Office: Faculty Arts Building 3.65
Telephone: 02476 523452
Office Hours: Wednesdays 10.00-11.00; Thursdays 12.00-1.00
I was born and raised in the Orkney Islands, and educated at Kirkwall Grammar School and University College, Oxford. Before being appointed to a lectureship at Warwick in 1994, I taught history for some years at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. At Warwick, I became Senior Lecturer in 2001, Reader in 2004, and Professor in 2006. Beyond the university, I have been a PhD examiner at the universities of Aberdeen, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, De Montfort, Exeter, Kent, Leeds, London, Melbourne, Oxford, Paris, Reading, St Andrews, Sussex and York, and an examiner of taught degrees at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Oxford, Kent, Lancaster and St Andrews. Other roles include past service as an Associate Editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, as a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, on the Committee of the Ecclesiastical History Society, the Council of the Sixteenth Century Studies Society, and the Council and the Editorial Committee of the Dugdale Society. I was also a founding editor of the monograph series Religious Cultures in the Early Modern World, published by Routledge. I am a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the Irish Research Council's International Advisory Board. Between 2013 and 2022 I was a co-editor of The English Historical Review, and I sit on the editorial boards of Sixteenth Century Journal, Reformation and British Catholic History. I am a regular book-reviewer for various periodicals, including the Times Literary Supplement, The Tablet and The Literary Review.
Undergraduate Modules Taught
Postgraduate Modules Taught
- Themes in Early Modern History, c.1450-c.1800 (HI992)
- Themes and Approaches in the Historical Study of Religious Cultures (HI993)
My research interests focus on religious belief and practice in early modern Britain and Europe, particularly the cultural and political impact of the English Reformation (on which I published a general overview in 2003, reissued in a revised second edition in 2012: Reformation England 1480-1642). I have also attempted a major narrative account and reinterpretation: Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation (2017). My early doctoral work was on the trials and tribulations of the sixteenth-century parish clergy (The Catholic Priesthood and the English Reformation, 1994), and this fed into a continuing interest in the early evangelical movement, and in conservative resistance to the Henrician Reformation (much of this work is collected in my Religious Identities in Henry VIII's England, 2006). I have also undertaken a series of studies of rituals and beliefs surrounding the dead, with a particular focus on changing perceptions of the afterlife, revenants, forms of commemoration and the enactment of memory (now collected together in Invisible Worlds, 2017). These research interests culminated in the publication of Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England in 2002. Somewhat to my surprise, they also led me to produce a micro-historical study of a seventeenth-century Anglo-Irish ghost case, Mother Leakey and the Bishop: A Ghost Story (2007). Writing Mother Leakey strengthened a commitment to bringing the insights of historical research to a wider audience, seen for example in my The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (2009) and The Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation (2015), as well as a cultural-historical study of Luther and the 95 Theses: 1517. (See also my webpage on Public Engagement.) I am currently writing a book on religion and culture in early modern Orkney.
I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students in the field of early modern British religious and cultural history. Past and current topics of my doctoral students are: 'The Political Career of Thomas Wriothesley 1505-1550'; 'Commotion Time: the English Risings of 1549'; 'The Compendium Compertorum and the Making of the First Suppression Act'; 'Shakespeare in Purgatory: A Study of the Catholicising Movement in Shakespeare Biography'; 'Aspects of Grief in Early Modern England'; 'The Disenchantment of the World? English Ghost Beliefs 1660-1760'; 'Worship and the Senses in England, 1480-1580'; 'The Career of Arthur Hildersham, Puritan Minister'; 'Angels in English Religious Cultures 1500-1700'; 'Music and Religious Identity in Elizabethan England'; 'The Reformation in Cheshire, 1500-1570'; 'Musicians and Social Status in mid- and late-Tudor England'; 'Faith and Fraternity: The London Livery Companies and the Reformation c.1530-1600'; 'Reimagining the Virgin Mary in Reformation England'; 'Clergy Wives in Elizabethan England'; 'The Early Reformation in Northamptonshire'; 'English Evangelical Theologies of Penance, 1520-1553'; 'The Palatinate of Durham and the Tudor State'; 'Holy Mind, Holy Body in 16th Century English Female Sanctity'; 'Representations of St George in Early Modern England', 'Discourses of Toleration in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England'; 'Elizabeth I, Counsel and Memory in Early Modern England', 'Suicide, Self-Harm and the Supernatural in Britain, 1560-1735', 'Women and the Supernatural: Agency, and Oppression at the Intersection of Gender and Religion in Reformation England'
i) Authored Books:
1517: Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation (Oxford, 2017; audiobook 2018)
Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation (New Haven and London, 2017; paperback, audiobook, 2018)
The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2009); German trans. Die Reformation in Europa (Stuttgart, 2014); Korean trans. (Paju, 2017); Finnish trans. Reformaatio (Tampere, 2017); Portuguese trans. Reforma Protestante (Porto Alegre, 2018); Polish trans, Reformacja (Lodz, 2019)
Mother Leakey and the Bishop: A Ghost Story (Oxford, 2007; paperback 2008)
Religious Identities in Henry VIII's England (Aldershot, 2006)
Reformation England 1480-1642 (London, 2003); second edition (London, 2012)
Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England (Oxford, 2002; paperback 2004)
The Catholic Priesthood and the English Reformation (Oxford, 1994)
ii) Edited Books:
(with G. Scott), Catholic Gentry in English Society: The Throckmortons of Coughton from Reformation to Emancipation (Aldershot, 2009)
(with A. Walsham), Angels in the Early Modern World (Cambridge, 2006)
(with A. Ryrie), The Beginnings of English Protestantism (Cambridge, 2002)
(with B. Gordon), The Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2000)
The Impact of the English Reformation 1500-1640 (London, 1997)
iii) Articles and Essays:
‘Clerical Culture and Island Logic in Early Modern Orkney’, in C. Langley, C, McMillan and R. Newton (eds), The Clergy in Early Modern Scotland (Woodbridge, 2021)
‘Martin Luther, the Ninety-Five Theses and the Invention of the Reformation’, in Lukas K. Sosoe (ed.), Luther, l’Europe et la Réforme (Hildesheim, 2021)
‘Nailing the Reformation: Luther and the Wittenberg Door in English Historical Memory’, in A. Walsham, B. Wallace, C. Law and B. Cummings (eds), Memory and the English Reformation (Cambridge, 2020)
‘Reformation on Scotland’s Northern Frontier: The Orkney Islands, 1560–c.1700’, in J. Kelly, H. Laugerud and S. Ryan (eds), Northern European Reformations: Transnational Perspectives (London, 2020)
‘The Ministers, the Merchant and his Mother: Politics and Protest in a 17th Century Witchcraft Complaint’, New Orkney Antiquarian Journal, 9 (2020)
‘Thomas Becket, William Warham and the Crisis of the Early Tudor Church’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 71 (2020)
‘The Reformation and the Idea of the North’, Nordlit, 43 (2019)
‘Was there a Protestant Death?’, in S. Angel, H. Elstad and E. Andersen Oftestad (eds), Were We Ever Protestants? Essays in Honour of Tarald Rasmussen (Berlin, 2019)
'Identifying Heresy in Sixteenth-Century England', The Saint Anselm Journal, 14 (2019)
‘Tudor Brexit: Catholics and Europe in the British and Irish Reformations’, Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 106 (2017/18)
'Luther among the Catholics, 1520-2015' in D. Marmion, S. Ryan and G. Thiessen (eds), Remembering the Reformation: Martin Luther and Catholic Theology (Minneapolis, 2017)
'Settlement Patterns: The Church of England, 1553-1603', in A. Milton (ed.), The Oxford History of Anglicanism, Volume I: Reformation and Identity, c. 1520-1662 (Oxford, 2017)
'Changing Identities in the English Reformation', in P. Ingesman (ed.), Religion as an Agent of Change (Leiden, 2016)
(with J. Morgan), 'Clerical Conformity and the Elizabethan Settlement Revisited', Historical Journal, 59 (2016)
‘The Birthpangs of Protestant England’, History, 100 (2015)
‘Catholic Puritanism in Pre-Reformation England’, British Catholic History, 32 (2015)
'After Purgatory: Death and Remembrance in the Reformation World', in T. Rasmussen and J. Øygarden Flaeten (eds), Preparing for Death, Remembering the Dead (Göttingen, 2015)
‘Choosing Sides and Talking Religion in Shakespeare’s England’, in D. Loewenstein and M. Whitmore (eds), Shakespeare and Early Modern Religion (Cambridge, 2015)
‘Britain’s Reformations’, in P. Marshall (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation (Oxford, 2015)
‘Ethics and Identity in the English and German Reformations’, in D. Wendebourg and A. Ryrie (eds), Sister Reformations II: Reformation and Ethics in Germany and in England (Tübingen, 2014)
‘Religious Ideology’, in Paulina Kewes, Ian Archer and Felicity Heal (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles (Oxford, 2013)
‘“Rather with Papists than with Turks:” The Battle of Lepanto and the Contours of Elizabethan Christendom’, Reformation, 17 (2012)
‘Confessionalization, Confessionalism and Confusion in the English Reformation’, in Thomas Mayer (ed.), Reforming Reformation (Farnham, 2012), 43-64
‘The Naming of Protestant England’, Past and Present 214 (2012)
‘Confessionalization and Community in the Burial of English Catholics, c. 1570-1700’, in N. Lewycky and A. Morton (eds), Getting Along? Religious Identities and Confessional Relations in Early Modern England (Farnham, 2012)
‘Lollards and Protestants Revisited’, in M. Bose and P. Hornbeck (eds), Wycliffite Controversies (Turnhout, 2011)
‘The Guardian Angel in Protestant England’ , in J. Raymond (ed.), Conversations with Angels: Essays Towards a History of Spiritual Communication, 1100-1700 (Basingstoke, 2011)
'The Last Years', in G. M. Logan (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More (Cambridge, 2011)
‘Catholic and Protestant Hells in Later Reformation England’, in I. Moreira and M. Toscano (eds), Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Farnham, 2010)
‘Transformations of the Ghost Story in Post-Reformation England’, in H. Conrad-O’Briain and J. A Stevens (eds), The Ghost Story from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century (Dublin, 2010)
'John Calvin and the English Catholics, c. 1565-1640', Historical Journal, 53 (2010)
‘Ann Jeffries and the Fairies: Folk Belief and the War on Scepticism in Later Stuart England’, in A. McShane and G. Walker (eds), The Extraordinary and the Everyday in Early Modern England (Basingstoke, 2010)
Faith and Identity in a Warwickshire Family: the Throckmortons and the Reformation, Dugdale Society Occasional Paper No. 49 (2010)
‘The Reformation of Hell? Protestant and Catholic Infernalisms in England, c. 1560-1640’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 61 (2010)
‘The Reformation, Lollardy, and Catholicism’, in K. Cartwright (ed.), A Companion to Tudor Literature (Chichester, 2010)
‘Henry VIII and the Modern Historians: The Making of a Twentieth-Century Reputation’, in M. Rankin, C. Highley and J. King (eds), Henry VIII and his Afterlives: Literature, Politics, and Art (Cambridge, 2009)
‘Crisis of Allegiance: George Throckmorton and Henry Tudor’, in P. Marshall and G. Scott (eds), Catholic Gentry in English Society: The Throckmortons of Coughton from Reformation to Emancipation (Aldershot, 2009)
‘Protestants and Fairies in Early Modern England’, in S. Dixon, D. Freist and M. Greengrass (eds), Living with Religious Diversity in Early-Modern Europe (Aldershot, 2009)
‘(Re)defining the English Reformation’, Journal of British Studies, 48 (2009)
‘Saints and Cinemas: A Man for All Seasons’, in S. Doran and T. Freeman (eds.), Tudors and Stuarts on Film: Historical Perspectives (Basingstoke, 2009)
‘The Making of the Tudor Judas: Trust and Betrayal in the English Reformation’, Reformation, 13 (2008)
‘Betrayers and Betrayal in the Age of William Tyndale’, The Tyndale Society Journal, 34 (2008)
‘“The Greatest Man in Wales:” James ap Gruffydd ap Hywel and the International Opposition to Henry VIII’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 39 (2008)
‘England’, in D. M. Whitford (ed.), Reformation and Early Modern Europe: A Guide to Research (Kirksville, MO, 2008)
‘Religious Exiles and the Tudor State’, in K. Cooper and J. Gregory (eds.), Discipline and Diversity, Studies in Church History, 43 (2007)
'Leaving the World', in P. Matheson (ed.), Reformation Christianity (Minneapolis, 2007)
'Anticlericalism Revested? Expressions of Discontent in Early Tudor England', in C. Burgess and E. Duffy (eds), The Parish in Late Medieval England (Donnington, 2006)
'Angels Around the Deathbed: Variations on a Theme in the English Art of Dying', in P. Marshall and A. Walsham (eds), Angels in the Early Modern World (Cambridge, 2006).
'Piety and Poisoning in Restoration Plymouth', in K. Cooper and J. Gregory (eds.), Elite and Popular Religion, Studies in Church History, 42 (2006)
'Is the Pope Catholic? Henry VIII and the Semantics of Schism', in E. Shagan (ed.), Catholics and the Protestant Nation: Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England (Manchester, 2005)
'Judgement and Repentance in Tudor Manchester: The Celestial Journey of Ellis Hall', in K. Cooper and J. Gregory (eds.), Retribution, Repentance, and Reconciliation, Studies in Church History, 40 (2004)
‘Forgery and Miracles in the Reign of Henry VIII’, Past and Present, 178 (2003)
‘Deceptive Appearances: Ghosts and Reformers in Elizabethan and Jacobean England’, in H. Parish and W. G. Naphy (eds), Religion and Superstition in Reformation Europe (Manchester, 2002)
‘Evangelical Conversion in the Reign of Henry VIII’, in P. Marshall and A. Ryrie (eds.), The Beginnings of English Protestantism (Cambridge, 2002)
‘The Other Black Legend: The Henrician Reformation and the Spanish People’, English Historical Review, 116 (2001)
‘Mumpsimus and Sumpsimus: The Intellectual Origins of a Henrician Bon Mot’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 52 (2001)
‘"The Map of God’s Word": Geographies of the Afterlife in Tudor and Early Stuart England’, in B. Gordon and P. Marshall (eds.), The Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2000)
‘The Company of Heaven: Identity and Sociability in the English Protestant Afterlife, c. 1560-1630’, Historical Reflections / Réflexions Historiques, 26 (2000)
‘Discord and Stability in an Elizabethan Parish: John Otes and Carnaby 1563-1600’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 71 (1999)
‘Papist as Heretic: the Burning of John Forest 1538’, Historical Journal, 41 (1998)
‘Fear, Purgatory and Polemic in Reformation England’, in W.G. Naphy and P. Roberts (eds), Fear in Early Modern Society (Manchester, 1997)
‘The Debate over "Unwritten Verities" in Early Reformation England’, in B. Gordon (ed.), Protestant Identity and History in Sixteenth-Century Europe: Volume I The Medieval Inheritance (Aldershot, 1996)
‘The Dispersal of Monastic Patronage in East Yorkshire, c. 1520-1580’, in B. Kümin (ed.), Reformations Old and New: Essays on the Socio-Economic Impact of Religious Change c.1470-1630 (Aldershot, 1996)
‘The Rood of Boxley, the Blood of Hailes and the Defence of the Henrician Church’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 46 (1995)
The Face of the Pastoral Ministry in the East Riding, 1525-1595, Borthwick Paper No. 88 (York, 1995)
18 Feb 2022: seminar paper for Northern Studies Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands.
6 Dec 2021: talk to Year 13 History students at Stoke Park School, Coventry
13 Nov. 2021: keynote lecture at conference of Scottish Church History Society on 'The Ministry and Magic in Early Modern Orkney'.
11 Nov. 2021: speaker at launch of festschrift for Prof Raymond Gillespie, The Historian as Detective: Uncovering Irish Pasts, Maynooth College, Kildare
1 Oct. 2020: start of Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, 'Culture and Belief in Orkney, 1468-1800'.
18 Feb. 2020: contributor to 'Royal History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley', BBC 4.
22-23 Nov. 2019: Workshop on 'Northern European Reformations: Transnational Perspectives', University of Bergen.
15 Nov. 2019: The Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture, University of Exeter, 'Kirk and Community in Early Modern Orkney'
31 Oct. 2019: talk (on Heretics and Believers) at Southwark Cathedral.
11 June 2019: interview with Faculti, 'A Brief History of the English Reformation': https://faculti.net/a-brief-history-of-the-english-reformation/
13 May 2019: Talk (Impact of the Reformation) to A level students from several Bristol Schools.
14 Feb 2019: Paper to Scottish History Seminar, University of Edinburgh, on 'Clerical Culture in Early Modern Orkney'.
9 Jan 2019: Talk ('Religion in Shakespeare's England') to Hall's Croft Club, Stratford-upon-Avon.
10 December 2018: contributor to Who Do you Think Are? (Josh Duhamel).
20 Nov 2018: Youtube interview with Dr David Coast, at Bath Literary Society.
3 Nov 2018: roundtable panel on Heretics and Believers at Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
30 Oct 2018: Talk on the Reformation, Topping's Bookshop, Bath.
22-25 August 2018: participant and commentator at (final) annual team meeting of Early Modern Conversions, McGill University, Montreal.
19 July 2018: Elected as Fellow of the British Academy.
7 June 2018: Seminar paper ('Writing a History of the English Reformation'), Keble College, Oxford.
31 May-2 June 2018: discussant at Reformation Workshop, Yale University.
23 May 2018: Wolfson History Prize Debate on BBC Radio 3.
16 April 2018: Heretics and Believers shortlisted for Wolfson History Prize.
5 April 2018: The St Anselm Lecture ('Thomas Becket, William Warham and the Crisis of the Early Tudor Church'), St Anselm's College, Manchester, New Hampshire.
2 April 2018: interview (on writing of Heretics and Believers) with From the Desk website.
5 March 2018: talk (Luther) to sixth form pupils at Winchester College.
25 Feb 2018: Lent Address at St Mary's Collegiate Church, Warwick, on 'The Bible in the Reformation' (text and podcast).
8 Feb 2018: article in The Catholic Herald, 'How Modern Catholicism was Born'.
5 Feb 2018: seminar paper at Merton College, Oxford, on early modern Orkney.
2 Jan 2018: interview for blog of Saginaw Valley State University, 'Meeting a Reformation Scholar'.
1 Jan 2018: interview for What'shername podcast series, on Catholic martyr, Margaret Clitherow.
12 Dec 2017: seminar paper at Institute of Historical Research, London, on 'Long Reformation in the Far North: Kirk and Culture in Early Modern Orkney'.
6 Nov 2017: public lecture, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
2 Nov 2017: keynote speaker, Luther Conference, Andrews University, Michigan.
31 Oct 2017: 'Reformation Day' interviews, BBC Today Programme, World Sevice and Time Magazine.
30 Oct 2017: public lecture, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota.
30 Oct 2017: post on 'The Conversation', What Martin Luther's Reformation tells us about history and memory.
30 Oct 2017: post on OUP blog, 9.5 Myths about the Reformation.
27 Oct 2017: public lecture at the British Library.
26 Oct 2017: winner (with John Morgan) of the 2017 Harold Grimm Prize for best Reformation article, 'Clerical Conformity and the Elizabethan Settlement Revisited', Historical Journal, 59 (2016).
20 Oct 2017: keynote speaker, Reformation 500 Conference, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
19 Oct 2017: panel discussion, 'From Pillar to Post: Communicatng Religious Change', Scottish Parliament Festival of Politics, Edinburgh.
16 Oct 2017: interview with Five Books Website on 'The Best Books on the Reformation'.
13 Oct 2017: paper at Liverpool Hope University in Reformation Lecture Series.
7 Oct 2017: talk on Martin Luther at Warwick Words History Festival.
29 Sep 2017: talk at Wigtown Book Festival.
13 Sep 2017: article in The Tablet on England in 1517.
20-22 Sep 2017: keynote speaker at conference on 'Northern Reformations', The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø.
14-16 Sep 2017: keynote speaker at conference on 'The Politics of Conversion: Martin Luther to Muhammad Ali', Newberry Library, Chicago.
23-26 Aug 2017: speaker at team meeting of 'Early Modern Conversions', McGill University, Montreal.
21 Aug 2017: interview (Martin Luther and 95 Theses) on 'Bookbound', Dublin City FM.
26 July 2017: keynote speaker at annual summer school of the Society of St Gregory.
30 June 2017: Comment feature on Anglicanism and the Elizabethan Settlement in Church Times.
29 June 2017: talk on the Reformation at Chalke Valley History Festival.
30 May 2017: Talk and book-signing at Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge, on publication of my new history of the English Reformation, Heretics and Believers. Details here.
20 May 2017: keynote speaker at conference on The Faith of William Shakespeare, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford
1 May 2017: lead article in BBC History Magazine:
25 April 2017: Invited plenary speaker at conference on 'L'Europe et la Reforme', University of Luxembourg
4 April 2017: Keynote lecture at Society for Reformation Studies Conference, University of Hull
22 Mar 2017: Lecture for Historical Association (Nuneaton)
8 Mar 2017: Public lecture on Martin Luther at Derby Cathedral
14 Feb 2017: Lecture at Miller Center, University of Maryland
8 Feb 2017: speaker at research seminar, 'Early Modern British and Irish History', University of Cambridge
12 Jan 2017: speaker at symposium on Northern European Reformations, Ushaw College, Durham
21 Oct 2016: Speaker at workshop on Remembering the English Reformation, University of York
14 July 2016: Keynote speaker at conference on Communities and Society in Early Modern Britain and Ireland, Nottingham Trent University.
12 July 2016: Co-organiser and speaker at Literature and Faith in Early Modern England: A Symposium in Honour of Susan Brigden, Lincoln College, Oxford.
1 June 2016: Lead essay in Literary Review, available to read here
27 May 2016: invited speaker (with Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of Westminster and others) at Lambeth Palace Symposium on Thomas Becket.
1-3 July 2015: keynote speaker at conference on Early Modern Catholics in the British Isles and Europe, Ushaw College, Durham.
15-17 May 2015: keynote speaker at conference on Martin Luther and Catholic Theology, St Patrick's College, Maynooth.
2 April 2015: lead article in TLS:
24 Mar 2015: in discussion with Prof. Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch at the Oxford Literary Festival.
28 Feb 2015: essay on TV adaptation of Wolf Hall, for OUP blog: http://blog.oup.com/2015/02/wolf-hall-history
9 Feb 2015: live interview for Dublin City FM on Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation.
1 Feb 2015: recorded interview for Newstalk (Ireland) on Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation.
25 Jan 2015: interview on BBC Radio Ulster about TV adaptation of Wolf Hall.
22 Jan 2015: publication of The Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation. Interview watchable here.
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