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Professor Robert Tombs

Professor Robert Tombs
St John's College
Cambridge CB2 1TP
Office Phone: 01223 3 38776

Departments and Institutes

St John's College:

Research Interests

Robert Tombs's main area of research has been nineteenth-century French political history, and especially popular political culture. He has been particularly concerned with the Paris Commune of 1871 and with French nationalism from the 1830s to 1914. He has also worked on the history of the relationship between the French and the British, from the end of the seventeenth century to the present day, including the cultural and economic as well as the political and military spheres.

His most recent book is The English and Their History (2014), but he continues to work and publish on French history and on French attitudes to Britain.

Research Supervision

Franco-British relations since the eighteenth century. Most aspects of modern and contemporary French history, including politics and political ideas; cultural identities (national, gender, religious etc); cultural representations; war.


Modern European history in general (from 1789 to the present); with particular (though not necessarily research-based) interest in nationalism and revolution. He teaches a Part II specified subject, 'France and the British problem', which covers French attitudes and policies towards Britain over the past three centuries.

Key Publications

  • The War Against Paris 1871 (Cambridge: CUP, 1981), pp. 256.
  • Thiers 1797-1877: A Political Life, with J.P.T. Bury (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986), pp. 307.
  • Nationhood and Nationalism in France before the Great War (London: Harper Collins, 1991), pp. 286.
  • France 1814-1914 (London: Longman, 1996), pp. 590
  • La guerre contre Paris, 1871 (Paris: Aubier, 1997), pp. 380
  • The Paris Commune, 1871 (London: Longman, 1999) pp. 244
  • Cross-Channel Currents: 100 Years of the Entente Cordiale (London, Routledge, 2004), co-editor
  • That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, with Isabelle Tombs (London: W. Heinemann, 2006) pp. 780
  • La France et le Royaume-Uni: Des ennemis intimes, with Isabelle Tombs (Paris, Armand Colin, 2012) pp. 503 
  • Britain and France in Two World Wars: Truth, Myth and Memory, ed. with Emile Chabal (London, Bloomsbury, 2013) pp. 219
  • Paris: bivouac des revolutions: la Commune de 1871 (Paris, Libertalia, 2014) pp. 470
  • The English and Their History (London, Allen Lane, 2014) pp. 1011