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Professor Alexandra Walsham FBA, FAHA

Professor Alexandra Walsham, FBA, FAHA

Professor of Modern History

R2 Blue Boar Court
Trinity College

Cambridge CB2 1TQ
Office Phone: 01223 746915


Alexandra Walsham completed a BA and MA at the University of Melbourne before winning a Commonwealth Scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where she completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Patrick Collinson. She held a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College between 1993 and 1996 before being appointed as Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter in 1996. Promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2000 and to a personal chair in Reformation History in 2005, she served as Head of Department at Exeter between 2007 and 2010. She was appointed to the Professorship of Modern History at Cambridge in 2010 and elected a Fellow of Trinity College.

Professor Walsham has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 1999 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2009 and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2013.

She is co-editor, with Matthew Hilton, of the journal Past and Present, and has served as General Editor of the Past and Present Book Series and Past and Present Supplements (OUP). She is one the Series Editors of Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History (CUP) and also serves on the editorial boards of a number of other journals, including Archiv fur Reformationsgeschichte, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, and British Catholic History. She has served as a panel member and chair for the Arts and Humanities Research Council and on the British Academy's Central Research Awards Committee. She is currently a Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Historical Research. 

Subject groups/Research projects

Early Modern History:

Early modern British religious and cultural history

Departments and Institutes

Trinity College:

Research Interests

Her research interests fall within the field of the religious and cultural history of early modern Britain and focus on the immediate impact and long-term repercussions of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations set within their European context. She has published extensively on a range of themes, including post-Reformation Roman Catholicism; religious tolerance and intolerance between 1500 and 1700; providence, miracles and the supernatural in post-Reformation society and culture; the history of the book, the advent of printing, and the interconnections between oral, visual and written culture; religion and the landscape.


Research Supervision

Professor Walsham is willing to supervise a range of topics in early modern British history, especially religious and ecclesiastical, intellectual and cultural history, at both MPhil and PhD level. She would particularly welcome enquiries about research on the following themes:

the implementation, reception and impact of the Reformation in the British Isles

post-Reformation Roman Catholicism

religious tolerance and intolerance between 1500 and 1700

providence, miracles and the supernatural in post-Reformation society and culture

the history of the book, the advent of printing, and the interconnections between oral, visual and written culture

religion, sacred space and the landscape

religion, healing and medicine

religion and generational change

historical consciousness and the formation of memory

Theses completed under her supervision include Tom Blaen (‘Lapidaries in Early Modern Britain’), David Davis ('Printed Images in Elizabethan England', Exeter Research Studentship; now Assistant Professor at Houston Baptist University), Hannah Newton (‘The Sick Child in England, c. 1580-1720’, Wellcome Trust Studentship; now Lecturer at the University of Reading), Sarah Scutts (‘Perceptions of the Anglo-Saxon Past in Early Modern Religious Polemical Literature’, AHRC Studentship), Jennifer Evans (‘Aphrodisiacs in Early Modern England’, Exeter Research Studentship; now Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire), Sarah Parsons (‘Religious Culture and the Sea in Early Modern England’, AHRC Studentship), Natasha Mihailovic (‘The Social History of Death in Eighteenth-Century England’, AHRC Studentship), and Liesbeth Corens ('Confessional Mobility, English Catholics and the Southern Netherlands 1660-1720', AHRC Studentship, now Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College).

She is currently supervising Coral Stoakes, 'Catholic Apocalypticism in Elizabethan England', Morgan Ring, 'The Golden Legend in Post-Reformation England', Greg Salazar, 'Daniel Featley and Calvinist Conformity in Early Stuart England', Aislinn Muller, 'The Excommunication of Elizabeth I', Steven Tong, 'Liturgy, Worship and Ecclesiology in the Edwardian Reformation', Harriet Lyon, 'The Memory of the Dissolution of the Monasteries' (AHRC Studentship), Alice Soulieux-Evans, 'Perceptions of Cathedrals in England c. 1660-1714', Jens Aklundh, 'Church Courts and Toleration in Restoration England' (AHRC Studentship), Carys Brown, 'Religious Coexistence and Civility after the Act of Toleration' (AHRC Studentship); Simone Hanebaum, 'History, Memory and the Lower Gentry in England 1500-1700' (Cambridge International Scholarship), Patrick McGhee, 'Heathenism in Early Modern England' (AHRC Studentship), and Frederick Smith, 'Catholic Exile in mid Sixteenth-Century England' (AHRC Studentship) .


Alexandra Walsham teaches a Part II Specified Subject on ‘Persecution and Toleration in Britain 1400-1700’. She contributes lectures for Part I Paper 4 (British Political History 1450-1750) and Paper 9 (British Economic and Social History 1500-1750) and offers an option on 'Space, Place and Landscape in Early Modern History' to students on the MPhil in Early Modern History.

She is on leave from undergraduate teaching from 2015 to 2018.

Other Professional Activities

Alexandra Walsham co-organised (with Kate Peters and Liesbeth Corens) a conference on 'Transforming Information: Record Keeping in the Early Modern World' (The British Academy, 9-10 April 2014), sponsored by The British Academy and supported by CRASSH, the Society for Renaissance Studies, Past and Present, and the Royal Historical Society. Two volumes of essays arising from the conference, The Social History of the Archive and Archives and Information in the Early Modern World are in preparation.

Professor Walsham currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2015-18. This fellowship was awarded to support her work on ‘The Reformation of the Generations: Age, Ancestry and Memory in England c. 1500-1700’, which will be the subject of her Ford Lectures at the University of Oxford in 2017-18.

She is also the Principal Investigator on a major collaborative project on 'Remembering the Reformation' based jointly at the Universities of Cambridge and York. Together with Professor Brian Cummings of the Department of English at York, she has been awarded £831,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to fund this interdisciplinary project, which will run from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2018.

She has delivered lectures and papers in many countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United States, Australia and China. She will give the Neale Lecture at UCL in October 2015.


  • Early Modern History

Key Publications


Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Royal Historical Society Studies in History, 1993)

Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford University Press, 1999). Winner of the Longman-History Today Prize 2000 and the American Historical Association’s Morris D. Forkosch Prize 2000.

Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England 1500-1700 (Manchester UP, 2006)

The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford UP, 2011). Joint winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2011; winner of the American Historical Association's Leo Gershoy Award 2011;winner of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference Roland H. Bainton Prize 2011.

Catholic Reformation in Protestant Britain (Ashgate, 2014)


Edited Books

ed. with Julia Crick, The Uses of Script and Print 1300-1700 (Cambridge UP, 2004)

ed. with John Chynoweth and Nicholas Orme, Richard Carew, The Survey of Cornwall (Devon and Cornwall Record Society, 2004)

ed. with Peter Marshall, Angels in the Early Modern World (Cambridge UP, 2006)

ed. with E.A. Jones, Syon Abbey and its Books: Reading, Writing and Religion 1400-1700 (Boydell and Brewer, 2010)

ed. Relics and Remains, Past and Present Supplement 5 (Oxford UP, 2010)

ed. with John Doran and Charlotte Methuen, Religion and the Household, Studies in Church History 50 (Boydell and Brewer, 2014)



Selected Articles

‘“The Fatall Vesper”: Providentialism and Anti-Popery in Late Jacobean London’, Past and Present, no. 144 (1994), pp. 36-87.

‘“Frantick Hacket”: Prophecy, Sorcery, Insanity and the Elizabethan Puritan Movement’, Historical Journal, vol. 41 (1998), pp. 27-66.

‘Vox Piscis: Or, The Book Fish: Providence and the Uses of the Reformation Past in Caroline Cambridge’, English Historical Review, vol. 114 (1999), pp. 574-606.

‘“Domme Preachers”? Post-Reformation English Catholicism and the Culture of Print’, Past and Present, no. 168 (2000), pp. 72-123.

‘Unclasping the Book? Post-Reformation English Catholicism and the Vernacular  Bible’, Journal of British Studies, vol. 42, no. 2(2003), pp. 141-67.

‘Miracles and the Counter Reformation Mission to England’, Historical Journal, 46 (2003), pp. 779-815.

‘Translating Trent? English Catholicism and the Counter Reformation’, Historical Research, 78 (2005), pp. 288-310.

‘The Reformation and the Disenchantment of the World Reassessed’, Historical Journal, 51 (2) (2008), 497-528.

‘Invisible Helpers: Angelic Intervention in Early Modern England’, Past and Present, 208 (2010), pp. 77-130. Winner of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference Harold Grimm Essay Prize 2011.

'The Reformation of the Generations: Youth, Age and Religious Change in England 1500-1700', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series 21 (2011), pp. 93-121.

'History, Memory and the English Reformation', Historical Journal, 55 (2012), 899-938.

‘Cultures of Coexistence in Early Modern England: History, Literature, and Religious Toleration’, The Seventeenth Century, 28 (2013), 115-37.

‘Migrations of the Holy: Religious Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 44 (2014), 241-280.

'Wholesome Milk and Strong Meat: Peter Canisius's Catechisms and the Conversion of Protestant Britain', British Catholic History, 32 (2015), 293-314.