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History Faculty news items

PhD student receives a 'high commendation' from the Pacific History Association

Kate Stevens, a PhD student at the History Faculty has received a 'high commendation' from the Pacific History Association at their annual conference in Taiwan, for her essay, ''The Law of the New Hebrides is the Protector of their Lawlessness': Criminal Justice and Imperial Rivalry in the Early Condominium.' It was the runner-up for the Niel Gunson Prize 2014, awarded by the Association and the 'Journal of Pacific History.'

Next year, Kate will take up a post-doctoral position in the History department at the University of Otago, New Zealand connected to a project on the consumption history of coconuts in the Pacific world.

Leverhulme Major Research Fellowships for Jon Parry and Alexandra Walsham

Our congratulations to Professors Jon Parry and Alexandra Walsham on each winning highly competitive and prestigious three-year Major Research Fellowships awarded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Jon Parry's project is entitled 'Britain and the Near East, 1825-1882'. This aims to explore and explain British policy and attitudes towards the near eastern part of the Ottoman Empire (mostly Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Iraq) during the period of greatest British power, a topic that has been strangely neglected. The approach encompasses religious and cultural attitudes as much as the political and economic. It starts from the belief that the inter-relationship between these various attitudes is the key to understanding the growth and limits of British influence in the region.

Alex Walsham will be working on 'The Reformation of the Generations: Age, Ancestry and Memory in England 1500-1700'. Her project will use the concept of generation as a tool for investigating the intersections between the histories of the family, the perception of the past, and England's protracted and plural Reformations. A social history of ideas and their practical ramifications in culture and piety, it seeks to explore how age and ancestry were implicated in the ongoing religious turmoil of the 16th and 17th centuries. It hopes to shed light on how confessional and social identities were forged and to illuminate the role of the Reformation in reconfiguring assumptions about time, history and memory.

In memoriam: Arthur Hibbert

Arthur Hibbert, who has died aged 94, was for many years a Lecturer in Medieval History at Cambridge, and was a Fellow of King’s from 1948 to 2014.  Those who knew him will remember a kind, thoughtful and highly intelligent teacher who knew how to illuminate corners of the medieval world that were often little studied and rather unfashionable – in Britain in his day, that is to say, but no longer.  He was well abreast of the exciting, innovative research in medieval social and economic history that was being conducted in France by historians such as Georges Duby, and became particularly fascinated by the history of heresy and religious dissent.  His Special Subject on ‘The Origins and Early Stages of the Albigensian Crusade, June 2014-April 1216’ was lampooned by Varsity for its supposed obscurity; but since he taught it the radical heresy of the Cathars or Albigensians, with its belief in its most extreme form in two rival Gods, one good God who is master of the spiritual world and one evil one, master of the material world, has become one of the strongest areas of study in medieval history. 

Arthur Hibbert had come to Cambridge from a Leicester grammar school that produced several distinguished historians, including J.H. Plumb.  His undergraduate career was interrupted by war service in an ambulance brigade, and he was taken prisoner.  On his return to Cambridge he secured a starred First in the Historical Tripos.  It is said that his Director of Studies, Christopher Morris, asked him which questions he had answered on a particular paper.  He said that there had been twelve questions, eight of which he could do easily, but four of which were more of a puzzle.  So he did those.  And that was typical of him.  M.M. Postan lined him up to do for medieval economic European history what Postan was doing for medieval English economic history, and he went off to Barcelona to study the emergence of the city as a great force in Mediterranean trade, writing a dissertation that won him his Fellowship at King’s.  Alas, he never produced a Ph.D. (it was an era when many high-fliers did not bother with doctorates), and only one very short article on his Catalan merchants was ever published.  His Marxist orientation was revealed in a much-cited article about the origins of the medieval town patriciate, published in the new journal Past and Present in 1953; the article ranged from Italy to Flanders and England, and it was incisive and challenging, and also based on deep learning.  After that a long and valuable article on the economic policies of medieval towns in the Cambridge Economic History of Europe edited by Postan just about completed his oeuvre.   The only book with his name on its spine was a little edition of a famous collection of town plans by Braun and Hogenberg (of c.1600), where he wrote a brief and elegant introduction.  A ground-breaking lecture at the annual conference on early medieval history at Spoleto, delivered in the presence of the academic baroni of medieval history, was left unpublished.

He never committed anything to print concerning his new-found interest in popular religion.  A book he agreed to write for Hutchinson on the medieval Mediterranean, to accompany the famous volumes by C.R. Boxer and others on seaborne empires, never materialised.  He came from a generation that placed an emphasis on teaching rather than writing; his colleagues at King’s, the kindly Christopher Morris and the eccentric John Saltmarsh, were not exactly prolific either.  His own teaching career was sadly interrupted by the illness and death of his first wife, and he began to suffer such severe back pain that he attended examiners’ meetings lying on a stretcher.  At his peak, he was an inspiring teacher, and supervisions could go on for hours.  One might have brought along an essay on something as humdrum as the administration of medieval France, but after a few glasses of neat vodka the subject would have become Spinoza and pantheism.  Cambridge supervisions are not like that any more, and when I moved from King’s to become a Fellow of Caius I discovered that there were more focussed ways of teaching Part I papers that produced rather more Firsts; but I don’t think Arthur Hibbert’s supervisions did me any harm – rather the contrary.

David Abulafia

PhD student wins African Studies Association prize

History PhD student Catherine Porter has won a prize for the best graduate student paper presented at the ASA Annual Meeting in 2013.

In 2001, the ASA Board of Directors established an annual prize for the best graduate student paper presented at the ASA Annual Meeting in the previous year. The 2014 award goes to Catherine Porter, PhD candidate, Cambridge University, for her paper, “Bound and Unbound Identities: The Reconstruction of Katanga's Nationhood Struggle.”

In memoriam: Professor William Brock


Professor William Ranulf Brock, who died on 12 November at the age of 98, was a major figure among the first generation of British scholars to engage with the history of the United States in a thoroughly professional way.  It was, however, for his early work on British history that he was originally appointed as a University Lecturer in the Faculty in 1949.  A Scholar and Prize Fellow at Trinity College before the Second World War, in 1941 he published Lord Liverpool and Liberal Toryism, a historiographical landmark that was to remain on the Faculty Reading List for many decades.  After wartime Army service in which he was stationed in Jamaica (“no storm trooper landed when I was defending the island”, he later observed), he taught briefly at Eton before returning to Cambridge in 1947 to take up a Fellowship at Selwyn College.  It was to meet the needs of the Faculty that he switched to American History in 1952, a process facilitated by a Fellowship from the Commonwealth Fund, and he was later to hold visiting professorships at a number of American universities.  In 1967 he was appointed Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow, but on his retirement in 1981, he returned to Cambridge, resuming his Fellowship at Selwyn and participating actively in the Faculty’s American history seminar.  He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1990.

Of Brock’s nine books on American history, the most notable are An American Crisis (1963), Investigation and Responsibility (1985) and Welfare, Democracy and the New Deal (1988).  Focusing respectively on the later 1860s, the late nineteenth century and the 1930s, they manifested a broader chronological range than most American historians of the United States.  All were based on research in little-used primary sources and made original contributions to the historiography that have continued to be recognized as significant.  As a supervisor of graduate students, Brock was involved and nurturing, and several of his students gained university positions; in 1983 eight of them contributed to a volume dedicated to him, The Growth of Federal Power in American History.  His interest in the work of younger scholars, and encouragement of them, extended well beyond the ranks of his own students, and a number still remember gratefully the warm and enlivening hospitality offered by William and his wife, Helen (who predeceased him).

In memoriam: Dr Rosalind Brooke

Rosalind Brooke, who died on 17 November, was a distinguished and innovative scholar whose major contribution to medieval history lay with her studies of the early Franciscans and of popular religion. 

Her career started at Girton College and she prepared a PhD under the direction of Dom David Knowles.  She related that she turned up to see him in the first few days as  a graduate student, explained what she planned to do, and was told, “Very well, I shall see you in three years’ time!”  No doubt she saw rather more of Dom David in reality, but her PhD thesis was  a great success, and was published under Knowles’ auspices in the series Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought. 

Her marriage to Christopher Brooke eventually took her with him to Liverpool and London, though without the permanent position that she certainly deserved.  However, she continued to publish works of lasting significance: an edition of early texts about St Francis for the Oxford Medieval Texts, a concise and thoughtful book entitled The Coming of the Friars that dwelled in particular on the heresies of the Cathars and Waldensians to which in many respects the Dominicans and Franciscans were a response, and a large and widely acclaimed book on popular religion in the Middle Ages, written jointly with Christopher Brooke.  Her work was rewarded with the degree of Litt.D., and her diminutive figure would appear encased in the scarlet gown of the degree. 

She also supervised undergraduates for the medieval European history papers in Part I after Christopher returned to Cambridge as Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History in 1977.   She will be much missed for her contagious enthusiasm and her many kindnesses to younger scholars, to which I can bear witness.

David Abulafia


The funeral Service for Rosalind Brooke is at 1.45pm Monday 1st December in Gonville and Caius College Chapel;
followed by 3.15pm at Cambridge Crematorium East Chapel (the small one).
Members of College should wear gowns.

John Gallagher presents BBC radio documentary on historical language-learning

John Gallagher, a Junior Research Fellow in History at Gonville & Caius, wrote and presented a 20-minute documentary based on his research for BBC Radio 3. Titled 'A Journey into the Foreign Language Phrasebook', the programme uses original sources and discussions with experts to explore the first printed texts written for early modern English learners of foreign vernacular languages. It can be found here on BBC iPlayer, and begins at the 25:00 minute mark.

Beyond the Kremlin: Dr Mark Smith's blog on Russian history

Russia is at the centre of world events. What about its history? Dr Mark Smith, our new colleague in Soviet history, is a veteran blogger whose posts range widely over the past and present of the country that Churchill called 'a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma'.

Recent posts include the historical origins of Vladimir Putin, how the Scottish referendum helps us understand Russia, how Russians conceptualize the phases of their history and what does the history of consumption and material culture mean when studying a communist society.

Take a look for yourself

Sachiko Kusukawa wins Pfizer Prize for outstanding book in the history of science

Congratulations to Sachiko Kusukawa who has been awarded the 2014 Pfizer Prize by the History of Science Society for her book Picturing the Book of Nature (University of Chicago Press, 2012). This prize is awarded in recognition of an outstanding book dealing with the history of science.

In her book, Dr Kusukawa explores how pictures constitute knowledge and specifically how images entered printed books in the 16th century, when such figures as Andreas Vesalius and Leonhart Fuchs published their path-breaking texts full of pictures of human anatomy and medical botany. According to the prize committee, 'Kusukawa brings to bear a formidable historical and art-historical scholarship, creating a work as erudite as it is lucid.'

The History of Science Society awarded the prize (worth $2,500) to Dr Kusukawa on 8 November at its annual meeting in Chicago.

Dr Renaud Morieux awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize

Dr Renaud Morieux is the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize. The award "recognise the achievement of early career researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising."

Dr Sarah Pearsall wins two awards from the Western History Association (USA)

Congratulations to Dr Sarah Pearsall. Her article entitled '"Having Many Wives" in Two American Rebellions: The Politics of Households and the Radically Conservative', which appeared in the American Historical Review in October 2013, recently received two awards from the Western History Association. One was the Arrell M. Gibson Prize for the best essay of the year on Native Americans; the other was the Jensen-Miller Award for the best article on women and gender in the North American West.


An extract can be found here

'Selling the Exotic', research project led by Dr Emma Spary, gets Leverhulme award

Pharmacopée_CharasThe project ‘Selling the Exotic’ arises out of earlier research into the history of food, drugs and knowledge in the period 1670- 1730. At the start of this period, coffee was drunk by a mere handful of Levantine merchants. By 1730, however, the drink had become ubiquitous among the elite, and would soon become ubiquitous among poor consumers too, as colonial cultivation expanded. Initially introduced and used as a medicament, coffee soon came to be drunk primarily for pleasure. Although coffee’s history has been well researched, elite consumers around 1700 were enticed by the promise of many other new foods and drugs from far afield. Where such luxuries would formerly only have been accessible to rulers and courtiers, the eighteenth century marked both the rise of shopping and the emergence of a non-courtly elite consuming public. Wealth rather than rank began to be a determining factor in access to these new substances. These changes were part of wider shifts in the meaning, importance and consumption of exotic foods which accompanied the gradual abandonment of traditional diets among early modern Europeans in favour of exotic, colonial and introduced foods. 

How and why some exotic plant materials made the transition from unfamiliar and exotic to quotidian, or from medicine to food, is a question that has received comparatively little historical attention. The French case differs from studies of the English or Dutch situation in several important ways. Firstly, both manufacture and commerce were far more strictly regulated in France, with most merchants operating within a strictly policed guild system. Therefore, the effects of Crown policies upon product availability, advertising and innovation were more significant here than elsewhere. Secondly, France was by 1700 renowned across Europe as the capital of fashion and cuisine. Cuisine was, both inside and outside France, seen as a phenomenon centred upon the court. The project lays emphasis upon studying the knowledge culture of the French court and metropolis, in order to explain how elite consumers encountered and understood the new plants they ingested. To that end, the project will investigate medical and scientific institutions and practitioners in order to show how far changing practices of consumption and shopping proceeded in parallel with the investment of botany with a new credibility, and how far both of these phenomena were linked to Crown commercial policy. Such changes both affected and were affected by transformations in global trading patterns, contemporaneous with European colonialism, which moved the focus of European maritime trade towards new colonies, particularly those in the Atlantic world, and diminished the importance of trading posts in Old World ports. 

Courts and cities, places with a high concentration of elite residents, were quick to take up new foods and drugs. Some exotic spices and drugs, such as clove, ginger and cinnamon, were already consumed in the Middle Ages, but their consumption changed in several ways during the early modern period. These new consumption habits related closely to attempts by elites to distance themselves from an expanding urban poor. The merchants who sold such goods were themselves innovators and entrepreneurs. The project will show how exotic plant materials were processed in city workshops and laboratories, and bought and consumed in in the metropolis and at court. 

Exotic plant imports such as spices, sugar and rare drugs had been consumed for centuries in Europe. But between 1670 and 1730, the consumption of exotica moved from being the preserve of princes and rulers to becoming more widespread, just as new understandings of ‘the exotic’. How far, and for which goods, can changes in consumption be documented using extant records of merchant activities? The case of coffee provides a well-documented baseline for these transformations, but the situation is far less well understood for other plants, particularly in the French setting. The project will investigate whether better-known cases like coffee or sugar are representative of a wider embrace of and interest in exotic foods and drugs in the French metropolis. Current interest in Atlantic studies has yielded outstanding work on British and Iberian exotic. France has been unaccountably absent from this literature, despite its growing overseas empire after 1660. 

The French Crown had a close relationship with trade in the capital city, via the guild system and monopoly trade privileges on particular goods. Courtiers such as the royal banker Samuel Bernard and the duc d’Estrées dealt personally in exotic goods. The Crown also had a direct relationship with scientific enquiry via the royal academies, founded in the seventeenth century. The plant collections in Royal and noble gardens were part of the manifestation of prestige, exemplified in the extensive series of plant illustrations commissioned by monarchs and ministers, known as the vélins. The Crown’s interest in such exotica was also closely tied to ministerial concerns to insert French sea trade into the global maritime commerce dominated by the Dutch and English. How far were these goals of prestige and commerce linked? To what extent did they shape the conditions of trade and consumption in the metropolis or at court? Conversely, gardens and exotic nature also generated questions about why there was such a diversity of plants around the globe and whether they were appropriate for European consumption. 

The project will investigate the cultures of invention, curiosity and knowledge which led metropolitan and courtly consumers to seek out new exotic plant materials for enjoyment and autoexperimentation. What role did new practices like advertising and shopping play in food and drugs commerce? Louis XIV's support for the new drug ipecac and its medical advocate Jean-Adrien Helvétius helped to start a fashion for exotic plant remedies in France, sustained by high-profile cures and the support of leading doctors, and manifested in a flurry of health manuals and scientific lecture courses. Meanwhile, print culture and chemical analysis offered conclusions about the properties and effects of plant materials. How important were celebrated cases or well-placed elite patrons in increasing the consumption of new botanical commodities? How were such patronage relationships and 'celebrity cures' made known to consumers? 

The urban artisans who processed and sold exotic plant materials—apothecaries, grocers, perfumers, distillers, gardeners, nurserymen—though sometimes wealthy, were not of high social status. Yet during the period addressed, merchants began to serve as Crown advisors. Some even entered the elitist scientific sanctum, the Royal Academy of Sciences. What was the relationship between traditional and new kinds of learned expert? To what extent did formal knowledge (botanical, chemical) direct private consumption and State policy? By the 1750s, botanical experts had become indispensable mediators between the Crown and botanic resources, yet we know little about how this was accomplished. 

How did French botanical and medical practitioners lay claim to plant expertise? A new interest in classification arose in the years around 1700, both in institutional settings such as the Jardin du Roi in Paris and in wider literate culture.  The existing secondary literature on botany in this period focuses on taxonomy; this project will take an entirely different tack, addressing the emergent relations between economic botany, urban enterprise and consumption. The methodology adopted integrates cultural and political history with the history of science and medicine in new ways, and will allow us to illustrate how changes in Crown policy and new scientific or medical knowledge-claims affected commerce and consumption. The project embraces a substantial corpus of unused or understudied source materials, including inventories and accounts, pharmacopoeias, correspondence, memoirs and images. 

This project is as much about the politics of plant knowledge as about the knowledge itself; it will aim to show how the making of knowledge about plants was implicated in the trade and consumption of plant commodities.

The History Faculty and Trinity College participate in a Major European Research Council-funded project on 'Genius Before Romanticism'

The award of a substantial European Research Council Grant to Dr Alexander Marr of the Department of History of Art has led to a five-year project to study the notion of genius in the three centuries before the Romantic period. The 'Genius Before Romanticism' project will examine notions of unique talent, heightened imagination, and extraordinary creativity in art and science by exploring the language, theories, practices and products of ingenium (ingenuity) from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Two members of the History Faculty are involved in the interdisciplinary project, which also involves the Departments of History of Art and of History and Philosophy of Science, and which is based at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH). The Senior Research Investigator is Dr Richard Serjeantson (Lecturer in History, Trinity College), while Dr Sachiko Kusukawa (Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science, Trinity College) serves on the Advisory Board.

Dr David Motadel wins the 2014 Fraenkel Prize

Congratulations to Dr David Motadel on being awarded the Fraenkel Prize, one of the leading prizes in contemporary European history, for his book Islam and Nazi Germany's War. This will be published by Harvard University Press later in October 2014.

Robin Mills appointed to a Lectureship at King's College, London

Robin Mills, who has just finished his PhD dissertation on 'The Origins of Religious Belief in the British Enlightenment' under the supervision of Dr Richard Serjeantson, will take up a position as Lecturer in the History of European Political Ideas in the History Department of King's College, London, at the start of this academic year. 

Memorial service for Professor Sir James Holt - October 25th

The service is to be held in Great St Mary's Church, Cambridge at 3.30pm on Saturday 25 October.

It will be followed by a reception at Fitzwilliam College and it would be helpful if those planning to attend the latter could notify the Master's Secretary, Mrs Deborah Jordan (

Professor David Reynolds explores the ‘Long Shadow’ of the Great War on BBC 2

Professor David Reynolds, Chair of the History Faculty, presents a series of three BBC2 programmes on Wednesdays at 8pm (24 September, 1 and 8 October) based on his prize-winning book ‘The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century’ (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

The films are entitled (1) Remembering and Understanding, (2) Ballots and Bullets and (3) Us and Them – dealing respectively with the themes of memory, democracy and nationalism.

The last episode on 8 October considers the evolution of the United Kingdom from the Irish Home Rule crisis of 1914 to the Scottish referendum of 2014, in comparison with what has happened to the lands of the former Habsburg Empire over the last century.


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Documentary film by PhD student Marta Musso shortlisted for LSE Research Festival prize


Marta Musso is a PhD candidate in Economic History under the supervision of Prof. Martin Daunton.

Her research project analyses the role played by the oil industry in the Algerian decolonization process. “Oil will set you free?” is a documentary teaser on her dissertation, made for the 2014 LSE Research Festival which aims at presenting academic research to a wider audience through photography, posters and films.

This year’s winner of the film prize was Emma Dyer, PhD student at the Cambridge Faculty of Education, with the documentary “Child vs book”


Oil will set you free:

 LSE Research Festival:

Dr Clare Jackson presents The Stuarts on BBC2

Dr Clare Jackson’s new three-part TV series The Stuarts will be screened on BBC2 on Wednesdays at 8pm, starting on 30 July. As political debate intensifies ahead of the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, the series looks into the history of the Stuart dynasty and the role it played in shaping modern Britain. For more information, see

Charles Read wins New Research Prize at the Economic History Society annual conference

Charles Read has been awarded the Economic History Society's New Research Prize for presenting the best paper at its annual conference at Warwick University earlier this year. His paper, entitled "Laissez-faire, the Irish Famine and British Financial Crisis", beat over 60 other entries from universities across the world for first prize. Charles is currently a PhD in economic history finishing a thesis entitled "British Economic Policy in Ireland, c.1841-53" and his faculty homepage can be found here:

More details about the award can be found here:

Dr Chris Briggs wins Cambridge University Students' Union Teaching Excellence Award

The Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) Teaching Excellence Awards celebrate excellent teaching and student engagement. Students were given the opportunity to nominate lecturers, supervisors, administrators and other staff who are exemplary teachers and mentors. The project is completely student-led, funded by a grant from the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Chris, who teaches medieval social and economic history in the Faculty, won an award in the Lecturer category.

Professor Christopher Clark appointed Regius Professor of History

'The Vice-Chancellor gives notice that, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, H.M. The Queen has approved the appointment of Professor Christopher Munro Clark, CTH, PhD, PEM, BA, University of Sydney, FBA, FAHA, Professor of Modern European History, Faculty of History, as the Regius Professor of History from 1 October 2014 in succession to Professor Sir Richard Evans.'

Although this formal notice comes as no surprise to many in the History Faculty, it is a great pleasure that this appointment is now official. Chris is a globally renowned scholar and a popular member of the Faculty. We applaud him as a worthy successor to Richard and wish him well in his tenure of the Regius Chair.

Maritime and Oceanic History Graduate Workshop research featured in journal

All the co-conveners of the Maritime and Oceanic History Graduate Workshop have had their research published in a series of articles in the International Journal of Maritime History. (

The convenors were Richard J. Blakemore, Edmond Smith, A.B. Leonard, Derek L. Elliott, Joshua D. Newton, S.H. Layton.

'Month of Madness': Professor Chris Clark on the crisis that led to the First World War, this week on BBC Radio

'Month of Madness': Professor Chris Clark on the crisis that led to the First World War, this week on BBC Radio.

More information at

Jon Lawrence presented a programme on class in Britain since the 1960s on Radio 4 (9 June 2014 at 8pm).

In The Unmaking of the English Working Class, Lawrence explored why so many Britons still identify as ‘working class’ and argues that the language of class remains the most potent weapon to challenge privilege and inequality. 


In this programme Lawrence explores how the sociology and the politics of class have changed since the publication of E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class in the early 1960s. Returning to his own childhood roots in East Bristol he asks whether powerful validating ideas about the ‘working class’ rooted in the radical politics of the nineteenth century have lost all relevance in post-Thatcherite Britain. He explores the decline in manufacturing and manual labour, the growth of inequality and its impact on the provision of basic needs such as housing, and the relationship between culture and class in twenty-first century Britain.  

Lawrence argues that Britain is unusual for the large number of people who continue to identify as ‘working class’ – it is still a term that carries positive connotations for many people. However, public culture no longer celebrates working-class life, as it did in the 1960s, instead the last 25 years have seen the emergence of a new hate-speech of class which feeds off the neo-liberal lie that we all get what we deserve in life. As he says in the programme, “People with power and privilege tell us that class no longer matters, even that we are all classless now. Superficially their arguments are attractive – no one likes to be labelled in class terms – but we should be wary of relinquishing the language of class. It is the most powerful tool we possess for challenging inequality and privilege - it is also the one resource that the unprivileged possess to label their experiences as unfair and, most importantly, as changeable. Class still matters because without it the top 1 per cent really will be untouchable.”

Dr Bérénice Guyot-Réchard wins the 2014 Prince Consort and Thirlwall Prize

Prince Consort and Thirlwall Prize Fund:  The managers of the fund are pleased to declare Dr Bérénice Guyot-Réchard the winner of the 2014 Prince Consort and Thirlwall Prize. The prize and the Seeley Medal are awarded annually for a dissertation involving original historical research

Cambridge Tops Guardian League Table for History Again

For the second year running Cambridge History Faculty heads the Guardian newspaper's ranking of 90 history departments in the UK.

For details follow this link or click on the top right of our home page.

Honours for Professor Sir Christopher Bayly

Our congratulations to Chris Bayly, who has been appointed the Government of India's inaugural Vivekananda Visiting Professor, 2014-15, at the University of Chicago.

He has also been admitted as an Honorary Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and elected to an Honorary Doctorate at Kings College London.

After his retirement from Cambridge in September 2014, Chris will take up a professorial position at Queen Mary London.

David Reynolds wins the PEN Hessell-Tiltman 2014 Prize for History

David Reynolds wins the 2014 Hessell-Tiltman Prize for his book, The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century (Simon & Schuster). This is awarded annually by the international writers’ organization PEN for a history book of ‘high literary merit’.

Chair Anne Chisholm, also the Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, said: ‘If you only read one book about the First World War in this anniversary year, read The Long Shadow. David Reynolds writes superbly and his analysis is compelling and original.’

Among the runners up were works by two other Cambridge historians

The First Bohemians: Life and Art in London’s Golden Age by Vic Gatrell (Allen Lane)


The Undiscovered Country: Journeys among the Dead by Carl Watkins (Bodley Head)

Sujit Sivasundaram has been awarded the Sackler Caird Fellowship 2014-6 at the National Maritime Museum

Sujit Sivasundaram has been awarded the Sackler Caird Fellowship 2014-6 at the National Maritime Museum.

This is ‘a major fellowship generously sponsored by the Sackler Foundation to fund research of significance and originality in any field of the Museum’s subjects and collections.’

Sujit will use the Museum’s collections in his present project on the age of revolutions in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

In Memoriam: Professor Sir James Holt

Professor Sir James Holt, FBA, formerly Professor of Medieval History in the Faculty (1978-88), President of the Royal Historical Society (1981-85) and Master of Fitzwilliam College (1981-88), died on 9 April 2014 aged 91.


Jim Holt was one of the great post-war figures in medieval English history. His seminal work on English politics c.1066-1216 remains fundamental to the study of the period.  The core of his work was on feudal society and its relations with the crown in the Anglo-Norman period, and on the causes, consequences and meaning of Magna Carta. He took these subjects to a wholly new intellectual plane.  His occasional forays into the study of the Robin Hood legends – ‘slumming it’ as he joked – were almost as notable.


His intellectual rigour and energy in practical matters transformed medieval history in Cambridge, not just in teaching and the papers offered (perhaps especially his Special Subject on King John) but also in the administration of the Faculty. Jim’s convening of the medieval UTOs for regular meetings evolved into the Subject Groups. The MPhil on Medieval History, the first MPhil originating in the Faculty, was another of his initiatives. Similarly, his magnificent project to edit the Plantagenet Acta, funded first by the British Academy and later by the then AHRB (now nearing completion), was also a pioneer among such major grant-funded research projects in the Faculty. Outside the study and the classroom, Jim was also passionate about cricket.


Jim Holt was interviewed in the Making History series on 16 May 2008.


The funeral will be held at the Cambridge Crematorium on Friday 25th April at 2.15 p.m.


Rosamond McKitterick and Christine Carpenter

Professor Rosamond McKitterick has been appointed as the LECTIO Chair for 2015

Professor Rosamond McKitterick has been appointed as the LECTIO Chair for 2015 at the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven's Centre for the Study of the Transmission of Texts and Ideas in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.

Previous holders of the chair have been Alastair Minnis (Yale), Charlotte Roueché (London), François Dolbeau (Paris), and Jeffrey Hamburger (Harvard).

Gary Gerstle will be the next Mellon Professor of American History

The Faculty is very pleased to welcome Prof. Gary Gerstle as the new Paul Mellon Professor of American History. He will succeed Tony Badger, whose long and immensely productive tenure of this chair comes to an end with his retirement in September. Gary is currently James G. Stahlman Professor of American History at Vanderbilt University. His prize-winning writings range widely across 20th-century U.S. history, with special interests in race, class, ethnicity and state-building.

Chris Clark awarded the Prix Aujourd'hui

Congratulations to Chris Clark on another international prize, this time
for the French edition of his book The Sleepwalkers. The Prix
d'Aujourd'hui is a highly prestigious French literary award worth 45,000
euros. Previous winners include Raymond Aron, Milan Kundera, George Steiner
and François Furet.

Dr Tessa Webber to be Co-Investigator in new AHRC funded project

Dr Tessa Webber will be a co-investigator in a major new AHRC-funded research project (2014-17). 'Models of Authority: Scottish charters and the emergence of government 1100-1250' is a collaborative project, led by Professor Dauvit Broun of Glasgow University and involving scholars from Glasgow, King's College London and Cambridge. It will draw upon digital tools to analyse the contents, script and physical appearance of the corpus of surviving Scottish royal charters as evidence for developments in the practices and perception of royal government during this crucial period.

Christopher Clark to receive the 2014 Bruno Kreisky Prize for Political Literature

Christopher Clark will receive the 2014 Bruno Kreisky Prize for Political Literature. The prize, valued at €7,000, is awarded by the Karl Renner Institute, the academic foundation of the Social Democratic Party of Austria. The award will take place on 19 March in Vienna.

This prize (and others) recognize the extraordinary impact of Chris Clark's book  The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914  in Britain and especially across Central Europe. The German translation  Die Schlafwandler  has been a runaway best-seller in Germany and Austria, igniting discussion and controversy about 1914 on a scale not seen since the Fritz Fischer debate in the 1960s - as indicated by this story on the BBC website.

Archive News

Carl Watkins and David Reynolds on Shortlist for Hessell-Tiltman Prize

Feb 24, 2014

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure

Oct 16, 2013
becomes an interdisciplinary research unit shared between the Faculty of History and the Department of Geography.

Dr Mary Laven and colleagues are awarded ERC Synergy Grant

Jan 11, 2013
Synergy funding for Cambridge Renaissance team

African Studies Prize 2013

Nov 08, 2013
Dr Zoë Groves has been awarded the African Studies Vilakazi Prize 2013 for her article, ‘Transnational Networks and Regional Solidarity: The Case of the Central African Federation’

Cundill Prize in History

Nov 27, 2013
Professor Chris Clark wins 'Recognition of Excellence Award' worth $10,000

Honours for Prof. Tony Badger

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Retiring at the end of this academic year

CRASSH Early-Career Fellowships for Joel Isaac and Sarah Pearsall

Jan 15, 2014

Norton Medlicott Medal for Prof. Sir Richard Evans

Jan 22, 2014
Awarded by the Historical Association for 'an outstanding contribution to History' by 'an important contemporary advocate of historical research and learning'.

Transport, Urbanization and Economic Development in England c.1670-1911

Jan 31, 2014
A new research project supported by a three year grant from the Leverhulme Trust

Doing History in Public

Feb 20, 2014
Cambridge History graduates launch a collaborative blog

New MPhil courses in 2015

Applications are now being accepted for three new courses to be run from October 2015