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Dr Paul Cavill

Dr Paul Cavill

Senior lecturer in early modern British history

Pembroke College
Trumpington Street

Office Phone: 01223 764566 (int. 64566)


I grew up in the London suburb of Wimbledon and then studied at Oxford University. I have held a junior research fellowship at Merton College, Oxford, and lectureships at Bangor University and the University of Leeds. I joined the Faculty in 2013.

Subject groups/Research projects

Ancient and Medieval History:

Late medieval English history

Early Modern History:

Early modern English history

Departments and Institutes

Pembroke College:
Director of Studies (History Tripos: second years)

Research Interests

I study the political and ecclesiastical history of early modern England, concentrating on the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. My research focuses on governance and the constitution, principally in the context of the Wars of the Roses and of the Break with Rome. I have a particular interest in the history of parliament, especially as a means of exploring the origins, development, and reception of public policy. Much of my scholarship is based on analysing statutes and other laws. I am also interested in the jurisdictional questions around crime and punishment. I work mostly with manuscript sources and specialise in the administrative and legal records of central, local, and diocesan government. 

Research Supervision

I supervise Master's and doctoral research on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century English political and religious history. I am supervising the Ph.D. theses of Edward Everett (working on the privilege of sanctuary after 1540) and Laura Flannigan (working on the Court of Requests in the early Tudor period). Anyone interested in undertaking postgraduate research in my field is welcome to contact me ahead of submitting a formal application.


At undergraduate level, I supervise for paper 4, lecture for papers 3 and 4 (both for part I), and teach a special subject on Thomas More (for part II).  In 2020, Dr Clare Jackson and I will be teaching a new third-year specified paper entitled ‘The “rule of law” in early modern Britain: state power, criminal justice, and civil liberties, c.1500-c.1800’. At postgraduate level, I contribute to the teaching of the M.Phil. in Early Modern History. I am one of the convenors of the Early Modern British and Irish History research seminar series.

Other Professional Activities

I am a Schools Liaison Officer for the Faculty, together with Dr Helen McCarthy. On such matters, please use the following e-mail address: Beyond Cambridge, I serve on the editorial board of the journal Parliamentary History.


  • Medieval British History
  • Early Modern History

Key Publications

  • ‘Church, state, and Corpus: the founder’s years’, in John Watts (ed.), Renaissance College: Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in Context, 1450–1600, History of Universities, 32 (2019), pp. 40–58.
  • Co-ed. with Alexandra Gajda, Writing the History of Parliament in Tudor and Early Stuart England (Manchester, 2018).
  • ‘Polydore Vergil and the first English parliament’, ibid., pp. 37–59.
  • ‘Preaching on Magna Carta at the end of the fifteenth century: John Alcock’s sermon at Paul's Cross’, The Fifteenth Century, 15 (2017), pp. 169–89.
  • ‘Anticlericalism and the early Tudor parliament’, Parliamentary History, 34 (2015), pp. 14–29.
  • ‘Heresy, law and the state: forfeiture in late medieval and early modern England’, English Historical Review, 129 (2014), pp. 270–95.
  • ‘Heresy and forfeiture in Marian England’, Historical Journal, 56 (2013), pp. 879–907.
  • ‘A perspective on the church–state confrontation of 1515: the passage of 4 Henry VIII, c. 2’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 63 (2012), pp. 655–70.
  • ‘“The enemy of God and His church”: James Hobart, praemunire, and the clergy of Norwich diocese’, Journal of Legal History, 32 (2011), pp. 127–50.
  • The English Parliaments of Henry VII, 1485–1504 (Oxford, 2009).
  • ‘Debate and dissent in Henry VII’s parliaments’, Parliamentary History, 25 (2006), pp. 160–75.
  • ‘The problem of labour and the parliament of 1495’, The Fifteenth Century, 5 (2005), pp. 143–55.

Other Publications

  • With others, ‘Reformation’, in The History of Parliament Trust (ed.), The Story of Parliament: Celebrating 750 Years of Parliament in Britain (London, 2015), ch. 2.
  • ‘The Essex inquisitions of 1556: the Colchester certificate’, Historical Research, 87 (2014), pp. 751–63.
  • ‘The Grebills of Benenden, the prior of Leeds, and the heresy trials of 1511’, Archaeologia Cantiana, 134 (2014), pp. 283–92.
  • ‘A Lollard of Coventry: a source on Robert Silkby’, Midland History, 38 (2013), pp. 226–31.
  • ‘The enforcement of the penal statutes in the 1490s: some new evidence’, Historical Research, 82 (2009), pp. 482–92.
  • ‘The debased coinage of 1492’, British Numismatic Journal, 77 (2007), pp. 283–6.