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Dr Joseph Canning

Dr Joseph Canning

Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of History

Faculty of History
West Road

Cambridge CB3 9EF


Joe Canning read Classics and History at Cambridge, where he was also awarded his PhD in History.  He was Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Queensland, Australia and then worked for many years at Bangor University where he was Reader in History.  He was also Director of the British Centre for Historical Research in Germany at the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte in Göttingen. 

Subject groups/Research projects

Political Thought and Intellectual History:

Research Interests

His field of research is political thought in the medieval and early modern periods.  His current research project concerns the justifications of power, especially the construction of ideas of authority and legitimacy.


Joe Canning lectures for Paper 14, Europe c.950-1450.  He also supervises for Paper 14 and Paper 19, History of Political Thought to c.1700, and is a Teaching Associate of Queens' College.

Key Publications


Ideas of Power in the Late Middle Ages, 1296-1417 (Cambridge University Press, 2011, paperback, 2014), pp. xii + 219.

A History of Medieval Political Thought, 300-1450, (London and New York: Routledge, 1996; repr. with  new introduction, 2005), pp. xxiv + 255.

The Political Thought of Baldus de Ubaldis, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth series, 6 (Cambridge University Press, 1987, reprinted 1989,  paperback 2003),  xi + 300pp

Edited volumes

Joseph Canning, Edmund King and Martial Staub (eds), Knowledge, Discipline and Power in the Middle Ages.  Essays in Honour of David Luscombe, Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, 106 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2011), pp. 281.

Joseph Canning, Hartmut Lehmann and Jay Winter (eds), Power, Violence and Mass Death in Pre-Modern and Modern Times (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), pp. ix + 220.

Joseph Canning and Hermann Wellenreuter (eds), Britain and Germany Compared: Nationality, Society and Nobility in the Eighteenth Century, Göttinger Gespräche zur Geschichtswissenschaft, 13 (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2001), pp. 239.

Joseph Canning and Otto-Gerhard Oexle (eds.), Political Thought and the Realities of Power in the Middle Ages/Politisches Denken und die Wirklichkeit der Macht im Mittelalter, Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts für Geschichte, 147 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), pp. 286.

Articles and chapters

including recently

'The universal rule of law in the thought of the late medieval jurists of Roman and canon law,' in Anthony Carty and Janne Nijman (eds), Morality and Responsibility of Rulers.  European and Chinese Origins of a Rule of Law as Justice for World Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 55-72.

'The paradox of Franciscan use of canon law in the fourteenth-century poverty disputes', in Michael Robson and Patrick Zutshi (eds), The Franciscan Order in the Medieval English Province and Beyond, Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018), pp. 255-70.