Dr Michael Edwards

Gurnee Hart Fellow and College Associate Professor, Jesus College
Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of History
Dr Michael Edwards

I am a historian of early modern Britain and Europe with particular interests in intellectual and cultural history, and in the history of political thought.

I received my PhD from Cambridge in 2006, and have been a Fellow of Jesus College since 2009. I was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University from 2000-2001, and a Junior Research Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge from 2005-2009. I have also held short-term research fellowships at the University of Oklahoma History of Science Collections and at CRASSH in Cambridge.

I have published on the early modern Aristotelian and scholastic traditions and their relationship to the 'new philosophy’ of Hobbes and Descartes; on early modern psychology and natural philosophy; and on the connections between natural and political philosophy.

Recent research has focused on the contexts in which knowledge circulated, on the history of the book and libraries, and on women’s book ownership in the seventeenth century. I have recently published an article on my discovery of books from the lost library of the philosopher Anne Conway (1631-1679). Current research includes work on friendship in the circle of Anne Conway and on slavery, the royal household, and the Royal African Company in Restoration England.

With Richard Serjeantson (Trinity College, Cambridge) I have recently published an edition and translation of a newly-discovered early manuscript version of René Descartes’s Regulae ad directionem ingenii (Oxford University Press, 2023).

Early modern British and European intellectual and cultural history; history of political thought; history of science; history of the book & of libraries.

I supervise Ph.D and M.Phil students across a range of topics in intellectual history from 1550-1800.

'The History of Political Thought to c.1700' (Part 1 Paper 19)

'The History of Political Thought c.1700-c.1890' (Part 1 Paper 20 / Part 2 Paper 4)

'British Political History 1485-1714' (Part 1 Paper 4)

'European history 1450-1760' (Part 1 Paper 16)

'The Politics of Knowledge from the Late Renaissance to the Early Enlightenment' (Part 2 Paper 17)

Lectures for Part 2 Paper 17 ('The Politics of Knowledge') and Part 1 Paper 16 (Early Modern Europe).

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS).



Tags & Themes


Jesus College
Cambridge CB5 8BL

01223 339310


Key Publications

  • [with Richard Serjeantson] René Descartes, Regulae ad directionem ingenii: An Early Manuscript Version (Oxford University Press, 2023).
  • ‘Slavery and Charity: Tobias Rustat and the African Companies, 1662-1694,’ Historical Research 97 (275) (2024): 63-82.
  • 'Walter Charleton, Tobias Rustat, and St. John's Hospital, Bath in 1667/8,' Notes and Queries 70 (1) (2023): 29-33. 
  • ‘Orinda and Palæmon: Katherine Philips and Francis Finch, 1650-c.1660,’ Huntington Library Quarterly 85 (2) (2022): 289-316. 
  • ‘Roger Daniel and the Printing of Francis Finch’s Friendship (1654),’ Notes and Queries 68 (2) (2021): 194–199.
  • ‘The Lost Library of Anne Conway,’ The Seventeenth Century 36 (1) (2021): 119-147.
  • Time and the Science of the Soul in Early Modern Philosophy (Brill, 2013).
  • ‘Marin Cureau de la Chambre and Pierre Chanet on Time and the Passions of the Soul,’ History of European Ideas 38 (2) (2012): 200-217.
  • ‘The Fate of Commentary in the Philosophy of the Schools c.1550-1640,’ Intellectual History Review 22 (4) (2012): 519-536.
  • ‘Substance and Essence’ in The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century ed. Peter Anstey (Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • ‘Body, Soul and Anatomy in Late Aristotelian Psychology’, in Form and Matter in Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Gideon Manning (Brill, 2012), 33-75.
  • ‘Philosophy, Early Modern Intellectual History and the History of Philosophy,’ Metaphilosophy 43 (1-2) (2012): 82-95.
  • 'Digressing with Aristotle: Hieronymus Dandinus' De corpore animato (1610) and the Expansion of late Aristotelian Philosophy,' Early Science and Medicine 13 (2), (2008): 127-170.
  • 'Aristotelianism, Descartes and Hobbes', Historical Journal 50 (2) (2007): 449-464.