WissenschaftskollegLink opens in a new window in Greifswald led to lectures / publications on imperial villages & parish republics (esp. Gersau & Dithmarschen).
Ornamental crest of the Republic of Gersau from a statute book of 1605. District Archive.

Collaborative ventures help to set these topics in a wider interdisciplinary framework:



Public Engagement

My research on food, drink, local memory and popular culture offers good outreach opportunities. Examples include helping actress Marta Dusseldorp exploring her Swiss (innkeeping) ancestry for the Australian 'Who do you think you are?' series & participating in a TV debate on the fall of the Berlin wall. Reflections on the drinking problem featured in national newspapers The GuardianLink opens in a new window & The TimesLink opens in a new window plus the online platform The ConversationLink opens in a new window, while articles on tower capsules appeared in the German Spiegel magazine and the Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger. Radio interviews in different countries have focused on the impact of Brexit on European researchers (Austrian ORF), shifts in alcohol consumption & what we can find at the top of many prominent buildings in the German lands:

Interpreting drinking statistics for The Voice of RussiaLink opens in a new window UK

Exploring the contents & meanings of tower capsules for German station SWR2

I regularly support local history initiatives here & abroad. In 2014, I helped to celebrate the Swiss micro-republic of Gersau (see DVD recordingLink opens in a new window of my address to the Landsgemeinde and the public debate on political 'freedom'). In 2017, I discussed the Reformation impact & drinking cultures at the 'Warwick Words' History Festival and, in 2024, co-hosted a training session on parish community records at the Lord Leycester Hospital.

In other activities, I produced several learning resources, wrote for A-level audiences, discussed the 'Renaissance from BelowLink opens in a new window', directed the FEAST! theme for Coventry UK City of Culture, took over the Twitter account of the Ecclesiastical History Society and participated in a public round table events on 'parishes & migration' and 'The Future of Hospitality'.

More detailed information appears on my 'public engagementLink opens in a new window' and media work pages.

Selected Publications

A full list appears here
a) Books / edited collections


Christoph Cornelissen, Beat Kümin & Massimo Rospocher (eds),

Migration and the European City: Social and Cultural Perspectives from Early Modernity to the Present
Studies in Early Modern and Contemporary European History 5
(Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2022)

Contents - publisher information - available as hardcover and pdf / epub versions


C. Scott Dixon & Beat Kümin (eds),

Interpreting Early Modern Europe
(London: Routledge, 2019)

Contents & information / 20% Discount Flyer - as hardcopy/paperback/e-book, featuring surveys on the historiography of key themes in the period, with extracts from primary sources & secondary works. Reviews 1, 2 + 3




Beat Kümin,

Imperial Villages: Cultures of Political Freedom in the German Lands c. 1300-1800
Studies in Central European Histories Volume 65
(Leiden: Brill Publishing, 2019)

Contents & Formats, Book Flyer App. 1: Villages App. 2: Officeholders Reviews 1, 2 + 3 Rezensionen 1 + 2





Beat Kümin,
The Shaping of a Community: The Rise & Reformation of the English Parish c. 1400-1560
St Andrews Studies in Reformation History
(Aldershot and Brookfield/Vermont: Scolar Press, 1996)
[reviewLink opens in a new window]

Now available from RoutledgeLink opens in a new window




Beat Kümin,
Drinking Matters: Public Houses and Social Exchange in Early Modern Central Europe
Early Modern History: Society and Culture
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Content and availability; Reviews: 1 / 2Link opens in a new window
Link opens in a new window

See also the WARWICK PODCASTLink opens in a new window series on aspects of the book.



Beat Kümin (ed.),
A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age
(Oxford: Berg, 2012) & now also accessible digitally on the Bloomsbury Cultural History platform
[= Vol. 4 of the six-part series A Cultural History of Food, gen. eds. F. Parasecoli & P. Scholliers]

Publisher Information (Volume HBLink opens in a new window, Volume PBLink opens in a new window / SeriesLink opens in a new window) DustjacketLink opens in a new window IntroductionLink opens in a new window




Beat Kümin,
The Communal Age in Western Europe c. 1100-1800: Towns, Villages and Parishes in Pre-Modern Society
Studies in European History
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Publisher Information Contents, Introduction and IndexLink opens in a new window ReviewLink opens in a new window





Beat Kümin (ed.),
The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History (London: Routledge, 2009;
enlarged 2nd & 3rd edns, 2014 & 2018; 4th edn 2023 flyer - see what's new in these videos!)

Contents & Availability; Companion Website (with interactive map, image gallery, timeline, glossary & weblinks);
Editor ProfileLink opens in a new window; reviews of the first edn in EnglishLink opens in a new window, GermanLink opens in a new window and HungarianLink opens in a new window; 2nd edn website




B. Kümin (ed.),
Politische Freiheit und republikanische Kultur im Alten EuropaLink opens in a new window. Historische Essays zum Gedenkjahr "Gersau 2014"
[Political Freedom and Republican Culture in Old Europe. Historical Essays for the Bicentary "Gersau 2014"]
(Vitznau: Bucher Druckmedien, 2015) [includes Kümin, 'Vom Reichsdorf zur Republic: Grundlagen und Entwicklung der politischen Freiheit in Gersau', 93-8]

Available for CHF 19.50 at Bezirkskanzlei GersauLink opens in a new window
Open Access to Full TextLink opens in a new window



Michele Ferrari and Beat Kümin (eds),
Pfarreien in der Vormoderne: Identität und Kultur im Niederkirchenwesen EuropasLink opens in a new window [Pre-modern Parishes: Identity and Culture in Local Ecclesiastical Life], Wolfenbütteler Forschungen 146
(Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2017) [includes regional / thematic essays in four languages plus M. Ferrari & B. Kümin, ’Einführung – Pfarreien in der Vormoderne’, 9-22] [pre-print versionLink opens in a new window; publication / ordering flyerLink opens in a new window; Rezension 1; Rezension 2; Rezension 3; Review 4]




b) Articles and essays


Beat Kümin, 'Nachrichten für die Nachwelt. Turmkugelarchive in der Erinnerungskultur des deutschsprachigen Europa [Messages for Posterity: Tower Ball Archives in the Memory Culture of German-Speaking Europe], in: Historische Zeitschrift 312 (3/2021), 614-648 [Open Access, with German & English abstracts]

Beat Kümin, 'Tower Ball Deposits and Urban Space in the German Lands', in: Religion and Urbanity Online, edited by Susanne Rau and Jörg Rüpke (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 1/2023) DOI: opens in a new window (accessed 4/2/2023)

Beat Kümin, 'Beyond the Town Hall: Sites of Political Representation in Early Modern Europe', in: Cédric Brélaz, Thomas Lau, Hans-Joachim Schmidt and Siegfried Weichlein (eds), Patterns in the History of Polycentric Governance in European Cities: From Antiquity to the 21st Century (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2024), 153-67 [open access] [Book Information]


Church pfarrhaus_leschen_pic_lisson_harald_free_use_cropped.jpg Parishioners

Researching the contents of tower capsules at St Johannis, Rosdorf (Lower Saxony / Germany),
which include a 1749 chronicle written by pastor Friedrich Wilhelm Leschen, with current parishioners.
Picture credits: Jan Stubenitzky (left), Harald Lisson (middle) and BK.



Portrait by Erik Gross 2023

Professor Beat Kümin

Early Modern European History

On Study Leave during 2023-24

Contact: my office is FAB, 3.49; there are no regular office hours this academic year, but email me to arrange a personal meeting.

Department of History
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K.
T: +44 (0)2476 524915
F: +44 (0)2476 523437
E-mail twitter_logo_blue_640x520.jpgLink opens in a new window



CEME Flyer pictureLink opens in a new window






Summer School Dresden 2023Dresden-Warwick Summer School on the History of Violence (July 2023).






'Food & Drink Studies':
International Postgraduate
Summer University (Tours)

homepageLink opens in a new window / media coverageLink opens in a new window /
student reportLink opens in a new window on 2018


Proceedings of 'Migration and the European City: Social & Cultural Perspectives from Early Modernity to the Present', the Italian-German Historical Institute's LXI Study Week I co-organized at Trento in 2019, have now appeared (see under 'Publications').


Webinar screenshot Joint Workshops for early modern PGR students at TU Dresden & Warwick have taken place in 2016 (Dresden) & 2021 (online)















Food GRP Video Still

A Video Intro to our Food GRP










 My-Parish LogoLink opens in a new window

See what's going on at My-ParishLink opens in a new window

Discussing the 'Passion' workshop series run in 2018-19.







With Marta Dusseldorp at the Bear in Ins
With Marta Dusseldorp at the Bear inn (Ins/Bern) in November 2018.

'The Renaissance from Below'?



Hospitality Debate

Debating the 'Future of Hospitality' at the Resonate Festival (April 2022)




Migration Cover


 Interpreting Cover

Imperial Villages Cover 

 Shaping Cover





European World 4th edn Cover

 Gersau Cover


 Pfarreien in der Vormoderne CoverLink opens in a new window







 redde_rationem_cover.jpgLink opens in a new window