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Fellows of the Parish Network

The following researchers have established a close association
with the Warwick Network for Parish Research through collaborations
on specific projects, co-organization of symposia, joint publications,
visiting fellowships and similar ventures.


Michael Egger, M.A., University of Bern (Switzerland)

Current project

A Republic of Readers? Reassessing early modern European literacy in the parishes of Zurich 1630-1770

The historical study of literacy could be considered the ‘climatic history of a culture’, representing fundamental scholarship on the opportunities of women and men to participate in discourses of their age. According to the seminal work of Rudolf Schenda (1970), a mere fifteen per cent of the Central European population could read by 1770, with major progress requiring the combined efforts of Enlightenment and modern Liberalism. The empirical basis for such claims, however, is weak, complicating any attempt to test the prevailing assumptions. For pre-1800 Europe, figures are usually based on the ability to sign documents; yet this, too, represents an unsatisfactory approach to answer the questions ‘who was able to read and write’. A form of religious census that has hardly been investigated provides us with new opportunities. In the Swiss city state of Zurich, so-called Seelenbeschreibungen (reports of souls) served as instruments to record people’s knowledge regarding matters of faith. The state archives contain over two thousand sets for the period from 1630 to 1770, shedding light on the reading and – to a lesser extent – writing ability of some 55'000 adults from over sixty urban and rural parishes. This data offers rare scope for socio-cultural analysis: age and gender are always recorded, occupations in most cases and school attendance in many individual sets. In particular, details of book ownership promise fascinating new insights into early modern households. The project offers a first survey of this material.



Dr Valerie Hitchman, University of Kent (Canterbury)

Personal Profile

Valerie Hitchman obtained her PhD in 2009 from the University of Southampton (since published as Omnis Bene or Ruinosa? The condition of the parish churches in and around London and Westminster c1603-1677) and became an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent in 2010. Her main research interest is the care of churches during the turbulent seventeenth century; basing her investigations on churchwardens’ accounts (her transcription of those from Norton-in-Hales have appeared with the Shropshire Record Society in 2019). She has also co-edited (with Andrew Foster) Views from the Parish: Churchwardens’ Accounts c. 1500-1800 (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015). Current projects include the transcription (and translation where needed) of the churchwardens’ accounts of St Botolph-without-Aldersagte 1466-1636 (with Gary G. Gibbs). In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction, knitting, sewing / counted cross-stitch and escaping to the countryside.




Dr Miia Kuha, University of Jyväskylä (Finland)

  • Co-host of 'Parish Memory', 22nd Warwick Symposium on Parish Research (2024)
  • Visiting Fellowship at Warwick, supported by the Academy of Finland (2024)
  • Invited speaker for 'Parish Participation', our 'Scandinavian' symposium (2019)

Current project

Women of the clerical estate. Clergymen’s wives and widows in Lutheran local communities (1650–1710)

This project focuses on the roles, agency, position, and everyday lives of a group of women of whom little is known: clergymen’s wives and widows in fully established Lutheran parish communities. Taking eastern areas of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Sweden as a case study, the project will analyse how the lived experience of a clergyman’s wife – an exemplary female Christian, but also the mistress of the parsonage – was formed and constructed in the cultural and social exchange in rural parish communities. The study will also examine the dimensions of patriarchal power from the point of view of clergymen’s wives and widows, women in a prominent position in rural communities, and their opportunities for individual agency. Court records, registers on clergymen and students, and funeral sermons are employed as main source materials.



Dr Marjolein Schepers, KU Leuven (Belgium)

Research profile

Marjolein Schepers is a migration historian. Previous research projects include postcolonial migration and membership regimes in 20th-century Belgium (Leiden University), civic integration policies and practices in post-war Belgium (KU Leuven) and migrants’ access to poor relief in eighteenth-century Flanders and France focusing amongst others on the negotiations of belonging to a place (VUB – Ghent University with a visiting fellowship at Leicester University). Her current FWO post-doc research project focuses on mobility and people passing through cities, using spatial methods to analyse the changing urban infrastructures for transit migration in the late 18th and 19th-century Low Countries. Recent publications include Marjolein Schepers, ‘Regulating Poor Migrants in Border Regions: A Microhistory of Out-Parish Relief in Bulskamp, 1768-96’, Rural History 29, 2 (2018) 145-165; Marjolein Schepers, ‘Should They Stay or Should They Go Now? The Discretionary Character of Poor Relief, Settlement and and Removal in the Low Countries’, BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review 133, 3 (2018) 48-71; Esther Beeckaert et al., ‘The Societal Turn. Historicising Future Society’, TSEG – Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History 15, 2-3 (2018) 113-128.



Prof. Felicita Tramontana, Università degli Studi Roma Tre (Italy)

Current ERC project


A global economic organization in the early modern period: The Custody of the Holy Land through its account books (1600-1800)

The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land (Custodia Terræ Sanctæ, established in the 13th century) is a global organization that, thanks to a complex system of alms gathering, has ensured throughout the centuries the maintenance of the Holy Sepulchre and the friars’ presence in the Holy Land.

Despite its importance in Mediterranean history, the Custody has remained understudied, and its rich archive scarcely exploited. Inspired by recent studies on Franciscan economic thought and accounting in Mediaeval convents, and deploying concepts drawn from organizational studies, HOLYLAB combines an analysis of economic practices on a local, regional and global level, with a study of the organizational structures and the mechanisms that enabled the Custody to function, attain its goals, survive organizational changes and maintain legitimation. The aim of the project is to study the Custody’s economic organization in the early modern period and, in so doing, to address more general issues concerning the global circulation of people, money and objects and the organization of early modern institutions.





 Michael Egger 















Dr Valerie Hitchman












Dr Miia Kuha











Dr Marjolein Schepers













 Dr Felicita Tramontana